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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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  • 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



The veteran's use of opiates, cannabis, and alcohol began prior to service, thus current/recent use/abuse is not caused by an in-service related event. Given
the veteran's consistent diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, and the frequency of relapse of substance use, it is as least as likely as not that his substance use
(to include opioid use disorder) is aggravated beyond its natural progression by his PTSD symptoms.


Per 3/15/2017 initial PTSD exam the veteran was diagnosed with PTSD, alcohol use disorder, cannabis use disorder, and opioid use disorder, all of
which were in early remission. The 3/15/2017 medical opinion, the examiner opined that the veteran's opioid use disorder, and substance use in general,
was made worse by his MST. The 6/20/2017 review PTSD examination indicates that symptoms present at that time were due to PTSD and not
substance use as he had been abstinent from drug use with the exception of his opioid maintenance therapy. The veteran is service connected for the
combination of PTSD and substance use disorders however per 11/20/2017 medical opinion regarding unemployability, the examiner noted that the
veteran was service-connected only for PTSD and not substance use which is incorrect. Per rating decisions 3/27/2017 and 10/11/2017, the veteran was
service connected for "PTSD with secondary alcohol use disorder, cannabis use disorder, and opioid use disorder." They are separate disorders, and not
all symptoms are present all of the time. The examiner commented specifically on the veteran's PTSD symptoms and separated the veteran's substance
abuse disorder symptoms. The veteran's substance use predated his military service, thus it was not caused by his reported assault. It was, however,
likely aggravated by the residuals of his assault as described in treatment notes which indicate that with worsening PTSD symptoms, the veteran has
reported relapsing on substances, particularly heroin.

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Tylerb, please reply in one thread or the other and let the other thread go away.  It gets confusing when you are using two different threads for the same denial.

Not all assaults are reported.  A lot of MST never gets reported but a lot of claims are approved based on the Veteran's statement and clear markers.  Also, I don't believe a Forensic Psych doctor is

I'm aware of what you address regarding late MSA reporting. When there is no actual MSA official Report Filed, no private or Service medical records supporting the MSA Claim, it all comes down to

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Strange, i could have sworn M.E.P.S. generally denies entry to anyone admitting any kind of drug usage, hell, maybe there were waivers involved but i find that hard to believe... more info would be appreciated if an opinion is being asked for

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Tylerb, please reply in one thread or the other and let the other thread go away.  It gets confusing when you are using two different threads for the same denial.

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It's time to go back to work landscaping with your Childhood friends. The 2018 IU Claim, if not already, will be Denied the near future.

Was your MSA reported and investigate while you were on Active Duty? Did a VA Forensic Psychiatrist do your PTSD/MST Exam?

Your recent 06/2018, self-reported suicide attempt, discussed your continued use of Drugs. You're currently doing (5) years Felony Probation, has your Probation Officer been made aware of your continued Drug use?

Your failure to redact your 2018 DBQ (posted on the other thread) of all your ID info could become a significant problem.

Ther is one Bright side to your situation, not many Convicted Felons are release from prison and almost immediately start collecting VA 80% Comp/Medical care. I know to want that IU Comp $$, just keep in mind, the PTSD Award is subject to reduction for (5) years after the Award Date, based strictly on a single DBQ or MH Clinicians recent Treatment Note or a Quality Review of your Initial Award.

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[X] Yes [ ] No [ ] Not applicable (N/A) If yes, list which symptoms are attributable to each diagnosis and discuss whether there is any clinical association between these diagnoses: Antisocial personality disorder is responsible for contentious interpersonal relationships including threats, aggression, assault; failure to accept responsibility; violation of social norms and law; impulsive decisions and behaviors; and affective instability. In the symptom list below antisocial personality disorder is responsible for impaired judgment, disturbance of motivation and mood, difficulty establishing and maintaining effective social/work relationships, difficulty adapting to stressful circumstances, and impaired impulse control. Opioid use disorder has been in institutional remission June 2018, and is not at this time contributing to the symptom picture. Substance use is well known to have deleterious effects on mood, cognition, and behavior. 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Socially, the veteran said he is getting along well with other residents here. His girlfriend and mother visited him here. He said he is made some acquaintances in the programming as well as a couple friends. b. Relevant occupational and educational history: The veteran denied changes in education since last exam. He has completed a GED and some college, and has a license to work with fuel and chemicals for shipping. The veteran denied employment since May 2017. He worked in landscaping prior and occasionally for his mother after that. His mother's business is sales of retail and bank machines. He said his mother arranged his hours to suit him. c. Relevant mental health history, to include prescribed medications and family mental health: The veteran denied pre-military and military mental health treatment. Specifically, he denied a history of hospitalization, suicide attempt, outpatient therapy, and prescription of psychotropic medications prior to about 2001. CPRS and VBMS were reviewed with the following relevant mental health entries. 06/20/17: PTSD review DBQ. MSE: Mood and affect depressed, otherwise normal. Examiner opined significant impairment. 06/14/18: Medical certificate. The veteran requested admission due to depression, suicidal ideation, overdose attempt on Seroquel and alcohol last evening, and hearing voices telling him to kill himself every day. UDS was positive for oxycodone, Suboxone, and cannabinoids. DX: Cocaine dependence; alcohol abuse; cannabis dependence; opioid dependence; PTSD. 06/19/18: Medical certificate. Veteran seen for change in programming. MSE: Normal except for dysphoric affect. d. Relevant legal and behavioral histor y: The veteran denied arrest since last exam, however, he has 3 years and 3 months left on parole. As a juvenile, the veteran was arrested for trespassing, DUI, domestic dispute. He denied being remanded to juvenile detention. During military, the veteran was arrested for underage consumption. He also received NJPs for being late to work (up to 10 hours), possession of pornography, disrespect to a commanding officer, and drinking while on duty. After service, the veteran has been arrested for domestic violence 2, aggravated robbery 3, and theft. He served 10 years in ODRC. While in prison, the veteran reported that he ran the inmate "store" providing drugs, contraband items, and running gambling schemes. He received over 50 tickets for institutional rules violations while in prison. He was released in September 2016. e. Relevant substance abuse history: The veteran reported that historically he has rarely used alcohol, perhaps 1-2 times per month and none since June 2018. The veteran denied use of illicit drugs since June 2018. In the period immediately prior he primarily used narcotics and heroin. f. Other, if any: Nothing further. 3. PTSD Diagnostic Criteria --------------------------- Please check criteria used for establishing the current PTSD diagnosis. The diagnostic criteria for PTSD, are from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). The stressful event can be due to combat, personal trauma, other life threatening situations (non- combat related stressors). Do NOT mark symptoms below that are clearly not attributable to the Criterion A stressor/PTSD. Instead, overlapping symptoms clearly attributable to other things should be noted under #6 - "Other symptoms". Criterion A: Exposure to actual or threatened a) death, b) serious injury, c) sexual violence, in one or more of the following ways: [X] Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s) Criterion B: Presence of (one or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred: [X] Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s). [X] Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s). Criterion C: Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic events(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following: [X] Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s). Criterion D: Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following: [X] Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., "I am bad,: "No one can be trusted,: "The world is completely dangerous,: "My whole nervous system is permanently ruined"). [X] Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities. Criterion E: Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following: [X] Hypervigilance. [X] Exaggerated startle response. [X] Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep). Criterion F: [X] The duration of the symptoms described above in Criteria B, C, and D are more than 1 month. Criterion G: [X] The PTSD symptoms described above cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Criterion H: [X] The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition. 4. Symptoms ----------- For VA rating purposes, check all symptoms that actively apply to the Veteran's diagnoses: [X] Depressed mood [X] Chronic sleep impairment [X] Flattened affect [X] Impaired judgment [X] Disturbances of motivation and mood [X] Difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships [X] Difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances, including work or a worklike setting [X] Impaired impulse control, such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence 5. Behavioral observations -------------------------- The veteran presented as guarded. We were able to establish adequate rapport through time. He initiated conversation and elaborated on topics, often to highlight the frequency and severity of symptoms. He was easily re-directed, however. He was cooperative in that he answered all questions asked. The veteran's mood was neutral and stable. His affect was mildly flat and mildly irritable, with limited mobility in range and intensity. The veteran seldom smiled and laughed, and seldom responded to humor. He was not tearful. There was no hopelessness and helplessness evident in his comments. There was no objective evidence of facial flushing, vigilance, arousal, tremor, perspiration, or muscle tension. Speech, thought processes, orientation, attention, and memory all were within expectations. Psychomotor was remarkable for bouncing a leg. Given vocabulary, and educational, employment, and military history, I estimate his IQ in the average range. The veteran denied recent changes in sleep, noting he experiences nightmares about 70% of the time. He appeared alert and rested and did not report functional loss due to sleep problems. He said his appetite is unchanged with some weight increase with abstinence from drugs. Thought content was negative for objective signs of psychosis and the veteran denied same. He also denied suicidal and homicidal ideation, but added "They call it passive SI. I'm getting better at telling people about it." Given several opportunities, the veteran reported current symptoms of: Nightmares; not liking to think about the military event; staying away from crowds; inability to interact with people; increased stress with work; blaming himself for the event happening; being aware of his surroundings; isolating from others; not sleeping well; drug use. The veteran reported abilities indicating that he retains considerable cognitive capacity (physical capacity is not assessed here). When home, he enjoys gardening, growing roses, and mowing his sisters grass. He told that he can drive independently. The veteran said he can perform personal care independently. The veteran told that he can use a calendar, clock, calculator, telephone, and computer. He reported that he can manage money, appointments, and medications, as well as shop and pay bills. For enjoyment he watches TV on his laptop, works out, watches OSU football, and does some light reading. He had good social skills on exam. Socially, the veteran said he is getting along well with other residents here. His girlfriend and mother visited him here. He said he is made some acquaintances in the programming as well as a couple friends. 6. Other symptoms ----------------- Does the Veteran have any other symptoms attributable to PTSD (and other mental disorders) that are not listed above? [ ] Yes [X] No 7. Competency ------------- Is the Veteran capable of managing his or her financial affairs? [X] Yes [ ] No 8. Remarks, (including any testing results) if any: --------------------------------------------------- ****This forensic report is a legal document intended for the sole use of VBA in determining the veteran's eligibility for compensation and pension. This examination is very different from other psychological examinations, such as for treatment, with considerably different criteria and, thus, often with considerably different diagnoses and outcomes. As such, great caution is needed in interpreting this information and use of this report outside its intended purpose by VHA personnel, VSO, and/or the veteran is STRONGLY discouraged. This examination does not constitute a rating decision. Rating decisions are made solely by the Regional Office after all available data have been reviewed and verified. Note that "The examiner should not express an opinion regarding the merits of any claim or the percentage evaluation that should be assigned for a disability. Determination of service connection and disability ratings for VA benefits is exclusively a function of VBA" (VHA Directive 1046). Thus, any questions or concerns regarding rating decisions should be directed to the Regional Office or an Appeals Board.**** The veteran was seen today for this PTSD Review exam. I verbally provided the usual informed consent regarding: this being a VBA assessment, not treatment; the report becomes a legal document; the forensic role of VBA; the potential outcomes of a review exam; and limits to confidentiality. A written copy of Informed Consent was offered. Throughout the interview the veteran inserted nearly every symptom of PTSD listed in the DSM 5. He noted often that these symptoms are severe and prevent him from interacting with people and working with others. This was not particularly consistent with mental status and functional data. Some patterns of thought developed throughout the interview, such as when the veteran noted that when people try to enforce rules or consequences for his behavior he makes threats and blames them for causing him to use substances. He noted that all his criminal behavior and drug use is due to the military assault, even though he also reported that alcohol and drug use began at an early age, as did arrest. For example, the veteran said that the traumatic event in service caused and or heightened his drug use in response, but he also commented that "I figured out when I was younger that using drugs and alcohol makes problems like that go away." The veteran noted that he was found to have steroids in his jacket while at Bay Pines. He subsequently was discharged from the program. He then interpreted that as "people make me fail. That (being discharged from Bay Pines) put me in a bad place and made me attempt suicide. They deny my individual unemployability because they say I'll get better with treatment, then the treatment kicks me out and I'm worse now." This behavior and thinking is quite consistent with personality disorder. The veteran was diagnosed with PTSD in prior C&P exams, the diagnosis has been carried forward by treatment providers, and by his report continues with sufficient symptoms for the diagnosis. Thus the diagnosis of PTSD continues, as likely as not due to events in military service. Antisocial personality disorder was present well before military service, so it is less likely as not caused by military events, and there is no evidence that this disorder was exaggerated by military events. Also, alcohol and illicit drug use clearly was present prior to enrollment in military, so it is less likely as not caused by military service. There is no evidence that the veteran's substance use was due to events in military service nor has it progressed beyond the normal course for this disorder. Put another way, even if the military event had not occurred it is likely that the resulting pattern of substance use would have been present. Moreover, while there is some equivalence in the literature about the direction of causality when both mental disorder and substance use are present, DSM 5 does not acknowledge any substance use disorder as "due to mental illness," yet there are numerous "substance-induced" mental disorders. INDIVIDUAL UNEMPLOYABILITY The veteran retains considerable residual mental function (physical limitations, if any, are not assessed nor considered here). The veteran can perform personal care independently. He has a driver's license and drives independently. The veteran can use a calendar, clock, calculator, telephone, and computer. He can manage money, appointments, and medications, as well as pay bills. There is no mental disorder that prevents him from attending to, learning, and persisting to complete simple and complex tasks. There is no cognitive dysfunction that would prevent same. His performance on mental status in attention, concentration, memory, abstraction, and thought processes were within expectations for age. The veteran reported limited socialization. Yet, he dated, married, and maintains a current relationship (after divorcing). He maintains some contact with family. Moreover, the veteran was a quite bright, capable, pleasant, cooperative gentleman on exam, and his social skills here were excellent. He reported isolating at home, not liking to be around people, and having difficult relationships through time. The veteran is not a member of any clubs/organizations. Indeed, personality disorder is predictive of contentious interpersonal relationships and the affective instability and impulsive decisionmaking/behavior of the personality disorder may interfere with motivation and concentration.
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      Ten Year Rule) The 10 year rule is after 10 years, the service connection is protected from being dropped.

      Twenty Year Rule) If your disability has been continuously rated at or above a certain rating level for 20 or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless it finds the rating was based on fraud. This is a very high standard and it's unlikely the rating would get reduced.

      If you are 100% for 20 years (Either 100% schedular or 100% TDIU - Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability or IU), you are automatically Permanent & Total (P&T). And, that after 20 years the total disability (100% or IU) is protected from reduction for the remainder of the person's life. "M-21-1-IX.ii.2.1.j. When a P&T Disability Exists"

      At 55, P&T (Permanent & Total) or a few other reasons the VBA will not initiate a review. Here is the graphic below for that. However if the Veteran files a new compensation claim or files for an increase, then it is YOU that initiated to possible review.

      NOTE: Until a percentage is in place for 10 years, the service connection can be removed. After that, the service connection is protected.


      Example for 2020 using the same disability rating

      1998 - Initially Service Connected @ 10%

      RESULT: Service Connection Protected in 2008

      RESULT: 10% Protected from reduction in 2018 (20 years)

      2020 - Service Connection Increased @ 30%

      RESULT: 30% is Protected from reduction in 2040 (20 years)
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    • Post in New BVA Grants
      While the BVA has some discretion here, often they "chop up claims".  For example, BVA will order SERVICE CONNECTION, and leave it up to the VARO the disability percent and effective date.  

      I hate that its that way.  The board should "render a decision", to include service connection, disability percentage AND effective date, so we dont have to appeal "each" of those issues over then next 15 years on a hamster wheel.  
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    • Finally heard back that I received my 100% Overall rating and a 100% PTSD rating Following my long appeal process!

      My question is this, given the fact that my appeal was on the advanced docket and is an “Expedited” appeal, what happens now and how long(ish) is the process from here on out with retro and so forth? I’ve read a million things but nothing with an expedited appeal status.

      Anyone deal with this situation before? My jump is from 50 to 100 over the course of 2 years if that helps some. I only am asking because as happy as I am, I would be much happier to pay some of these bills off!
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    • I told reviewer that I had a bad C&P, and that all I wanted was a fair shake, and she even said, that was what she was all ready viewed for herself. The first C&P don't even  reflect my Treatment in the VA PTSD clinic. In my new C&P I was only asked about symptoms, seeing shit, rituals, nightmares, paying bills and about childhood, but didn't ask about details of it. Just about twenty question, and  nothing about stressor,
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