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Merc

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Hello all, Just joined the board. Stumbled on here after getting fed up with VA and their nonsense.

Since I started reading, I've made a leap of faith and reached out to a few of the respected doctors for some assistance with putting our stuff together. So far, Dr. Bash has been the most responsive. After speaking with me and my wife, he thinks he can move us both from 20% to 100%... It's not cheap - quoted $18k!!  But if he can deliver and maybe even get us some retro, it may be worth it.

 

Figured I'd chronicle the adventure here for the benefit of others.

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1 hour ago, Merc said:

Hello all, Just joined the board. Stumbled on here after getting fed up with VA and their nonsense.

Since I started reading, I've made a leap of faith and reached out to a few of the respected doctors for some assistance with putting our stuff together. So far, Dr. Bash has been the most responsive. After speaking with me and my wife, he thinks he can move us both from 20% to 100%... It's not cheap - quoted $18k!!  But if he can deliver and maybe even get us some retro, it may be worth it.

 

Figured I'd chronicle the adventure here for the benefit of others.

It is totally your choice to go that route.  

For me and mine I have spent about $1000 for IMO.  That was for two disability.  My Fibromyalgia was done by a VA doctor (FREE).  Dercum's 60% disease same doctor (FREE).  IBS cost me about $500 because I was not on VA health care.  PTSD I got to 30% without any IMO but have paid $500 for an IMO waiting for results.  Scars 30% (FREE).  Left knee (FREE).  Tinnitus 10% (FREE).  I have headaches, Sleep apnea, PTSD, and Dercum's disease on appeal.  So If it all works out I will be at 100% by the end of the year!  

The fight has taken me 5+ years now as I did make a lot of mistakes before filing.  I did not find this site until I was deep into my appeal.  I would have made a lot of different decisions now and make sure all of my evidence is in correctly.  

If he can get it all in there for you without the wait then I would say it is worth it.  

I would ask for help on here if needed as there is a vast resource of knowledge here.  

Edited by shrekthetank1 (see edit history)
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No doctor can promise you that and there is nothing that Bash can do that your own doctor can't do for free- with Bash you will pay quite a lot for an imo up front with no guarantee of a positive outcome. That's not counting any lawyer fees if you are in that, too. The is no magic formula or process for VA benefits. If Bash was on TV at late night on a commercial offering to try your injury case and win, would you feel any more at ease about your chances and what you would spend? You won't find a negative opinion on here about him because he's a forum member and there are rules about negativity towards other forum members here. Take that for what you will. 

 

I went through my claims process, from 40% initially in 2002 incrementally to 100% in 2015 with help from a VSO once, and only 1 appeal for a particular contention. You don't need a medical degree, legal degree, or even college degree to file your own claims or research your condition a little bit to see if your sound have grounding for an increase. The VA claims reading table is available via Google. You can read prior CVAC cases online via Google as well. And all for free. 

Edited by brokensoldier244th (see edit history)
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Both Brokensoldier AND Shrek are right. This a forum and the folks  respond to questions are doing so based on their experiences and from their bumps and bruises they have gotten along the way. Both are great contributors to this place where veterans can get some really great advise. I agree with Brokensoldier flat out on one thing: I seriously doubt Dr. Bash actually said he would get you to 100%. I wouldn't use any doctor that said that because they have no control on what the VA finally decides. Maybe you are misquoting what he said, and hes really said he "thinks" you will get there? Anyway, the choice of using a doctor for professional help, an IMO or IME is strictly up to personal opinion. Use this site to get valuable information based on people that have gone thru what you have to do. Certainly some disabilities are more clear cut and you shouldn't have much difficulty using our advise and getting them approved. Maybe some other disabilities, based on your personal situation, are going to be a lot harder to win. Some veterans just want assistance in doing this. I usually ask a veteran this question: would you rather have 70% of a pot of money, or, 100% of a pot with no money in it. If you win with a lawyer, you pay him maybe 20% plus expenses ,and you then get 100% yourself going forward. If you lose, you get nothing unless you appeal. Part of this important decision is based on the probably that the veteran will just give up after denial and not attempt to appeal. They just get frustrated and give up. If that is you, get help. Understand that if you have a complicated case, you will more than likely have to appeal something on it. That is when you get the lawyers involved. An IMO you can submit on you initial submital if you want. My whole point is do what you want to do; it's your claim. 

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I suggest you look at all your options before you spend $18K, if it is a money back guarantee then it's worth it (I know it's not). 

My rule of thought is when you spend any amount of money whether for VA help or on slot machines in Las Vegas that you can afford to lose that money. Never expect to win, you can certainly hope you will win though. Every time I buy as lotto ticket I think of it as entertainment and not a financial investment.

I know it is hard to make these decisions, just don't rush into it is all. Good luck with your claims.

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Yes. Look at all your options, and good luck with your claim. Would you rather have your imo written by a doctor you know (and if your records say the same thing and call that out in your claim you just make it easier for the raters) or a doctor you don't, that has never seen you? If VA can use a doctor review to overturn or deny that has never seen you on a valid claim and that's unfair, what makes using a doctor that has never seen you writing a positive (for money) any more valid?

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Good Morning all!  

Lots of good info and things that I have considered. Both my wife and I have been out of the military for over 20 years. After fighting with the VA all this time we're UP to a meager 20% each. We've grown weary of the fight. All we ever run into is a hassle and inconvenience at the VA. The doctors are apprehensive and don't want to really consider our issue. My wife needs to use a cane for her issues and they give us grief for requesting a signature to get a disabled parking placcard. It's ridiculous. The VA doctors and C&P examiners make us feel like we're asking for something that we do not deserve, like we're somehow stealing benefits or something like that.   I'm 10% for tinnitus and 10% for a messed up wrist. I have sleep apnea and the CPAP, rhinitis and probably GERD as well. Also, have lots of pain/joint issues and raynauds.  Wife is 10% for hip issue and 10% for migraines (misdiagnosed MS)---   She was a paratrooper and has a bunch of foot, leg, back, neck issues. Apnea as well/cpap, etc.  Thus, we've started to feel like we should get some expert help and sometimes you will actually get what you pay for.

That said, $18k is a HUGE amount of money and not something we can readily afford. And when we spoke to the Dr. he did NOT guarantee 100%. He merely stated that he thinks we were severely underrated and that we should be at 100% with my wife possibly in the realm of SMC-L...  He did think that he COULD get us to the 100% mark.  I agree with you all that there are no guarantees and anyone who gives a guarantee in a business like this is surely not to be believed. He did state that he could offer some sort of payment plan and that it was basically on the honor system as we would have his work before he would have his fee in full. 

I did reach out to several "options" but it was surprisingly difficult to get responses from anyone.  I've reached out to Attig twice (not even a return call or email);  I reached out to REE Medical and they claimed they could get my wife to 70% for $1800. (nothing they could do for me);  I reached out to Anaise and got a return email recommending I read his book, nothing further; reached out to Bash and received an email reply, a phone conversation last night for about an hour, and another call this morning. While he is super expensive, he at least appears to be responsive.  I'm still nervous about this, but I need to do something. 

 My hope is that there is way to get all of this sorted in a timely fashion, and maybe be able to reach back for retro pay as well.

I understand that this is a public forum and that Dr. Bash is a member here as well as others mentioned earlier. My intent is not to disparage or dissuade. I am merely documenting our journey for the benefit of others. I welcome any and all input from the more experienced folks here. 

 

 

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Did you mean 'for you and your wife'- as you are both disabled vets with claims?

I paid Dr Bash for 2 IMOs many years ago and knew that ,because of the work I had already done on the claim I ,would succeed at the BVA-(the RO refused to read his IMOs) And I did succeed.

If I had not prepared a cover letter and refered in it to tabbed medical entries, in the stack of what he needed, I am sure the IMO fee would have been much higher.

But I am curious as to what is missing from you claim, at this point, for anyone to charge you that much money.

Can you scan and attach their last denial? (cover the C file ## and your name prior to scanning it)

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Ms. Berta:  I think it's a matter of having a disjointed mess where nothing is connected to the other thing.   What I was looking for was to have an expert review our files and either tell us what we needed to do or to assist us with getting the file put together in the best way possible.  I think we have allowed the hassle and headache of our experience with this to push us in this direction.  My understanding is that we need DBQ, Nexus, IMO, IME, etc...  When we spoke with Dr. Bash, he was talking about tests/consults we should have ordered and connections that could be made to meet certain guidelines. This is all new to us so it's overwhelming.

You do say something that has me concerned "the RO refused to read his IMO's"--- WHAT??   If that is possible, how can anyone feel comfortable charging such a high fee? I can understand getting paid for services rendered, but if they are unable to be used, then that is an issue.

I am happy to scan our denials for your review. It'll have to be a later this evening though...  I'm curious to know your thoughts on this.

 

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Please follow Bertha's advice and post your last SOC.  I realize that fighting the VA is a difficult and draining process but before you spend 18K upfront research all other avenues.  I had to hire a lawyer to get my final benefits but that was because the VA was violating CFR's.  My IMO's cost me $2500 and the lawyer took 20% of my award after it was awarded.  Maybe we can help you get you started.

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I think $18k upfront is too much to ask someone.  There are some companies that can help you and you only pay based on what your increase is. I have been in touch with two companies that seem legit and they are expensive as well but you only have to pay if you get an increase.  I would look into them before sending such a large amount of money with no increase.  I will not mention names because I don't know if it violates any rules.  I personally did not use them but know a few people that have.  I felt I am able to do myself what they offered. Not everyone can put together a claim the right way.  I know I screwed it up myself with my first claim but I have learned a lot over the last year or so.  If you want information just send me a private message.  I can't guarantee their effectiveness because like I said I have not used them but if you need assistance maybe they can help or even an attorney as well. 

If you think you can do this on your own it is like Vetquest said.  Maybe we can help you out to get you started and then go from there. 

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Last week our radio show producer said Craig Bash didn't have my phone # any more and wanted to call me-

I might have missed his call- maybe I should call him -to see if the other issue  he wanted to discuss with me ,was resolved by now,

and to run this by him-- but I sure would like to see why they denied you.....first---

That is the highest fee I have ever heard of him charging anyone.

 

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The requested amount of money of $18k is the discounted rate for both me and my wife. He stated he usually charges $10k a person but for the two of us it would be $18k. This would include DBQ, orders, lay letter, retro pay review by his legal expert, nexus and the complete package would also have the scans, reports and his resume. He seemed extremely confident that our claims were severely underrated and that he could get us both to 100%. Then he ventured into the realm of SMC-L and started talking compensation numbers that felt a bit unreal...  (I heard Attig once mention 100% with SMC and it coming out to around $8k a month- for essentially worst case scenario quadriplegic, bed ridden, house bound.) Dr. Bash was talking close to those numbers (not THAT high) but much more than we ever anticipated.

As I said earlier, the fees requested seemed really steep to me as well.

 

Apologies, as I'm new here, all of my posts are bottle-necked until reviewed by moderator. I'm not being slow on purpose.

 

Edited by Merc
correction (see edit history)
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The denial for my wife's claim is scanned. For some reason I don't have the correct tool suite to properly redact the papers. So, I figured that I'd just print it and redact the old fashioned way with a marker. Now my printer appears to be running low on ink!!! 😞

I'm having a rough time of it today.

 

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Hello Moderator, this is a little frustrating. I'm trying to be responsive to all these good folks who have taken the time to reply and all of my responses are hidden. Is there any way to speed along the process? Or do I have to generate 6 posts first?

Edited by Merc (see edit history)
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After reading all of these replies, I'm getting the impression that I might be able to do some of this stuff by myself. It's just so tiring to keep fighting when the VA is so difficult to deal with.

All I wanted to do was to get an expert on this and now I'm getting the distinct feeling that I may be going about it the wrong way.  Honestly, if we were both able to get into the 100% status, I suppose it could be worth the $18k that is being asked for.

And as it turns out, I simply cannot make the money work. There's no way I can even swing a reasonable payment plan after reviewing the finance situation. I've sent Dr. Bash an email to that effect.

I was so psyched to actually have a medical provider who knew what they were doing to help us.  Think I may need to take ya'll up on the offer to assist. Just feel a bit out of my depth.

Edited by Merc (see edit history)
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Once you get the ball rolling you might be very pleasantly surprised.  Please take this advice to get started.  Open you claim on Ebenefits or Va.gov before the end of the month!  You just have to start it and you have a year to finish it.  This way you have tons of time  to gather all your 5 star evidence and then submit.  

5 star evidence: 

1. Current diagnosis

2.  An in service event

3.  lay statements showing how bad the condition is at home or work or socially.  You can also tell about the in service event.

4.  current treatment

5.  Any and everything else you think is relevant to your conditions.

Basically you want to box the VA into giving you your benefits so you can support your family!  Remember you went in healthy and came out not so healthy! Just ask questions everyone here will help!  Keep fight it is worth it! 

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"You do say something that has me concerned "the RO refused to read his IMO's"--- WHAT?? "

Indeed they did- they refused to read any of my evidence and refused to even re open the claim at first- what a hassle- it was a CUE - BUT I had enrolled into AMU at the same time, and knew my claim would be awarded by the BVA- it was.Part of the problem was a VCAA violation and my so called vet reps would not help with that- even their director who suddenly got canned,after I wrote a 43 page complaint on them to the OGC.

I wanted to get my degree from a Military school. I was their first civilian.That had priority.

My USMC professor was TOUGH. They all were. I graduated with Honors.

Dr Bash was furious with what they did to me, but I knew the BVA would award anyhow and I wanted to get VA out of my mind, I was in a warfare  school, the reality of warfare, and had no time to play the VA's War of the words games.

You said:

"After reading all of these replies, I'm getting the impression that I might be able to do some of this stuff by myself."

Yes, we have all learned that- and that is surely why the fee was so high- you were asking Dr. Bash to do a lot of time consuming stuff. The claim they refused to read my evidence for  ( DMII AO death claim- my husband was never diagnosed or treated for DMII by VA) and my former reps said it didn't have a chance. After the VCAA fiasco I dumped them as my POA and sent to Dr Bash everything he needed to have-which had taken me a lot of time to get together, and he did the IMOs in mere days.

When you are able to scan here- can you scan the VCAA letter they sent to you?

This is the letter ( It used to say Important Reply Requested on top) and we claimants have to respond to that letter with what the VA wants from us.

Your VCAA letter -like mine- might have been faulty-

but still , what you asked from Dr. Bash was an overwhelming amount of work-

The nexus- alone takes time. It took me three weeks to find a veteran's nexus in his SMRs.

Every day I had to blow up SMR entries that were handwritten and almost impossible to deficer.

He had been to the CAVC twice by then - and finally I found the nexus, and asked him to get an IMO/IME-

from his private doctor. He did, with my findings from the SMRs and after 10 plus years he won his claim.

None of his lawyers ever even read his BVA cases. Those denials gave me a clue as to what to look for in his SMRS and I even prepared a letter to the VA telling them his lawyers did not deserve to be paid, and I told them why.

I dont handle one to one stuff like that anymore-and the vet himself could have done some of the work I did.

No wonder the fee Dr. B wanted was so high. And any IMO/IME is useless if a veteran cannot establish a valid Nexus.

I only know of one case where a doctor was able to do that- it was for my husband-who went to VA for a business loan and came out with a PTSD diagnosis and a  claim had been filed for him with a strong Buddy statement from a psychologist  who was also the director of that VA, and who also was at the scene of something my husband described in Vietnam to him- while he was waiting to be arrested...(he didnt get arrested though)- a volunteer job that was horrific and the doctor had to treat some Marines immediately at the scene in Vietnam because the Mil knew it would be  so catastrophic. Something like that hardly ever happens however.

I know a few vets who have been in the VA system for over 10 years because they still have not established a valid nexus.

 

 

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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I understand that this is a bunch of work. That is why I was looking for a well respected expert to handle this and put the packages for both our sets of claims.   My thinking was that sometimes, you need to pay an expert for their expertise. For example: if my transmission broke on my car could I fix it? Maybe, eventually, after spending a ton of time and effort learning, buying manuals and tools, and it still might not come out right because I do not have the expertise. Whereas, if I took the car to an expert, I might take a monetary hit, but I would likely be in a better position because the expert does this for a living. If they're not good at what they do, they don't stay in business very long.

Anyway, I am taking all of this in. I am inspired by you all and hope that maybe I can do some of the groundwork myself. It's just been a constant battle...

 

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I got a post from you here, in my email but I dont see it on the board yet.?

"You do say something that has me concerned "the RO refused to read his IMO's"--- WHAT??   If that is possible, how can anyone feel comfortable charging such a high fee? I can understand getting paid for services rendered, but if they are unable to be used, then that is an issue.

I am happy to scan our denials for your review. It'll have to be a later this evening though...  I'm curious to know your thoughts on this."

I dont want to give the wrong impression on why they refused to read his IMOs.

I have been on their shit list for almost 25 years because of my FTCA case-

I dont mind because I have evidence from my RO  that supports a Bill I have at the House Vet Affairs Committee)

The IMos from Dr Bash, plus an additional IMO freebee I got and my extensive medical evidence( I didnt think I even needed an IMO because I won FTCA against them for wrongful death $ without a lawyer and without an IMO) but then again I dealt directly with General Counsel, VA and they read all of my evidence, after a  brief hassle-

Then my RO denied my 1151 DIC claim, I called up the GC in DC and they were  ordered by General Counsel to pay me, because they refused to accept my FTCA settlement award ( wrongful death) and then after they refused to stop holding back my DIC payment when my full FTCA offset was paid back, they also refused to acknowledge a CUE I had filed then, and this was around the same time I was trying to finish my degree at AMU- that had priority with me. But when I re opened my claim for a direct SC death ( I know of no one who ever did this before)

it was on another malpracticed disability my husband had, and my daughter  , a veteran insisted I re open on direct SC basis.So I might have made a statement in the claim  to the affect that since the VA had already malpracticed on my husbands IHD,HBP, stroke, medication, (FTCA) it was 'as likely as not 'the VA failed to properly diagnose and treat  his  DMII .

But I made it clear that my husband was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and that this direct SC presumptive caused/contributed to his death. I wanted a direct SC DIC award.

At that point the RO had to check with Regional Counsel as to the FTCA matter.

The RC saw my CUE on my offset -never resolved. He Cued them.

I got a check for 28 thousand plus and for days I didnt know what is was for-then the letter came  about the RC's CUE.I called the 800# 3 times because I thought VA had made an error sending it.I even told one 800 guy I spent it all at K mart- but dont know what it is for- he said it is definitely not an error and laughed at the K Mart statement-I was afraid to even put it into my ckhecking account-

I checked the amount and it was wrong by an entire year of DIC. I sent them my calculations, and then they sent 11,000 + more.

So by time of the DMII claim, my RO knew I was not someone they could F--- with. But they still try-

They  have managed to mess up every claim I have ever filed but I won them all.And have 3 CUES pending.

But my long point is this- My IMOs from Dr Bash were Well Worth the money they cost, and I even paid more for a forensic cardio opinion, but my award from the BVA came before the Cardio opinion had been done.

That forensic form refunded about half of the IMO fee they charged.

 You asked for Dr Bash to do a LOT of work . Work that he does not usually have to do, because the veteran or survivor has done it-or the claim  involves a more clear cut medical situation, but 

I did all the work I needed to do , before I asked him to do an IMO for me, so I knew  my IMO fees would award the claim.

My AO DIC death award due to DMII brought with it more ancillary benefits- and far more cash than the IMO fee.REPS benefit, Chapter 35 refund, funeral costs, and a complete refund of the FTCA offset amount.

And Peace with Honor for my husband.There is no Honor in a death by VA.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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So, I guess the takeaway here is that his $9k per person fee IS reasonable considering the amount of work? 

I had sent the good Doctor all of our info and planned on trying to take out a loan or something to try and pay for the fees but it's just not possible right now. I even floated an alternative arrangement to him but he has not yet responded. I do not anticipate a favorable response but if you don't ask...

Anyway, I will start working on our paperwork more diligently. It's all still very confusing and I have a limited amount of time in my days to work on this.  I have to keep stopping to look up all the acronyms you use in your replies! LOL

I'll figure it out, eventually.

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