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Veterans Board Of Appeals Takes Dr. Bash's Opinion Over Va Doctor




I thought you all might like to read this. God Bless.


Citation Nr: 0508095

Decision Date: 03/18/05 Archive Date: 03/30/05

DOCKET NO. 98-19 597 ) DATE



On appeal from the

Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Columbia,

South Carolina


Entitlement to service connection for a low back disability,

including secondary to an already service-connected left knee



Appellant represented by: Sean A. Ravin, Attorney-at-Law


The appellant, his spouse, and C. B., MD.


J. Fussell, Counsel


The veteran had verified active duty from September 1970 to

September 1972 and from January 1991 to May 1991. He also

served in the reserves and had verified periods of active

duty for training (ACDUTRA) in July and August 1974, and in

July and August 1975.

This appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) arose

from an October 1997 rating decision of the Department of

Veterans (VA) Regional Office (RO) in Columbia, South

Carolina - which denied service connection for a low back

disability. But the RO granted service connection for a left

knee disability and assigned an initial 10 percent rating for

it. This is currently the veteran's only service-connected


A hearing was held at the RO in November 2000 before a

Veterans Law Judge (VLJ) of the Board. This type of hearing

is often called a travel Board hearing. A transcript of that

proceeding is of record.

The Board remanded the case to the RO in March 2001 for

further development and consideration. In July 2002 the

Board denied the claim for service connection for a low back

disability on both direct and secondary bases. That Board

decision was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals

for Veterans Claims (Court). And pursuant to a February 2003

Joint Motion, the Court entered an Order in February 2003

vacating that July 2002 Board decision and remanding the case

to the Board for compliance with the Veterans Claims

Assistance Act (VCAA).

In response, the Board remanded the case to the RO in

September 2003. And more recently, in March 2005, the

veteran, his spouse, and Craig Bush, M.D., testified at a

hearing at the Board's offices in Washington, DC, before the

undersigned VLJ. A complete transcript of the hearing is of


The Board advanced this case on the docket pursuant to a

motion filed under 38 C.F.R. § 20.900 (2004).

During the March 2005 hearing, the veteran and his attorney

raised additional claims for a rating higher than 10 percent

for the service-connected left knee disability and for a

total disability rating based on individual unemployability

(TDIU). See page 2 of the hearing transcript. These

additional claims, however, have not been adjudicated by the

RO, much less denied and timely appealed to the Board, so

referral to the RO for initial development and consideration

is required since the Board does not currently have

jurisdiction to consider them. See 38 C.F.R. § 20.200



Based on the medical and other evidence currently of record,

it is just as likely as not the veteran's current low back

disorder is attributable to functional impairment from his

service-connected left knee disability.


Resolving all reasonable doubt in the veteran's favor, his

low back disorder is proximately due to and the result of his

service-connected left knee disability. 38 C.F.R. § 3.310(a)



The Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA)

The VCAA, codified at 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 5100, 5102, 5103, 5103A,

5106, 5107, 5126 (West 2002), became effective on November 9,

2000. Implementing regulations are codified at

38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.156(a), 3.159 and 3.326 (2004). The

VCAA requires that VA notify the veteran of the type of

evidence needed to substantiate his claim, including insofar

as whose specific responsibility - his or VA's, it is for

obtaining the supporting evidence. The VCAA also requires

that VA assist the veteran in obtaining evidence necessary to

substantiate a claim, but is not required to provide

assistance if there is no reasonable possibility that it

would aid in substantiating the claim. Charles v. Principi,

16 Vet. App. 370, 373-74 (2002); Quartuccio v. Principi, 16

Vet. App. 183, 186-87 (2002).

The Board has determined that the evidence and information

currently of record supports a complete grant of the benefit

requested. Therefore, no further notification and/or

development is required to comply with the VCAA or the

implementing regulations because it would be inconsequential.

So the Board will address the merits of the veteran's claim

for service connection for a low back disorder.

Legal Analysis

Disability that is proximately due to or the result of a

service-connected disorder shall be service-connected.

38 C.F.R. § 3.310(a) (2004). Service connection will also be

granted for aggravation of a nonservice-connected condition

by a service-connected disorder, although compensation is

limited to the degree of disability (and only that degree)

over and above the degree of disability existing prior to the

aggravation. See Allen v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 439 (1995).

In determining whether service connection is warranted for a

disability alleged, VA is responsible for considering

evidence both for and against the claim. If the evidence, as

a whole, supports the claim or is in relative equipoise

(i.e., about evenly balanced), then the veteran prevails.

Conversely, if the preponderance of the evidence is against

the claim, then it must be denied. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.102;

Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49 (1990);

Alemany v. Brown, 9 Vet. App. 518, 519 (1996).

The veteran's only service-connected disability is impairment

of the left knee, which currently has a 10 percent rating.

In a January 2004 report, Dr. Craig Bash stated that he had

reviewed the veteran's claims file for the purpose of

providing a medical opinion concerning his low back

disability. Dr. Bash pointed out this case was well within

his area of expertise. And after reviewing the record he

stated, in pertinent part, that:

It is my opinion based on the medical record, x-

ray findings, and the patient's statements that

this patient's spine is most likely secondary to

his longstanding service connected lower leg

disability and his accompanying abnormal gait,

which likely damaged his perivertebral spinal

ligaments due to undue and abnormal stress.

It is also my opinion that this patient's spine

disc disease presented with sciatica, nerve

damage, gait abnormalities and muscle atrophy

in 1997 ....

A great deal of confusion is present in the C-File

record concerning this patient's spine disease.

He currently has very severe advanced degenerative

spine disease with sciatica, antalgic gait, uses a

cane for ambulation, has muscle atrophy, and has

had multiple epidural steroid injections and a

herniated disc. The question presented in the

file is whether or not the spine disease is

related to his service connected abnormal knee and

not whether his currently [sic] spine disease was

caused by his knee surgery in 1996 ..... It is well

known that patient's [sic] with lower extremity

orthopedic problems often have abnormal gaits and

these patients often rapidly develop abnormal

painful spines. The abnormal forces which are

secondary to the gait problems places excessive

stresses across the vertebral column, which in

turn damages the ligaments. As Turik states in

the following, once ligaments are damaged then the

patient will experience advanced degenerative


"... At the onset, tearing of ligaments and

subluxation are manifest by local symptoms

of low back pain accentuated by the motion

which stretches the ligaments ...

Eventually, symptoms of localized

degenerative arthritis are superimposed ...

(Turik page 853)

It is my opinion that this patient's spine disease

is most likely secondary to this longstanding

service connected lower leg disability and his

accompanying abnormal gait, which likely damaged

his perivertebral spinal ligaments due to undue

and abnormal stress for the following reasons:

1. The patient entered service with

normal legs and spine.

2. The patient had a serious in service

leg injury which is

service connected.

3. The patient has had a longstanding

abnormal gait.

4. The patient now has advanced premature


spine disease with sciatica, atrophy

and a herniated


5. The patient does not have another

plausible etiology

for his spine disease.

6. The literature supports an association

between advance

spine disease and a longstanding

abnormal gait.

7. The medical opinions stating that this

patients [sic]

spine is not related to his leg

surgery are non germane

[sic] to the case because this

patient's spine disease is

most likely secondary to his

longstanding abnormal


The veteran underwent a VA orthopedic examination in May

2004, also to obtain a medical opinion concerning the

etiology of his low back disability at issue. His claims

file was apparently available for review by the evaluating

physician inasmuch as the examiner related the veteran's

medical history. In doing so it was reported that, in

February 1997, about six months after his left knee surgery,

he experienced the sudden onset of severe low back pain, for

which he underwent an MRI that revealed bulging discs. After

a physical examination it was reported that:

Given the apparently routine nature of the left

knee arthroscopy, and the subsequent negative

history relative to that joint as well as

currently normal examination of that joint, it is,

in my mind, very unlikely that the left knee

condition would have led to significant lumbar

spine abnormalities. While it is known that

chronic gait abnormalities can lead to lumbar

spine injury and wear and tear, the length of time

involved here makes this unlikely in my opinion.

[The veteran's] surgery was in August of 1996 and

his onset of low back pain was six months later in

February 1997. Again, given the apparently

satisfactory outcome of his knee arthroscopic

surgery, it is in my opinion very unlikely that

the degree and duration of gait abnormality

subsequent to that surgery was sufficient to cause

the currently observed degenerative disk disease

in the lumbar spine. The question relating to the

unusual physical therapy exercises is a highly

speculative one. Given the veteran's description

of what he did during these exercises they do

sound a bit unusual, but not potential [sic]

traumatic enough to have caused severe lumbar

spine injury without first significantly

exacerbating the knee symptoms. It is my opinion,

therefore, that it is less likely than not that

his degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine

was secondary to either the knee injury with gait

abnormalities or to the physical therapy used

subsequent to the knee surgery.

The May 2004 VA examiner further stated that he had reviewed

Dr. Bash's opinion, and that it appeared that Dr. Bash had

not examined the veteran to ascertain the severity of the

degenerative disc disease or, more importantly, of the knee.

Given an essentially normal examination of the knee and an

admission on the part of the veteran that he has had very

little symptomatology from the knee since his convalescence,

the May 2004 VA examiner felt justified in disagreeing with

Dr. Bash's January 2004 opinion.

An addendum to the May 2004 VA examination report indicates

that X-rays revealed three compartment osteoarthritis of the

left knee associated with a large Baker's cyst containing

multiple osteochondral fragments.

At the March 2005 hearing at the Board before the undersigned

VLJ, Dr. Bash testified that he had reviewed the veteran's

claims files on two occasions. See pages 11 and 12 of the

transcript. He said there was no evidence of a spinal

herniated nucleus pulposis (HNP) or back pain prior to the

veteran's left knee injury, and that he first developed back

pain after the left knee injury. See pages 14 and 15 of the

transcript. After Dr. Bash had rendered his January 2004

opinion and after the VA examination in May 2004, Dr. Bash

had personally examined the veteran in March 2005 - just a

day prior to the hearing. See Page 16 of the transcript.

That examination found many more positive clinical findings

as to the veteran's left knee than were found on the May 2004

VA examination. Page 17. Of particular note, the veteran's

left thigh was smaller in circumference than his right thigh

- so atrophied, and he had crepitus (a grinding, clicking

sensation) in his left knee. Page 20. Dr. Bash felt that it

was most likely the veteran's left knee pain and abnormal

gait (due to his service-connected left knee disability)

contributed to his current spinal pathology. Page 22. Dr.

Bash further stated that he felt the report of the May 2004

VA examination was inaccurate because it did not incorporate

the results of imaging and the veteran did not have a normal

left knee, as indicated in the May 2004 VA examination

report. Page 22. So in substance, said Dr. Bash, the fact

that the veteran does not have a normal left knee invalidates

the opinion to the contrary expressed by the May 2004 VA

examiner. Page 23.

The veteran testified that the May 2004 VA examination only

lasted about 30 to 35 minutes, but that, in comparison, Dr.

Bash's examination was for an hour or even an hour and 15

minutes. Page 26. The veteran's wife, a nurse, also

testified that he had no complaints of low back problems

prior to June 1996, but since that time has experienced an

abnormal gait. Page 32.

Also during the March 2005 hearing, another statement from

Dr. Bash was submitted into evidence (it is dated in March

2005), along with a waiver of initial consideration by the

RO. In the statement Dr. Bash reported that he had reviewed

the veteran's claims files for, in part, the purpose of

providing a medical opinion regarding the relationship

between his left knee and spinal disabilities. Dr. Bash

reiterated this case is well within his area of expertise

because he is a Board Certified Radiologist with subspecialty

training as a Neuroradiologist and has special knowledge in

the area of spine disease. He submitted a copy of his

curriculum vitae as proof of his qualifications. He further

stated that:

It is my opinion that certain medical opinions and

certain findings provided by Dr. Anderson are

clearly erroneous and have no basis in fact.

Further, [the] opinion [of the May 2004 VA

examiner] is inconsistent with my recent physical

exam finding of 1 March; the patient's medical

history; and the radiology imaging evidence as

I have outlined in the table below:

Dr. Bash went on to state:

In addition to the above discrepancies, I noted

that the patient could not squat, bend, stoop,

walk un-aided or lift from chair without

assistance. The patient also was using a left

knee brace, cane, lumbar spine TENS unit/wet-heat


The report [of the May 2004 VA examiner] is, in my

opinion very inaccurate, which may be due to the

fact that he dictated his findings about a

different patient into this patient's record or

that he did not integrate his addendum or the

imaging finding or his physical findings with his

medical history and/or that his medical training

in preventive/occupational medicine provides him

with an inadequate background to interpret this

complicated multi-joint/spine set of problems

and/or that he did not reference any literature to

support his opinions.

In addition, his report contains several medical

logic disconnects. For example, he basically says

that this patient's left knee is normal and

without crepitus but he also states that the knee

has moderate three-compartmental osteoarthritis.

This is a disconnect. This osteoarthritis is the

imaging equivalent to the crepitus that I felt and

heard on my exam. He also states that the patient

has had very little symptomatology over the years

but he also states that the patient uses a cane

and crutches, takes large doss of pain

medications, has difficulty with bathroom duties

and had to use a bed pain [sic] recently. This is

another disconnect.

Overall, I do not find any basis for his opinion

concerning the severity of this patient's left

knee or why/why not this patient's knee problems

contributed to his spine problems.

In my opinion this patient has had a longstanding

knee problems [sic] since service, which required

surgery and subsequently developed osteoarthritis

as documented on both imaging and exam. The

patient has had left knee pain for years and an

abnormal gait that has been documented in his

records and he now uses a cane/crutches and knee

brace and he has left knee swelling. The patient

developed back pain several months (9 months to be

exact - please note that [the May 2004 VA

examiner] inaccurately stated 6 months) following

his knee surgery. In my opinion 9 months is a

long enough period of time to develop serious back

problems secondary to an abnormal gait and or

chronic knee pain. I have seen back pain develop

immediately after an acute injury and within

several days following chronic gait abnormalities.

It is my opinion that this patient's longstanding

gait problems have caused his lumbar spine to fail

with resultant sciatica ... I have reviewed his

current MRI images dated 2 Aug 2004 and I agree

with [the May 2004 VA examiner] that this patient

has multilevel lumbar disc disease. It is my

opinion that this patient's physical exam (back

pain-spasm as documented on attached ER reports

and sciatica), medical history and imaging

findings are all consistent with his multilevel

lumbar disc disease and that this disease is due

to his longstanding service induced left knee gait

problems as his medical record does not contain

another likely etiology.

In summary, I do not find any new information in

this patient's medical record that convinces me to

change my previous opinion. On the contrary, my

recent medical exam supports my previous opinions

that this patient has serious service induced left

knee and spine problems ....

It is the obligation of the Board to weigh any contrasting or

conflicting medical diagnoses or opinions. See Schoolman v.

West, 12 Vet. App. 307, 310-11 (1999); Evans v. West, 12 Vet.

App. 22, 30 (1998), citing Owens v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 429,

433 (1995). This responsibility is more difficult when

medical opinions diverge. The Board cannot make its own

independent medical determination and there must be plausible

reasons for favoring one medical opinion over another. Evans

v. West, 12 Vet. App. 22, 31 (1998); see also Rucker v.

Brown, 10 Vet. App. 67, 74 (1997), citing Colvin v.

Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 171 (1991). Probative weight should

not be given to medical opinions when the veteran's records

were not reviewed. See Bielby v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 260, 269

(1994) (medical opinion is of no evidentiary value when

doctor failed to review veteran's record before rendering an


Here, though, both the May 2004 VA examiner and Dr. Bash have

reviewed the veteran's claims files. Nevertheless, it must

be noted that Dr. Bash reviewed the claims files on two

separate occasions - and, like the evaluating VA physician,

has now actually examined the veteran to complement this. So

there are legitimate reasons for accepting this private

physician's medical opinion over the VA examiner's medical

opinion to the contrary.

The private physician's opinions are much more focused by

addressing the impairment cause by the veteran abnormal gait.

Also, Dr. Bash cited more specific evidence in the record to

support his opinion. In fact, Dr. Bash noted inconsistencies

in the May 2004 VA examiner's opinion and, in particular, the

fact that the VA examiner indicated the veteran's left knee

was essentially normal; whereas, X-rays revealed three-

compartment osteoarthritis in this knee.

So resolving all reasonable doubt in the veteran's favor, it

is certainly just as likely as not that his current low back

disorder is a residual of the functional impairment

(especially his abnormal gait) stemming from his already

service-connected left knee disability. Thus, service

connection for a low back disorder, as secondary to his

service-connected left knee disability, is warranted.


Service connection for a low back disability is granted.


Keith W. Allen

Veterans Law Judge, Board of Veterans' Appeals

Department of Veterans Affairs

Edited by Bound4heaven (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

Dr. Bash did a great service here. I respect his COMPLETE REVIEW of the medical evidence, thorough medical examination and his finding multiple medical errors in the VA Exams and VA written reports. Good job! ~Wings

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hello--i'm new to the forum so bear with me here. i've been in contact with dr. bash. he seems very nice and eager to help vets. only thing--he's a bit expensive--rightly so considering his expertise and time used. i'm a 10% vet with a service connect diagnosis of optic neuritis. that seems a bit low considering i entered the army with 20/20 and left with 20/40 after high doses of steroids while on active duty (army). i had extensive weight gain from the steroids--and inherited depression, high blood pressure and gastroesophageal reflux. i'd never had blood pressure or gi problems--and was diagnosed with both 1 day after my official ets in 1995. it's assumed that it was caused by the steroids. i've not appealed based on the hbp and reflux--and have since experienced another auto-immune event in 1999 (unknown origin). dr. bash seems to think that all are likely linked to the auto immune optic neuritis from 1993. i want to use him, but can't quite cough up the $3k he's asking for. to anyone who feels they can answer--do you think it is worth first filing the appeal with the va, seeing what they come back with--and then if i don't like it go with dr. bash as a final option? thanks.... :rolleyes:

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I will probably get jumpred on here, but Dr Bash will work it out with you for a payment plan, otherwise if you think you can win without his IMO, then try it and if it's denied then plan on spending the money, I llok at his fee as a good insurance plan, if it's in your records and he can link it, he will, if it's now in your records and he can find a logical etiology he will, he has to be able to find a nexus something to connect it either directly or as a secondary condition, he knows the language the VA uses and he knows HOW to word the statements, which most doctors don't know HOW to do. The question is what year do you want to win your appeal in, there are some VARO's that deny his IMO's but the BVA accepts them. Believe me Dr Bash stays busy and many veterans have won their claims after getting his IMO's, and there are a lot more that won their cases without ever hearing of Br Bash, but if you have one of those claims you just don't know about, he does and he will tell you up front if he can help you or not, before he asks you for money. No I haven't used him, but I have a very strange case, that it doesn't matter who writes what, DOD will not help with verification records. some of the stuff is still classified and they ain't opening the blind studies for anyone

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His fees are comparable with Medopinions- who also are familiar with VA lingo-

A med opinion that does not conform to VA 's IMO criteria is one that-even though the Dr. SCes the condition the VA can find fault with it and reject it.

I paid for 2 IMos from Dr. BAsh- $2,000 each -both different and am ready to send Medopinions $1750 of I need another IMO. Their price was higher than Dr. Bash's at first but when they heard what I had as evidence they lowered the fee-as they only need a few documents.

The VA criteria is here for IMos under many discussions.

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From the research I have done at the BVA site Dr. Bash has helped the Vet win quite a few appeals.

At the BVA it looks like sometimes they WANT to grant them -- but don't have the evidence...or sometimes they WANT to deny them -- but the evidence won't let them do that. Dr. Bash sure seems to give them lots of evidence. Though it seems like they can tell if he is right on target or stretching to make the connections. But even then -- I haven't seen many cases where they deny the claim against Dr. Bash's opinion. I have seen quite a few granted - and quite a few remanded for the VA doctor to address the issues brought up in Dr. Bash's statements. Most of them I have seen not granted were after the BVA had remanded it once already - and the VA doctor took the time to actually address the issues brought up by Dr. Bash. It seems like quite a few of them don't bother. so after the remand --if the VA doctor doesn't take a LOT of time and effort to address all the issues -- the Vet wins the appeal --as the medical evidence presented is more in their favor than against it.

One of the recent cases I noticed though --the BVA didn't even call him Dr. Craig Bash. They just used the term (C.B.).

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I believe to some extent when the VA realizes that a certain doctor is acting as an advocate they begin to try and find ways to ignore or discredit his opinions. The VA wants to control the absolute number of claims that are granted. These guys can pick apart any medical opinion by bring up bogus objections like doctor shopping. Other times they take the doctor's opinion compeltely at face value. It is this kind of uncertainty that drives us nuts.

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You all know the VA has ignored my 3 IMOs- 2 from Dr. Bash and the third was incorporated into the first one (from former VA neurologist)

Craig was pretty upset when I told him what my POA said about his IMO-

he said I should contact my Senators and Congressman-

I did that-but those letters were really major gripes abput the VCAA- --- the problem seems to lie with the fact that my POA made sure these IMos would never be seen by the RO-I contacted their big boss on that-

My IMOs support my claim. MY POA decided they didnt warrant even Benefit of Doubt consideration.

Can you imagine that-

the VA has ignored even my other evidence too as well as the IMos and would not even consider Benefit of Doubt in my case.

Because they cannot even extend BOD if they can say you didnt send them any evidence.

I have until Sept to file suit against VA on lose of my evidence-

but I might be filing suit instead against the State of NY.

All of my claims are in rating board with a VSR periodically checking each stage of the process.

That rating decision -if the evidence is again ignored-will determine who I sue.I hope I can sue as Class action-As soon as my lawyer finishes another matter I have I will be seeking his advise on all this.Many other NYSDVA claimants have not received legal VCAA letters and are part of the backlog. I have that documented.

Dr. Bash and any IMO doctor who knows VA regs and case law also knows that pertinent probative medical evidence must be considered by VA and then they have to give a complete medical rationale if they reject it.

I dont think this ever happened to Dr. Bash before-he cant perform miracles and the VA has sometimes overruled his IMOs-but with strong medical rationale-

I am unaware if they have ever tried to ignore his IMOs before.

My AO claim was decided NOT by the RO- but by a POA-the State of NY.

They are the ones who rejected my IMOs and made sure the RO never saw them.

I thought this claim had very little monetary worth when I filed it. I was wrong.

They never had a claim like it before.

Even Ron Abrams of NVLSP never heard of similiar claim.

I filed it basically for Peace with Honor.

Dr. Bash gave me that-in his IMOs- now I know how they killed Rod.

But The VA still owes my husband Peace with Honor.

And the first proper diagnosis he ever got.

DONT allow the VA to reject any IMO without making sure they are giving you some solid reasons for that.

They have not even acknowledged these IMOs yet- in over 2 years.

A denial without proper consideration of bonafide medical evidence from a real doctor-is a denial that must be fought vigorously.

I could deal with a medical statement from VA attempting to knock down my IMOs- and I am already set for another IMO-and can get it in a week from Medopinions-

but still I need the VA to give me a medical rationale as to why the other 3 IMOs I have- do not award the claim.

They have never even attempted to read them.

Even the DRO told my rep she couldnt read IMOs.

I dont think he even gave them to her.

MY AO claim was decided by NYSDVA the day I filed it.Feb 2003.

PS_ this all gets back to the illegal VCAA I got-so the ramifications of their defiance of the VCAA means a claim is in limbo for years- 4 years -4 months so far in my case.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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so berta--are you for or against using dr. bash? i'm to hear about your problems with the va. they are a hassle..but i'm not able to dicipher from below your opinion of for or against. hang in there and God bless!!! :rolleyes:

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Dont get me wrong-

you must be new here-

I am IN LOVE WITH Dr. Bash!

He gave me some Peace with Honor - with his IMOs-

the VA has yet to comment on them-claims with a specialist rater now-

The VA still owes my husband Peace with Honor.This is their debt to him.

Dr. Bash's IM0s completely supported my claim and all the other evidence I sent that they had not addressed yet-and were a very small expense when compared to getting Peace with Honor for Rod.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

>I am unaware if they have ever tried to ignore his IMOs before.

Hello Berta,

My claim has been denied by ignoring, 3 IMO's DR Bash has sent in. My claim completely hinges on an opinion by someone who specializes in neurological radiology & a thorough evaluation of medical history.

I have complete faith in DR Bashes opinions & diagnoses.

Is he worth the money? He's worth every penny.

After a decade of having a neuromuscular disorder of unknown cause as a diagnoses & VA neurologist that refuse to view previous medical history during their diagnostic workups, Dr Bash was able to resolve a mystery that's plagued me for decades.

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Allan-has the VA given you some VA quakola BS that his IMO can knock down-if they read it?

Did they acknowledge his IMOs at all?

On April 26th you posted M21-1MR Part III Subpart IV Chapter 5 here-

I copied it and have many other regs as well-

These regs clearly say that not only does all medical evidence have to be considered- if rejected----- an IMO from a real doctor can only be rejected with a full medical rationale-

If they do consider an IMO and then knock it down with some VA crap- unfortunately another IMO might be in order.

I threw their regs back at them over this stuff-in 2005-

It all boils down to out DTA rights-

The Evidence evlautation criteria you posted here on April 26th has a very intereesting little nuance to it-

" If VA's Duty to Assist has been fulfilled, analyze the evidence for and against the claim."

I dont know if you got a legal VCAA letter or not- but the VCAA notice is what triggers DTA-because it is the ultimate DTA- prior to 2000 we only had the regular DTA with no meat in the regs.

My point is -this is what this statement (in the Dec 13,2005 Change date) means-

As lons as the RO can fail to extend DTA to a claimant (meaning no legal VCAA letter telling them what evidence they need) the VA has NOT fulfilled DTA and therefore DOES not have "analyze the evidence for and against the claim."

They are absolutely right and I have been qriping about this for 2-3 years-

As long as a vets claim goes into the Dont send legal VCAA letter pile-at the RO

(someone is determining who to discriminate against on these letters at each RO)

and then they have a wussy service rep org who does not question the illegality of what VCAA letter they get- (the generic one without an election form)-

then. like me, the VA can state that they dont have to extend the rest of DTA (the Benefit of Doubt Regs -38-CFR 4.3 and 4.6)because

since they failed to honor the ultimate DTA-the legal VCAA letter-

then why bother to even read the claimant's evidence.

The VA has successfully put the vet or widow into the crapper- set for years of limbo at BVA only to be remanded back to the RO DUE to violation of the VCAA.

Sometimes I think I am crying in the wilderness on this point.

I wonder if anyone in hyperspace sees this scam for what it really is.

As I said earlier- vet reps get paid whether they help or hinder the claimant.

Someone is helping the ROs decide who gets into the illegal VCAA letter stack.

It is our vet reps who are idly standing by and allowing this to occur.Why not- it sure gets claims off their desks for years-

the only persons I know that fully gets this is Senator Craig and the BVA Chairman.

But nothing is being done to stop the practice.

I told the task force that these new vets in time will be lumped together with the rest of us- not special anymore- and for many of us, the VA claims process is a battlefield.

One of my recommendations is to make sure newly discharged veterans have some hyperlinks to sites like hadit and their unit sites as well as the BVA, CAVC , 38 CFR and M21-1 - because they will need them all in time to fight on the next battlefield they will encounter aka the Veterans Administration.

They might get an award as a newly discharged vet and that might be the right percentage for a while- but more than likely their disabilities will increase in their disabling affect and then they will need the full benefit of the DTA and the VCAA and we claimants today-as the BVA web site shows-are being selectively denied the provisions of the VCAA- enacted in 2000 -so that the VA would NOT be arbitrary and capricious.

I dont know how long I have been here at hadit-the most important message I can give you all is to

make sure you get a real and legal VCAA letter with an election form- sign it, copy it and send it to the RO.

If you dont get the form-your claim will surely be denied-

If you did not get a legal VCAA letter the form wont be with it anyhow.

If you did not get a legal VCAA letter and filed your claim after the 2000 regs came out-

you have been discriminated against by the RO and more than likely your claim will continue to be denied. Under M21-1mr Part III Subpart iv Chap 5, Change Dec 13,2005.

They will only "analyze the evidence for and against the claim" IF the VA's Duty to assist has been fulfilled.

The VCAA is the ultimate Duty to Assist provision that claimants have.

they do NOT have to "analyze the evidence for and against the claim" if they fail to extend the benefits in the VCAA.

As I said the Director of New York State Division of Veterans Affairs insisted in mail to me that I got a legal VCAA letter.

I had to send him the actual regs that show I did not- like MANY others who have NYSDVA on their POA-ALL at the BVA web site on remand.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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BHamboy- if Dr. BAsh is doing your IMO-

it pays to email him or call him -numbers at his web site first --if you cant reach him or he doesnt get back in a few days let me know- I have other numbers for him-but his site is best bet-for contacting him via email----

It pays to send a cover letter and to make a list of the evidence and to tab it if you can-to call his attention to what supports your claim.

Any denials and SOCs can help him too as well as sending him any C & P exam results.

He needs to know-if the claim was already denied why they denied it.

He will read it all but I think this saves some time.

I sent also some medical printouts supporting my claim and some other VA documents too-

I knew when he called me -a week after receiving my stuff-that he would agree with my diagnosis----but still it was wonderful to hear that from a real doctor----

VA never gave my husband any accurate diagnosis on anything at all-for 6 years-

Dr. BAsh-had he been a doctor for VA at the Bath or Syracuse VAMC---- would have saved Rod's life.

He doesnt do skin claims or mental disability issues- but if the claim involves ECHOS, CT scans or MRIs- this is right in his area of expertise.

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There's some interesting points brought out in this topic. Personally I have heard a great many GOOD things about Dr. Bash, and the very few negative things were rather suspect. Howeever, the VA can and does ignore IMO statements ALL the time. They consistently deny a diagnosis, unless the IMO states in no uncertain terms that someone has whatever illness. Currently I am working with someone whos IMO is outstanding except the doctors states that they "think", and that it is most "probable"..... the VA, as usual took the out and denied that there was even a diagnosis.... I have seen this again and again. Some rater decides that a board ecrtified specialist is not capable of rendering a diagnosis.... or that THEY can interpret their statements in a way TOTALLY inconsistent with the veteran's benefit of teh doubt in mind.

I can yell all day about this.. and so much other VA crap, but... its simply not productive. There were SEVERAL very good points made in this post without that. I applaude Berta and her post with the VCAA... it points out the flaws of the VA system, while saying what the veteran can do to help work around those flaws. Personally I agree with her that there seems to be a "stick claim here for 2 plus years" stack... I dont know why, but some claims seem to get stuck in denial after denial in a capricious (sp?) manner... some with COMPLETE and obvious disreguard for the VA's very own rules.

What makes these claims different than others? I dont know, because I have not seen a pattern. I have looked over many claims and have had a great deal of success with achieving the veterans correct compensation, but for some reason some claims simply get.. well stuck in denial after denial... I have obne where the VA ITSELF diagnosed the veteran with PTSD.... this was during a normal intake to mental heatlh... they DIAGNOSED it, but deny service connection... and into limbo it goes... 2+ years now fighting it.... What made this claim different? Evidenciary requirements were met fro the stressor, with the same amount or more than with others that had been approved.....

I dont know, but... I do know that discussing it amongst ourselves we may see a pattern... with so many of us, and so many claims we will eventually HAVE to see a pattern. So, I suggest that we look for one... does that make sense? Let us try and see what evidenciary levels normally FAIL and what SUCCEEDS... and try to keep track, even if its some scribbled notes... we see enough here to get a view of the entire nation, so its just a matter of connecting the dots.

Anyway, its MY take on this... again some very good information so far... I reread your post about 5 times Berta, just to make sure I understood what you were saying.

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I have done extensive research on my state POA at the BVA and have found a pattern of sorts.

Also- my vet rep -the very first time he met me said my AO claim was going to the BVA and the CAVC.After a fast reading of it.He never even asked what evidence I had.

I thought he was talking out of his rear end- but I gave him a chance-I had a long time relationship with his fomer boss who got promoted to the VARO office.

It seemed absurd to me to get this decision from a vet rep and not the RO-He was nice to me but when he read my POA file he seemed to change-

award letters , a settlement with the US of A, Writ of Mandamus, Cues, etc---

he said -did the DAV do all that for you? and I said no-

I did it all myself-

He continued to be friendly and asked me if I could help some of their claimants which I did-

what I did not realise for over 2 years was that

he never filed a 21-4138 on any of my claims-

somehow he never got RO mail into my POA file,

my claims have disappeared from his file,

he lied to me when I requested DRO review and said I could not send any more evidence,

he lied to his boss and he lied to their main office-

I have all of this documented.

I also helped one of his vets with a Sec 1151 10 % tops claim-but by the time the weekend was over the claim was for 100% plus SMC as well as the 1151.I gave the claim 150%. He seemed mad when we brought in these newer claims.He was the POA -and asked me to help-I dont know why he got mad.

a few months later he intimidated this same vet to rescind his POA -I found out and raised hell and the rep at the RO pulled the rescind out of the PC and I made it VERY clear to this rep to NEVER do that again to ANY VET who walks in there-

I asked him why he did this (he is the boss by the way of the Bath office) and he said because he didnt understand the claim.I had given the vet more evidence and when the vet brought it to him he went berserk-

This got me even angrier because I reminded him You didnt have to understand it-I do and the VA will------(plus he asked me to he,lp him in the first place) he should not have intimidated the vet-

a WWII vet who just found out he had additional cancer that was terminal !

And this dope tries to force him to rescind his POA-

He treats the vet REAL good now.I used some Command presence on his butt-

There is a pattern. long story I shouldnt even attempt to state it all here-

After my lawyer gets done with a matter I have at his office I am going to take some time (I need to take my final first) and sit down with this lawyer to see how I can file class action in this state against

either the Buffalo RO or this state rep org or whoever-

I dont know if this is federal or state issue- a class action suit to stop the RO violations of the VCAA-and stop whoever is helping them.

When vet orgs are paid to know these regs in the VCAA then they are liable with that knowledge-if the VA fails to grant the claimant the Duty to Assist criteria-to advise the vet and to take some action to get the VCAA letter corrected right away-

I have found a pattern in my state but am writing FOIA to the BVA also because they, in their Chairmans report , have broken down claims at the BVA as to state divisions as well as DAV etc-

as to remands etc.

I started with 2006 and by the time I got to 40 remands due to VCAA violation with my reps on the POA I knew something was funny-

and of course I have letter from their director as proof that they dont know what a VCAA letter really is.

I dont know if I have a cause of action at all for class action suit-for all vets and widows adversely affected-

but I sure am willing to invest money and time into it if I do.

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