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  • Trouble Remembering? This helped me.

    I have memory problems and as some of you may know I highly recommend Evernote and have for years. Though I've found that writing helps me remember more. I ran across Tom's videos on youtube, I'm a bit geeky and I also use an IPad so if you take notes on your IPad or you are thinking of going paperless check it out. I'm really happy with it, I use it with a program called Noteshelf 2.

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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

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    • So, my lawyer sent an IME w/ IMO and filed a supplemental claim solely for IU on March 20.

      It was closed on March 25, and va.gov just states claim closed and nothing more.

      Hopefully, I get good news.
    • Thanks for the responses. I am filing a new claim but will continue pushing the NOD. My new question is it stated in law or statute that if during the claims process the VA finds conditions that could possibly rate service connection that was not originally filed for, the VA will “invite” the veteran to file the claim on the claims form. Reason I ask is that my private DBQs, NEXUS letter, and even the VA nurse examiner's DBQs lists bilateral upper radiculopathy as present. If it is written in statute or official guidance it might qualify as a CUE. Just looking at all angles. 
    • Everyone needs to read our stories so they can try to avoid these screws by the va...
      Thank you, everyone contributes, good or bad, all of our stories will help others, and yes, they have been stated by others for ages, over and over, but we just get depressed, and the time turns into years as they screw us..

      Welcome to the department of Veterans Affairs!  I can honestly say, "been there, done that".  

      Even after winning my tdiu in 2017, it was back to the drawing board as VA hornswaggeld my effective date.  (but of course).  

      I finally won my tdiu effective date in Feb. 2020, 18 years after I first applied!!!  

      Here is how they managed to drag mine out 18 years:

      1.  They never adjuticated my decison until 2009, where they called it "moot".  

      2.  I appealed, said it was not moot because it could result in an earlier effective date and SMC S under Bradley vs Peake.  The judge agreed with me, and ordered VARO consider me for extra schedular TDIU, under 4.16 b.  

      3.  The VARO piddles with  the remand for 3 years, and hoped I wouldnt notice.  I noticed and raised cane until they adjuticated it.  (denied of course).  

      4.  Finally, after the baord denied again, I hired a lawyer, in 2014, and appealed to CAVC.   

      5.  The lawyer won a remand, got an IMO and I won tdiu in 2017.  But at the wrong effective date, even after 15 years.  

      6.  I hired another lawyer, Chris Attig, and appealed the effective date, and he won a remand for effective date.  Trip 2 to CAVC.  

      7.  Mr. Attig won a remand, and advised me to get another IMO.  

      8.  The board awarded my earlier effective date in Feb. 2020.  

           So, I do have advice fighting VA for TDIU, they fought and fought and I hung in there and won it all.  

      ADVICE:  Dont count on VA, they could easily throw your fax in the trash.  Follow up!  
    • "Keep in mind that due to the nature of the digestive system, VA would most likely combined your conditions and pay you at the higher rate to avoid pyramiding".    That is one of my main gripes.  They are only listing the GERD with hiatal hernia and ignoring the rest of my gastric issues such as the gastritis which I also had in service.  I included it in my 2007 request for increase and again in 2019.  The info from the civilian dr that stated I had the gastritis with H pylori was not even provided to the examiner in 2007, nor did he have my VA health records. The 2019 request was based on an EGD I had AT THE VA in Jan 2019.   I filed for an increase 6 Mar and they did an ACE on 27 Mar and downgraded to noncompensable on that date.  The only reason I was thinking CUE:  38 CFR § 3.326 - Under Examinations  it states (c) Provided that it is otherwise adequate for rating purposes, a statement from a private physician may be accepted for rating a claim without further examination".  
    • Enough has been said on this topic. This forum is not the proper forum for an attorney and former client to hash out their problems. Please take this offline
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Bonzai

100% SC P&T Mental going to college

Question

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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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!

jmo

........................Buck

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

 

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A couple of weeks ago, I was informed by the Nashville VR&E Regional Office that I was finally assigned a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) in Memphis.  After calling and getting the wrong departments for an hour and a half, I finally was able to talk to him.  From the beginning of the phone call he was extremely rude, because I must have interrupted his afternoon siesta.  I explained that I was trying to re-enter the VR&E program to beome trained in a career that I could work in.  He flat out lied and stated that the VR&E program is NOT for education, and I had to use GI BILL or VEAP benefits to go to college, and that the VR&E program does NOT provide any equipment either.  So I asked him if his statement was his official position, despite the fact that the VA Website and 38 USC Chapter 31 state that training is available, provided you meet the criteria.  He repeated that NO education is available through the VR&E program.  He also stated that his office is under-staffed, overworked, and he has appointments until October.  I asked him if that meant my initial appointment with him wasn't going to be until November, but that he was already telling me my request was going to be denied?  At this point, he asked my name and last four.  He told me I already have a Bachelors degree and nothing more is needed.  He then told me goodbye.

I did not contact him to start a war, but he has drawn the line in the sand.  I have sent certified letters detailing his disregard for U.S. Code (Federal Law) to the Nashville VR&E office, and Washington VR&E office, apprising them of the situation.  I also contacted my Congressman, and have been assigned a Congressional Aide to follow this through at the Washington D.C. level.  I refuse to see the Memphis VRC or even be processed by that office.  So what should have been routine procedure, has now turned into a war with a tenured Government employee, who doesn't have a clue on the regulations of performing their job.

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@Bonzai Great to see you!!! 

Have you checked out http://www.disabledveterans.org I think it will helpful in your fight for Voc Rehab. We have had a lot of complaints about Voc Rehab so do keep us posted on your progress. You may even want to think about starting your own blog about it. That will give you something to do. I did it and here we are 20 years later.

About a blog, you can use your photographs and your wive's to illustrate your posts. It might just turn out to be your thing.

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    • So, my lawyer sent an IME w/ IMO and filed a supplemental claim solely for IU on March 20.

      It was closed on March 25, and va.gov just states claim closed and nothing more.

      Hopefully, I get good news.
    • Thanks for the responses. I am filing a new claim but will continue pushing the NOD. My new question is it stated in law or statute that if during the claims process the VA finds conditions that could possibly rate service connection that was not originally filed for, the VA will “invite” the veteran to file the claim on the claims form. Reason I ask is that my private DBQs, NEXUS letter, and even the VA nurse examiner's DBQs lists bilateral upper radiculopathy as present. If it is written in statute or official guidance it might qualify as a CUE. Just looking at all angles. 
    • Everyone needs to read our stories so they can try to avoid these screws by the va...
      Thank you, everyone contributes, good or bad, all of our stories will help others, and yes, they have been stated by others for ages, over and over, but we just get depressed, and the time turns into years as they screw us..

      Welcome to the department of Veterans Affairs!  I can honestly say, "been there, done that".  

      Even after winning my tdiu in 2017, it was back to the drawing board as VA hornswaggeld my effective date.  (but of course).  

      I finally won my tdiu effective date in Feb. 2020, 18 years after I first applied!!!  

      Here is how they managed to drag mine out 18 years:

      1.  They never adjuticated my decison until 2009, where they called it "moot".  

      2.  I appealed, said it was not moot because it could result in an earlier effective date and SMC S under Bradley vs Peake.  The judge agreed with me, and ordered VARO consider me for extra schedular TDIU, under 4.16 b.  

      3.  The VARO piddles with  the remand for 3 years, and hoped I wouldnt notice.  I noticed and raised cane until they adjuticated it.  (denied of course).  

      4.  Finally, after the baord denied again, I hired a lawyer, in 2014, and appealed to CAVC.   

      5.  The lawyer won a remand, got an IMO and I won tdiu in 2017.  But at the wrong effective date, even after 15 years.  

      6.  I hired another lawyer, Chris Attig, and appealed the effective date, and he won a remand for effective date.  Trip 2 to CAVC.  

      7.  Mr. Attig won a remand, and advised me to get another IMO.  

      8.  The board awarded my earlier effective date in Feb. 2020.  

           So, I do have advice fighting VA for TDIU, they fought and fought and I hung in there and won it all.  

      ADVICE:  Dont count on VA, they could easily throw your fax in the trash.  Follow up!  
    • "Keep in mind that due to the nature of the digestive system, VA would most likely combined your conditions and pay you at the higher rate to avoid pyramiding".    That is one of my main gripes.  They are only listing the GERD with hiatal hernia and ignoring the rest of my gastric issues such as the gastritis which I also had in service.  I included it in my 2007 request for increase and again in 2019.  The info from the civilian dr that stated I had the gastritis with H pylori was not even provided to the examiner in 2007, nor did he have my VA health records. The 2019 request was based on an EGD I had AT THE VA in Jan 2019.   I filed for an increase 6 Mar and they did an ACE on 27 Mar and downgraded to noncompensable on that date.  The only reason I was thinking CUE:  38 CFR § 3.326 - Under Examinations  it states (c) Provided that it is otherwise adequate for rating purposes, a statement from a private physician may be accepted for rating a claim without further examination".  
    • Enough has been said on this topic. This forum is not the proper forum for an attorney and former client to hash out their problems. Please take this offline
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