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Guest Berta

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Interesting- when I discussed this with my local vet rep today (he didnt get my decision yet) I asked him if that is really what the Buffalo DROS do- he said yeah they call him all the time regarding many of the Dom vets claims he has-prior to the SOC they have an informal resolve and also call the claimant too if they can (not all the DOM vets have phones) then I asked him why he wasn't called by the DRO on mine- and why wasnt I called -I gave them my number and email addy on the DRO request because I know they call claimants during the DRO process before they can issue the SOC.

that is when it really hit him!-my vet rep at the VARO and he also-locally

have screwed up royally-

I then pointed out in a nice way(he is an AO vet) that I now felt discriminated against and why.

My vet reps are going to have some sleepless nights.

The DRO process is excellent -I just happened to get treatment completely different from everyone else-

from both the DRO and my 2 vet reps.

Edited by Berta
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Dear Berta.

You stated the DRO did not do what he was required to by the attached regulations.

My observations and personal experence is they hardly ever do what the regulations say at the RO level. Therefore the regulations and process is not worth the paper its written on and will only result in delaying a case for a year so the DRO can further complex a case, infureate the vet, and make the vet wait for a year to have it happen to them.

Terry Higgins

Good Morning Fla Viking...

I couldn't AGREE more!!! I had stated time & time again, that the DRO process is a TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!

A few points to elaborate on...

First, I have noticed, in my dealings with different agencies stating that: "The case is reviewed in a De Novo Basis"...Is a CROCK! Nine times out of ten, it is reviewed in a "Light most Favorable" to the agency, NOT the Claimant! This is supposed to make you feel all Warm & Fuzzy inside...THAT'S IT!

Secondly, you had mentioned:

"My observations and personal experence is they hardly ever do what the regulations say at the RO level."

On the contrary...They DO what the regulations say on the RO level, BUT against the Veteran, complete with further delay tactics! These DRO's (key words) "WORK FOR" the Veterans Administration...NOT the Veteran!

Additionally...

Back in January, I was so disgusted with the "Loop Treatment", so I insisted on an "Administrative Review". If I'm correct in assuming, this is 38 USC 502...JUDICIAL REVIEW. I asked for this TWICE (Jan. & Mar.), and used BOLD LETTERS. This is PROOF, that Veterans responses/issues are ignored, being that it is STILL at this "G-D" RO!!!

Third, it appears that I'm caught up in a loop, therefore, I am preparing for TRIAL in Federal Court. I'm fed up with the Bureaucratical bullshit of this agency, and I'm seriously considering a MAJOR LAWSUIT to settle for a HUGE settlement, & to be dropped from the roles.

Life is to short to deal with incompitant people who are forced to resolve claims in a Light most favorable to the VA. Furthermore, I would rather deal with more compitant doctors, than the substandard "Civil Servants" of the VA, WHO, could not cut it on their own.

In conclusion...

It's apparent that the VA IS NOT for the Veteran. This incompitant agency couldn't give two shits about them. If half the population was made aware of the crap that this agency gives to Veterans, our enlistment roles would drop to ZERO (It's heading there now)!

One last note to consider here...

I have realized that dealing with any agency in the GOOBERment, is similar to playing chess. If you can anticipate their next move...CHECKMATE! I DELIBERATELY failed to MEET their deadline to submit additional evidence & NOD. When they inform me of this, my response is my PRIOR SUBMITTAL of an Administrative Review, and their BLATENT DISREGARD to my claim & DENYING me the right to the Due Process that I had previously requested. B)

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Hollywood- since I posted that some time back-

the DRO has done better with my claim -2 conferences with her boss and my vet rep- etc- and when I filed out an I-9 -that got them working on it better too- as on page on of the I-9, I preserved for appeal ALL errors of 38 CFR,38 USC and M21-1 they made and I also stated as many errors as I could that they have already made on the initial I-9 page.

I have excellent evidence and took the oppotunity to send them an I-9 that they do not want the BVA to see.

I havent even gotten VCAA letters yet- and put that on the I-9-my due process was crapped on by them numerous times.

In 1996 I filed an Administrative Review, and I sent the original AR to VACO in Washington. Within days I had a call from a VA lawyer on the Review- and got what I wanted- someone at VARO who could read.

Long story but this AR was instrumental in the VA's finally admitting to causing my husband's death in 1997.

My medical evidence was excellent on that claim too- and the AR showed them I was not going away-

I do not advise anyone, however, filing an administrative review with VACO unless you can talk VA legalise toe to toe with VA lawyers ,can rattle off the regs that your claim involves in a heartbeat, and have 150% confidence in yourself and the merits of your claim. Also having a legal background can help.

I also do not feel that the Administrative Review will be used in place of a formal NOD- unless you stated the specifics of the NOD in it.

All of this will not get you closer to your award unless you can satisfy the Reasons and Bases they gave you for the denial.

But I bet you did that- and I know how frustrating it is when they refuse to acknowledge medical evidence that helps the claim.

If you start faxing your medical evidence to their VSM or Director- it might help.

Why actually did they deny?

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I have included below the latest copy of the VA DRO Reviewing procedure

1. Obtain Veterans C file from rater

2. Obtain Veterans C file from Walmart

3. Take minimum of six months to decide which is correct C file.

(MAKE THIS DECISION INCORRECTLY) BUT DENY AND POINT TO NARA)

4. Take minimum of three additional months for caribbean vacation under guise of review of caribbean VA cliams process.

5. Send both Veterans C files to Walmart

(SIX AND SEVEN MAY BE REVERSED AT DISCRETION OF DRO}

6. Message Veterans that medical records cannot be located.

7. Send medical records to Walmart

8 Send pertinent rater to Walmart for cigarettes.

9. Send underage son of pertinent rater to Walmart for cigarettes

10. Prepare and send Form 9 to Walmart for denial of sale of cigarettes to minor

11. Appeal said denial to COVA

12 Declare all Veterans ongoing claims as forged

13 Declare all veterans as forged

14 Declare Walmart as forged.

15 Send out for doughnuts for entire department

16. Deny doughnut order and refuse to reimburse

17. Spill coffee and doughnut grease on all C files in plain sight

18 Seek out c files from adjoining VAROs and spill coffee and doughnut grease on same.

19 Advise all affected Veterans that C files are illegible and must be re- filed

20. File for early retirement

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT FEDERAL CODE #& -% 5 SUBSECTION 3 REQUIRES THAT DRO ABSOLUTELY PROVIDE THE VETERAN WITH REASONABLE ASSUMPTION OR DOUBT BY FAILING TO FOLLOW ANY OF THE ABOVE IN THE SAME ORDER FOR TWO QUALIFIED OR UN QUALIFIED OR HYPERPLASTIFIED VETERANS IN THE SAME SEQUENCE AS PUNISHABLE BY SAID LAWS OR CONSTITUTION OR BILL OF RIGHTS AMEN

Edited by jlshand
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And if there is no real good reason to deny the claim- just say the SMRs were lost in the St Louis fire!

(I am still livid at them saying that to 2 of my local vets-one got his 'burnt and destroyed ' records within weeks from NARA-after they (VA) and his vet rep told him that -- we just applied for them on line and they all arrived- no water marks , no charring-

and my other vet enlisted years AFTER the fire!!!!!)

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Berta,

They told me the same thing and three months later my So had the records

To all on the board, WHAT A DRO DID FOR ME.

After reading this post I had an uncontrolled spontaneous mental regurgitation of what I had been through the last thirty years. I lost an entire night of sleep and had to cancel a fishing trip I had planned the next day. I decided to write this post to vent a little. If you call follow this saga, you might want to give up the service officer business and enrol in medical school.

A DRO undid a mess that the RO botched for 8.5 years. My claim was basically a slam dunk. The only problems are that there were some twists and turns in the progression for understanding this disease. The RO used there ignorance as an excuse to deny the claim rather than seek medical answers. The DRO sought answers, and got some.

The disease had been called “angioneurotic edema” for 150 years by the medical profession. It was consider life threatening and 25% of those afflicted were killed by the disease. It was thought to be hereditary based on Mendelian genetics. It was listed in the DSM 1,2 and 3 as a psychiatric disorder. I think the DSM 1 was written in about 1910. It was considered a psychiatric condition that mimicked allergic reactions. It was considered a mental disorder because of the unusual behaviour that was found in association with the onset of symptoms. Severe symptoms onset overnight and include massive swelling of the face that makes a person look like an different person when waking up. Sometimes the swelling is less severe. Death is caused by throat closure or lose of blood pressure because the swelling is caused by fluids leaking out of the veins.

When I was in the service in 1968 and 1969 it was considered a psychiatric condition. When I went to sick call the doctors refrained from making the diagnosis and told me they did not want this to get into my records because they said it would interfere with my ability to get promotions. I have several sick call notes showing that I showed up with no listed complaints and no listed symptoms. Yet they referred me to psychiatrists. On two occasions just before my discharge specialists made notes in my SMR that I had symptoms of an allergic condition. One doctor said he suspected a food allergy. I was punished for having the disease when my CO found out and decided that he did not want a loony working on his jets. I was sent to mess duty and had to work 13 hours a day 7 days a week in the galley. I felt like I was in jail. This lasted for months until I made E4 and the galley MA said no NCO’s were allowed to be on mess duty in his galley. He sent me back to the squadron. The folks at the squadron were really pissed and still would not let me work on the planes. Eventually I was discharged for having a psychiatric condition. I was so spun around by the mess duty and all the BS that I tried to forget about my entire military experience. I was pretty successful and forgot about the allergy diagnosis made by military doctors. The exact diagnoses given at the time of my discharge was for a psychiatric condition that was later dropped from the DSM IV because it was not considered reliable. After discharge I took pre med and psych classes in Jr. College and at UCLA. I have read every DSM ever printed and studied medical research and experimental design. At the time I was in college the condition was still in the DSM and yet my education in experimental design told me the doctors were full of sh__.

After discharge the symptoms became much worse and became life threatening. Additionally, they dropped it from the DSM IV because by 1980 they realized that there were 5 different medical conditions that caused the same symptoms. Also there was no statistical link to neurosis. They changed the name of the disease to angioedema. I had many visits (20+) to VA emergency rooms. The ER doctors would scream and get in my face and tell me not to take chances with this disease because it was going to kill me. Chances basically could mean going out side my house. The reactions were being caused by aromatic hydrocarbons that were colorless, tasteless and had no smell that I could differentiate from unharmfull chemicals. 26 years after my discharge I had a reaction that I could definitely pin on WD 40. This got me going on the VA because I had worked often with WD40 while in the military.

When I applied for Social Security they gave me a GAF of 40 based on a statement I made that basically was a written medically prescribed allergy management plan developed by a doctor I had seen. I did not take his report with me to the Social Security appointment, so they thought I was crazy and had paranoid delusions about the potential for harm caused by chemicals. Later I started seeing VA shrinks who also gave me a GAF of 40 and said I had, PTSD caused by a life threatening medical condition/anxiety disorder caused by a life threatening medical condition. They could not say definitely I had paranoid delusions. I had court documents whereby the State of California Workers Compensation Appeals board had determined that I had developed a chemical sensitivity.

The comp board was unaware of my military diagnoses of allergic reactions while on active duty and my exposure to the same chemicals in the military.. Yet VA adjudication cited the comp decision and denied my claim because they thought the condition had developed as a result of post service employment. What the RO did not have any way of telling is what medical evidence was reviewed by workers comp. What was even worse is that the disease that was noted by workers comp was for a completely different symptom pattern than the allergic type reactions I had in the military and that were the same as the symptoms that put me in the ER. Which by the way were severe nasal/facial, mouth, tongue and swelling of the throat?

Out of the 20+ post service ER reports I had about half called my disease ‘Allergic Edema” the other half called it “allergic angioedema”. The SMR reports were for a psych condition and “allergic edema”. My post service reports were for a Psych condition and “allergic edema”.

The VA tried several interesting tricks. I had this disease for 26 years and not once did any doctor recommend allergy testing. After ten years of not knowing what was causing them my brother opened a sign painting business. I had figured out that every time I went into my brother’s sign painting shop I would have an allergic reaction. Later I noticed that when I went into buildings where there was construction going on I would also have allergic reactions. My treating doctor wrote a report indicating that testing was not necessary. The comp board did not even seek testing. Yet, I file a claim for service connection and the next time I go to the VA they schedule me for allergy testing. The doctor made a comment to me about angioedema. I had never mentioned angioedema to any doctor at the VA. I filed the claim for angioedema by mistake. I had not seen my SMR and was trying to change my claim from angioedema to “allergic edema. I also had not seen the 20+ reports with half saying angioedema and the other half saying ‘allergic edema. That is because the VA lost them for 5 years. As it turned out they were two different names for the same condition. It was obvious that the RO called my doctor at the VA and told him to schedule the testing. They were trying to determine that I was allergic to something like peanuts or shrimp. If I had been allergic to foods, I bet they would have denied the claim and I would have never won.

It back fired on them, not only did they say I had no known allergic conditions, they said known hereditary forms of the disease were ruled out. .I had been diagnosed as having allergic reactions for 26 years and now they say I am not an allergic person and there are no indications that I am having allergy attacks. I did find one report on the national MS web site indicating that new research had found that industrial hydrocarbons were causing symptoms similar to type III food induced allergic reactions. I had worked with paints, glues, solvents, and aerosol propellants as well as breathing jet exhaust two hours a day for a year on a flight line. Type III reaction are delayed reactions (overnight) and matched the symptom pattern noted in my SMR and ER reports for over 20 years.

To complicate matters I hade extreme difficulty getting jobs when I told employers I had this disease. Eventually an attorney who my union got me when to assist with voc rehab when I was told by city govt that I could no longer work due to a minor knee condition flipped out when I told him I had life threatening angioedema. I showed him my allergy management plan as written by my doctor and he withdrew me from voc rehab and told me to get out of his office because he could not provide me with the protections required by law. He went on to say that no employer can provide me with the protections required by law and told me he would litigate against anybody who was stupid enough to think they could provide me with such protections. He told me to apply for social security disability.

Now for the DRO. When my claim was originally denied without a C&P exam I sent them 50 pages of medical literature. The report I found on the MS website was 20 pages. In the SOC they complained of the amount of documentation I sent. I responded in my appeal that if they had scheduled a C&P exam I would not have been put in a position to try and explain the disease to them. As Alex recommended I actually was able to condense all the issues in my case into a one page letter including reference to doctor’s reports that had already been submitted and relevant case laws (single spacing between lines and wide margins). I had been service connected for angioedema at 10% a year earlier and appealed saying that considering the life threatening nature of my reactions, the psychiatric conditions noted in literature in association with the disease over the last 150 years and my difficulty with employers and other labor law professionals, the rating was way to low and needed to be sent for an extraschedular rating. The DRO told me that he was of the opinion that the actual diagnosis, causes and changing perceptions of the medical profession needed to be clarified if possible. He told me that he was scheduling one more C&P exam. One thing they never disputed was that my condition was in fact life threatening. I had way to many ER reports over 30 years for them to take on the ER doctors opinions. Also there was a photo in the file of my face after an ER visit. The DRO was amazed and said he had never seen anything like that.

Two medical reports were cited by the DRO. One indicating that I had “chronic angioedema of unknown origin” that onset while serving in the armed forces.. Additionally, it said the condition had no known cure. The other medical report said that I had a GAF of 40. This report indicated that my psych condition was aggravated by military service and was also secondary to angioedema that also onset while serving in the armed forces. The DRO determined that my condition was the result of service while exposed to numerous sources of hydrocarbons now called angioedema. There was a GAF of 40 noted by examiners two times over a decade. Veteran had not sought employment for ten years and got tired of playing Russian roulette with his disease and getting screamed at by ER doctors as to what an idiot he was every time he wound up in the ER. Service connection granted for combined conditions of angioedema with anxiety. No future exams scheduled. I had a previous 10% for a knee condition. The GAF of 40 would get 70% and angioedema can go as high as 40%. I do not recall that they even separated what % was for angioedema and what % was for a psych condition. I flipped the logic from the DSM I calling the disease a psychiatric condition that mimicked a medical condition and argued that I had a medical condition (angioedema) that mimicked a psych condition and referenced the Social Security GAF of 40 as being based on medically prescribed adjustments to the known medical condition and should be diagnosed as a non pathological adjustment disorder. No specific determination of the exact psych diagnosis was stated by the DRO. I thought that the way the decision was written indicated that the DRO had really thought this thing through. There were probably too many things entwined, yet all the result of military service. I never saw the rating sheet and really do not care what it says. The DRO did it all. The claim was in the RO for 8.5 years and never went to the BVA. This award was very important to me. I had been homeless for years.

One last note that was not sent to the VA. My research gave me the impression that this disease is probably what led to the myth of werewolves. People were waking up at night looking like somebody else and acting strange. You have heard in the literature about the werewolves of London. When I went to college in the 70’s I worked on a golf course with many Mexicans straight from the old country. They gave me the nick name “EL Lobo”. Translated it means Wolfman. The two most polluted cities in the world with aromatic hydrocarbons are London and Mexico City. London had the killer fog at the beginning of the century. Mexico City is now the most polluted major city.

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