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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

Question

Hello Hadit Helpers, 

I feel like I am stumbling around blind. I hope someone can help me see.

I was service connected in 2011 severe anxiety due to mst and a bladder condition.

I have not had gainful employment since ETSing in 2004. I was re-evaluated for an increase and received an overall 70 - 40 -10 but started being payed at 80% in 2016. 

In June of 2019 I applied for TDIU. I hit the make a decision now button on ebenefits, which was like shooting my own foot for lack of patience, not realizing that this meant the VA could not request any further info from me.

In August I was denied, and obtained an attorney. 

The attorney took over and ebenefits is showing the privacy act starting on October 4th and my claim is now in the evidence gathering/decision making process. Estimated end date of April 2020, the attorney says 3 years, but I know there are new systems in place to make things move a little quicker.

I am looking for any information that you all would have about what is actually happening. I don't know if this is a NOD or what. My case manager acts like I am a major pain and won't give me any info and I fear she has no idea what she is actually doing. =(

I assume it is not an actual appeal yet, because my case manager said they would have to wait for my c-file before they would appeal on the next denial from the VA.  

I am so confused, If any of you experts could find the time to help me I would greatly appreciate it. I have always dealt with the VA on my own with no previous denials, but never fully understood what I was doing. I thought hiring an attorney would change this, but I still feel just as blind as before.

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In my opinion it is a big mistake to hire a lawyer after an initial denial.  

The VA makes a lot of mistakes with initial claims, and many denials are overturned on the initial appeal, and at the BVA, still others get denied and go on to the court.. the court may be where a lawyer can help most, but again this is my opinion, based on my 33 years dealing with the VA. With that said,  for some veterans the va claims system is too complicated  and I can understand why some veterans feel the need for a lawyer or Veteran service officer.

In your case  your representative should be doing a notice of disagreement, but under the new system it called a Higher level review, if you have no new evidence, or supplemental claim if  new evidence exist.

Your " case manage" is responsible to want to see the claims file.. but the longer they wait to appeal, the less time they  have to perfect the appeal...  Example, I have been waiting for 6 months for a copy of a C/P examination before I appeal a denial on a request for increase in my knee's.  We only have a year to appeal a decision. I don't like to be rushed to do an appeal but my time is slowly running out.  And when I do an appeal I may write it 5 or 6 times before  I am comfortable with how it reads and have made sure all bases are covered.

The  decision should state why the claim was denied and what is required to prevail.  Knowing this gives you a good start on the appeal. 

One recommendation I would make is to talk to your doctor explain what you are trying to do and ask if they would write an entry into you medical records or a letter in support of you TDIU claim.  Remember, the doctor must state that they have reviewed your medical records, and they must justify their opinion based on sound medical facts. Normally if such a letter is done correctly , the veteran will win the claim regardless of what the VA C/P examiner  many think about your claim, because the tie goes to the veteran.  Also your doctor is free to fill out the (C/P exam report )  DBQ which can be submitted along with the appeal.  ( Each medical condition has a DBQ specifically designed for each medical condition, the DBQ is what the C/P examiner fills out).   DBQ's are available  on line.

Hope this helps in some way.....

 

 

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Thanks Richard1954,

It does help. I was wondering if I was making the right decision and just did not want to make another mistake. 

I am almost positive the C&Ps I had last June and July showed deficiencies in the areas looked at for unemployablility. Although I was denied, there were favorable findings in my letter that stated I had not been working and I met the qualifications for schedular TDIU. 

I have started having snowy vision and researched this to find it could be caused by my long term severe anxiety. I don't want to do anything that will slow the process down so I have not submitted any new evidence. At this point I do not know how much I am allowed to submit on my own, without the attorney doing it for me.

I do fear the attorneys will try to make this process take as long as possible to increase their percentage of my retro pay. A quick decision in my favor benefits me, but them, not so much. =(

Is anyone familiar with the time frame of the AMA program's processing this higher review or whatever level I am at now?

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So I was way off and I feel like I am being totally screwed by my lawyer. I told them from the beginning that the VA just wanted to request something from me and couldn't.  So I really have no open claim, the va has just been pending on whether or not to send my cfile to the lawyer for over a month now. The lawyers are just waiting patiently to receive it and no one really cares what happens to me.  If I would have just submitted additional evidence after my denial in august, I would probably have my approval by now.  Who knows if I have any rights anymore. Can I do anything? 

 

 

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      b. Relevant occupational and educational history (pre-military, military, and post-military): Prior to entering the military, the veteran briefly attended college, and then went to NASCAR tech school in North Carolina, but "it wasn't for me." He joined the military approximately at age 22. He was trained in artillery and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. The veteran's duty in Afghanistan included providing FOB security, and tell her guard duty. Occasionally, they shot artillery.
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      Stressor #1: Early in his tour while stationed in Bagram, the base was attacked with artillery fire. The veteran stated he was terrified and petrified. He was out smoking near the command post when the shells started hitting. He dove between some barriers and other people dove on top of him. He could hear the shells hitting and recalled turning over to see them flying overhead. After the shelling stopped, the veteran was frozen. His Sgt. slapped him. They had taken many incoming that day, and though nobody was killed in his platoon, the veteran doesn't know if others on the base were harmed. After that day, he remained always on alert and tried not to think about it.
      Stressor #2: Later, he was stationed in Salerno, Afghanistan when another artillery strike occurred. Again, the veteran froze.
      Stressor #3: A third incident occurred when he was stationed at COB Zormat - they took incoming artillery and returned artillery in response. Once again, the veteran froze, and was taken aside by his Sgt. who chewed him out, shamed him, and told him to hide his fear. The veteran stated he was afraid to say anything to anyone because he feared he looked like "a xxxxx." While in Afghanistan, the veteran received word from his wife that she wanted a divorce. The veteran stated that his friend helped him through his distress. In 2013, on Christmas day, his friend committed suicide. The veteran stated that when he heard of this, he was angry, including anger at himself for not seeing the warning signs. Veteran stated that his friend's suicide has ruined Christmas for him ever since. Post military occupational functioning: The veteran has been unable to maintain employment since his military discharge. In the first few years post discharge he held 4 to 5 different jobs, the longest being less than a year. Then, he found work as a corrections officer in a prison in Kentucky. However, the
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      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] Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects. [X] Reckless or self-destructive behavior. [X] Hypervigilance. [X] Exaggerated startle response. [X] Problems with concentration. [X] Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless 
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      7. Other symptoms ----------------- Does the Veteran have any other symptoms attributable to PTSD (and other mental disorders) that are not listed above? [ ] Yes [X] No
      8. Competency ------------- Is the Veteran capable of managing his or her financial affairs? [X] Yes [ ] No
      .9 Remarks, (including any testing results) if any -------------------------------------------------- In my opinion, the veteran meets DSM 5 diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, which is more likely than not secondary to military trauma. In this veteran's case, there is a strong component of shame that is also associated with his military service and is foundationally related to his depressive disorder. His experience of freezing during 3 artillery attacks is something that is associated with feelings of overwhelming shame, worthlessness, helplessness, and inadequacy for the veteran. These thoughts and feelings contribute significantly to his depressive condition, and contribute meaningfully to his PTSD symptoms as well. The veteran also experienced significant losses during military service that have likely aggravated his PTSD and depressive conditions. Notably, the veteran's grandfather died in 2011 when the veteran was deployed to Afghanistan, and his best friend committed suicide on Christmas day in 2013. Both losses were experienced by the veteran as emotionally traumatic and contribute to his symptomatology. The veteran has developed a dysfunctional coping mechanism of excessive alcohol intake in his efforts to suppress negative feelings associated with his traumas. As his excessive alcohol use appears to be largely in the service of avoidance of distress and suppression of intrusive/reexperiencing symptoms, it is my opinion that his alcohol use disorder is secondary to his PTSD and depressive disorders. The veteran's mental health symptoms have severely impaired his functional capacity. He is socially disengaged and avoidant. He has difficulty expressing himself emotionally, showing empathy, or forming emotional bonds with others. Occupationally, the veteran has exhibited significant dysfunction as he has been unable to maintain employment due to anxiety, depression, avoidance, alcohol abuse, irritability, shame. Hs shame about his reactions of freezing during artillery attacks prompts him to avoid interpersonal interactions as much as possible as he fears that the topic of his military service will arise. Recently, the veteran has begun outpatient mental health treatment in the form of individual counseling, and he is awaiting an appointment for trial of medication.
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      I'm a Gulf War veteran with 90% S/C for various conditions. Some conditions that have been denied have been frustrating since I'm still suffering with symptoms. How can I create a Nexus for sinusitis and sleep apnea? I'm 30% for asthma and tried to create a relation between sleep apnea and asthma, but that was a no go. I was thinking trying again and tying my PTSD to that. Any thoughts? 
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