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Question about Disability Review Examination

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F Labridor

Question

I'm a brand new member and a bit lost in all the resources and information.   I would appreciate any advice (or pointing me to a good reference.)    Here's my situation:   I'm 76 years old and a 27-year Army veteran.   I served in Vietnam with an engineer land clearing battalion and was exposed to Agent Orange.   When I retired in 1996 I was given a 20% rating due to skin issues including skin cancer.  I had multiple sign cancers and Mohs surgeries afterward.    Many years later I developed Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and the VA rated me at 100%.  The decision letter said the evaluation was "not considered permanent" and would be reviewed after two years.   I recently got a letter telling me I would be contacted to schedule an ACE Exam by telephone.   I'm nervous about this obviously.   My condition is stable, but I expect to see an oncologist for the rest of my life.   Has anyone had a similar situation?  Can anyone offer me advice going forward?  

Thanks very much!

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Some dates here may help, because you have certain protections, however, those dont apply with temporary ratings.  Yes, with temporary ratings the VA can schedule you for a review rating.  

Probably what I would do is go ahead and apply for an increase..if it applies, such as applying for tdiu if you are unable to work due to SC conditions (likely).  If awarded tdiu, then you will be paid at 100 percent and not much will happen "except" you may be eligible for SMC S..statuatory.  

My advice is to go to the exam and have an answer to the age old question,

"How are you?"

If you respond with the proverbial "Fine", then you may be backpedaling the entire exam.  Instead, if you are not "fine", well, dont answer fine, but instead describe your symptoms on your worst day, say its Tuesday.  

So, instead of responding with the proverbial "fine", something close to this may be more appropropriate, but use your example from real life, not mine:

Doc:  HOW ARE YOU:

YOU:

Quote

Much Better Today.  On TUesday, however, my wife took me to the ER, where I was vomitting again, and dehydrated.  IM not sure if it was from the cancer or from the vomitting.  I was short of breath and could barely breathe.  I would up sick all week, until I finally got well enough to go to see the doctor today, but i have no idea how long this will last.  (Describe your symptoms on your worst day.  ). Never lie or exaggerate, but also dont minimize your symptoms, either). 

 

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Good news is you are not ask or required to attend an ACE C&P exam as this is only a records review of your medical history and as in my two recent cases done by a Nurse Practitioners somewhere in the universe.

As an example I underwent two recent ACE exams for 1. My recent increase to 60% for Agent Orange heart disease by the BVA  and the VARO ordered up this exam that was great for me as the examiner recommended to the VA raters to continue my 60% rating.  My age is 77.

2.  Also received another ACE exam for my Agent Orange Hypertension (HTN) blood pressure rating of 0% and again the NP examiner recommended no change in my service connection for HTN.

I had no in person or telephone or zoom contact with the two examiners.

However, be proactive and organize and make copies of all you past and current medical records (evidence) to justify your continued present rating levels for your SC conditions.  If for some unlikely reason the VARO raters propose a reduction in your rating/s then you will have this current ongoing treatment and medication medical evidence to refute or oppose their proposed reduction and even ask for an increase in one or more conditions if you have strong medical evidence to support worsening of said conditions.

Since you have held this rating/s for a long time and over the age of 70 then it is very unlikely the VARO will try to reduce or terminate such rating unless they have strong medical evidence that your condition/s has improved.

An experienced and accredited VSO (DAV, VFW, Legion, etc.) at a VA Regional office can be of assist to you in this matter.  They are free of charge and you do not have to be a member of any of them.

My comment is not legal advice as I am not a lawyer, paralegal or VSO.

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Edited by Dustoff1970
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Good post Dustoff1970. My question is how long have you held the temporary rating?

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You failed to say how many years ago you were granted 100%. Was it at least five years? There would be a proposal to reduce if the VA finds good reason to reduce and can support it medically. You would be given time to defend yourself if you did get a proposal.

Personally, I wouldn't speculate, and I would not worry about being reduced. I seriously cannot see the VA reducing your rating unless you have miraculousy been cured. You might even contemplate filing an intent to file, have your healthcare provider fill out a VAF 21-2680, and pursue filing for A&A if applicable in your case.

Have a wonderful life.

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9 hours ago, Rattler said:

Good post Dustoff1970. My question is how long have you held the temporary rating?

I have never held a temporary rating except for my various ratings of less than 5 years in length (from 1985 to 2000) that was then all of them made permanent or over 5 years.  My PTSD and TDIU over 25 years and Sleep Apnea and Heart disease well over 5 years.  Gerd and Tinnitus plus Hypertension for about a year now.

Since all these ratings are permanent or static and my age is 77 I have no worries of a reduction in anything.  My VA claims at VARO are expedited due to my Purple Heart medal and my BVA appeals are expedited due to my age over 75.  All is good now for many years plus I receive SMC-S with retroactive award and now 100% P&T for over 5 years retroactive.

It did take over 20 years to get to this point so I tell others that patience is a very important trait to have.

 

combinedburningDustoffwithPerkinsPurpleHeartcertificate.png.fa3a7ceae35dc3d47e06a5a3217db7aa.png

Edited by Dustoff1970
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When I had my total knee in March 2022 the VA put me on Temp SMC and them took it away after the 3 months rehab at home. But a temp 100% for 5 years or more doesn't sound right to me either.  We need more information to help. 

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