How To Get A Higher Disability Rating

How to manage your VA claim for disability compensation

Filing disability claims with the Dept of Veterans Affairs is tricky. Getting documentation together for one disability claim can be a full time job. Try filing two, three or four disability claims at the same time. It can be a mess to get your VA compensation and take years to sort out.

I’ll start by explaining what I did and why it was wrong. Yes, I have screwed up my own disability claims a time or two. This is yet another case of do what I say, not what I did. It is important to not repeat the following because it will cause a lengthy appeal process – and there is nothing worse than a 10-year appeals process.

It’s like waiting for your IRS tax refund, except its more money and, like Rip Van Winkle, I look a whole lot older. VA compensation is a good thing, but it’s too bad disability compensation is such a racket.

Don’t be dumb. I hand wrote my initial application for disability compensation without reviewing my Service Medical Records (SMR). My claim led with the statement: “see supporting medical documentation in my file.” This was dumb.

Imagine someone sending you a hand written, 300-page manuscript (doctor’s scribbles plus my own) and allowed you 4 hours to read it. Then they ask you a ton of questions that are legally binding. That is what I asked the VA to do 10 years ago when processing my disability claim.

In reality, the VA disability claims process is very complex and time consuming for the veteran and the Dept of Veterans Affairs. Do not expect the VA to connect the dots. This is your job if you choose to take it, or you’ll be older and fatter still fighting the good fight, like me.

Start with your Service Medical Records

Get started. For disabled veterans with copies of their SMRs, you should get moving. Any disability condition diagnosed within one year of separation could be considered service connected, even if it was undiagnosed in service.

For those without their records, request a copy of your SMR’s from your local Veterans Affairs regional office. Mail in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Click here to find a sample FOIA letter. Once you have the chance to review the documents, you can begin your own research.

Research every disability or condition you have within your medical records (about the possible presumptive conditions that show up within one year – bring these up too). To do this, identify the key terms and find them in 38 CFR Part 4: Schedule of Ratings.

For example, let’s say you have Sinusitis. Within your records, you can document 5 different occasions that you went to the doctor for the condition (like allergies, congestion, etc). Go to the CFR and find Sinusitis.

A quick way to do this is to click [Control + F] and type in Sinusitis. This should lead you right to the rating criteria. Notice for the condition, the requirements “either or” tendency. Here, you either have periods of incapacitation or you have “non-incapacitating” episodes. Decide where you currently fall into the rating schedule. Then, you can Google the condition on either regular Google or Google Scholar. Read about what Sinusitis actually is and what causes it. Get educated on each and every condition you are claiming this same way.

Write up a summary of all the conditions and include dates of treatment while in service and after. You do not need to seek medical attention for every issue in order to document it. For example, incapacitating episodes are considered episodes that required a doctor’s visit. Non-incapacitating episodes are not. A person can self-medicate certain conditions. But always remember, the condition needs to be currently impacting you in order to count. If it stopped hurting two years ago, then you will likely not get a rating for it.

Now Enters VA Documentation

Before the meeting or doctor’s appointment, be sure to have all your ducks in a row. I generally bring all documentation relevant to the specific injury or injuries with me along with a summary sheet. Avoid dropping your whole file on the person’s lap with the expectation that they will sort through it for you. Try to keep the summary sheet as short as possible – One to five pages, depending on the number of issues.

Your documentation will be in addition to this (doctors’ opinions – civilian, VA, military). Always try to keep things as short as possible. Include a table of contents of your injuries. Here is a copy of an actual claim letter for the following claims: 1) sinusitis disability, allergic rhinitis disability and sleep apnea disability. It’s mine, so be gentle.

Disability Claim Evidence

On evidence. One thing your evidence should have is a Nexus letter (hopefully from a doctor) explaining how the evidence in your file is relevant to the condition you have now. This can be tricky for new conditions secondary to service-connected conditions. See Jim Strickland’s advice on the subject. Never bring your originals anywhere. Take copies of your files with you in a folder to your VSO meeting.

One misunderstanding of many is that lay evidence counts very little because it is not “objective.” (lay evidence is a statement from the veteran or buddy letter that supports a claim). Not true according to Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F. 3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007). That court held:

“In a veteran’s claim for benefits, lay evidence can be competent and sufficient to establish a diagnosis of a condition when (1) a layperson is competent to identify the medical condition, [such as a broken leg, but not a form cancer], (2) the layperson is reporting a contemporaneous medical diagnosis, or (3) lay testimony describing symptoms at the time supports a later diagnosis by a medical professional.”

This means the lay person cannot “render medical opinions, including etiology opionions,” but can provide testimony that is an eyewitness account of medical symptoms. Barr v. Nicholson, 21 Vet.App. 303, 307 (2007).

According to Jandreau, “Contrary to the Veterans’ Court, the relevance of lay evidence is not limited to the third situation, but extends to the first two as well.” To that point, the VA had been guilty of largely disregarding personal statements because they were not “objective.” They were wrong and the Federal Circuit had the last say, binding future VA decisions.

On that note, I would question anyone claiming VA Compensation adjudicators are “objective,” too, given that the government takes an unjustified position in 70 percent of veterans denials. This means VA adjudicators are not following the law.

How to Select your Veteran Service Officer

About the meeting. Be careful to never overwhelm your audience. The summary will keep your conversation focused. Also remember to be as friendly as possible. Many VSO’s make less that $35,000 per year and should be respected for their sacrifices to help us get the benefits we were promised.

VSO Selection. Not all VSO’s are created equal. Keep an open mind and shop around for the one you feel the most confident with handling your case. Some have less training or experience than others. Others have too many cases to directly manage effectively. The advantage for you will be the fact that you have your case already together. Talk to the VSO about how to further document your claim prior to filing it. If the VSO feels confident that you’re ready to go, go for it. One thing to consider, a bad VSO can squash your ability to appeal successfully by failing to notice shortfalls in your documentation before an appeal.

The application step does not require a VSO. You can fill out the VA claim online: VONAPP. The non-computer savvy veteran can download the Form 21-526 and fill it out manually or request that the VA mail one to you by calling 800-827-1000. This begins the process.

If doing this on your own, remember that there are many ways to skin a cat. You can be very general about the condition(s) or very specific. I have had success with both. Do not attempt to diagnose the condition yourself. For the sinus condition, you could merely state “sinus condition” or “problem breathing”. Or, you can be specific and state “sinusitis” if it is in your file. However, do not get cute and diagnose something that is not stated in your SMRs. List the symptoms, not the diagnosis (back pain with numbness down the legs, for example). Now, if you believe you have something like sciatica, then listing that after the symptoms may be fine. Again, this depends on your specific situation and comfort level.

For example, click here on the blue text to see what the Department of Veterans Affairs provides about this process. It’s a little vague and explains why so many websites are espousing advice. An informed decision is always the best decision.

Disability Claims and Breathing Problems

Here’s a continuance of my own little story for service connection for the following: Sleep Apnea secondary to Sinusitis and Allergic Rhinitis. I was denied for these conditions right after my separation from service, in 2001.

A little background. I had a sleep study in service conducted by the Fargo VA. The VA had the records of a sleep study and was notified as such. Yet, during my evaluation, the VA did not request its own files and subsequently denied my condition. I had brief apneas but did not require a machine = 30 percent. They also denied service connection for the other conditions despite at least 12 instances within my service records requiring treatment. The sinusitis was later confirmed in 2009 via an MRI as were the polyps from allergic rhinitis. The next year I was given a CPAP machine.

Rubber, meet Road. In 2010, I put the whole claim together with a little documentation help from law school and “The Little Book on Legal Writing.” To see what I mean, here are the first couple pages of my disability claim. I called the Fargo VA for the actual sleep study from 1998. While on the phone, the FOIA guy at the VA faxed the records to me (that was the morning of my recent VA examination – don’t wait to the last second like I did). The records verified my apneas. I was also able to find Congressional Reports about the conditions of the dormitories we lived in while at tech school – there were issues of asbestos and leaking sewage along with outdated HVAC systems blowing particles around. I immediately came down with sinusitis and pneumonia after arrival. I included this documentation in case I come down with certain cancers down the road.

Armed with the report, my medical records and a typed summary, I went to the exam. The first appointment was with an Ear Nose and Throat doctor. He said the VA already conceded service connection but he needed to find out how many episodes I have every year. I handed him my documentation. While he did not read over the documentation in full, he most likely referred to it after the meeting while filling out his exam notes. This is key, especially if the examiner did not take good notes while in the meeting or forgot some key point that you mention. The summary you hand him may be the difference between a 10 or 30 percent.

My second evaluation was for sleep apnea. I showed the doctor my current diagnosis along with the former diagnosis while I was in service. She took the time to read over my summary, which explained how the VA missed my earlier diagnosis. Since I had the old sleep study exam with me, she was able to clearly tell that I had sleep apnea while in service. Because of the way my documentation was set out, she told me on the spot that she was going to tell the VA I had sleep apnea in 1998. This could result in a decision for retroactive pay if I can prove VA committed a Clear and Unmistakable Error during their 2001 denial.

Release of Information: VA Claims Investigation

For you. After you file your claim, VA will send a letter verifying receipt of your claim and notifying you of the information they need. This will include release forms they will need you to fill out in order to request files from civilian doctors you have seen. Be sure to read everything very carefully. Sometimes the dates can be wrong or VA might be asking for the wrong information. In addition, you may have better luck getting documents from doctors than will the VA. When you forward medical release letters to civilian medical providers for their records, be sure to follow up with a phone call to ensure they understand what you are requesting, especially for psychologists. Leave nothing to chance and never expect the VA will figure out how to contact these people for you.

At the examination for conditions like PTSD, VA has disability examination criteria online. Google whatever condition to read about the experience of other veterans after their exams. This can help a lot. First, it will help you frame your condition in terms that the VA examiner will use in their analysis of your condition.

In addition, write a one or two page summary about your condition. Click here to view my own sample disability claim. Use bullet points with brief explanations of each and every treatment for that particular condition. Be careful to not overwhelm your examiner. Ask if the examiner has viewed your C-File before the exam. If not, you may have a claim for a review if the examiner gives you an adverse finding. If the C-File is not present for the exam, be sure to note the fact. A lack of C-File can bias your exam and be cause for a new one if you do not get the results you think you deserve.

Lastly, be patient. The whole process can take up to one year or longer.

VA Denials and Lowball Ratings

Here’s a recap of where we’re at with this process. I’ve written about the disability claim process up through the VA appointment with an evaluator and supplying evidence to the VA about your claim. Now, we will go through what to do when you get your adjudicated claim back with an approval or denial. You will generally have one of three outcomes: 1) full grant of your claim; 2) a partial grant: for example, they gave you TBI but at 10 percent instead of 40 percent; 3) full denial – do not pass go, do not collect $200. With the paperwork the VA sends you, you’ll never know which of the three you are unless you received 100 percent rating.

Be in the know. Request a copy of your file from the VA first. This is the only way to know everything the VA examiners found and how the VA then adjudicated your claim based on that information. Click here for a copy of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letter you can send for a copy of your file.

In my own case, I had filed a claim for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I had a head injury while in service and received a Psychoeducational Evaluation in college. The evaluator believed my head injury caused some degree of memory loss. When the VA performed their own evaluation, the Neurologist gave me a hard time because I like to drink beer, wine and whiskey in typical Portland-style quantities. A psych evaluator reaffirmed the memory loss during another test. An MRI found brain scarring. Good to go, right?

Wrong. I received a letter back from the VA confirming my condition, kind of. The TBI was rated at 10 percent because the memory loss was related to the fact that I enjoy my drink, according to the neurologist. Note: the neurologist did not have a copy of my C-File for the exam. The brain scarring was claimed to be likely from Multiple Sclerosis and not a head injury. I do not have MS. “What the F?!” I thought. That’s the difference between a 10 percent and 40 percent rating, or $523 per month (Vet + Child). That little bob and weave allowed the VA to keep $6,200 of my money every year, if I gave up.

Anyone can Win Against the VA

Beat the machine. I requested a copy of my file to read through the full analysis. Coincidently, I had an appointment with the Speech Pathology person at the Portland VA. He reviewed my MRI and the evaluation from the neurologist. “That’s BS…” he told me. There is no way drinking can cause the memory loss that I have unless I was drunk and still drinking at the evaluation. I wasn’t. In addition, the MRI brain scarring claimed as Multiple Sclerosis was completely off base. One little VA trick was that the radiologist probably did not have a copy of my claim (C-file) but was just given the MRI and some notes to review.

I then received new evaluations from the VA on the Healthcare side that rebutted the claims from the Benefits side. I did not drink for one month before the evaluation, to rule out the booze effect. The MRI was reviewed and rebutted by another radiologist in light of my actual C-File. The radiologist stated my head injury was the likely cause of the scarring, not MS. My note to readers: the Health side of the VA can be very helpful in fighting against the dark side of the VA. It’s very “Star Wars” over there.

Abracadabra. Once all the information was assembled, I walked over to my friendly Veterans Service Officer (VSO) at the VFW and filed a Notice of Disagreement. I personally elected for DRO review. The VSO told me it was the best appeal he had ever seen from a veteran. The claim went from 10 to 40 percent. And out of the top hat popped $6,200 per year plus a lump sum for retroactive pay. I didn’t give up and I didn’t die in the process. Hooray for me and hooray for my daughter.

To look at how I document my claims, check out my Sinusitis disability claim. You’ve now walked through the process of filing for your disability claim and appeal with me, soup to nuts.

Voc Rehab Survival Guide Benjamin Krause is the creator of the DisabledVeterans.org community, author of the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans, and numerous other guides. 

Benjamin is an award winning investigative reporter, Veterans Law attorney, and a disabled veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in its Special Operations Command. After receiving an Honorable Discharge, Benjamin began his decade long fight for benefits after being lowballed with a 10% rating in 2002. During that fight, he received degrees from Northwestern University and  the University of Minnesota Law School while using VA Vocational Rehabilitation.

You can connect with Benjamin on  Google+,  Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. danyele says

    Question. My husband will receive his benefits next month, his x wife (divorced11 yrs) just told me she got a letter stating he was getting 55 for their son, does she get that? That’s all I know as she wouldn’t read the letter to us. Thanks for your input

  2. dwimby says

    Much of what is written is very dated. The article for this thread was written at the beginning of 2011, about 3.5 years ago. Now there are different ways to submit claims, and online is one of them. The VA is adversarial let there be no doubt about it. If you file a claim use a VSO (veterans service officer). but if you are just hustling money and are healthy, too bad you did not step on that mine back in AFG — don’t steal from others who actually have disabilities. Stay TF away from VA benefits if you’re a grifter. Far far away.

  3. james burke says

    The only thing proved is a handful of young vets are lazy and will do what it takes to get free money. Sinusitis? Are you fkn kidding me? Apnea? Sleep issues? Goddamn you kids are pussys. Grow some nuts and take charge of your life. Just because you were in the rear with the gear and got a paper cut doesn’t entitle you to free money. Try working.

    • wilk says

      For an idiot like you to say people are lazy want you go to some of the PTSD classes and see what real vets are dealing with are ask spouses whom loved ones committed suicide cause it is at an all time high. Want you go eat shit and sell your bullshit elsewhere

  4. lynn geiser says

    Great advice!! I have a compensation board to connect my 50% rating of my signs and symptoms of my back injury, tailbone (know arthritis from recent x-ray) and constant headaches, ear problems, dizziness and was seeing a counseling and she said PTSD and MST combined. I will go against them on April 23 2014 at 1:30pm in Milwaukee WI.
    I have wrote the connection of how the symptoms are part of the PTSD but there have been more since I started talking about past. I avoided because I was working on getting my licensed counselor and I was afraid of having a stigma on my record but over time realized I am not ashamed to talk about my diagnosis.

    I also connected when I employed my symptoms increase.. I want to continue to work but the job opportunities are very limited.

    Thanks for the Article.

    Lynn Geiser
    Green Bay WI
    920-471-2119

  5. says

    The navy is very good at covering up safety violations but in my case my medical record has abestos exposure stamped right on the cover of it in about 2″ letters. I had the VA do a lung xray when I first started using the VA Medical Care for all my health needs and they say there is no asbestosis.

  6. Joey Anderson says

    Over 50% of Veterans Benefits Administration employees are veterans. Should they be fired too?

    • Jim Y says

      Yes, if they are derelict in their duty. Being a vet doesn’t automatically make you a good person or we wouldn’t have military prisons.

  7. luis benitez says

    left shoulder surgery 30%,left hand 40% secundary of left shoulder,ptsd 70% and iu to100%. can i apply forSMC for loss of use of left shoulder and lefr hand

  8. Taxpayinghorse says

    I am at 50% diablity with Irr. Bowel, knees, degenative disc disease in my neck and sciatic nerve in my hips. I still work full time. No way can I survive off $800.00 a month. I want to try to get an increase because my sciatic in my hips have gotten so much worse but been told as long as I am working that going more then 50% would be very hard to get and there is a chance they’ll reduce what I am getting now. Any suggestions or advice please?

  9. says

    When you joined the military, did you think you might be hurt or killed??? Sleep apnea? are you serious? get off your lazy a**, start taking responsibility for your life, we all go through some kind of biological changes that have nothing to do with military service. Many of you are trying to get money for illnesses that millions of people suffer with everyday. You are lazy, looking for daddy taxpayer to support you. Poor babies.

      • Lori says

        I am in complete disgust after reading your posts! People like you give the Veterans Administration a bad reputation. You are a true hustler and a pimp. Why don’t you pull up your dress and man up! Maybe an AA meeting would help clear your beer- fogged mind and give you something to be grateful for. If you can bitch and complain and go through the drama
        of getting online to teach other people how to hustle the VA system, than you clearly are not disabled. Hustlers like you are the reason why bedridden service-connected
        veterans like me, have to wait years to get our claims through the system. That backlog in the system creates a life-threatening situation for those of us waiting for an approval, which then would give us some financial assistance to hire a full-time home health aide that we so desperately need. I would bet money that you are a deadbeat dad with gambling problem in addition to your alcohol addiction… Hey maybe you can swindle some disability
        from the VA for your alcoholism, you lazy disgrace to our country!

      • steve in vegas says

        spoken like a true politician…….obviously you have never dealt with the VA..ive been battling them since 1989..for a service connected injury..they give me a disability rating and then take it away…not everyone is looking for a handout…everyone of my health issues is connected to my service to this country.unless you are caught up in the system you cannot know what its like..people like you exist because of the people who are dealing with the VA….the Veterans…

    • TJ says

      You sir, are obviously a misinformed intellectual and/or academic wannabe, have no idea what the hell you are taking about, and obviously need to experience some time in hell, something my brothers and I are proud to have done for our country. Are all VADC legitimate? Of course not, but neither are all insurance claims. Should the guy who pays his car insurance every month without fail be ridiculed and called a liar because some people file false claims? If not then why should the man who was willing to lay down his life and make the ultimate sacrifice have to endure anything less than unconditional gratitude from anyone, let alone a little two-bit punk like you. People like you disgust me, and are truly the tide the ebbs the foundation of this great nation.

      • john says

        I am 70% 30 mental, back 40, shoulder 20, 10 wrist I was told at last two c $ p by chief ortho I was unemployable twice in year and two months just switched to hunter holmes in Richmond now I am told I do have osteoporosis t score -3 and 34 years old and say move wrong I could break my back and spinal cord already have fractures all this happened in army and was never told any fractures just slight bulging disk and degenerative disk disease what is a diagnosis if they cant find something else I think I got out army in 2007jan and this whole time with back issues severe back going out and just in pain I am on oxycodone 15mg and have done the morphine with lortab and just lortab b4 the morphine since I went to this certain pain meds I have had different attitude my wife says and I can get up out bet in mornings but this new va is writing things in records saying I am saying these things like of course I am dependant on drugs, I take clonazepam which every drug test they give me has come up neg and I promise on my child if I did not take I would be a nervous wreck and I just do not abuse or sell anything I even sent a pill off to manufacturer to be checked to see if is all ingredients I guess. I was told he dr. at Teva where drug comes from make sure she is giving correct urinalysis since I get from my pc out town I wonder if they just write when they look at my chart seeing meds on from va and maybe pulling fast ones since I have been at this va my dr. are all residents this is a learning hospital the person over them in this clinic is crazy and writes drug dependant first day met just from telling her what I take because shots in stomach for osteoporosis and gabapentin and the vitamins calcium, lexapro all this you are dependant on if suddenly stop You know something crazy she wrote when I first visited nurse asked if I mind getting HIV test and said no they did it last va and married 8 years nothing worry about why would she write I told her no and she gave a long talk to me about I am required I think again I do not care this was wrote by dr child resident and these things I am seeing is ludicrous, crazy nuts help give me form what to do besides pt. advocate she likes my dr. so she was no help and rude they make my medicines 1-3 days late I call and on myhealthevet u can read labs and notes and it shows received but will not call back to help you anyone know a good lawyer to get army retirement not va Army I got it raised to 20 where I got out on medical I really need a good lawyer to get my army retirement only 10 more percent they duked a lot of us at ft.hood at time I was injured our medical hold unit waiting on medical discharge papers so if anyone know about a Army Retirement benefit lawyer let me know please need help and how to get those things off record or rewritten that was not said or no reason to be there

      • says

        John,

        I have the same problems that you do. Back problems and sciatic nerve pain in both legs. I also got 10% from the PEB/MEB and will be going back to the Army thru the physical Disability Review Board – PBDR – look it up and send the forms to them and they will at least review it. Either that or the Board for the Correction of Military Records. Those are basically the two options available. Good luck with all and post on here when you get some movement one way or another.

    • lewis says

      WOW your spit tastes the same as the 70’s. If you can’t Honor the men & women that so Honor you, what do you offer this country that’s equally Honorable enough to think you have the right to open your mouth? If it’s Canada you need to move on with the rest of your cowards & find a more suitable environment for you ignorance

  10. says

    Some claims are indeed necessary and deserve compensation. But some of you low lifes are clearly trying to scam the taxpayers into paying you for maladies caused by the aging process. Grow up, suck it up and move on.

    • Laura says

      Jose have you actually lived in the dumps the military keeps troops in? When they actually remove the signs off the doors if there is a door that shows this is a condemned building? That the contractors hired to remodel are wearing full protective gear including respirators and you’re not issued one to live in amongst the mess? Don’t knock a claim if you’re not living it.

    • TJ says

      I have an idea, this might work for you. I propose that you shut the hell up, and let those of us that have lived and continue to live the nightmare worry about calling-out the unworthy. Trust in me when I say, we know when someone among us does not belong, and we have no problem with giving them the riot act and making every effort to fight them every step of the way (most of love and look for such an opportunity). But we do not need YOUR help. I, and I’m certain most of my brothers, find it unfathomably insulting. Your and idiot, and your ignorance betrays you. I’m 30 years old. I have two knees that can barely take getting me out of the bed in the morning, I have PTSD that has cost me two amazing jobs and a marriage, I have “early onset non-rheumatoid arthritis” in both my hands (not rheumatoid means it was caused by trauma and not disease), I am in constant pain, in fact to a point that would keep most people (so my doctors tell me) unable to function and bed ridden; I however work 40+ hours a week. I live in my own personal hell each and every day, and the one thing that gives me satisfaction is that those whom I sacrificed my body, youth, mind, and “golden-years” for are for the majority, grateful. You obviously are not one them. So do us all a big favor, get the hell off this page, and for the benefit of all mankind and America specifically- please, for the of god, don’t breed.

  11. latoya campbell says

    Brent, I am going through the same thing. I have been in the development stage for 2 1/2 years now. I have only received 2 letters stating that they are still working on my claim. I haven’t even see a doctor. Is it possible to get a rating without being seen? I am manic depressive, surgery on my wrist, which causes pain and limited mobility, and I have inpingment in my right hip, was seen for it the whole 9 years I was in. Is there anything else I can do?

  12. James Frost says

    I am service connected at 80%, 70% for ptsd, 10% tbi, and 10% tinnitus. I am currently attending counseling awaiting entry into ptsd program, I have severe anxiety, depression, and other issues relating to ptsd. I was informed that when one re-opens a claim that the VA may increase, maintain, or even reduce disability. I cannot survive on a reduction as my condition renders me unable to work. I am seeking advice about re-opening my current case. I will appreciate any comments

  13. enhanz says

    This article mirrors my issues with the VA. You sign up at fresh outta of high school as a hearty, healthy individual and come home completely changed in every way. Then you have to prove what they already have documented

  14. enhanz says

    I have the sleep apnea claim but they denied my chronic sinnusitis due to pyramiding. I also have a denied hypertension claim, which can be related to sleep apnea as well. My current issue is the weight gain and I am considering filing a claim for it. Can you advise the direction to take on this?

  15. Shaun Cox says

    i JUST WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW LONG IS TOO LONG TO WAIT FOR A TRAVEL BOARD DECISION….MINE WAS 27 NOV 12….HOW LONG DOES IT NORMALLY TAKE TO GET SOME KIND OF HEARING RESPONSE FROM THE LUFGE?

  16. Sorangel Batista says

    The VA is a joke not only they make you get documents that they already have but also
    question weather or not you serve in Iraq when your DDT14 say that you where in Iraq.
    I am so surprise that they can send you some where and then say we can’t find any orders. The VA is ridiculous and the biggest scam there is . It’s so sad that our soldiers have to go through all of this.
    *A Wife of Soldier

  17. CB says

    I just want you to know how much I appreciate you taking the time out to build this website to help veterans like me. It’s so confusing trying to navigate the VA waters and your page really enlightened me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  18. vann wilson says

    the 100%+ combat disabled vet should get the same salary/benifits as congress the vet did the dieing/bleeding/suffering for life while congress was being treated like royallity the vet paid the price

  19. Brent joice says

    I been in development stage for two years with no notifications nothing I’m in California Los Angeles. My medical records support my claim. I asked a service officer for help. He said it’s nothing he could do!!!!!

  20. mikeandkimclark says

    Yes..out popped $6200 a year, but at 40% they just offset the VA payment from your pension, so you’re right back where you started. What’s the point unless you can get to 50% and receive concurrent payments?
     

    • says

      the point is steps you will start low yes but the older you get you do rate increases and yes at 60 to 70 you can and will be 100% now try to start at 100% at 60 yrs old you be in the grave first.

      • Riverrat1970 says

        Actually not. My wife served in DS1. Last year within a year she was rated 100%. I did the claim. Made sure I had every little piece. VA C&P commented how thorough it was. The 1000 number is a hassle to wait on, but those folks were always helpful and caught a couple of requests messages I missed.

  21. hitthedeckboys says

    If anyone feels DAV is not doing the job they are not happy with YOU may file a 2122 form. Your claim date will always remain the same as when you first filed. Eight (8) other groups to REP you if you feel the need to jump ship  with your claim.

      • TJ says

        I’m with the “American Legion”. Nothing be great things to say about them, I have gone from two years without so much as a P&C exam, to an approved rating in six months! Now they are advocating that I appeal the decision because they feel it is inadequate! These people are awesome and willing to fight for their warriors!

  22. Buttrfli555 says

    WHY IS IT WE CANT GO ONLINE AN CHECK OUT THE STATUS OF OUR CLAIMS W/O HAVING TO CALL THE LOCAL REP.. CAN SOMEONE PLZ TELL ME IF THERE IS A PLACE TO DO THAT…EVEN CALLED COMP AN PEN, WOMAN SAID SHE HAD NEVER HEARD OF A WAY OF DOING THAT W/O GOING TTHRU REP..THX FOR ANYONE WHO CAN STEER ME IN THAT DIRECTION..HAVE BLESSED DAY..

    • hitthedeckboys says

       @Buttrfli555
      Spoke to Washington on Monday…He explained ebenefits.va.gov ( premium)is a DOD platform ran by BVA , They use information from BVA, and try to give you updates on your claim using BVA and other inputed information ,Unfortunately the issues with old information is a BUG in the computer code ( programming issues) that has been giving them problems “Updating the system” and they are working now hard to try to corret the issue and catch up everyones cases to now besides prior info… He told me each case is now 10 months so good LUCK everyone and hang in. Im suppose on DECK after 8 years.

    • playball says

      you can go to ebenefits. you need to request a code from vro. it will show you what stage your claim is in however, it may not be accurate. i had to call my regional office a few times to get a verification on my status. showed that i was missing evidence and my claim was in the beginning stage when i knew it was waiting final signature. regional rep told me that they were having problems with the site and everything was in order and completed including my claim (which was increased from 30% to 80%). the rep also told me that there were more stages on the site than what va actually uses. this confused me because the site is ran by va. just another smoke screen possibly. on a side not, i did find out what my increase was on the site before i recieved it in the mail. if you check or know that your claim has had the final signature you can click on va home loan certificate of eligibility, found on the right side of website. click on that and follow the directions. mine showed an increase in my monthly benefits, i did the math and figured out i was rated at 80% before va ever told me i was. hopefully yours will show an increase as well. hope this helps and all my best to our comrades in arms

      • Female 70% Service connected broken Veteran says

        Problem with ebenifits is if like me you were a spouse after your active time DEERS refuses to acknowledge your active service. I have had one person tell me I just need to fax my divorce papers to PROVE I can use MY NAME and then when I called back to get the number was told that I ONLY show as a dependant that they do not have my active service information. To get my self proven as existing I have to go to the regional office and try to find whoever the secret prove yourself person there is. I just had back surgery (which I STILL 6 months later have not gotten my 100% temp upgrade so I can recover) so drivign 3 hours to try to find out who the secret prove yourself fairy is is a bit difficult to do. To be verified for myhealthyvet I just had to take the signature sheet to the local outpatient clinic Release of information. But DEERS whole ebenifits thing pretty much is useless to get anyone with a straight answer. I was thinking it was just an attack on female service members that were also spouses but in my work as a DOL vet rep I have had a few of my veteran clients also get the “You don’t exist call this DEERs number to be insulted and told your service does not matter” message. If you are not goign to make it avalible to all then don’t make it IMPOSSIBLE to get in touch with the VA by phone if not ALL veterans can have access by eBenifits.

    • Buttrfli555 says

       @hitthedeckboys THX SO MUCH FOR YOUR INFO, I APPRECIATE IT..I WILL PASS THAT ON TO COMP AN PEN,,OUT OF MILWAUKEE,, YOU’VE BEEN VRY HELPFUL..BE BLESSED

    • Buttrfli555 says

       @hitthedeckboys I TRIED THAT LINK AN IT KEPT BRINGING ME TO EBENEFITS.VA.GOV… THEN I HAD TO HAVE  A ( CAC ) A  ” COMMON ACCESS CARD ” ?? WHEN I TRIED TO REGISTER IT KEPT REFERING ME TO THIS CAC..SO NOT SURE WHERE TO GO FROM THERE..SEEMS AS THO IT WANTED ME TO PAY FOR THE ACCT; ?? ANY SUGGESTIONS.?? THX FOR THE HELP

  23. hitthedeckboys says

    To all VETS remember to try to use the EBENIFITS.COM site to check on your comp and ben cases along with other things…If your name needs to be updated call the Ombudsman listed and also you may check some things by calling the 1-800-827-1000 number…A trick to getting a operator on the 1000 number who will tell you were your case is standing but ONLY call the operator ONCE every six months or your case will get placed on the bottom of others and will take longer…good LUCK everyone and remember BE PATIENCE AND MORE PATIENCE….Cases are going at 16 months to decide…Each case is based on each case and different.

  24. Buttrfli555 says

    I was living near atlanta, Ga last year an went in to have my service connected disabilities case reevaluated as my back has gotten worse..after standing in line for an hour to get checked in, i did my pprwrk an was seen about half hour to 45 min later… when i told the representative that i waned to reopen my claim for my back he denied me..At that time i stated i thought i was suppose to see medical personnel to be reeval’d, he told me they would be going by his recomendation an i did not bring any criteria in for him to evaluate..!!!  I was pissed… a yr later i moved back to wisc an went in to see my old rep, i explained what had transpired an he explained to me that Atlanta is not following “” Federally mandated guidelines “”  so if you know anyone in this area plz let them kno they are allowed to be seen by medical personnel to be reevaluated not a desk jockey…So thank you for your story on how to file for disability..much luv..Buttrfli555

  25. skipstewart1 says

    You know, I think they should fire all the claims people that work for the Veterans Administration and hire all the people that work for the Internal Revenue Service.  Because the IRS has a better record in producing timely claims to people and they do allot more paperwork then our own VA does.  The IRS is more efficient in less time then the VA is.  

  26. ed says

    the va is a very hard to understand.
    PS JOE theres not one person who gives two S*&TS ABOUT YOUR SO CALLED UNGRATeFUL A&& i promise theres enlisted troops who have done more then your pog a$$ you like to report fraud waste abuse, id like to report how some ncos, officers think they king s&&& when they never did a dang thing in combat but sit around drinking coffee with private females while us real troops are on the fight. dig that mr officer who dont deserve his big pay. and btw more pay dont mean crap most troops are there to fight for country family friends i think people like u with your big ass mouth should be shut up in combat you get my meaning mr officer for ten years guy. and btw im trying to insult you if u were my lt id bust ur ass in da filed..

  27. Jim says

    Derryllee.

    I don’t know all of the specifics of your situation, but I also have duty related cancer. The VA disability rules for cancer state that you are rated at 100% for 6 months after the cessation of any surgery or treatments. After 6 months, you are rated based upon the residual effects of your treatment. In my case, I lost a foot of my colon causing some issues. The residual rating for these issues was 10%. It took VA a total of 18 months after the cessation of chemo to change my rating. That is not a complaint, by the way, I just want to illustrate the difference between what the rules say and what actually happens. When I discussed my situation with others who had gone through cancer treatment, they knew that they were rated 100% for “a while” but they didn’t know exactly how long it was supposed to last according to 38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Disability Ratings. I recommend going to: http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp. Find the area of the body you are concerned about, “The Respiratory System” in your case, and look for neoplasm to see what it says. Hope this helps and best of luck to you. My cancer is back, so I just filed a Notice of Disagreement to get my rating back.

  28. derryllee says

    I’d like to start by saying thanks for your detailed information. And to all you haters out there, lighten up.
    In May of 2009 I underwent surgery for a spot on my left lung which was unresponsive to all tests run previously for cancer. The doctors at the Portland VA hospital removed the upper third of my left lung. Subsequent tests revealed that the mass was cancerous. I filed a claim at Portland VA and was granted service connected disability due to my exposure to asbestos while serving four years in the navy back in the late 60’s.
    I received 100% disability until January 2011. I then received a letter from VA stating that they was going to reduce my disability to 30%. I filed an appeal and as a result was reinstated to 100%. Here it is a year later and once again I received a letter from VA stating that they are once again reducing my disability to 30%.
    What is going on downtown anyway? I have loans I have taken out based on my income and will now have to default on them. Why don’t they state in the beginning, “don’t count on these ratings because we will in all likely hood be reducing them in the future.”
    I need some help if anyone out there can offer some.

    Thankyou,

    Derryllee

    • help is in the lord and from him he is your provider always says

      you hold on to God unchangeable hand, once you have become a 100%! disable, it should stay@ 100%! simply as that, no bull, there is a computer error, a bug in mankind technology designed systems today, it always has been it always will be, no weapon form against you, shall ever prosper, know that you can still talk and speak, you tell them, you have already been rated for your condition, you have not try to go beyond the very first and final decision. Their is never suppose to be a decrease in your award rating, that should always stay the same, I could see it if you were appealing for an increase of an above-ment! but ur not… what the hell! I rebuke that demon in The Sweet Name Of Jesus Christ! Right now to keep his hands off of all of God Children! You have paid the price of your daily supplication and earned your full entitlement! you certify your congressional, Varo, Vba, The national financial service in your Varo District and tell them, what you are going through over and over again, now if you are at all receive some social sercurity benefits, it has a slight decrease but never military benefit that was granted at a full rating, that ain’t gonna get no higher than that, and your social security benefits want be effected by that much either! There is a serious problem with this picture. Keep others out of your blessing when it comes down to even a copper! someone maybe making falsifying reports on you. May God Blesses You and help your to endurancie forever! social security does medical review periodically and makes adjustment. But once your Disablement rating is approved at this or that, it stays at that and only increases yearly due to the cost of living. I incourage you to fight for your rights, first of all know that nobody wants to see you with something more than they have nor coming in, regardless to your pains and suffering in your daily life! Hold your head up, and take everything to The Lord In Prayer! Your true comforter, provider and leader as well as your healer. Your problem is coming from a someone of envy, All our life are full of surprises, just like the internet, it’s nothing but trouble, the cell phones, its nothing but trouble. Just live your life and know that this too shall pass, its just a storm, you can overcome. never send nothing without certifying something of great importance as this, you have already fault for and received, It’s gonna be alright In The Name Of Jesus, I promise you that! Everybody is not going to lead you in the right direction, ask Jehovan, to grant you with wisdom and knowledge to order your steps, to lead you in your coming and going, you shall prosper, thus said The Lord. Believeth in Him, Trust him and keep the faith

  29. Rev Earnest Mason says

    LITCHPAC

    Sir, lighten up…we could do with out all that from you…you haven’t won any war buy yourself and we are all in this together. Just remember everybody didn’t fare as well as you, but we all should have enough respect and character not to criticize anyone that has tried and made whatever out of their military career. I have the utmost respect for anyone that goes to BCT and endure even one day of that experience, you never know who will have to help you out while in combat. I am from Ft Benning and I am ashame of what you or anyone write critical about anyone, that served in the military, if you can’t say anything good, why don’t you keep your comments to yourself? I am sorry for calling you on my carpet but you could use this suggested advice. The greatest hero or soldier that ever lived was Jesus, and they hung him…so until you measure up to that standard, why not get in line with the rest of us and “Hurry up and wait”…I am from Ft Benning so “Follow Me”…”ALL THE WAY”…197TH iNFANTRY BRIGADE….. Respectfully Sir…

  30. Richard Bernier says

    I was originally at 100% for TB in 1956 – The VA gradually lowered me to 10% over the years and I was not the wiser due to non disclosure. I am back up to 50%. My VA doctor used my wife’s statements that I had seizures and I lost my edriving license. My wife could not wake me a few times and all due to the illegal medication they gave me. I have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder here in California ansd Spokane, WA. Anyway I have two feet of files. My C&P hearing almost one year ago and was done by a doctor who immediately told me he believed his doctor who sent in the illegal notice to DMV. My wife and I both devasitated and waiting and qwaiting. I have 3 feet of correlated files and all accurate. My credibility is 100%, 760-242-9514 and of course I will not hear from you and this will not go through although I am a positive thinker.

  31. nelson brown says

    Currently I’m at 10% for astma. However, the medication I’m on makes me eligible for 30%. Which I’ve resubmitted. My astma has gotten worse and doesn’t allow me to exercise like I used to. Now I have high blood pressure and high colesterol. Can these be added. I’m now also border line diabetes. Thank you for your assistance in advance.

    • under a tree listner says

      yes if one thing causes another thing its a domino affect and can be increased you just have to file and wait

  32. Dennnis Duchene says

    I’m 60yr old vet, I was shot in the leg in vietnam 1970 i recieve 30% and started a new clam back in jan 2011 for my leg again which now effects my hips also agent orange problems, its still pending the DAV said it will take 14 to 16 months to know anything so I will see what happens. good luck to all you vets out there. the people that really helped me on my disability claim in the 70s was the american red cross and today the DAV is representing me they dont push the VA they sit and wait to see what happens after the claim is closed

  33. dean j says

    I’m presently at 40% for knees,20% for osteoarthritis of both knees and 20% for patela femoral syndrome of one and chondro mylasia of other.It has tacken me sinse 1976 to get 40%.I was a medic active duty,an orderly when i got out,and a nurse sinse 1984.In 2006 I tore the cartilage in my right knee and was told I can no longer work as a nurse.I was instantly unemployed.With in 4 months VA started tgreating me for depression(SURPRISE).I filed for service connection of depression due to knee ending my career.VA denied claim,they stated knees and depression not connected!Got SSDI with lawyer(4yrs time ).have appeal for increase in rating of knees and depression connected to knees,have binder & binder law firm ,started claim in 2009.Had 5 yrs of fighting for social security , counting Binder&Binder’s 10 months of help.VA keeps giving psych meds that make me damn near dangerous.Wife afraid of me at times.GOING TO CIVILION SURGEON FOR OUTSIDE EVIDENSE,FOR KNEE INCREASE.Checking on outside psych for same.vets help vets ,VA damn near useless.

  34. Michael bethea says

    @Litchpac.. if you were an officer you where a poor excuse for one with the comments that sputtered out your mouth.You are the reasons we lose wars! Go soldier your own children since you have no more soldiers to belittle with your go army angry little self!

    Sgt.Bethea

  35. Laura Ledbetter says

    My claim was denied because of no medical evidence. I lost my medical records after I separated from the Army. Is there another way I can prove my case?

  36. Omar says

    Hi I just recived partially my VA award they are still working on PTSD, Respitory condition and hearing. the VA granted me 30% for TBI becuase I fell from a Helicopter in Iraq but that is it. I had claimed for Insomia or sleep disorder but was denied becuase their was not enough evidence as well as for back condition, right shoulder, Anxiety and Adjustment Disorder. I understand I am kind of in fault for not going to sick call all that much well better said in my 6 years in the service I went to sick call less then 10 times. But I completly disagree with the VA saying its not service connected. What advice if any can you give me.

    • SHAUN says

      i WOULD STILL FILE A CLAIM FOR THE SLEEP DISORDER. I JUST HAD A DC HEARING IN FRONT OF A JUDGE AND ONE OF THE THINGS I MENTIONED ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS IS THAT BACK IN MY ARMY TENURE, YOU JUST DIDN’T RIDE SICK CALL…AT ALL…IT WAS SHUNNED UPON BY YOUR PEERS, SO WE DEALT WITH ALOT OF MEDICAL ISSUES FROM THE BARRACKS SO I STILL FILED ALL OF MY CLAIMS AND TRUST ME, IF YOU KEEP PUSHING THE VA, YOU WILL GET SOMETHING…MAKE TAKE TOO LONG, BUT IT WILL COME…OTHER THAN THAT…IF YOU HAVE PRIVATE INSURANCE…GO TO A CIVILAIN AND THEY TYPICALLY WILL WRITE UP WAHTEVER YOU COMPLAINT ABOUT….GOOD LUCK
      SHAUN

  37. cj says

    I have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea years after I got out the service in 89. I completed a sleep study here at the VA and was issued a CPAP. What I would like to know is if I can add this to my current disability even though I was not diagnosed while on active duty.

  38. Brian Prelle says

    I have a question about secondary condition of sleep apnea. I beleive my apnea is more related to my weight gain, but was wondering if the VA might help with CPAP equipment, since I only have apnea problems when I sleep on my back. I have always slept on my stomach, but in the last couple years, my shoulder injury from service has progressed and my shoulder dislocates and my arm goes numb when I sleep on my stomach. I am currently rated at 20% for the shoulder injury, and am not looking for more money for the apnea, but would like if the VA could help pay for CPap equipment.

    • Ryan G says

      @Brian Prelle— I don’t know if things have changed since the inception of Obamacare but the VA will provide the machine at no cost. You must be referred for a sleep study and then obviously test positive. There is an agreement to use the machine and every so often have the smart card read. They offer this because long haul it potentially reduces medical expenses for the VA. Sleep governs all….. If your sleep is bad many other things degrade over time causing more medical expenditures.

      @ the rest of you! It is shameful to pen your hatred for fellow veterans that are simply claiming the benefits promised to them, by the government, for their volunteer service. Focus on putting the blame where it belongs- politicians. They will cut your benefits and I say benefits because you earned them. These are not entitlements! Watch as your elected officials cut from all branches, retirement, and the VA but do not touch food stamps, welfare or any of the 85 other entitlement programs that are true havens of fraud, waste and abuse. Additionaly, entitlement recipients predominantly have done nothing at all to earn there entitlement. Hell they have an easier time getting the various entitlements like cell phones etc. Stand together, support each other, & stop being so bitter. PS. Since it seems to matter to some….I was a warrior at the tip of the spear, however, neither my job or your job has any bearing or relevance to the validity of another vets VA comp & pen claims. Get over it.

  39. Noah says

    Got a quick question.

    I was in the military from 2001-2007. I received an Hon. Discharge. I submitted a claim 6 months ago for scalp acne I started having when I was in the service in 05. Its gotten worse and I have never stopped going to the Dermologist even the one at the VA hospital. Well I just got the claim and I was awarded 10%. I am going to see if they will give me backpay since I have documentation from my time in the service going to the doctors over and over. When I got out I was awarded 0% for this disease I attained. When I checked the evidence portion of my report they sent, they said they looked at my records from May 2008-Nov 2011. I’m thinking what about my time from the military, they didn’t look through those records?

    So my question is about the backpay and also why didn’t they look at my records from my time in service and before I made the claim, I’ve been seeing the dermotologist at the VA since I discharged? Thanks

  40. George McMullan says

    I have pulmonary fibrosis and COPD. I was on a destroyer (DuPont) during Viet Nam. Just filed a disability claim for asbestos exposure. What are the chances of that being approved. I also have extreme memory loss and I am trying to connect that to the COPD because there is no other explanation.

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