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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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TiredCoastie

Need Help - Which Doctor Takes Precedence?

Question

Hello everyone and Merry Christmas!

I'm in the final stages of putting together a NOD - and thanks to all those who helped me thus far. I'm taking AskNOD's advice and putting appropriate CFRs in my rationale for why the RO wrongly denied service connection. However, I can't find an obvious CFR cite that covers which doctor they should listen to. In my situation, my ENT filled out a DBQ that said that my hearing loss was related to military service. The RO, relying on audiologists, is using the argument that I had hearing loss upon entering the service and that the level of increased loss was not due to military service - which for me included loud engine noise, pistol, rife, auxilitary or main battery fire, helicopter operations, etc. If my ENT said that it was, in his opinion, related to military service shouldn't the RO take that opinion over VA or QTC audiologists?

Of course, as AskNOD has so aptly put it, the DBQ form is somewhat short of a nexus letter. I can go back to my ENT and ask him for a full nexus letter to include with form 9.

But first of all, is there a CFR cite that discusses which doctor to choose? I sure can't find one...

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After reading your post, you have an issue you need to deal with first before you spend the money on an audiologist or medical opinion.

If they are denying your claim on the grounds that your hearing loss pre-existed service, then you need to clear that up.

The VA frequently denies claims on these grounds - and they FREQUENTLY screw up the presumption of soundness. Unless your MEPS doctors conducted a hearing exam that showed a LOSS prior to service, then you are entitled to the Presumption of Soundness, and the VA can only rebut that by showing:

1) That your hearing loss was NOTED on a MEPS physical exam, and

2) That your military service did NOT aggravate the hearing loss.

Hope that helps a bit....from what you are saying, you have to kick out that "pre-existing condition" argument before any expert opinion really matters.

Chris

Thanks, Chris. I've been going after this exact problem since I was initially denied on my first claim. My MEPS exam did include a hearing test which showed mid-range hearing loss. I've contended that this initial exam was inaccurate. My hope was that my ENT would look at the results, see that my hearing improved after I entered the service, giving me the argument that the test was clearly faulty. My ENT with his audiologist walked me through the hearing test results. They showed me that, for whatever reason, by the time I had my next audiology exam after MEPS, my hearing pretty much matched my intake exam.

This may seem strange to have this memory reaching back almost 30 years to that MEPS exam, but I remember being frustrated because the booth was noisy.

This particular disability was a matter of making something right rather than a distinct "gotta have it" service connection decision. I still believe that my time in the service damaged my hearing. But, by God's grace, I'm receiving the care I need to be able to hear better without my hearing loss being service connected. And I've got bigger issues that I've got to fight, like my TIAs. In the end, hearing loss will be a nusiance for the remainder of my life. The underlying condition that's causing my TIAs, which is without a doubt service connected, may well end my life.

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Thank you Chris. My first question after just seeing this thread is what the veteran's entrance physical said or didn't say about hearing loss. If hearing loss is not noted on the physical, the veteran's hearing was assumed to be just fine upon entrance into service. Was it noted on the separation physical?

There's a recent discussion on this very topic at Facebook by The Attig Law Firm in Dallas that is worth review. It not only discusses presumption of fitness for duty, but also discusses aggravation of existing conditions by military service if the veteran's condition was acknowledged at the entrance physical but the veteran was accepted for service, anyway. It is relevant to other conditions, as well. The veteran's entrance physical is the first piece of evidence a veteran should get his/her hands on, and the separation physical the second piece, to provide the foundation for the rest of a disability claim.

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I think a complete detailed examination or opinion from a licensed physician would carry equal weight as a C&P examiner.

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I think a complete detailed examination or opinion from a licensed physician would carry equal weight as a C&P examiner.

An issue dealing with hearing loss or tinnitus must be addresses by a specialist in the field -

just a licensed physician won't cut it.

It must come from a licensed audiologist and sometimes is accepted from an ENT specialist.

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