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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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cdog

I Need Your Help For My Disabled Husband

Question

Hello!

I am writing this on behalf of my disabled Husband of 13 years. He served for 22 years.
A little history-
He filed for his disabilities in Oct 2008 when he retired and was initially awarded 80%. He initially received the VA catch all diagnosis of Chronic Adjustment Disorder, which in reality has been diagnosed by outside Dr's as Bipolar Disorder. He receives treatment from the VA for Bipolar Disorder. Shortly after, he received a more specific mental evaluation and diagnosis for a Chronic Pain Disorder with both Psychological factors and a General Medical Condition, service connected. He also received an increase to 30% for migraines, which increased his total award to 90%, and was granted IU based on all of the above factors a month after his original award.
He is currently 90% with IU for a Chronic Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood, 40% for BPH, 30% for Tension Headaches (Migraines) 20% for Chronic Lumbar Strain, and 10% for Left Knee Arthritis-Post Surgery and also rated Incompetent to handle his own financial affairs. His right Knee was never addressed during his original C&P exams even though his Retirement Physical clearly showed it had severe Arthritis, and needed surgery. He just did not do it at that time.

Shortly after his/our VA Award he received SSDI award for his service connected issues, in addition to several other issues.

He had several conditions claimed on his retirement physical for which the VA did not address. He claimed he had spine issues of extreme pain, stiffness, lack of range of motion, in addition to hand pain and numbness, severe neck pain, stiffness, and lack of range of motion which the VA did not address. We'll we were adamant that there was something wrong and convinced his PCP to request MRIs. Of course the MRIs showed a Lumbar bulging disc, Degenerative Disc Disease throughout his spine, severe lack of disc space in his cervical area, and Moderate Bi lateral Carpal Tunnel. He was complaining of shortness of breath and lightheadedness so eventually his PCP arranged a VA stress test that revealed a Right Bundle Branch Block which causes him light headed ness and shortness of breath. Lots of issues not addressed during his initial C&P Exams.

Flash Forward almost 5 years- He has continued to deteriorate both physically and mentally. He has not worked, nor is he able to do so. He has continued to seek treatment for his mental and physical disabilities both through the VA and his personal Psychologist. The VA health providers do what they can. He goes to his appointments and takes his medication. They tell us we can medicate or operate. As an example, he recently was given a new MRI on both knees (not just the SC Left Knee) and was found to have degraded over the last 8 years to the point where he is taking Synvisc injections as a last ditch effort to delay TKR. He is 53 and the Ortho Dr recommended that he wait as long as possible before he has them both replaced, which is his only option.

His Psychologist prepared both an evaluation and completed a DBQ stating in clear concise words that due to his service connected disabilities, he is permanently and totally disabled with no chance of improvement. So he has his current award, SSDI, IU, continuing treatment and medications, a downward spiral mentally and physically, and a current eval from his Psychologist. VA records also show no significant improvement in any of his SC conditions. He just struggles to get by day to day. He has constant thoughts of suicide. I don't think he has a plan that I am aware of, but I am very concerned.
He sent a letter through the DAV requesting P&T status, not an increase, just P&T. Today he received a call from the VA informing him that he is now scheduled for 3 of his conditions to be looked at again.
I understand that he is at the 5 year mark and was going to be re-examined for these 3 conditions (MH, Prostate, and Lumbar Strain), none of which have noticeably improved. His mental health conditions have not improved, in fact his MH meds for his Bipolar Disorder and associated Depression and Anxiety were just increased a few months ago. He was recently given an OCD diagnosis by the VA. He lives on pain meds, muscle relaxers, meds for his Tension Headaches, and he takes his prostate medications and unfortunately he now has to wear ...pads to collect his excess dribbling. His Chronic Lower Back Strain causes him daily problems with pain and stiffness. He can not bend, turn, or twist without pain and stiffness.
So.....
My question to all of you is what can he expect? Can they easily take his/our ratings away given that none of his ratings have noticeably improved? He is planning on taking his Shrinks DBQ and Eval with him to the C&P Exam. He also plans to take a list of his VA prescribed Meds. What else can he take with him that may assist him in his C&P exams and ultimately towards P&T?



Thank you in advance for any and all of your help, advice, and direction.
Concerned Spouse

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Let me just add, he was Active duty for 16 years but had a manic episode and ...well that was the end of his career.

Edited by cdog

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Thanks for the clarification. Yes, he seems to have a very good basis for P & T status.

I understand now why it would be so important to your family.

This should do it:

"His Psychologist prepared both an evaluation and completed a DBQ stating in clear concise words that due to his service connected disabilities, he is permanently and totally disabled with no chance of improvement. "

I am not sure if we have a Woprksheet here for a P & T exam. Others will chime in on that.

My husband had an exam of that nature.It took about 5 minutes and a neurologist did it in a VA hallway. The local VA was crowded that day.

She asked him to do a few commands and suddenly said very loudly "I declare you Permanently and Totally Disabled."

A few other vets waiting in the VA hallway turned and looked at him right away , as if he had just been given the Holy Grail .

The problem with the P & T designation was that it took 20 years from that exam date for the VA to properly SC (under 1151) that specific disability.

I got the award letter in 2012 and told them they made a CUE in it because they forgot about 16 months of the proper retro,based on the medical evidence they had (to include the Neuro's C & P statement of the P & T ).

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Thanks to all that have taken the time to share your guidance, opinions, and thoughts. We are praying that he/we receive P&T.

Short of P&T, does it make any sense that they would try and reduce his ratings given his age 53, IU, Incompetency, and VA records that show no real substantial improvement in any of his conditions, not just the 3 up for re-exam. We are not quite at the 5 year mark. That would be the 9th of May, so we are hoping that we didn't ask for P&T consideration to early?

He has multiple Mental Health issues that the VA treats. He has Chronic Adjustment Disorder (service connected), Chronic Pain Disorder, Bipolar Disorder which he is treated for by the VA, OCD, Depression, and Anxiety. He takes a healthy dose of meds for each.

His Prostate despite medication still gives him fits. He still urinates, or tries to urinate basically every 2 hours. He has chronic sleep impairment (in his VA records) as he is up every 2 hours like clockwork to try and urinate. He has all of the classic symptoms of BPH even with the meds.

And as to his Chronic Lumbar Strain. VA MRI shows DJD throughout his spine. He has a bulging disc and Arthritis in his Lumbar area as well causing him chronic pain, weakness, and stiffness. His Cervical is much worse, but not service connected as a nexus between his retirement Physical showing pain and numbness in his hands was not Service connected. He, after he was SC was also diagnosed with Moderate Carpal Tunnel by the VA.

Anyway....with this extra information, any more opinions would be appreciated.

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Thanks to all for your advice and opinions.
My Husband received the notifications of his exams for next week. He has been seeing a private Shrink for many years so we assumed that his opinion would be heavily considered during his re-exam.
How much does the DBQ filled out by his Shrink weigh? While his initial MH diagnosis was an Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety and Depressed Mood, the VA is treating him and all of their notes on Myhealthvet state Bipolar 1 and OCD.
Also, for whats it worth under Medical History/Active Problems it states:
Fatigue/weakness
Insomnia-Unspec
Palpitations
Bipolar Disorder Mixed
Migraine, Unspecified, without mention of
Allergic Rhinitis
BPH
Other Chronic Pain
Adjustment Disorder
GAF 45
Does any of this matter relative his C&P and request for P&T?
Thank you
God Bless

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