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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

Question

First off, let me say this site has been extremely helpful to me in developing my brother's VA claim.  He's a former Marine - served in Vietnam 1969-70 and was WIA by tripping a grenade booby trap - Purple Heart.  He was unemployed for approximately 4 years of the first 8 years he was back.  Then in the 8th year, he attempted suicide, taken away in a straight jacket, hospitalized and diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type.  In the 5 years that followed, he underwent long-term mental health therapy, was incarcerated for hitting a police officer with his truck (charged with intent to maim/kill), received a Felony conviction, put on Probation, and lost his license.   There were many other bizarre behaviors too numerous to list here.   My father filed a VA claim for his "nervous condition" in 1982 - The VA denied it saying "evidence did not establish service connection for PTSD - and disorder not shown by the evidence of record - your nervous condition not shown to have been incurred in service."   With my parents now gone, my husband (retired USA LTC) and I now financially support my brother, who lives below the US Census Poverty level.   His only income is SS retirement.  He's on food stamps.   This prompted me to re-file his claim.  They came back with "disabilities claimed" of PTSD - reopen; Non-service connected Pension - new; Schizophrenia, residual type, competent;  Scars - increase; Compentency - new; and Special Monthly Pension - new.   

My biggest obstacle has been gathering medical evidence for this claim.   I was only able to submit the written diagnosis from his hospital for schizophrenia in 1978 (quite detailed though citing suicide attempt, paranoia, second coming of Christ hallucinations and all that); emergency center invoice from the local County Community Mental Health center in 1982, a physician's report of medical status (schizophrenia-form episode with depressive symptoms) in 1983.  I also submitted relevant documents including the Probation Officer's consult with his mental health therapist agreeing his behavior arose from Vietnam combat experience, a Circuit Court judge probation condition that he undergo a year of mental health treatment, and a DMV suspension letter indicating license would only be reinstated on the condition that he file a psychiatric evaluation annually.    I've reached out to the hospital, the mental health center, even the County Court reporter to get further documentation.   All records have been destroyed in accordance with the state record destruction policy because it's been so long.

The VA has now come back asking for "medical evidence of his permanent inability to obtain/maintain gainful employment".   They didn't ask for a medical exam, they didn't offer a medical exam or Field Examination.  They made no reference to PTSD or Schizophrenia.   (Are they planning to deny it outright or are they perhaps accepting it based on his booby trap trauma??)  There is no other medical documentary evidence to be had!  I am creating a time line of sorts for them - showing his below poverty earnings and unemployment correlating to the times he was hospitalized and undergoing mental health therapy.    DOES HADIT or ANY VET out there have any other suggestions for me as to how to tackle this lack of evidence in my response to the VA?  Please come back to me --- they are asking for my response back within 3 weeks.  Would greatly appreciate any comments.   

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      The 5, 10, 20 year rules...



      Five Year Rule) If you have had the same rating for five or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless your condition has improved on a sustained basis. All the medical evidence, not just the reexamination report, must support the conclusion that your improvement is more than temporary.



      Ten Year Rule) The 10 year rule is after 10 years, the service connection is protected from being dropped.



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      At 55, P&T (Permanent & Total) or a few other reasons the VBA will not initiate a review. Here is the graphic below for that. However if the Veteran files a new compensation claim or files for an increase, then it is YOU that initiated to possible review.



      NOTE: Until a percentage is in place for 10 years, the service connection can be removed. After that, the service connection is protected.



      ------



      Example for 2020 using the same disability rating



      1998 - Initially Service Connected @ 10%



      RESULT: Service Connection Protected in 2008



      RESULT: 10% Protected from reduction in 2018 (20 years)



      2020 - Service Connection Increased @ 30%



      RESULT: 30% is Protected from reduction in 2040 (20 years)
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