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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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Maj_Sully

Myotonic Dystrophy 19 Months After Discharge

Question

Hello all,

I am a retired USAF Major with 90% service connected disability. My younger brother was involuntarily discharged in Dec 2008 due to several minor infractions (sleep disorder, cognitive issues, hands locking up, not following technical order manuals). He received two Article 15s in his first 5 years (on a 6 year inital enlistment). He was also Command-Directed twice to undergo psych review. His discharge was GENERAL with HONORABLE CONDITIONS. The Air Force put him out with 3-days notice....full out-processing then escorted him to the gate with a one-way bus ticket home. He had no where to go....so I took him in. He's been with me and my family ever since.

Shortly after he moved in, I started noticing "issues" with his hands and his cognitive ability. For example, one day I was leaving for work at 0600 and pulled the OVER-FLOWING trash can to the curb. I asked my brother to pull the trash can in later (as I drove away). When I arrived home from work that day, the trash can was pulled in....as I requested. However, it was still full. I said to my brother, "I see the trash company did not come today." He responded, "I dont know." I was puzzled....and asked a few more questions. I then said to my brother, "When did you pull the trash can in?" He said, "About 5 minutes after you asked me." Even though it was overflowing. I asked him to bring it in.....and he did. He didnt even think to FIRST allow the trash company to empty it.

This was his major problem in the Air Force. He could follow instructions exactly as stated....the way he learned it. But he could not adjust/modify.

Anyway....I brought him into a neurologist in July 2010 (19 months after his discharge). The doctor diagnosed him in 15 seconds with Myotonic Dystrophy. He did several other tests including a full genetic workup which definitively shows DM1, full-body, full-expansion, Adult-onset, Myotonic Dystrophy. The muscles in his hands, forearms and his triceps are almost non-existent now. His feet and calves are also very weak. He has fallen down the steps 3 times now (that I know of) and thankfully only broke his foot. His neurologist used to be in-charge of the Quantico Naval Health clinic, so he's very familiar with the military. He told us that everything that the military punished my brother for was directly related to Myotonic Dystrophy.

While in the service his supervisors ordered him to get his hands looked at 3 times for WEAK and LOCKING hands. He was a Munitions Maintenance tech. As I said earlier, he was also command-directed for psych evals. All tests were always negative. He was never seen by a neurologist. I have a copy of his digital medical records and they show his psych reviews, but not the HAND exams. I have requested his hard-copy medical record twice over the past 2 years, but they wont send it.

He did not have this before he came in the service (no symptoms that is). In fact, he was a very good cross-country runner. Now he has a hard time walking.

I just helped him apply for VA C&P last week. I hope they approve it.

I have not yet applied for an upgrade/correction to his discharge (up to full honorable). I plan to this week.

I have applied for Social Security Disability for him 2 weeks ago. I hope they approve it.

I was wondering if anyone has any advice?

Thanks!

Sully

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Welcome to Hadit and thank you for your Service.

Have you applied for VA disability as it appears that your brothers problem started while he was serving?

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The VA will SC this condition with evidence that establishes an inservice nexus (link)

This is a 2009 BVA award for Myotonic Dystrophy

http://www.va.gov/vetapp09/files3/0920216.txt

In part:

“In the instant case, the Board observes that Dr. Day's

December 2008 opinion does not address why the muscle pain

and/or stiffness experienced by the Veteran during service

was not due to the proximal causes indicated in service

treatment records. However, in reviewing the record in its

entirety, including Dr. Day's December 2008 opinion, the

Board finds the evidence to be in genuine equipoise as to

whether the Veteran's myotonic dystrophy, type 2, is

etiologically related to active service. As such, in

resolving all doubt in the Veteran's favor, the Board finds

that service connection for myotonic dystrophy, type 2, is

warranted.

ORDER

Service connection for myotonic dystrophy, type 2, is

granted, subject to the laws and regulations governing the

payment of monetary benefits.”

When I read this case -the IMO dctor's statement was lacking specifics and the VA had said therewas no inservice nexus.

It looked to me here that the BVA found ample evidence in the veteran's SMRs to warrant this award.

"have requested his hard-copy medical record twice over the past 2 years, but they wont send it. "

DO you mean his SMRs?

Who do you mean by "they" VA?

Or National Archives (NARA)

"I just helped him apply for VA C&P last week. I hope they approve it."

If this is his first VA claim-do you mean you helped him fill out a 21-526?

." His neurologist used to be in-charge of the Quantico Naval Health clinic, so he's very familiar with the military. He told us that everything that the military punished my brother for was directly related to Myotonic Dystrophy."

YES, that makes sense! Would he be willing to prepare a formal IMO that confirms to the IMO criteria here at hadit in the IMO forum?

"I have applied for Social Security Disability for him 2 weeks ago. I hope they approve it"

Yes me too- And when they approve this (I would think they will),then the SSA is good evidence for a 100% TDIU award from the VA.

Service records have to be poured over (I hope he can also get his 201 file)sometimes.

Doing that helped me with a few local vets-who also had some negative personnel stuff,which ultimately became evidence to support their SC claims.

It took me a great deal of time in these cases as these were the old poorly handwritten SMRs decades old and

I even needed my daughter's help (she was Vietnamese linquist-Cryto Intel USAF)

to decifer one of them.

Many I had to blow up on my PC before I could even read them.

In each case this decifered info from the SMrs, along with the actual SMRs , made it easy for these vets to obtain IMos and in one case the Vet's own VA doctor helped him with a nexus statement in light of the evidence we uncovered from the SMRs.

The sleep disorder-I don't know if that is medically associated with his condition or not but it looks to me if not- he still has basis for a claim on that issue as well if this is sleep apnea and he still suffers from it.

Edited by Berta

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PS-that was only my opinion as to the BVA finding stuff in this vet's SMRs.

I would not depend on the VA at any level BVA or RO, to search through SMRs.This is what we have to do as claimants.

I have seen the VA say many times 'the veteran's SMRs are silent' for such and such and in many cases SMRs can be loud and clear.

It can take quite a bit of time to do that even if there aren't many pages to go over-when one is looking for any documentation of any symtomatology -(that could also be treated as disciplinary action by the mil in the 201 file)or discharge papers as proof of inservice nexus.

a good internet medical reference for acronyms etc is invaluable as well in understanding SMRs.

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Although this claim was denied it shows how this type of disability (often caused due to heredity factors )can be service connected.

http://www.va.gov/vetapp07/files5/0740418.txt

"He did not have this before he came in the service (no symptoms that is). In fact, he was a very good cross-country runner. Now he has a hard time walking."

The BVA narrative and references to established VA case law in this decision supports your point.

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Welcome to Hadit and thank you for your Service.

Have you applied for VA disability as it appears that your brothers problem started while he was serving?

Yes Pete. On 5 April, we completed his VA disability claim with the assistance of a full-time VFW rep stationed in D.C. The VFW rep is concerned about two things:

1. The time frame between my brothers discharge (Dec 2008) and date of claim (April 2011) = 19 months

2. When my brother was diagnosed by the neurologist in July 2010, the neurologist did a hand-squeeze test, whereby my brother squeezed the doctors hand really hard for about 10 seconds and then was unable to let go. This is a sign of Myotonic Dystrophy. Many other tests were performed as well...including genetic testing. But my brother, being a bit-slow (Myotonic affects cognitive as well), was hung up on the hand grip thing. So....when the doctor asked him, "When did you first notice any symptoms?" My brother responded with, "When I was in third grade, I was on the swing and when I got off, I had a hard time letting go of the chains." So...the doctor wrote down that he has had this disease since he was 7 years old. The VFW rep said that the VA will definitely try to deny my brother's claim because of this comment/statement. There were no other symptoms that ever presented themselves (until he was in the service). He was NEVER treated for any symptoms (until he was in the service). This one-time, 3rd grade incident, was just my brother's mind messing with him. You have to understand how he thinks. On one hand, he is intelligent. On the other hand, it is like talking to a 10 year old. The fact is....there are two-types of Myotonic. Child-onset and Adult-onset. If my brother had child-onset, he would not have been a cross-country runner. He would not have graduated from high-school. He would be dead already. He has ADULT-ONSET Myotonic Dyst.

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