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C&p Exam Frustration

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blackwind

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Sorry, really long post.

Not sure if this is the right place, but I am 100% service connected vet that has received his benefits for nearly eleven years. I was medically separated and denied disability by the Marines, I thought that was it. What I didn't know at the time is that the VA could assign their own ratings and 5 months later I received my letter that informed me of my compensation from a pre-discharge exam. Years I struggled inside my home fighting a new enemy: my mind. Eventually I learned how stress increases my symptoms and that I need to be in environments I either directly controlled or can deal with on my own terms. It took a decade to learn that, in the process I realized some of the stress I deal with is the direct result of sitting at home and doing nothing. I began to question if life is worth living like this, collecting a check and wasting away. My counselor at the vet center encouraged me to go back to school as a part of my therapy. Told me to deal with the challenges on my own terms and at my own pace. I always wanted to get a degree, and then a thought occurred to me. If i could work on obtaining my degree than perhaps one day I may be able to return to work, to feel useful again. At this juncture I still don't know if I could work, I mean my hallucinations of my dead daughter and her mother will more than likely haunt me for as long as I live and my two previous C&P examiners noted that this condition will likely persist through my life. I accept that, but does it mean I have to do nothing with my life? I believe if I have the possibility to find something I can do despite my obvious barriers shouldn't I at least try? Isn't that the goal of all my therapy? Well so two years ago I went back to school, turns out that as long as I can work with professors who are willing to let me slide on the attendance issues and they let me work ahead I can keep up.

Now the problem: I have a C&P exam coming up a month from now, something that has never occurred before either, for the first time in 12 years of suffering from MDD w/psychotic features I have actually manages to stay on track and work on something. Not without some rough times, as my hallucinations love to point out my failures, and continue to reinforce that I will fail at this just as I have with everything else. Hate is as good as motivator as any to achieve something. Does the ability to go to school equate to being able to manage my array of issues at the workplace? Not really, I have yet to try, school is just merely the first phase of an experiment. As I stated before I need to find an environment I can deal on my own terms, trying to find a suitable job that allows me to replace my disability income may not be even possible. Assuming I could even work for a sustained period of time at any rate. After some reading, it seems that by simply going to school (I used my GI benefits) it seems that by showing some cognitive function can put at risk the lifeline that I have been using for the past decade as I worked on trying to manage my psychological disorder. It took nearly ten years to even start reclaiming my life, encouraged by a system to improve and find some fulfillment in my life, is also the same system that will take it away as I now face the possibility of being homeless, or at the very least financial ruin as even a moderate decrease in my disability translates to over $1000 dollars loss. The previous two C&P exams I showed no improvement, it was a no brainer, I was in intense therapy trying to learn how to cope with this condition, this time however i have managed to do something other than rot in my house. I ask if the goal of therapy and medication is to help improve my condition so at one day I could manage to get off of disability (if possible) or at least obtain some kind of fulfillment in life then why risk punishing anyone who participates in therapy and attempts to manage their condition? It seems the system is designed to fail, their is no incentive to improve and rotting away in a house waiting to die is not an existence I wish to continue. At this point I won't be able to hold down a job for long, even if I could manage get an interview, practically zero work history for ten years and only a partial college education. Even if I did find someone willing to take a chance and I could maintain it there is no way I could find employment that would supplant my current income.

I never asked to be put on disability, I didn't even know I could be. I thought the military denied me (figured they would) and that was that. I figured I would have been dead soon enough, and that was ok by me at the time. I was 20 years old when my family died, medically separated at 22, and while the Marines did make my condition worse, I didn't know that they could be held responsible for it. I accepted an early death, then I got a break, allowed a chance to work on myself while all my needs were taken care of. Now I face losing everything again at 32 because I used benefits I earned, encouraged by the system to use them, and now this C&P exam will come, I won't lie about school, where someone at the VBA who only knows me on a piece of paper will look at his exam, look at my medical records and could claim I show minor improvement or even moderate and possibly rate me lower. The stress of of heading to the exam is unbearable, the thought of losing everything again is unthinkable.

Edited by blackwind
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Hope this helps

38 CFR 3.343 Continuance of total disability ratings

(a) General. Total disability ratings, when warranted by the severity of the condition and not granted purely because of hospital, surgical, or home treatment, or individual unemployability will not be reduced, in the absence of clear error, without examination showing material improvement in physical or mental condition. Examination reports showing material improvement must be evaluated in conjunction with all the facts of record, and consideration must be given particularly to whether the veteran attained improvement under the ordinary conditions of life, i.e., while working or actively seeking work or whether the symptoms have been brought under control by prolonged rest, or generally, by following a regimen which precludes work, and, if the latter, reduction from total disability ratings will not be considered pending reexamination after a period of employment (3 to 6 months).

(b) Tuberculosis; compensation. In service-connected cases, evaluations for active or inactive tuberculosis will be governed by the Schedule for Rating Disabilities (part 4 of this chapter). Where in the opinion of the rating board the veteran at the expiration of the period during which a total rating is provided will not be able to maintain inactivity of the disease process under the ordinary conditions of life, the case will be submitted under §3.321.

© Individual unemployability. (1) In reducing a rating of 100 percent service-connected disability based on individual unemployability, the provisions of §3.105(e) are for application but caution must be exercised in such a determination that actual employability is established by clear and convincing evidence. When in such a case the veteran is undergoing vocational rehabilitation, education or training, the rating will not be reduced by reason thereof unless there is received evidence of marked improvement or recovery in physical or mental conditions or of employment progress, income earned, and prospects of economic rehabilitation, which demonstrates affirmatively the veteran's capacity to pursue the vocation or occupation for which the training is intended to qualify him or her, or unless the physical or mental demands of the course are obviously incompatible with total disability. Neither participation in, nor the receipt of remuneration as a result of participation in, a therapeutic or rehabilitation activity under 38 U.S.C. 1718 shall be considered evidence of employability.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1718(f))

(2) If a veteran with a total disability rating for compensation purposes based on individual unemployability begins to engage in a substantially gainful occupation during the period beginning after January 1, 1985, the veteran's rating may not be reduced solely on the basis of having secured and followed such substantially gainful occupation unless the veteran maintains the occupation for a period of 12 consecutive months. For purposes of this subparagraph, temporary interruptions in employment which are of short duration shall not be considered breaks in otherwise continuous employment.

(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1163(a))

Cross Reference: Protection, total disability. See §3.951(b).

[33 FR 16273, Nov. 6, 1968, as amended at 39 FR 14944, Apr. 29, 1974; 50 FR 52775, Dec. 26, 1985; 53 FR 23236, June 21, 1988; 55 FR 17271, Apr. 24, 1990; 57 FR 10426, Mar. 26, 1992; 58 FR 32445, June 10, 1993; 58 FR 46865, Sept. 3, 1993]

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