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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims

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    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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Question

Could someone assist me. I am attempting to get the documentation from SS for my husband. I was requesting the documentation that they used to determine his disability eligibility. I went to local office and was told that I could request his records for maybe $200. All I need is the letter stating what his disability was and effective dates. They would not even give me a copy of his payment record. They did say that he received benefits from Sept 200 til the month he passed away 11/2003. Has anyone tried to get records from SS for a deceased veteran. He was awarded 100% from VA for PTSD effective 08/2000 until his death in 2003. Please advise if you have any suggestion as to how I can get this documentation in a timely manner. My VA claims is at BVA and I wanted to include the SS award benefit letter as additonal evidence to support my claim. I know that his SS was based on his Heart condition and possible PTSD.

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Sandra - You should send them a letter requesting his complete SS records, quoting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You'll probably need to submit a copy of his death certificate and a copy of your marriage certificate/license, along with your request. If you're executrix I would submit evidence of that, also. There should be no charge to his NOK.

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Could someone assist me. I am attempting to get the documentation from SS for my husband. I was requesting the documentation that they used to determine his disability eligibility. I went to local office and was told that I could request his records for maybe $200. All I need is the letter stating what his disability was and effective dates. They would not even give me a copy of his payment record. They did say that he received benefits from Sept 200 til the month he passed away 11/2003. Has anyone tried to get records from SS for a deceased veteran. He was awarded 100% from VA for PTSD effective 08/2000 until his death in 2003. Please advise if you have any suggestion as to how I can get this documentation in a timely manner. My VA claims is at BVA and I wanted to include the SS award benefit letter as additonal evidence to support my claim. I know that his SS was based on his Heart condition and possible PTSD.

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Thanks Larry for the feedback. I will try this tactic. Do you know whether the SSD award will help my VA case or not.

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Updating Hadit.com on my claim status.

As you know the AMC denied my claim on remand for SC for death and DIC. After I had an interesting conversation with the Congressional Unit I was very discouraged and still remain so. I called today and my case has been sent back to BVA but has not be picked up yet since they only sent it back on the 14th of July. At least it is advancing so I am praying for a favorable decision. Just keep me in your prayers.

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Did the VA list as evidence his SSA award in any past VA decision or did they not know of it?

I guess I am wondering (since the VA is supposed to obtain SSA records they are aware of) that maybe they incorporated the SSA findings into the past award letter he got for the PTSD.

"I know that his SS was based on his Heart condition and possible PTSD" Did he formally claim a heart condition with the VA?

If you are seeking DIC on basis that his SC PTSD caused or contributed to his death,if death was heart disease, this will need a strong independent medical opinion with a full medical rationale as to the medical connection.

WAs he a Vietnam veteran? If so was his heart disease Ischemic in nature as that is now an AO presumptive.

The SSA records will not contain-in my opinion- any medical information that would support the association.I could be wrong but I do think this claim will need an IMO.

I realize now that the SSA certainly could see in his VA med recs that my husband had been severely misdiagnosed by the VA.They never said a word about it however.

Their only function was to identify prime disabilities as causing unemployability.

In his VA psychiatric records did his VA doctor suggest in any way at all in the documentation that his PTSD was aggravating or excerbating his heart disease?

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Hi Berta

Yes my husband was a Vietnam Veteran. He was receiving 100% disability for PTSD. In 2002 he applied for his heart to be added to his disability claim but was denied. He died in 2003. His death certificate states myocardial infarction with CAD as secondary condition. I have what I believe to be a strong IMO. I do not believe that his SSA benefits were taken into account. I tried to get the records prior to submitting my disagreement to the rececent SSCO but they wanted to charge me 200 dollars at the least. I reported this to my VSO he stated that if it came down to it we would have the VA request the files. Larry suggested that I request the files under the FOIA which I have not done yet. I did request that entitlement of service connection for cause of the veteran’s death CAD/CHD/IHD secondary to service connection for PTSD, AO exposure on the response to the SSOC. I did ask if I could make a correction to my response to say his PTSD was aggravating or excerbating his heart disease but again my VSO said that in his opinion my response was good as any that he has seen and just to hold on. He also states that he will be in Washington on the 29th and he was going to go and see what was going on with my case. He also states that in his opinion he thinks I will win my case. I just don't know anymore. I thought we had enough on the remand to win but he also stated that in many cases the AMC will not reverse the ROs decision thus my case is proceeding back to the BVA. Here is what I submitted back as a response to the SSOC.

June 2, 2010

To: Department of Veteran Affairs

Appeals Management Center

1722 Eye Street NW

Washington DC 20421

From: Sandra Williams (Spouse of Deceased Veteran Jerry Hugh Williams)

Re: 397/AMC File #: 29234796

Supplemental Statement of Case (SSOC) dated May 6, 2010

Dear Sir

I am in receipt of the Supplemental Statement of Case dated May 6, 2010 which I received by fax from AMC-Congressional Unit on Friday May 28, 2010.

By receipt of this notice I am submitting a response to the SSOC and will address specific points in the SSOC. I will also like to note for the record that the American Legion who was provided a copy of the SSOC is not my POA of record. I submitted a POA form in November 2008 along with my response to the 2008 remand. I am requesting that for the record Colonel Donald Belle to be my representative of the Vietnam Veterans organization.

Issues to be addressed-Agree with both issues

1. Entitlement of service connection for cause of the veteran’s death CAD/CHD/IHD secondary to service connection for PTSD, AO exposure

2. Entitlement to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) under 38 USCA 1318.

Evidence-Disagree

1. Appellant’s statements received March 7, 2007, February 13, 2007, April 25, 2008

2. Lay medical document from Dr. Granada Neil, MD received January 8, 2009

3. Personnel records from Duke Energy received December 15, 2008

4. VA Examination (addendum) conducted by the VAMC Fayetteville, NC on January 5, 2010

Evidence that has been omitted

Internet articles submitted March 2005 that contradicts VA medical examiner review in May 2004 that “current thought does not support a connection between the cause of death in the matter and PTSD”. I would like to direct the attention of the Board to recent studies that veterans are at higher risk for coronary artery disease and heart disorders than those without such psychological disorders. The VA examiner does not address where his opinion is derived from. As indicated in Citation Nbr. 1011095 Docket No: 03-15 222A “From what the MD has stated in my case it is not clear whether the examiner conducted his own search of the medical literature, including articles cited in the medical literature submitted by the myself, or was merely making an assessment based solely on the articles in the claims file which does support that PTSD and CAD/Heart Disorder has a direct correlation to each other and the cause of death. In this reference case the Court could not decide what the examiner may mean by the term "objective medical evidence" (in my case current thought). Was the examiner indicating that the appellant's evidence includes peer-reviewed journals and random control tests, but the evidence therein is not considered "objective" according to unspecified criteria? Or was the examiner indicating that none of the appellant's articles are either peer-reviewed or based on random control trials, either or both of which are needed to constitute "objective medical evidence"? The examiner's remarks are entirely too murky to justify the Board's reliance on his report to assess the medical nexus issue raised by the appellant's research articles. See Nieves-Rodriguez v. Peake, 22 Vet.App. 295, 301 (2008) (citing Stefl v. Nicholson, 21 Vet.App. 120, 124 (2007)). My contention is that the VA examiner did not conduct specific investigation to ascertain what the “current thought of the medical community is “now”. As my expert IMO stated in her documentation based on extensive review of the claims file which included SMR, personal medical records, employment records and other statements, she opinioned that “As such, in my medical opinion, I have found there to be a very significant contributing relationship between his mental illness, chemical exposure and resultant cardiovascular condition and ultimate death”. Under no circumstance should the opinion of Dr. Neil be considered “lay”.

In addition the employment records submitted by Duke Energy was information requested to support the length of time the veteran had be experience PTSD and its affect on the veteran. Since PTSD is considered a mental health issue and I feel that the company’s lack of referral to a healthcare professional would be outside of the company’s area of expertise since they would not have been in position to make that call. We must also consider the time in which all this was occurring. Most organizations were ill-prepared to deal with an employee experiencing mental health issues such as PTSD. The evidence should consider only what its intent was which is to support that the veteran was experiencing symptoms of PTSD years before his diagnosis.

In the matter of Agent Orange Exposure, the VA examiner did opinion that death from heart disease is caused by or a result of Agent Orange exposure. He noted that that if the veteran was exposed to AO then the heart disease is “now” a presumptive diagnosis. Thus if the veteran was exposed to agent orange then his death from myocardial infarction and coronary artery disease would be considered service connected.

Reasonable Doubt. I respectfully ask that the BVA look upon the evidence that my IMO has submitted along with all other supporting documents. This doctor is an expert in her field and her reputation in the medical community is impeccable. To suggest that the information that she provided is lay information is a discredit to her and her profession. I also submit that heart attacks as the result of CAD is considered in ischemic heart disease by definition.

In conclusion, I do not agree with the findings presented in this SSOC. I believe a finding in favor of should be to grant benefits sought on appeal/remand. I believe that facts speak for themselves and that a reasonable benefit of doubt should be established on behalf of the veteran’s spouse. The evidenced that submitted by my IMO with some degree of agreement from the examiner in part of the ruling should be considered warranting the grant of benefits. My IMO is an expert in her field and her reputation in the medical community is impeccable. To suggest that the information that she provided is lay information is a discredit to her and her profession. Lay information as defined by VA standards is evidence not requiring that the proponent have specialized education, training or experience. Lay evidence is competent if it is provided by a person who knowledge of facts or circumstance and conveys matters that be observed and described by a lay person such as internet article not the opinion of a medical doctor. I also submit that heart attacks as the result of CAD is considered in ischemic heart disease by definition which is the term given to heart problems caused by narrowed heart arteries. When arteries are narrowed, less blood and oxygen reaches the heart muscle. This is also called coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease. This can ultimately lead to heart attack” and should be considered as a presumptive illness which would prove the case of service connection death thus allow the DIC benefits to be paid. (Husband request heart to added to disability associated with PTSD in 2002)

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