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Mike Nelson

Independant medical records beyond statute of limitations

Question

I received my injuries in 1971, knees, shoulders, but finished my service and separated in 1973.  During my service time I went to dispensary twice for my pain, but got NSAID and sent back to work.  I didn't think anything of it at the time being only 19.  Shortly after separation, 3 months, I ended up in the ER with severe shoulder pain.  This ended up being a string of ER visits that lasted a couple of years.  I had no idea about going to a VA clinic and had heard horror stories about Heinz Hospital in Chicago anyway.  I had plenty of reasons to avoid anything Army at the time so thought never occurred to me beyond just making my pain stop.  To make a long story short, I sucked it up and either lived with it or sought ER care.  In 2010 I had my 12th orthopedic surgery, 3 on left knee, 1 on right knee, 3 on left shoulder, 5 on right.  I've had my left knee replaced and right shoulder and right knee are pending.  I still have a dependent child so I began to realize that I might not be able to support her if I can't work, so 'bit the bullet' and sought VA advice.

I filed a claim for disability which was denied in 2012 and appealed it twice and finally was awarded 20% in 2015 for my knees only.  They denied the shoulder injuries because they said the records were silent for continued care.  There are only the two little pieces of paper from the dispensary stating that I presented with shoulder pain, (no treatment note), the claim was filed so late that the medical records from the various ER's and orthopedists are long since destroyed, far past the statute of limitations.  The earlier surgeries on my shoulders used a technique called 'Putti-plat' repair which was made obsolete in the early '80's and this was noted in the examinations of both the VA doctor and IME.  

The AOJ in my interview granted that my story was 'compelling' but that the medical records were 'silent' in regards to continued chronicity of shoulder problems.  Luckily, my knees were bad enough that there was plenty of evidence to support that portion of the claim even though it took three tries at it.

First question is of course, Should I just give up and keep going?  The VA now wants to schedule a total right knee and right shoulder replacement.  I have rehabbed my shoulders so many times I just don't think I've got another one in me, and I will have to retire.

Second question is should I appeal and ask to move the effective date for my 20% earlier, like back to 1973?

If I appeal the shoulder issue again, what should I do to make it work?

Thanks, Mike Nelson

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Similar situation for my husband. We got a piece of paper from the Baumholder clinic, but only stated seen for sutures due to cut, no details published and no x ray reports on the head wack that happened when he recoiled from nearly severing his right index finger on the tank cables and hit the hatch, Still believe that blow caused the formation of a dural arteriovenous fistula, that years later ruptured due to hypertension he developed in service thanks to the herbicides, insecticides, and diesel he was breathing all the time un protected. We got blank health record forms they had in his file but didnt complete. We had a hard time finding any records for him that far back but did get one from an employment exam he has right after service and then many record from private docs since 1998. His stroke was in 2008. Still waiting too. But you night be able to find records from that far back if you had insurance policies you applied for or an employers pre employment physical. Worth a try.

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