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ESV12B

Cervical spine problems added as secondary to my lower back?

Question

Going through ebenefits today to submit a claim for my neck I came to the page with all the ratings. I am rated for my lower back and have never had any secondary condition for it. Today I see

1. Cervical strain
2. Neck strain
3. Multilevel degenerative disc disease
4. Disc osteophyte complex
5. Facet Syndrome

I have always had neck problems and have what I think is more than enough records while on active duty to prove it started only after I was in the military. It is documented when I enrolled into the VA but it never was something that stopped me from anything. Until last year it got a lot worse. And by the fall of last year I was having a lot of problems with my neck causing me pain, keeping me in bed, not being able to dress myself, couldn't drive etc. After a new xray from the VA in SEPT 2015 it had a few indication there might be some problems going on. At the end of the year I had a few days in a row where the pain worsened dramatically each day until I eventually couldn't move. Any movement caused pain. My wife took me to the VA ED in a different city than where I am normally treated and they gave me some stuff for the pain and to relax me. My wife wanted them to do a MRI but they couldn't they said since I was not at my assigned VA. Called PCP the next day for a MRI and 3 months later the VA had me seen. The problem was better the day of the MRI than it was 3 months prior in the ED but I still had lots of discomfort.

In between all this I established care with a private PCP 2 days after leaving the VA ED they had seen me and given me some injections and referred me to physical therapy. He also prescribed some medications. Fast forward to today and I am planning on making a claim after I have all my notes compiled to make it a less bumpy adventure with the VA and pretty much everything found in the MRI is now listed as a secondary to my service connected lower back.

Should I still file a new claim for my neck and list all the secondary's they have under my lower back rating? And should my rating percentage for my back have been looked at for possibly increasing it now that these secondary problems are added? or is this a way for the VA to rate the neck problems without having to compensate for another service connected disability. The original rating is unchanged after all these secondary's are added into it.

If so, is it better to have my lower back rating increased? Or to have a separate rating for my neck? And if it stays as a secondary condition under my lower back, can I still pursue treatment for it through the VA or will they consider treating my lower back since my neck is now secondary to that? (which blows my mind.)

At this point I have stopped going any further with the filing the claim. I have it started so it doesn't expire for a year. Just want to make sure I a m making the best choices.

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I would just claim everything as NEW. If it isn't a new claim then the VA will change it to an Increase or Secondary. From what I read above, it sounds as though they already have all the information they need to rate you, but be sure to submit any private treatment records as well.

You may also want to get your private provider to fill out a Disability Benefits Questionnaire 21-0960M-13 and 21-0960M-14 for your neck and back. It goes a long way to shortening the claims process.

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