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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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  • 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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Question

I am in the process of putting together a claim package for mental health issues related to MST.  Try as I might, I cannot find a VSO with experience in my situation.  It's taken me years to accept that I need help and that I need to address this once and for all, so when I say that I cannot handle doing this twice (submitting a sub par claim and then doing appeals) I really mean it. From day to day, I vacillate between thinking my problems are actually other people's inability to cope OR feeling like there is no point to me and that I'm a burden.If it weren't for the whole not being able to pay bills and risking alienating my kids for all eternity, I'd be perfectly content letting the world turn while I hang out at home and being maladjusted and mean.

In my perfect world, there would be a check list of things to submit for a fully developed claim. On this checklist, there would be a list of key phrases or high points that would help sway the decision makers into awarding adequate compensation. I haven't been able to find anyone that has had success doing this with a case like mine.  I have police reports from the MST.  I have trauma counseling records and AD medical records that clearly state a d/x for PTSD related to rape on X date. My counseling sessions identified dissociation behaviors, PTSD, and anxiety. One doctor even noted that I was combative and stated that I wished harm on my attackers. 

Obviously, the Navy handled this clear cut case of rape, with evidence and my complete cooperation, like they do any scandal.  They buried it and came after me.  That might be a secondary stressor, but I've been warned that claiming a secondary stressor could hose up everything and to keep my mouth shut?  kind of amazing that the advice that is meant to help, sounds a lot like the advice that sent me careening out of control all those years ago.

Anyhow, I survived, got married, got out, and went in and out of counseling.  Over the years, I've been diagnosed with PTSD, Chronic Depression, Chronic Adjustment Disorder, Agoraphobia, Generalized anxiety Disorder, and Dissociation Disorder.  I don't trust military medicine or the government, so most of my counseling was done through non-profit organizations and women's shelters. They're so secretive, that I felt it'd be safe to tell them what I went through and my statements wouldn't end up in the Navy's summary of Mishaps... again. So, I don't really have records of those, except for prescriptions that were reported to Tricare.   I do have my civilian medical records. It has page after page of doctors complaining that I broke down, was combative, emotional etc, etc.  I do have a few sessions with shrinks at MTFs in the last couple years. They were not keen on actual diagnostics, they just gave me the pills I asked for.

I'm shopping shrinks to assess me and give diagnosis. I'm not sure I need a nexus letter, but I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt.  I have a letter from my ex boss describing how my work performance plummeted over the years and how he made accommodations to keep me on. I also have a letter from me, describing my bad days and my rituals to get through them. My husband and his best friend were witnesses to the fallout of my rape, in terms of the military's response to me.  They can verify in statements that I did report it and go into counseling. They can also verify that I'm socially isolated and very codepenedent on them to meet new people or get involved in activities.  I don't have a single friend that they didn't make for me, first.  I do not know how to people. I don't have friends from work. I don't have "my own" friends from church. I don't even have people who like me well enough, and include me in things, without my husband and his best friend acting as intermediaries.  

oh, I also have the most recent sentencing transcripts for the ringleader of my attackers.  The judge stated that he felt this dude was unrepentant and a monster. He cited his past sex crimes, "both in the record and that didn't make it to trial" and his history of convincing others to help him conceal his crimes.  If that's not a shout out from the bench, I don't know what is.

Anyhow, I guess my question is, has anyone here done a fully developed MST claim with multiple bullet points for anxiety, phobia, ptsd, and depression, and get 100% or at least, a high enough rating to qualify for unemployability?  Without having to go through appeals and lawyers?  Was a police report enough, even if the military dropped it?  Should I give the C&P my evidence, letters, and my personal statement too? I'm sure I have 1000 more questions,  but I'm mostly looking for someone who has done what I'm trying to do.

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Guest L

Broken Cat - Hi -  NIce to meet you "Shipmate"- sorry for the situation. 

I was able to do my own claim with similar circumstances - also - Navy 1975-1997 

 I was able to get IU - with one shot

   My assailant is still in prison- because he murdered his last victim,  I was a witness at the Court Martial and at his Murder trial.  I have been protesting his parole with Victim Impact Statements, won a 5 year denial in 2014 with just one letter from me. Praise God! - it is now time for him to have a hearing and my Senator has assisted with helping to block his parole. 

Link to forms - as a start at VA.gov -( PTSD-MST)  if I forget while dissecting your information

Here is a useful link - "checklist" of sorts: http://statesidelegal.org/how-file-well-prepared-mst-claim

                                                                          https://www.vawatchdog.org/

Gather these items together to initiate claim. 

I started with Understanding the 38 CFR - if you understand the criteria of your claim,you can help yourself - I made lots of mistakes, but learned. 

1. PTSD Diagnosis from a VA professional ( You have - as stated in your post)

    a)  Compose a personal  Letter stating how this trauma has affected your life

2.Nexus is the police report of incident and any medical care and treatment (as you stated you also have) 

3. Get originals as able, of evidence - I was able to locate the NIS report with photos and crime scene pictures of my case by simply writing a request( this report was redacted of course but still usable)

           "google" address for NIS - send ID along with request for case file.  - takes a month or two to get - no cost

4. Buddy Statements are very useful if able- also family members the criteria for proving MST was changed around 2010. 

5. Present inmate info or whatever you have related to the assiliants conduct/behaviors - I was able to get a general copy of the Navy Court Martial - my assault - - I called Navy Ship Yard - and spoke with JAG - they really did not want me to have a transcript - gave me a hard time - FYI . FOIA - covers this I told them so we settled on a synopsis submitted this to parole board. 

6. I would seek the help of a VA Psychologist - It has helped me tremendously - all you have to do it go to local clinic or hospital - VA - see MH clerk - you will be given priority treatment I assure you. Let me know if that does not work and I will help you get it. You do not need to wait for a documented diagnosis, if for some reason you don't have one yet - they must see you. ( squeaky  wheel... ) https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/msthome.asp

Let's start here ..... with making folders for the categories - to keep things organized - as you said an FDC claim  is clean and simple but submitting all documentation. 

 - this is a lot of work, but so much satisfaction in doing your own claim - it was almost cathartic in a sense- empowering me to get better. 

 

   

 

Edited by L
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On 1/3/2018 at 10:18 AM, Broken Cat said:

I am in the process of putting together a claim package for mental health issues related to MST.  Try as I might, I cannot find a VSO with experience in my situation.  It's taken me years to accept that I need help and that I need to address this once and for all, so when I say that I cannot handle doing this twice (submitting a sub par claim and then doing appeals) I really mean it. From day to day, I vacillate between thinking my problems are actually other people's inability to cope OR feeling like there is no point to me and that I'm a burden.If it weren't for the whole not being able to pay bills and risking alienating my kids for all eternity, I'd be perfectly content letting the world turn while I hang out at home and being maladjusted and mean.

In my perfect world, there would be a check list of things to submit for a fully developed claim. On this checklist, there would be a list of key phrases or high points that would help sway the decision makers into awarding adequate compensation. I haven't been able to find anyone that has had success doing this with a case like mine.  I have police reports from the MST.  I have trauma counseling records and AD medical records that clearly state a d/x for PTSD related to rape on X date. My counseling sessions identified dissociation behaviors, PTSD, and anxiety. One doctor even noted that I was combative and stated that I wished harm on my attackers. 

Obviously, the Navy handled this clear cut case of rape, with evidence and my complete cooperation, like they do any scandal.  They buried it and came after me.  That might be a secondary stressor, but I've been warned that claiming a secondary stressor could hose up everything and to keep my mouth shut?  kind of amazing that the advice that is meant to help, sounds a lot like the advice that sent me careening out of control all those years ago.

Anyhow, I survived, got married, got out, and went in and out of counseling.  Over the years, I've been diagnosed with PTSD, Chronic Depression, Chronic Adjustment Disorder, Agoraphobia, Generalized anxiety Disorder, and Dissociation Disorder.  I don't trust military medicine or the government, so most of my counseling was done through non-profit organizations and women's shelters. They're so secretive, that I felt it'd be safe to tell them what I went through and my statements wouldn't end up in the Navy's summary of Mishaps... again. So, I don't really have records of those, except for prescriptions that were reported to Tricare.   I do have my civilian medical records. It has page after page of doctors complaining that I broke down, was combative, emotional etc, etc.  I do have a few sessions with shrinks at MTFs in the last couple years. They were not keen on actual diagnostics, they just gave me the pills I asked for.

I'm shopping shrinks to assess me and give diagnosis. I'm not sure I need a nexus letter, but I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt.  I have a letter from my ex boss describing how my work performance plummeted over the years and how he made accommodations to keep me on. I also have a letter from me, describing my bad days and my rituals to get through them. My husband and his best friend were witnesses to the fallout of my rape, in terms of the military's response to me.  They can verify in statements that I did report it and go into counseling. They can also verify that I'm socially isolated and very codepenedent on them to meet new people or get involved in activities.  I don't have a single friend that they didn't make for me, first.  I do not know how to people. I don't have friends from work. I don't have "my own" friends from church. I don't even have people who like me well enough, and include me in things, without my husband and his best friend acting as intermediaries.  

oh, I also have the most recent sentencing transcripts for the ringleader of my attackers.  The judge stated that he felt this dude was unrepentant and a monster. He cited his past sex crimes, "both in the record and that didn't make it to trial" and his history of convincing others to help him conceal his crimes.  If that's not a shout out from the bench, I don't know what is.

Anyhow, I guess my question is, has anyone here done a fully developed MST claim with multiple bullet points for anxiety, phobia, ptsd, and depression, and get 100% or at least, a high enough rating to qualify for unemployability?  Without having to go through appeals and lawyers?  Was a police report enough, even if the military dropped it?  Should I give the C&P my evidence, letters, and my personal statement too? I'm sure I have 1000 more questions,  but I'm mostly looking for someone who has done what I'm trying to do.

I got service connected without a VSO helping me. All I did was go on ebenefits and fill out the claim form. I researched using this site and militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com. A year later I got my C&P exam. One month later I'm rated 70% for MST and non-combat for a stressor from my peacekeeping mission. 

You have more evidence than I did for my MST claim. Just file it yourself and you'll probably get service connected.

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Update: The DAV couldn't help but put me in contact with a local vet center, who is working with me to start counseling. My new shrink is VA employed and specializes in MST. Since they're by the Navy base, they're going to work on seeing me off site. They also have a MST guru they know of at the AL that might be able to help.  So far, the concensus is that my claim should be a cake walk since I have evidence, letters, and an in-service diagnosis. I do need to get re-evaluated, since I don't have records of my counseling and evaluations after service. I went to great lengths to seek out counseling orgs that didn't keep records, were free or cash only, and were super secretive. I already explained this to the shrink I'll be seeing, and she is familiar with the folks I went to. So, I think that's a good sign and should lend credibility to her evaluations. Thank you both for the input.  I'm taking y'alls advice and prepping my claim independently and gonna see how it compares to what the AL people suggest. 

Right now, I have everything in hand except the police report, which I sent off for last week, an independent evaluation/nexus letter. Which... i have no idea how long i have to see this shrink to get. 

In the past, I've been dx'd with PTSD, anxiety, chronic adjustment disorder, agoraphobia,  and dissociative disorder. The first 2 by everyone and the last 3 at different times. Since I only have the ptsd and anxiety on paper, should I bring up the others? 

In the past when i found out these guys met with bad ends or prison, i always felt vindicated. I hoped that the people, who looked the other way, saw it and knew they were wrong. Everytime, I kind of felt a little "cured." It never lasted and my mind found new ways to keep me chained. Right now, I feel myself building up to that again. Like if I go through all this and the VA gives me my perfect world rating, it'll be this big crowning moment that tells everyone how wrong they were. I'm a little worried that if it doesn't go perfectly, it'll be irreparable. I'm gonna make sure my shrink knows. My hubby does. We're working on an action plan to keep my moving and coping, with a contingency for the worst case scenario. It helps, but I'm still scared.

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If you haven't already check out this site http://oars4vets.org/how-to-win-a-claim-for-mst/ I think it has everything you are looking for, the videos there from Susan Avila Smith where very helpful to me. Theres a checklist and more on this site.

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Welcome aboard Shipmate. I'm sorry for what you have had to go through already and hope that you will soon receive a successful conclusion to your claim. 

I came to accept that VA will compensate you but they won't validate you. I like you thought I might feel that validation but it never came through VA, I did after a time and hard work receive that validation in therapy, but it never was a 100%. This I realized after a time was unobtainable for me, I could get to 99% but never a 100%. I had been traumatized, brutalized, ignored, humiliated, managed and disrespected for to long and the hole that had dug in me could never be filled completely. This became about acceptance for me, not acceptance of what had happened, but that the feeling of being validated would never be fully realized by me. 

Finding a purpose is what saved me. I had no children or spouse and no reason to get up in the morning. I had an almost constant fight to not take my life, I went through a period of months where I couldn't stop crying, going to the store, getting gas, waking up I cried and cried. I started the website in order to help other veterans so that those coming behind me would know a bit more than I did and hopefully would not have to deal with the bs I did. I stayed alone and cut off, didn't have family near me and couldn't be around people. An unexpected knock at the door would have me hiding in a closet for an hour with a butcher knife or some other weapon I had fashioned together. In 1998 I moved back to my sisters and lived in a windowless concrete basement for about 5 years. The only relationships I worked on where those with nieces and nephews who were little kids at the time. Those relationships have grown through the years and they have contributed to my current state of well being. They take care of me and run interference for me, I still can't handle stress but anything I find stressful they do for me. I don't really leave my house, occasionally to the store but mostly the kids pick up what I need or I have it delivered. I'm happy with my very boring little life.

Purpose helps and heals. Art, gardening, volunteering, reading, watching movies anything can be done purposefully. It's possible I'm slow learner and it took decades of therapy to get to where I am today. I have a little life with a few loving family members, I taught myself to cook and I have the website. Today I am happy, safe and leading a richer life than I could ever see for myself. I tell you this because I want you to know there is hope, sometimes the tunnel you are walking though is so dark you cannot see the light at the end, you just have to walk in faith that it is there.

I'm glad you found us and I hope this helps even a little bit.

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