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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims


    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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100% SC P&T Mental going to college


Please pardon the length of my post, but I am looking for feedback.  I haven’t been on the board for awhile, and already miss the critique that Carlie and Stretch would have offered.

I am 100% service-connected Permanent and Total for Bipolar Disorder.  I was awarded 100% in October 2009, backdated to September 2007.  Initially, I was in the VA system from 1994 to mid-1997, before they finally successfully diagnosed me as having a Bipolar Disorder.  I responded to medication treatment well for seven years (during which time I used the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program to obtain two computer-related degrees, until the medication stopped working overnight.  My Bipolar Disorder came back worse than ever, and nothing tried by VA and private psychiatrists worked in the least bit.  Finally after 2007, in which I missed half the year being hospitalized time and again, I listened to my psychiatrists telling me I was disabled and resigned.  After 8 years of failed attempts at controlling my Bipolar Disorder, the VA has finally given me the Veterans Choice program allowing me to see a psychiatrists and psychologists specializing in Bipolar Disorder.

I have a rare form of Bipolar Disorder, which is why it took the VA so long to diagnose what was wrong with me.  I am hyper-manic, as a result, I have longer days than most people do, and look for things to fill up my time.  I do not suffer from depressive episodes like many others having Bipolar Disorder do.  The lack of depression, in itself, is a danger sign, and the VA has given me months of therapy to cope with depression if it should hit me.  There is a school of thought that people with my form of Bipolar Disorder cannot handle depression, and just spiral downwards until they commit suicide.  But I digress, sorry about that.

I was recently talking to another veteran about MIT offering their entire course curriculum online for free.  You don’t get any credit, but you can study the subjects and I was playing around with that.  He informed me that the VA is required by law to retrain me into a different profession, since I cannot work at my previous one; due to not being able to work a regular full-time job in the field I was previously trained in through VR&E.  So I researched it and found:

According to 38 USC Chapter 31 §3103. Periods of eligibility:  (c) In any case in which the Secretary determines that a veteran is in need of services to overcome a serious employment handicap, such veteran may be afforded a vocational rehabilitation program after the expiration of the period of eligibility otherwise applicable to such veteran if the Secretary also determines, on the basis of such veteran's current employment handicap and need for such services, that an extension of the applicable period of eligibility is necessary for such veteran and—(2) that such veteran had previously been rehabilitated to the point of employability but (A) the need for such services had arisen out of a worsening of such veteran's service-connected disability that precludes such veteran from performing the duties of the occupation for which such veteran was previously trained in a vocational rehabilitation program under this chapter, or (B) the occupation for which such veteran had been so trained is not suitable in view of such veteran's current employment handicap and capabilities.

So, indeed I qualify, but there is a caveat.  I must have a feasible Rehabilitation Plan to present to the Vocation Rehabilitation counselor consisting of education needed, and employment plans.  The only option that would fit me is self-employment.  So I looked at self-employment careers, and found photography.  I researched further, and found that VR&E had even given someone $30,000 to start their own photography studio after they were trained.  I know I cannot be relied upon to work at the studio full-time, but I am not alone.  I have a wife who wants to use her Dependents Educational Assistance to obtain a degree in photography too.  The difference being is that mine would be a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography, while hers would be a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography.  While I would be the one to setup everything to run the studio on my own time, she would actually be the manager with a receptionist.  We would even hire local freelance photographers to shoot events, if need be.

So basically, I would utilize project management skills to develop a business plan for the studio, and perform everything necessary for the start-up.  Having a Masters degree would give me the necessary knowledge to oversee the entire operation, but not have to be there 8 to 5; which I know I cannot do.  My wife will be the studio manager.

I have researched 100% service connected Permanent and Total for Mental Disorders and going to college.  Most of what I have read is “why would you risk the Golden Apple?”.  First:  I cannot be absolutely sure I will achieve the Masters degree, although I am quite confident; because having a Bipolar Disorder has no impact on your Intelligence Quotient.  Second:  Each and every one of us is unique, and not one size fits all.  While some may consider 100% SC P&T the Golden Apple, I feel a need to do something other than exist and age.  Third:  I doubt that I will the studio will make enough after expenses for the initial couple of years for me to make more than Substantial Gainful Activity.  If the studio starts to succeed and grow, then I can put myself on the payroll.  Fourth:  With a Masters degree, I will be qualified to teach other photographers the finer arts of photography.  Fifth:  I can undertake subjects for photojournalism and submit my work in competitions.  Sixth:  I believe in helping others.  I live in a small rural town, and there are under-privileged Seniors who cannot afford to have Senior Pictures taken.  I would love to help them.  Seven:  There is a World of opportunities to be explored that I haven’t even thought of.

I have not read anywhere that someone with a 100% SC P&T Mental cannot go to college.  I know “a 100 percent evaluation is warranted where there is total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought processes or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; and memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.”.

I know I cannot attend a traditional college with scheduled courses, but I have found an online University that is regionally accredited where I can take the classes at my own pace.  My social interactions would be online and not in person.  I can study at-home, even when I have locked myself away from the World.  There will be deadlines to meet, but I worry more about getting the work done too early, rather than late.  Going to college is different than having an occupational job, although obtaining an occupational job is the goal of attending college.

I need to mention that my wife is my rock I cling to.  She tells me to go lay down, when I’m getting manic.  It is absolute torture to lay down and rest your body, when your mind is racing with all the things you could be doing, and the minutes go by ever so slowly.  She goes to all my appointments with me, and tattles about everything!

The floor is open for comments, and thank you in advance.


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I think when we get a certain age & living with a SC.Disability for years & years...at some point in our life we need to stop worrying so much about the damn VA and get on with our life and st

I have been in serious discussion with a mother of a professional photographer, and found out that there is a reason for all the closings of photography studios around the Country.  The field is fairl

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went to college after i got out, dropped out within spittin distance of only a few months for 3rd semester to be done. And then, 7 years later, got medicated, went back to college. only made it 2 semesters and 3 weeks of classes........notice a pattern? some of us just can't be around other people. it's physically and emotionally exhausting to be on Red Alert all day. good luck to you, educating yourself i always believed was a process of continual growth, why is a "degree" necessary when you're thinking about your own business. do what fulfills you as a person, let it flow. we only live once


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I have been in serious discussion with a mother of a professional photographer, and found out that there is a reason for all the closings of photography studios around the Country.  The field is fairly well saturated, and most photographers freelance out of their own homes and have the developing done off-site.  I support my wife’s dream of achieving her dream of being a  freelance photojournalism photographer with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.  However, I am now doubtful as to making a photography studio a success.

So I am back to square one, and researching something that I can do self-employed, that will be self-fulfilling.  I filled out the DOL/O*Net Interest Profiler and the top two areas I was rated in were Artistic (26) and Conventional (19).  The next thing I did was to select the Job Zone.  I selected Job Zone 5 Extensive Preparation Needed, because I don’t want to fail at my goal.  Lo and behold, self-employment was one of the options, and that is exactly what I need.  So I am now at a point of trying to select a new self employment career path that is both artistic (creative) and conventional (run of the mill).  I like to think ‘outside the box’ and I have a lot of outside the box thinking to do!  I am expecting a call from the VR&E program sometime next week, and need to have a new feasible employment plan ready.

I am wide open to receive suggestions!  (that was a subtle hint….)

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16 hours ago, Buck52 said:

I think when we get a certain age & living with a SC.Disability for years & years...at some point in our life we need to stop worrying so much about the damn VA and get on with our life and start our ''bucket List''

I intend to do just that!



Totally agree, at least until the VA totally messed up. 


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