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A Duty to Assist Error has been identified-Higher Level Review


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I agree with Berta.  The reasons for denial are important.  You need to refute those reasons with evidence.  For example, if you denial says "no diagnosis", then provide them with a medical exam where you were diagnosed.  With PTSD, VA insists a PTSD diagnosis must be made by a VA doc.  

Keep to the basics:  Caluza elements.  If you dont know what those are, ask or look them up.  A current diagnosis is one of the Caluza elements.  

As far as "Proving" a stressor (element 2, Caluza), I do agree if you served in a combat zone, this requirment (to prove stressor) is greatly reduced.  As mentioned, show em you were in a combat zone if this applies.  

Thats stress enough.  

Often, also as mentioned, it boils down to Caluza element 3, the nexus.  Has a doc said your (curent mental health diagnosis) is "at least as likely as not" the result of an event in service?  If you lack an adequate nexus, you need to get one to win benefits.  This can be done with an IMO "if" you dont already have one in your file.  Get the Caluza elements = get SC.  Missing one or more Caluza elements = a denial.  That is the basics.  

Not every claim is winnable.  If you did not serve in combat, and you do not have a documented in service event, and you can not come up with a buddy letter reporting same, then your claim may not be winnable.  It would take a review of your records to determine if your claim is winnable.  Since you have been denied, an attorney will likely review your records to determine if the thinks yours is winnable.  If your condition(s) are on the presumptive list, then it makes it much easier to win.  The presumptive list varies with where you served/when.  

My advice is to review your records, ensure there are all 3 caluza elements.  Then appeal to the BVA.  Forget the HLR.  Go to the BVA.  If you do opt for a VSO, ask them if they have VBMS access.  If yes, then your VSO could be of some help, if they dont have VBMS access, odds are not good they will be of much more help than you can get on hadit.  

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