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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

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Cammy

Did I Do The Right Thing?

Question

I have a relative that is a WWII Vet that never filed for disability. He now is diagnosed with asbestosis. Having read here that so many of you have taken control of your own cases, I helped him fill out the VA claim form, get his DD 214, and documentation from his primary care provider (civilian). We sent his claim package and recieved a letter from the VA saying that they have recieved his claim and will process it.

In talking to the local AMVET rep he tells me that I screwed up. According to the AMVET rep "...the VA will eat him up because he does not have representation". The rep told me that no service organization will take his case and represent him to the VA after the claim is filed. So basically this guy is taking on the VA by himself.

So did I screw up? Is it ok to have filed the claim (this vet could die tomorrow) without a VSO? Is the local VSO just blowing smoke? This VSO has my power of attorney and has filed paperwork for me in the past. Having said that, I sometimes have a better idea what is going on than this guy so my confidence level with this guy is not sky high. To be brutally honest I get the impression that he is paid on commision.

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To be honest, I think that a veteran who is able to use a computer, the internet, and research the claims and appeals process is better off filing their own claim. Now thats not the majority of people, but I'd be comfortable saying that about most people on here. Just the fact that you found Hadit is evidence that you are researching claims and appeals processes.

The VSO, well in your case I'm of the OPINION - that he probably was blowing smoke as far as representation.... you'll probably do just as well without him if you work to make sure you study the claims.

rdawg - I have a grudge against AmVets, and their reps... so I wont comment other than to say I found them of little to no use.

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To be honest, I think that a veteran who is able to use a computer, the internet, and research the claims and appeals process is better off filing their own claim. Now thats not the majority of people, but I'd be comfortable saying that about most people on here. Just the fact that you found Hadit is evidence that you are researching claims and appeals processes.

The VSO, well in your case I'm of the OPINION - that he probably was blowing smoke as far as representation.... you'll probably do just as well without him if you work to make sure you study the claims.

rdawg - I have a grudge against AmVets, and their reps... so I wont comment other than to say I found them of little to no use.

Thanks for the comment!

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Cammy,

I would not recommend ever speaking to the AMVETS representative again as he/she clearly hasn't a clue what they are talking about. Find yourself a competent representative or go it on your own. Either way, I'd revoke their POA just to eliminate the chance that they might screw something up for you in the future.

As far as the asbestosis claim, what did the veteran do in service to expose them to asbestos and what branch of service was he/she in?

Navy veterans who served in certain military occupation specialties can be recognized as having either "probable" or "highly probable" asbestos exposure in service. Examples would include, but are not limited to: Machinist Mates, Boiler Techs, Pipe Fitters, etc.

Other branches could potentially be exposed too based on their duties...

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Other guy, Navy 1945-1948 and again 1950-1952. Served aboard ARD's (Auxillary Repair Dock). Held ratings as a metal smith and shipfitter. Both jobs were basically the same, maintain heating, air conditioning and ventalation systems as well as boiler type work. He can remember having to take apart ductwork and repair or replace asbestos insulation. The ARD's were basically a floating dry dock similar in design to the ship that brought the USS Cole back to the U.S..

He was awarded some cash in one of the asbestos law suits a few years ago but alas he foolishly squandered it on food and rent.

Here is the statement I put with his package. Comments welcome

I served in the United States Navy between 1945and 1948 and again from 1950 to 1952. I was trained as a ship fitter in 1945 and assigned to the USS Thompson DMS 38. As a ship fitter it was my responsibility to maintain the structural hull and mechanical systems on the ship. The mechanical systems included the boiler as well as the heating and ventilation systems.

It is well documented that the Naval ships of this era utilized asbestos as hull insulation and insulation for steam and ventilation pipes. My work required that I perform my duties in close proximity to asbestos covered hulls and pipes. When a system malfunction occurred, the asbestos insulation would have to be removed in order to affect repairs. It is during the period of 1945 through 1948 that my first exposure to asbestos occurred.

In 1950 I was called back to active duty during the Korean Conflict. During this period of active service I was assigned to the USS ARD (Auxiliary Repair Dock) -20 and the USS ARD-31 as a ship-fitter/metal smith until 1952. These ships were floating dry dock vessels tasked with completing repairs to ships in the theater of operations including battle damage and major hull damage repairs. During this period of service I was trained as a sheet metal worker and was assigned to repair and maintain the heating and cooling systems. This assignment required that I fabricate, repair and or replace damaged duct work which again was insulated with asbestos material.

When I left active military service I did not apply for VA disability benefits and until recently was unaware that I was eligible to apply for disability benefits. I have received heath related care from a VA medical facility and I am currently registered in the VA health care system. I have been diagnosed and I am currently being treated for asbestosis by my civilian health care provider. I have been told by my doctor that I have only 1/3 of normal lung capacity and have been prescribed oxygen which I use daily. Based on the nature of my active duty job assignments and periods of service it is my belief that my asbestosis is a result of exposure to asbestos during active military service.

I requested a copy of my service medical records from the National Archives in St Louis some time ago but have not received correspondence regarding those records. Your assistance in processing my claim for disability benefits is greatly appreciated.

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If he is terminal, see if you can secure a statement from his doctor reflecting this fact. If you are able to accomplish this, have the veteran file a request for "terminal expedite" and ask the VA to schedule him with an examination ASAP.

Based on the information you provided, it would seem highly likely that the service department would provide a "highly probable" exposure history for asbestos in service. This in combination with the fact that he has asbestosis will probably be a slam dunk for a grant of benefits. The pulmonary function test results completed at his C&P examination would most likely determine the percentage of disability that is assigned. The only way to potentially bipass this testing is if the veteran is on outpatient oxygen therapy or has cor pulmonale or has pulmonary hypertension as these symptoms would warrant a 100% evaluation.

The VA will likely request an opinion to determine whether the exposure to asbestos in service was the likely cause of this disability...but based on what you have provided I don't think that you should have any trouble getting the benefits for this veteran.

Edited by theotherguy

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