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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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  • Most Common VA Disabilities Claimed for Compensation:   

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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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MDanysh

Temporary 100% Increase

Question

Hello everyone. Thanks in advance for whatever advice and words of wisdom you can offer. I don't know most of the acronyms or lingo, so forgive me if I get something wrong. I did search before posting, but didn't see our exact situation anywhere. Forgive me for the lengthy post, but I'm trying to include as much relevant info as I can.

My husband was in the Army from 1995-1997, when he was medically discharged. He was in an accident and suffered a severe compound fracture, and spent several months in the hospital going through several surgeries to repair his leg. He wound up with an intramedulliary rod with internal fixtures in his right tibia (a rod with screws, in case I didn't get the medical jargon right, lol). He was medically discharged and initially rated at 10% service connected disability. It was increased to 30% around 2002/3. Since then, he has had pain and swelling at the site of the break intermittently, but this past year, it increased to the point where the pain and swelling is almost constant and occurs every day. He was referred to the Orthopedic clinic at the Temple VA. The orthapedic surgeon there ordered x-rays, and when that didn't show anything, a bone scan was ordered at the end of April. The bone scan revealed new healing and growth at the site of the break from 1997. The surgeon didn't understand the reason for it, as there has been no recent trauma to the leg, and couldn't give a concrete reason for the continuous pain and swelling. So he decided that a rod (nail) and screw removal might relieve the pain and swelling. Surgery was scheduled for June 10, and the surgeon told him to expect to be home from work for most of the summer. Soon as we had all of the details, we started a claim for a temporary 100% increase evaluation on June 3rd. The surgery was a nightmare, btw (it looked like a butcher got a hold of his leg). Nonetheless, the surgery did take place. After four hours, the surgeon came to the waiting room and told me they were unable to remove the rod, and only took out one screw. As such, He released my husband to walk with full weight bearing on his leg the day of the surgery, but told him he could not return to work yet.

We returned to the Temple VA five days later for a post op follow up, and once again, the surgeon told him stay at home, no work, that they would follow up June 29. Went back June 29 for follow up and removal of surgical stitches. Dr told hubby they would discuss his being released to return to work in one month's time, pending pain levels, and to stay home and rest.

July 2nd, recieve response to VA claim, requesting evidence that he had had surgery and any other supporting evidence. We submitted the letter supporting claim, telling them everything I've just told you, as well as signing the release for his VA medical records. Mailed the same day. Then we waited. The wait was actually surprisingly short, even though it seemed to take forever. This past Thursday, we got the big envelope, with the letter dated July 16, informing us his claim was denied. The evidence they lised as using in their decision were his medical records from the Temple VA hospital, their letter requesting evidence, and my husbands initial claim form 21-0820, dated June 3, no mention of anything we sent in.

The following is word for word the reason for denying the claim:

"Entitlement to a temporary total evaluation because of treatment for a service-connected condition requiring convalescence:A temporary 100 percent evaluation may be assigned when it is established that a disability, subject to VA compensation, required surgery necessitating at least one month of convalescence, surgery with severe postoperative residuals, or treatment with immobilization by cast of one major joint or more. Entitlement to this benefit is denied because treatment of the service-connected disability did not meet any of these requirements. VA Central Texas treatment records revealed you underwent hardware removal on your right knee on June 10, 2010. Two broken screws were removed, but the rod could not be removed. A treatment record also dated June 10, 2010 confirmed that Dr. xxxx cleared you to walk with full weight bearing on your right extremity on the same day as your surgery. The evidence of record does not show that you needed at least one month of convalescence, or had postoperative residuals, or treatment with immobilization by cast. Therefore, entitlement to a temporary evaluation based on surgery requiring convalescence is not established since the criteria were not met."

If he truly doesn't merit the temporary increase, that's fine, but I honestly don't understand this decision- he had the surgery, he's been home for going on 7 weeks now on Doctor's orders, he cannot return to work without his doctor's release, and the doctor won't sign a release. I would think that's the definition of convalescence. The decision letter went on to state that blah, blah, blah, you can submit additional evidence or appeal, or request a hearing if the evidence is something we haven't seen before and related to your claim.

Things are getting pretty desperate financially- we have 3 children (ages 12, 6, and 9 months), as of today, we're out of money, and will soon be out of food. Hubby returns to VA for another follow up on Thursday, and may or may not be released to go back to work- if he is, it will still be another 2 1/2 weeks before income starts coming back in. When we got the decision, we decided to try to apply for TANF, but did not qualify- for a family of 5, income has to be less than $268 per month, so we exceeded that with his current $497 monthly compensation. We tried food stamps, but don't qualify for expedited handling, because that same $497 exceeds our monthly utilities total by $3. They said they'd send us a letter, letting us know what they decide. I can't go looking for a job, yet, because if he's released to return to work Thursday, I'll have to quit after only a couple of days. We are in a lose-lose situation at the moment. (Sorry for the mini rant). I would have never waited it out if I thought the VA was going to out and out deny the claim- it never occurred to me that they would, because I thought the doctor ordering you to stay home for 6+ weeks qualified as convalescence.

Can anyone offer advice or an explanation? What would constitute new evidence? Is there anything we can do to reverse this decision?

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Go get the OR report, Hand carry it to the VARO. FIle a NOD on the denial. DO you have a Veterans Service officer?

Call your congressman and ask him to personally interviene.

Get the DOc to write a note to the RO on your behalf.

Sorry to hear this is going on. Best of luck to you.

J

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Go get the OR report, Hand carry it to the VARO. FIle a NOD on the denial. DO you have a Veterans Service officer?

Call your congressman and ask him to personally interviene.

Get the DOc to write a note to the RO on your behalf.

Sorry to hear this is going on. Best of luck to you.

J

Thank you for the advice- we were already considering contacting a Congressman or state representative about the treatment he recieved during the surgery itself- I've never seen a patient treated the way he was. Now, I guess it's just one more reason to do so. No, He does not have a VSO. He contacted the surgeon's office the day we got the denial, to request just that. We haven't started any of your other suggestions yet, but will. It's just so overwhelming- I can picture how long this is going to take and I cringe.

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MDanynsh check your personal messenger.

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You need a letter from your doctor stating when you husband will be released to go back to work and how long he has been out of work. You can request a reconsideration based on the letter which is considered medical evidence. Will take less time than a NOD. Claim will go straigtht back to the rating board.

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I know what it is like waiting on the VA. I have become homeless for a few months waiting on an expedited claim. I agree with Sharon get the doc do write why your husband can't go back to work, and how long he's been out of work due to his surgery. Good luck

/doc

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