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Disability Claim For Bipolar Disorder - Any Help Would Be Appreciated!

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Hi everyone,

I have been reading through several posts from people with similar issues. I have a few specific questions that I would love to get feedback on, though I also know that each and every claim is unique and there is no such thing as time frames or standards associated with a VA Disability Claim. However, any advise or personal experience you can share would go a very long way!

Background on my story:

I was medically separated from the US Air Force after a little over three years, honorably, after being found to be Axis 1 bipolar 2, Axis 2 personality disorder, self-defeating traits, and ADHD by a medical review board at Lackland Air Force Base in 2007. My separation paperwork clearly states that my condition was found to be NOT EXISTING PRIOR TO SERVICE and/or PERMANENTLY AGGITATED BY MILITARY SERVICE. This, I know, is in my favor. I didn't file a claim right away because I was unsure of how to go about it, then later found out that it can be done online, so that is what I did. I opened my claim for bipolar 2/ADHD along with degenerative disk disease (also diagnosed during service,) back in June of 2011 with the Chicago, IL Regional Office. We are coming up on a full year now and I have supplied more than sufficient documentation (including medical records during service, medical records for current treatment, letters of support from family and friends etc.,) and the VA has had it on file now since my claim entered "Review of Evidence" status on October 24, 2011, yet I have had ZERO correspondance from the VA. I have called on several occassions inquiring on the status to no avail. I continue to receive notifications stating that "We continue to review your claim and it will be processed as quickly as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience." I understand that the VA is very far behind due to being under-staffed, and the explosion of claims coming in from soldiers returning home from overseas (God bless them all.) I am not complaining about how long it has taken to this point, but I would like to know if there is a light at the end of this tunnell. Anyone shared in a similar claim that has any insight as to where it will go from here would be fantastic (i.e. will I need to have a C&P Exam since I was diagnosed while in the military and it was found to be not existing prior to service? How much longer might this go? What kind of rating can I expect? etc.)

I believe I am at least 50% disabled due to this condition. I am writing this long post because I am going through yet another manic episode, shaking from the Adderall I have to take daily just to remain focused on my job and family. This condition has caused me to distance myself from those who care about me, contributed to several episodes of infidelity with my previous wife (obviously we divorced,) a loss of employment (working again, but was laid off due to work related issues,) extreme mood swings, sleep deprivation, mild memory loss, panic attacks, impussive spending, alcohol abuse, increase in narcasistic tendencies, eating disorders, drug abuse (not illicit drugs, but stimulants,) severe depression and self loathing, self-defeating traits etc. It has been terrible to deal with, needless to say. Not only for me, but for my family as well. I had a really rough experience while in the Air Force and I was both physically and verbally abused quite often, starting in basic training and all the way through my three + years. I began to lash out and fight back which made matters much worse. To this day, while I have fewer stressors, I continue to battle tendencies caused by this disease. I have documented all of these issues for the VA so that is all part of my claim.

If you have read my entire rant and haven't run for the hills yet, I applaud you and sincerely appreciate you hearing me out. Like I said earlier, if anyone has any first-hand knowledge as to what I can expect moving forward, it would be wonderful. Here are the questions I would like to get some "best guesses" on:

1. Considering the evidence I have mentioned above, what would be a "reasonable" rating percentage in your best opinion?

2. How much longer can I expect to wait to hear about a C&P Exam, or my claim entering the prep for decision phase (considering the thoroughness of my claim and assuming they have everything they need to make a decision, of course.)?

Once again, thank you in advance for any help you may be able to offer.

Best Regards.

Edited by kkarlson
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"will I need to have a C&P Exam since I was diagnosed while in the military and it was found to be not existing prior to service?"

Yes, since years have passed since your discharge and the VA needs to determine the current level of disability you now have.

"How much longer might this go? "

It is impossible to estimate that. MANY here are waiting and waiting.

"What kind of rating can I expect? "etc.)

We have the VA's Schedule of Ratings here and I believe you will find Bipolar rating criteria under diagnostic code 9432.

The VA does not service connect personality disorders but I assume your main disability is the Bi Polar condition.

GRADUATE ! Nov 2nd 2007 American Military University !

When thousands of Americans faced annihilation in the 1800s Chief

Osceola's response to his people, the Seminoles, was

simply "They(the US Army)have guns, but so do we."

Sameo to us -They (VA) have 38 CFR ,38 USC, and M21-1- but so do we.

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Thanks for the reply, Berta.

To answer your question: Yes, my primary contention is the Axis 1 Bipolar Disorder.

I assumed that I would need to have a physical exam to evaluate the current condition, which since separation has become significantly worse, and I now have far more evidence to support my claim (e.g. years of various medications all with unique deleterious symptoms.) I have my fingers crossed that I will receive an appointment for an exam so I can explain my situation to an actual person who will have an impact on the eventual outcome!

I did find the bipolar rating criteria, but to be perfectly honest, I am effected by more of the criteria under a 70% rating than I am a 50% which doesn't make too much sense.

Regardless, thank you for the reply. Take care!

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Sorry to hear that you are going through so much. As someone stated before, VA doesnt service connect personality disorders but they do service connect mood disorders like bipolar disorder as long as the VA examiner doesn't conclude that the mood disorder is due to or secondary to the personality disorder or that the condition existed prior to service, even if its not documented. Military records may say the condition was aggravated, but the VA can determine that it was not aggravated. Presumption of soundness should be considered (meaning you were of sound mind and body when you enlisted). As you may see on this site, some veterans get their decision in 6 months some take years, so try to be patient and dont re-send any of the same supporting evidence. If you are unemployed, you can contact VA and inform them you are experieincing a financial hardship, they should then ask for documentation to support your financial hardship (ie-household income, bills, rent..) and then they can expedite your claim. Also, if you do experience difficulty maintaining a job due to your mental condition, and you can get a doctor to support your claim in writing, you can apply for individual unemployability, which gives your a 100% rating. However, if you are granted IU you can still work but you cant earn more than about $12,000 a year. All mental conditions are grouped together and rated based on your level of function, symptomology and a GAF score. I see you looked at the rating scheduled, so with that in mind, when you have your exam tell him/her about the symptoms you have especially the ones listed in the rating schedule. Hope this helps!

Just gotta ask, if you have a history of abusing stimulants, why the heck are they prescribing Adderral?

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Thanks for the reply/advise Donna68,

To answer your question about the Adderall - It is a very fragile situation for me because the Adderall is the only medication that I found that benefits me the most. I have my wife helping monitor any potential overuse, but luckily I do have strong willpower and the ability to recognize when I am not right. I wish I knew of an alternative because I don't LIKE Adderall in the slightest. It makes me very irritable, short-tempered and impatient. Neither of those qualities are normal for me.

I have done hours of research into alternatives, and I have tried to approach treatment from different directions. What it came down to, between my doctor, my family and I, was the creation of a prioritized list of symptoms that are most harmful to me and my family and the medication that resolved more of the most concerning traits just happened to be a stimulant. With that being said, I have tried several other medications with little to no effect:

- Depakote

- Geodon

- Lithium

- Prozac

- Wellbutrin

- Dexadrine (same darn thing as Adderall, basically.)

I love reading these types of forums (not this one in particular) about people's successes with various medications. It is just too bad that not everyone has the same reaction to the same medications. It is that unpredictability which has deterred me from trying anything else in the meantime.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

If the VA sends you for a c&p exam for the bipolar just remember that all these symptoms started in the military. What evidence do they have that you have a personality disorder? Don't let them go back into your childhood and teenage years before the military to go on a fishing trip. You are axis one bipolar. Stick to that. You were fine before the AF and now you are sick. That is the line to take with the VA.


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Great advise, and to be perfectly honest with you, that would NOT be an embellishment, whatsoever. The funny thing is, they could dig all they want into my past prior to the military and they wouldn't find anything because there is nothing to find! I feel better about the situation because I am not lying or trying to cheat the system, so to me that is a good thing.

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