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HLR found Duty to Assist Error but still Denied my claims

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  • HadIt.com Elder

@Christopher Robinson If you used a VSO with POA and access to VBMS, they should be able to get you a copy of the decision letter. If you do not have a POA with a VSO, like @broncovet indicated, you'll need to wait for it to arrive in the mail.

I would recommend that before just sending an appeal to the BVA, carefully examine the decision letter. They are supposed to tell you evidence that was used and how they came to their decision. Sometimes they are vague. With you having profile paperwork and a current diagnosis, I would speculate that the only thing you might be missing is a nexus connecting them. The VA does love to toss in the "chronic" factor when doing initial service connection. I have an odd feeling that might be mentioned in the letter that is soon to arrive.

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At first glance, it sounds like you got service connected, but at a 0% or a level that did not add to your total percentage.   Not sure where you are at in your percentages, but you could get two 10%'s and or maybe a 20% and you may not make the next level, especially if you are currently 70, 80 or 90 percent level currently.

Nothing for sure until you get the letter,  

That I do know,



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I'm currently only at 10% for tinnitus, but a little insighy into my case.... when I came home from my deployment in Iraq in late 2005 my unit sent me to the VA because of the pain in my back I complained about while I was overseas and when I came home and mentioned it to the doctors at the demonization site. I went and saw my local VA, they examined me and said they believed it was due to my fallen archs on both of my feet so the referred me to get custom made inserts for my feet. They helped somewhat but didn't completely to the trick and I just took it as that and have dealt with the pain over the years. When I did mention to the doctors that I use to have arches in my feet they told me to go see a service officer while I was there, so I did and when I talked it over it with them they basically told me I had zero chance of getting approved ( this is when I was 21) so I just didn't bother with it. Fast forward a 5 year or so the pain thatvI have been dealing with has gotten worse and I start to visit the VA more for different treatments and but for the most part just deal with it still. About 6 years ago the pain was so bad I couldn't move at times but it would come and go. After talking g to a friend about it, hr suggested Chiropractic care, so with my own private insurance I decided to go get adjustment on my own but I also tell my VA doctor and they send me to physical therapy and finally take x-rays, the physical therapy helps somewhat but the Chiropractic adjustment helped more with pain and I'm able to move around a little more. After my co-payment started to become to much I asked the VA to start giving me Chiropractic care, also during this time they have the result of my x-rays and see I have two disc's in my lower back that were in bad shape (can't remember the exact medical terminology) and have degenerative disc disease. Now I work at the VA and after seeing what I saw and talking to other veterans about my case, I was told that the first service officer I saw when I first got back home told me bad info and I started the process of working on my claim. 

So the first step I tool was try to get my military records and reach out to my old unit and archives.gov and they both basically tell me they have nothing, so basically my unit lost my records.

I talk to another service officer and tell them my story and they submit my claims, then COVID hit us and everything gets shut down, after about year of waiting they send me to a c&p exam for my hearing and feet but not for my back, they connect my tinnitus to my service, also my hearing loss but said it's bad enough to grant me any kind of rating but deny my back and feet issues. After talking to my service rep again, they said it was a bunch of bull, that the C&P exam said my fallen archive were due to my service and that my back issues should of been awarded too due to my records treatment but the VA said they had no records of me seeing then for the back and foot issues when I first came home from Iraq but suggested I do a HLR, so I submit it and I wait 4 months get my call, the person asks my why I think there were issues in my first decision,  I tell them that I did see the VA when I came home from Iraq and that I also was seen at sick multiple times while I was on active duty for these issues but they were unable to find my records and I thought it was unfair I was denied just because my unit lost my records. The rep said they would look at my records and do their best to decide in my favor. A few days later I log into VA.hov and see they made a new decision on my HLR, that they found and error and was returning it for correct. After finding out it was a duty to assist error and that they found some records showing I had a profile for both issues while I was still in service and they used the wording that I had qualified events occurred while in service I thought I was all set but I guess not.

I did talk to my service rep and they said I was in fact denied again and they were also confused as to why, that the correspondence they sent me, contradicts themselves and that the C&P exam also said my fallen arches  were due to my service and for my back pain, even with the VA not having those records for when I first came home I still had records of a back pain profile when I was still in the military. They did say they were going to do something to see if they get the HLR overturned because of a new program when the VA makes an error, but if that doesn't work I should do a board appeal.


On a side note, sorry for the long rant, it is just frustrating to deal with this and I thought I might be able to get some insight on what other may think or dealt with to maybe give me more strength to keep on fighting because at this point, I'm just woren out, not only for the ongoing pain I deal with but also dealing with the VA...also please excuse any spelling or grammar mistakes as I typed this on my phone, don't have a computer.

Thanks again for any help/guidance people can give me.

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Christopher I think you have two options. One, you can get a IMO from a specialist that states that that all your problem go back to your foot issues. That probably is the quickest and more sure route . But you would likely lose out on any chance of seriou EED and back pay. You could go to BVA, with or without any additional medical evidence and depending on strength of evidence is also a good choice. You have a third option which you could pursue whether you chose any option, which is CUE. That you probably should get legal advise on. If you do CUE, i'd try one or both of the first two firstIMHO.

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