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About Ben Krause

Benjamin Krause

Benjamin Krause is the founder of DisabledVeterans.org and CEO of Armo Press, LLC. Armo Press is the “engine” that runs this website and the products it provides. DisableVeterans.org is where veterans turn when they want to get the straight scoop on DC and their VA benefits.

Benjamin enlisted with the US Air Force in 1996 and served in the Air Mobility Command for operations in the Middle East, and later with the USAF Special Operation Command, where he participated in operations in Eastern Europe until 2001.

Benjamin has been an advocate for veterans since 2001 after his own disability compensation challenges with the Department of Veterans Affairs. During his struggles with the DVA, Ben represented himself and used Veterans Service Officers to successfully appeal both informal and formal denials more than ten times. As a result of his experiences, Ben has published numerous articles and guides that have helped other disabled veterans and family members effectively navigate the current disability system.

Benjamin holds an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, where he studied Economics while using Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E). He is currently attending the University of Minnesota Law School using VR&E for the second time and will graduate in 2013.

Benjamin is also involved with numerous nonprofits that serve veterans in various capacities. Most recently, he served a one year stint as Assistant Director for Policy Advocacy for the nonprofit Veterans For Common Sense in their run up to a Supreme Court challenge against the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.


28 thoughts on “About Ben Krause”

  1. I am currently rated at 90% disabled for a degenerative neurological disorder called HNPP, and my current job is aggravating my disabilities quickly. I was wondering if th VA will temporarily increase my rating to 100% IU and approve chapter 31 benefits at the same time?
    Let me know what you think
    thanks for your help

  2. I just happened across this site… I would like some honest advice… I am a recently retired Chief Petty Officer (10/1/2010). I live in Maine and I submitted my VA disability claim to TOGUS VA prior to retirement as I was told to do. I have several “service related” medical issues that include both of my knees. It took 15 months and 3 rating exams to get my decision of 50% disabled with an overall rating of 40% that I received on 01/06/2012. This is a low-ball rating in my humble opinion for what I have to deal with as far as pain and lack of mobility every single day. I was rated 10% for each knee. I submitted a FOIA request to get my rating exam doctor’s notes. When I obtained the doctor’s notes that did my rating exam, and compared them to the rating decision explanation for my knees, they are like night and day. The doctor elaborated in detail about what I experience on a daily basis, the number of surgeries I have had on each knee, that there is significant degenerative bone disease (i.e. synonym for arthritis) supported by their own X-Ray, the “extreme” pain I am in, swelling, what I have to do for that pain, and the lack of mobility that I have because of it. The VA did not include any of that discussion from the doctor on my rating package. It seems to me now that I have read the CFR’s and other official VA case opinion and their own directives about rating knees that they did this to avoid rating me at the 20% or higher for each knee since arthritis can be a separate rating, which would have also allowed me to get both my military pension and my disability compensation pay under the CRDP program. I had an American Legion Service Officer represent me during this entire time of the filing of my claim. I told him that I was submitting a Notice of Disagreement on my recent decision and he did all but use exact words to try and talk me out of it. So, I cut him loose and am going it alone. I mailed my Notice of Disagreement 2 weeks ago which also requested a Decision Review Officer process. I just received a letter from the VA yesterday (the fastest I have ever received anything from them) indicating that “another” Rating Exam has been scheduled for me in 2 weeks. I will be going back to the same doctor that did the other ones. Since I am well within one year of receiving my initial rating that is not final for one year, I was under the impression with all that I have read about this process that the VA should be able to do this review with the information that they currently have. So, with all I have been through during this process including being given several different reasons about why it was taking so long to finalize my rating (none of them were the real reason, and I had to write my Senator to get the real reason), I feel that the only reason I am getting another rating exam is to see if they can tell this doctor to say that I am fine so they can deny any increase in my rating. Yes, frankly I don’t trust them. I was under the impression that after I submitted my Notice of Disagreement, that the next thing for me to get was a Statement of Case from the VA.

    Can someone please give me some advisement or help with what I should do and how I should play this now!? I have all the documentation that I need, and they should have read and included along with the CFR’s, Appeal case law information about knee ratings, and VA directives explaining to them how they will rate knees based on the information they have, which they clearly omitted.

    Thanks!

    USN Veteran – USCG CPO Retired

  3. Can i recieve Chapter 31 benefits and substinence, and receive IU 100% benefits? I recevie 70% for PTSD, hearing and vision loss, and am working on getting my lower back and leg surgeries approved. I know it sounds a bit quacky but it is hard for me to work in civilian environments becuase i think most are premadonnas, and complain about everything and nothing in life. That, blended with the fact that i was a grunt and am only qualified to trigger pull, finding a job and keeping it with PTSD is dificult. With that said, if i am beinh “rehabilitated” it means that i cannot find suitable employment because i havent been rehabilitated, therefore cannot work…….? not sure if im heading in the right direction….

  4. What a GREAT website!!!! Benjamin, (if you don’t mind) what disability do you have?

    I am currently going through the compensation appeals process for service connected anxiety and depression and the aggravation of my seizure disorder. I was hired as an air traffic controller and denied because my Army record said I suffered from an adjustment disorder w mixed mood (anxiety and depression). While in the service I endured a severe amount of harassment that was way beyond being tough. I did not understand as a young man the difference between “tough drilling” and harassment. I tried to stay strong and write my congressman several times. They would respond to him that they were looking to help me all they could one week and the very next week they were processing a Chapter 14 for misconduct to kick me out. I beat 4 Chapter 14 Discharges only to finally break down. I was singled they ordered me to draw my weapon and go to the field with another brigade while my commander and battalion whet on weekend leave. I flipped out calling my command (not my fellow troops) deserters and screamed and screamed “if I draw my weapon I am killing every one of you Mother F()(#@$!!! “ Of course they never gave me my M-16 but sent me to the hospital for evaluation. That was the diagnosis that has hindered my success. I know is sounds silly considering what our boys are going through now but I really had nightmares for years about this harassment. I still do but they have subsided. Any one endured this of something similar?

  5. Hi,
    Is it possible to submit a claim for temp 100% while attending college under Voc Rehab? This is because I am not able to work and attend school based on my disabilities. The VRC stated that I have to choose another line of work. I was approved for three years. Please help.

  6. The lists of requirements for the application of VA Vocational Rehabilitation are ridiculous. I meet the requirement and the VA representative treated me with reducing by va disability rating if I want to go to college. Moreover she was going to take my social security disability income if I was willing to move forward with my education.

  7. BEN, I don’t what to do anymore, never been the same after continous mortars in mosul, iraq 2003-2005 . I am at 90% svc connected, paid at 100% for not being able to work. Hardly making it aling with Disability. From.Social Security. They say if I try using my gi bill. Raises redflags on me Cause I have Ptsd. Is this true. Why not allowus disabled to cash un or why the red flags..thank you just a veterab at the edge. At a point of no Return

  8. Nicholas DePersis

    I need a question answered im a 30% vietnam vetran married would like to know if i should die will my wife be able collect on my disability or will she loose it. if the answer i hope is yes are thier forms i should know about that i can have prepared.

    Thank You,
    Nicholas DePersis

  9. Hi Ben,

    I recently found an occupation I am very interested in but don’t know if it is possible to do through the VA. It would cost $40,000 just for the training and liscense before I set up a business. Do you think its even possible? Thank you sincerely, William

  10. I am glad to find this page on the internet. My name is Martha Katz.
    I am an Instructor for Scuba Diving in Long Island, New York, and my specialty is Handicapped Scuba.
    I love to teach people with disabilities and see the smiles on their faces, when they can go thru water with full freedom, is a great achievement, and I have great pleasure on helping people. Any one interested, can call me and I will explain the process, EASY, also you can check my website click any page and
    look for Handicapped Scuba, there is a video and information about the program. I will be very happy to give any information you guys may need.

  11. Thanks Ben for starting this site, It is long over due. I was looking for a site like this when I started out on my “journey” with the VA. There is a lot of helpful information here! I purchased your book yesterday and finished it the same night.

    P.S. You should consider placing some google ads on your site. I’d love to click on some to support your cause.

    Thanks!

    Darwin

  12. I am a Vietnam Veteran who was medically discharged with 10% disability from a disease (Chronic Furunculosis) I got while surving in the Marines. My symptoms have gotten worse and I have filed for an increase in the past only to be denied. I have read where other Veterans have recieved 30%-50% disability for the same disease with the same or even less of the symptoms I have. I have also filed claims for Hepititis C, Coronary Artery Disease, and Chloracne related to the effects of Agent Orange and was denied also. I have PTSD, (denied) and I am getting ready to have surgery on my back for an injury I received in boot camp. I feel like I am getting nowhere and would appreciate any help I could to have my disability rating increased. I can no longer work and am receiving Social Security Disability but still having trouble making ends meet. Im hoping someone could lead me in the right direction.

  13. Ben,
    Have 30% for 25 years. Currently in chapter 31 with 3 year goal of getting degree in pyschology. Applied for re-rating and got 100% for depression. Am I able to stay in chapter 31 and still be paid my stipend every month and than ask for a Masters in Pyschology?

  14. My son is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is 26 years old and was deployed at age 18. Upon his return he has never been the same. Depression, Addiction, Anxiety….you name it. Our family has payed out a lot of money trying to help him. We have been to the VA hospital many times and most of those visits were useless. On October 6, 2008 he was in a debilitating auto accident on the way to work early in the morning. He has been honerably discharged from the Army. He is disabled and is receiving a small check each month from the government. Is he elligible for pension from the VA? If so, what steps do we need to take to file? He has filed for disability from the VA and have been denied. Many thanks!

  15. Sergio Talavera

    Hi Ben, my name is Sergio Talavera I am a disabled vet 90% percent. I have had a hard time adjusting to life outside of the military and have traveled back and forth between my home state of Illinois and Colorado where I was stationed. I have attended some colleges unsuccessfully because of various reasons. As you and I know this country has taken a shit on its veterans and its families. It is a sad ordeal considering that we the defenders of America are the first ones put on the butchers block. I was reading thru the blogs on your website and let me first thank you, it it done eloquently and truthfully. I was sickened to my stomach knowing that all these cuts and setbacks are being set in place to hurt our wounded vets. But I am not posting this to tell you what you already know, I wanted to tell you about something that I have been working on for some time and maybe you could give me some ideas and some feedback. I am going to school again, I am attending full time and committed to getting my degree. But I also work at a insurance agency, I am a sort of manager here and I am trying to form a program for our wounded vets. In the insurance world you work for 100% commission so its a possibility that you can make a lot of money or no money at all. But the reason I like doing this line of work is that it is non intrusive to my school work, my schooling comes first and then my insurance work. Also because I own my license and I don’t have a binding contract with any agency I make my career what I want of it. No one to fire me or to tell me how much I am worth except for me. I have been trying to put this out to other veterans who are using the 9/11 G.I bill to supplement their income. What we are thinking at this point is to help the veteran with their licensing thru their home state, provide initial training and any support or ongoing training as needed. Then also a monthly stipend for the first 3 months to get them going. Keep in mind this monthly stipend comes out of my pocket so I can’t offer a lot, but if they are full time students they should be receiving their G.I bill also. Then if the vet thinks that this is not worth their time then they can just as easily stop doing it or move to working with another agency. The other outcome would of course be that they see the benefit of having a second profession in their back pocket and either pursue it to make a career of it or as a part time source of income. If you would be kind enough to provide me with some feedback I would be grateful. Thanks for what you do on your website for us it is good to see that even if we can’t count on our politicians we can still count on our brothers and sisters to watch each others backs.

  16. Hello Ben, my name is Jennifer. I am a Registered Nurse (formerly a Medic in the Army). I obtained my nursing degree using my GI Bill. I was just rated at 30 percent for a back injury I received during active duty, which has begun to really effect my ability to work. I am 31 years old. I feel like I am 61. I still work full time, but have had to split my time-half in the ICU and half in another area of the hospital that is less physically demanding-though still requires me to occasionally lift and turn heavy patients. My goal is to obtain employment as a Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Anesthetist (so that I don’t have to lift heavy patients any more). I am curious if you think that I would be able to qualify for Voc Rehab given the fact that I am currently employed. My goal is to cut back to part time once the benefit kicks in, so that I can stop physically torturing myself, and complete my degree. I am seeking the benefit because I am finding it harder to physically “keep up” in my current area of expertise, and I fear that if I keep going at this rate I could SERIOUSLY hurt myself and not be able to work at all. I actually LOVE the ICU and hate to leave it, but something has got to give…other than my back. Thanks for your time.

  17. I am trying to jump thru the hoops right now for voc rehab. It looks like I am going to be declined. My employment goal is upper management. I am currently employed with the company that I want to move up in. Voc rehab is telling me since I am employed already that sending me back to school to get a degree so I can get promoted is not going to work. I have already tried telling them that I am under employed in my current position. I am not sure what I can do to sway them. I want to stay in business because it will get me farther in the company that I work but I cannot do that without a degree. They have even had me change colleges to a more expensive one and now they are going to deny me? What do I do?

  18. Hello Ben,

    I would really appreciate your advice and guidance on my current situation. I am a 60% disabled vet. I’ve worked all my life, was then laid off in January 2009. I applied and applied to countless federal jobs.

    I finally landed a job, have been there for about 6 months and have been getting flack from the very beginning. The place I work is mostly non-vets, so the nepotism runs rampant. As previously stated, they’ve been giving me a hard time and trying to push me out. My 6 month appraisal is coming up because I’m in the Federal Career Internship Program (FCIP). Obama has ended the program I’m in, effective February 28, 2011. On March 1, 2011, I will be converted to competitive service (as per the President’s EO) and also able to join the union. They are trying to push me out before the end of February, because it’s easier for them to do so. I am a good employee, but they’re simply discriminating against me.

    I’m working with EEOC, but was wonder if you could recommend a specific veteran’s organization (maybe a contact) that would assist in my battle in keeping my job. Also, if you also know of a really good attorney(s) in the Detroit area who’s been successful with vet discrimination cases, that would great.

    I’ve only got until the end of the month at the very most; they just dropped this bomb on me last Thursday. Up to now my supervisor has said my work was fine, now it’s not quite where he thinks it should be.

    I’ve got a family (three young children) and really need to keep this job. Please help me.

    Thank you sir,

    Tony
    Fellow Disabled Airman

    1. Hey Tony,

      Sorry to hear about your troubles. There’s really not much you can do unless you are being discriminated against in a way that is actionable by your state law or within ADA guidelines, etc. However, it doesn’t sound like that’s the case in your email. Speak with a lawyer in your area who specializes in Disability Law. Best of luck.

  19. Hi Ben,

    Here goes another one of those Voc Rehab time limit questions. I am truly out of my 12 year period. I was medically discharged in 1988 and was assigned a VA rating shortly thereafter. I received Voc Rehab in the late eighties and maybe until around 90-91. I had to drop my classes because of my service related conditions and was told that I could not resume classes until a Dr signed off. I never went back to reapply for the Voc Rehab. I only completed maybe three semesters with it. Actually, I forgot about Voc Rehab and started attending school using grants and loans. DUH! Well, 20 years later I am suffering more with my SC condition and have not worked for two years. My therapist mentioned that I will need some Voc Rehab or retraining to re-enter the workforce. I am also applying for an increase with VA which will hopefully result in atleast a TDIU rating. Is there a loophole for extenuating circumstances that will allow me to qualify for Voc Rehab even though I am way outside of the time frame?

    1. You’re obviously outside of the 12-year limit. However, it is possible to still get into the program if the Voc Rehab Counselor decides that you have a “serious employment handicap.” If that happens, they can approve you for additional training.

  20. Dear Sir
    I serverd 10 years in the navy . from 1987 to 1997. i have a 20 percent disabilty and lost my job 2 months ago. i am 49. I have been going to school in Indiana, live in il. This is a school for massage 45 weeks. I have been there 3 months. the school has other vets. however i cant get my schooling payed for because of the 12 years has pasted. I find it hard to believe that 10 years gets you nothing. Im not sure what to do . the school is 8000 dollars and i was wondering is there anything i can do , or just try and get a loan. Really seems like there isnt much help. I hear those are the rules. Anything you can tell me. thank you Paul Parsons.

    1. The 12 year rule is not steadfast. In your case, it depends on when you received your disability rating. Though, if that happened more than 12 years ago, too, you’re still out of luck. Like the GI Bill, Voc Rehab is use it or lose it. Check the article on the 12 year limit on our home page.

  21. I used cpt 31 to get my special education endorsement from my local college here in Illinois because it is a shortage field here in Illinois. When I got it the job market dried up because the state owes so much money to the school districts that they can’t afford to hire folk like me with honors degrees and since I am not just out of school for the first time, the unions make our pay scale so much we aren’t affordable. I am now trying to get a social work MSW which will be my second MS. Chapter 31 I am told by my VA rep. will not pay for postgraduate degrees. Is this so? They say that even if I sub one day a month, this means I am job ready. I am a disabled vet and since my wife is a nurse, I can’t qualify for anything that migh help me pay for college or anything job training wise. Any suggestions here? I have a loan debt out of the world and no real job in site and the market here is really bad, I sub when I can. This is no living and I can’t move from here due to family situtations. PLEASE GIVE ME SOME IDEAS. I am at my witts end here….Thanks…..a combat disabled vet here.

    1. Tough situation. Yes, they obviously will pay for graduate level degrees… I’m getting my Juris Doctorate.

      In my own experience with the VA Voc Rehab program, they blow a lot of smoke. This means, for you, that they are coming up with reasons to keep you out of the program, even if the reason is remote. I believe they are supposed to train you in a field to gain substantive employment. Is subbing once a month substantive? The fact is, there is very limited demand for teachers. You may be job ready, but there are no jobs.

      If you are within one year from the point of completion of your last goal (education), I would appeal the rehabbed status. It seems odd that they would consider you “Rehabilitated” despite not finding work. Of course, the reason they are pushing you is to close out the claim. In addition, they are assuming you are job ready based on what? Who knows if you can hold full time employment in the position of special education teacher? You have not worked in that capacity. So, the appropriate regulation is 38 CFR Part 21.283. Read this over. If you feel you have grounds for an appeal, you have two options. File your appeal (Notice of Disagreement or Request for Administrative Review) and sent it via Certified Mail with return receipt. Or, you can consult a Veterans Law attorney or Veteran Service Officer. Best of luck. Check out our Appeals Guide 4 if you need help getting the process started.

      1. Yes, you may be eligible and qualify for more benefits based on your increased disability rating. If you’ve been on VA Voc Rehab this whole, you may want to request a Review based on your increased rating. It’s possible your current educational track is no longer appropriate in light of your increased rating. Appeals Guide 4 deals with this issue.

  22. I am looking for statistics around the number of disabled veterans on the central coast of California, specifically San Luis Obispo County. I am working on a feasibility study/plan for a program that would train service dogs for wounded war veterans. I understand that there is a shortage of trained service dogs vs. the eligible veterans that need service dogs. This program would be dedicated to training dogs for wounded vets in need of a service dog. So any information that you can provide would be helpful.

    Thank you,
    June Hill

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