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  #21  
Old 6 December 2016, 09:13
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So, here's an update on one part of my re-evaluations, and to beat the nexus drum a little more. I found out yesterday my file had been partially updated. Listed as a service connection was the impact between my L5/S1 which causes a host of issues, to include some knee buckling random pain. I forget the name they gave it, one of the S words that neither I or my VSO could pronounce and I'd have to go into my file to paste it here.

Anyway, this is the nexus that will anchor the other spinal issues such as DDD, arthritis, bulging discs, etc. I now have a service connected foundation, which I should have been getting compensated for, which will make expediting the other claims much easier for the rater.

As Stopp700 has stated, they can audit your existing claims and lower them if they feel there is a basis for it. I was "threatened" with this when I started the process and I laughed at the lady and told her I hope they do audit me because I want as many people as possible looking at my file so it's not left up to the mood of one individual. In short, I hold the upper ground where my claims are concerned because it is well documented, service connected, and blatantly evident.

When they do a physical eval they are assuming what they are looking at is your worst day and the worst condition you are in, even though it may be the best you've felt in weeks, so remember that. However, don't show up acting all gimpy over something that doesn't exist, because you will be sent for x-rays to confirm or rebuke your claim, this is where producing MRI's will help.

It is a process, so get out your pace-cord and be sure of your azimuth. The term "measure twice, cut once" does not apply with the claims process, you may have to measure and cut multiple times, and maybe even get a new board sometimes, but with a good VSO it is worth every step.
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Last edited by Headshot; 6 December 2016 at 09:15. Reason: spelling
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  #22  
Old 6 December 2016, 09:41
Gsniper Gsniper is online now
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they are assuming what they are looking at is your worst day and the worst condition you are in
This is solid truth right here. I got service connection for degenerative disc disease in 06. On my C and P exam I made the mistake of telling them that the pain and loss of use of one of my legs came and went, which it did. To them, that only means it went. So, when I appealed the claim I had to very much change my tune. As Headshot pointed out you have to point how bad it is on bad days, not how good it is on good days. So the VA, in their infinite wisdom, raised my rating, but only on a temp rate. I have to go back in 4 years to get re-evaluated for a possible downgrade. In any other medical arena "degenerative" means getting worse. In VA that means, we may be able to fuck this guy later.
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  #23  
Old 6 December 2016, 10:30
Fu King Lawyer Fu King Lawyer is offline
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Originally Posted by Headshot View Post
When they do a physical eval they are assuming what they are looking at is your worst day and the worst condition you are in, even though it may be the best you've felt in weeks, so remember that.
Well put, Headshot. Along those lines, when you go in for your VA exam, that is not the time to be loading up beforehand on Robaxin, Flexeril, Motrin, Ultram (or any other med you take for a chronic condition - unless with the meds your condition is well controlled (in which case you shouldn't be looking to get more $ for it)). You claim an issue because it is getting worse or you have finally decided to put in claim for that old injury.

When you mask your symptoms, the VA will see you have full range of motion, none of the usual muscle spasms, wincing with pain, sweating that comes with the tension. That is what the examiner will note. I suggest you present with the "normal" that you endure.

I have observed that the VA doctors will tempt to play down your problem. From the moment you walk in the door and the Doc reaches out his hand and says "How are you, today?" if you answer "good" and he finds you pliable, you are going to play hell with the VA. The VA denies it, but it seems that if a VA Doc is "too generous" to the Vet, the system will move the Doc elsewhere.

Again, don't press a false claim. But if you are "sucking it up and driving on", expect the VA to opine that you don't have the problems associated with a higher rating unless the examiner can observe them. Likewise, if you have a non-VA Doctor, make sure his/her patient notes reflect what you endure and submit those notes to the claims file.

JMHO but if the VA claims system was working IAW the law, you wouldn't have to go thru this drill.
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  #24  
Old 6 December 2016, 10:37
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Originally Posted by Fu King Lawyer View Post
From the moment you walk in the door and the Doc reaches out his hand and says "How are you, today?" if you answer "good" and he finds you pliable, you are going to play hell with the VA.
THIS IS NO FREAKIN JOKE!

I can show you in my file where the examiner wrote something to the effect of "Constantly shifting weight back and forth in chair, had to stand after several minutes of sitting." They are watching everything you are doing, to include seeing how long it takes you to get undressed/dressed when they leave the room.
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  #25  
Old 6 December 2016, 12:52
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Here's "No shit, there I was" tale about VA C&P Examiners:

I went for my initial C&P exam with a claim of bilateral shoulder issues, among other issues...

I walk in the exam room, set down, and the doc asks me to "grab that protractor for me". The protractor is on the top book shelf behind me...

I get up, walk to the book shelf, can't reach the protractor, say "sorry, you'll have to grab that yourself" - he says "no problem" and we move on to the exam.

Later, he tells me that the "put your hat on that shelf, grab that protractor, pick up the pencil he dropped on the floor" are all ways he measures Range of Motion. He never used the protractor on me...

* assume EVERYTHING you do at the C&P exam is being used to determine your claim...
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  #26  
Old 6 December 2016, 13:18
Fu King Lawyer Fu King Lawyer is offline
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I have personally seen a VA employee that document claimant's actions AFTER the CP examination. The write up was to the effect, "Veteran was observed leaving the building after completing the exam, abandoning use of the cane he entered the examination with, and after walking across the parking lot, climbing into an elevated pickup truck without need of assistance."

First of all, in a proper world that phony claimant should have been referred to the IG or FBI for false claim. He wasn't. Rather, the VA mindset seems to be simply, we can deny the claim and "win one" for the VA.

The lesson to be learned: Don't exaggerate. Don't volunteer to do anything that might hurt you. You are being observed at all times.

If you say your right knee is making you walk "funny" expect the VA to ask to see the soles of your shoes for signs of uneven wear... Nobody wants to see a false claim deprive from those who actually did get injured and need help.
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  #27  
Old 6 December 2016, 15:03
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So I've got a shitty back (now). I'm talking that when it is acting up I can lean forward and literally collapse because my lower back just "gives" as in it doesn't support me anymore. I've never had it checked out because generally when it is that bad I'll just lay on the floor for a day or two, pop some motrin, and when it is better I always forget about going to the Dr, until it's bad again, wash, rinse, repeat. If I push it and don't completely let it do whatever it does to stop on its own, I can go a couple days where at times I'll simply fall forward and have to grab something to hold onto to keep from hitting the floor.

This has been going on for years.

I've also got bad knees like everyone else on here it seems. I have no recollection how many jumps I have. I know in my last year of service I probably jumped 20 times that year. I'm thinking I've got 60? 50? I don't know.

I didn't have problems when I got out in 1996 so never went to the VA. I can't imagine that this is connected to anything but mil service and the Airborne. Obviously I don't seem to care too much about getting any money out of the VA since I haven't yet, but as I get older I start wondering how I'd handle it if I needed major surgery. I don't know if I have compressed disks, I know I have sciatica at times, or what...

So question is: is it even worth going to the VA over, or, since I have health insurance, deal with it that way?
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  #28  
Old 6 December 2016, 15:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidA View Post

So question is: is it even worth going to the VA over, or, since I have health insurance, deal with it that way?
Get registered with the VA hospital or clinic near you.

Get an ebenefits account set up

https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage

Open an intent to file, you have up to a year to submit the application but this will preserve your date for backpay.

Gather evidence, your medical records, jump logs, sick call reports, anything that can substantiate your injuries .

Service records
https://www.archives.gov/veterans/mi...ervice-records

Medical records
https://www.archives.gov/veterans/mi...l-records.html

Once you gather your records, find a good VSO (Veterans Service Officer) and sit down with them to go through your records, I'm sure someone here can help with this

I realize you said you aren't concerned with the $$$ but VA medical care is dispersed according to priority groups, a 60%+ rating puts you in the highest priority group with no co-pays, you may not need it now but you may in the future
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  #29  
Old 6 December 2016, 19:19
Fu King Lawyer Fu King Lawyer is offline
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Originally Posted by KidA View Post
So I've got a shitty back (now). I'm talking that when it is acting up I can lean forward and literally collapse because my lower back just "gives" as in it doesn't support me anymore. I've never had it checked out because generally when it is that bad I'll just lay on the floor for a day or two, pop some motrin, and when it is better I always forget about going to the Dr, until it's bad again, wash, rinse, repeat. If I push it and don't completely let it do whatever it does to stop on its own, I can go a couple days where at times I'll simply fall forward and have to grab something to hold onto to keep from hitting the floor.

This has been going on for years.

I've also got bad knees like everyone else on here it seems. I have no recollection how many jumps I have. I know in my last year of service I probably jumped 20 times that year. I'm thinking I've got 60? 50? I don't know.

I didn't have problems when I got out in 1996 so never went to the VA. I can't imagine that this is connected to anything but mil service and the Airborne. Obviously I don't seem to care too much about getting any money out of the VA since I haven't yet, but as I get older I start wondering how I'd handle it if I needed major surgery. I don't know if I have compressed disks, I know I have sciatica at times, or what...

So question is: is it even worth going to the VA over, or, since I have health insurance, deal with it that way?
Brother,
It only gets harder to establish service connection and prevail as the years go by. I love it when a Vet gets out and establishes service connect and a 0% rating right away. As they encounter the issues you report, then they go in and ask to be re-evaluated.
VA failed to show up at our retirement brief at Ft Bragg. A retired G-1 SGM stood up and said put everything that happened to you on this (VA claims form) and we'll submit it to the VA. I did and listed all the breaks, injuries and tears. VA came back about a year later with I seem to recall eight conditions that were regarded service-connected, denied the rest, and evaluated me as 10% disabled. As time marched on, the conditions got worse.
VA is supposed to judge a claim by the lowest standard of proof in claims law, that is "as likely as not" that what you experience now, was incident to your service. As has been stated before, the VA claims system is sometimes not the way it is supposed to be.
So, a few things you might consider doing now. See your primary care Doc and relate that you were on jump status for x number of years (Docs seem to like the word "paratrooper") and tell him about your episodes with the back and knees. Ask the Doc to refer you to an Ortho and a neurology specialist. It is best you have medical opinion and evidence of the conditions. Often they include osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, bad discs in your back and degeneration in your knees. While you can simply ask the VA to evaluate your knees and back - you will often face the problems cited in the newspaper link in the OP.
While you take the time to get evaluated, let the specialists know in detail the extent of your airborne duties, the kind of jumps you performed (my Doc literally got wide-eyed when I told him about airfield seizures). The diagnosis came back degeneration due to repetitive mechanical probably (note, that is stronger than "as likely as not") associated with his time as a paratrooper.
At the same time, I suggest you do a little digging. If you find your individual jump log (DA Form 1307) have a copy to submit with your VA claim. As the linked article in the OP said, your airborne wings by regulation establish a minimum number of jumps. More jumps, help. I might add, my Doc was really interested in the "paratrooper' title and I explained that during SAT, we had to do 4 PLFs off the platform for every jump we were manifested on. We even did the 4 PLFs when the jumps got cancelled. Doctor's statements that the paratrooper did hundreds of PLFs did not hurt. You might also explain that the stand up landings the Doctor sees on TV doesn't work too well even when doing HALO given the combat equipment and lack of depth perception at night. I used the term that military jumping is basically a controlled crash.
If you still have a copy of your military treatment records - go through them. Don't forget to check the lab slips because often you have a radiology referral (perhaps saying you twisted an ankle doing a PLF) and the actual treatment record got misfiled. Look thru everything. Cite each instance of in service injury that is in your records when you file the claim,
From personal experience: The Army sent me thru a pretty extensive "over 40" physical. Turns out when I retired 4 years later, I was an inch and a half shorter than 4 years before. I was on jump status and the retirement Doc said it was routine for jumpers to compress their spine. I brought that up with not only my general practioner - but also with the C&P and the regional office. I had my enlisted, warrant officer, and commissioned physicals all showing my height and then the retirement physical showing I was shorter. VA put me on the scale and verified the loss in height.

Once you have some medical records establishing the problems with your back, knees, etc., and hopefully a jump log, then link up with a VSO to submit your claim. Do a little checking. Lots of VSO (and lots of lawyers) simply go thru the motions and suck at their jobs. Other Vets can relate whether a VSO they used in you area works your claim.
Depending upon your medical treatment records, you may get a rating with what you submit, or you can get called in for a Compensation and Pension VA examination.
That is what is being discussed in the adjacent thread.
But off the top of my head, the above is a good start.
Again, the issue is getting it established as service-connected. Your (sworn) statement that nothing has happened post service to cause the problem has to be considered by the VA. The VA is getting tighter and tighter on back ratings - but as you age you will begin to have additional problems and you are better off getting it linked to your jump injuries now. Later, when you start to lose bowel or bladder control, need a wheel chair ramp, or a handicap space, the VA is charged with helping you. If you have insurance, I really suggest you avoid VA healthcare - but healthcare and the VA claims system are two separate entities.
Plenty of the commenters on here (including me) will be glad to PM with anything you don't want to put on the page and give you insight into what we encountered.
Lastly, as a practical matter, most states give you some breaks (i.e. lower property taxes, cheaper hunting licenses, etc) if you have a VA disability rating. If your rating is 30% you have some significant civil service hiring and retention preferences. You still are better off even if the rating is 0-20%.
v/r
fkl

Last edited by Fu King Lawyer; 6 December 2016 at 19:36. Reason: My brain doesn't keep up with my typing - I need to use "Word"
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  #30  
Old 8 December 2016, 05:17
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All: if you were on parachute duty & received an injury related to a combat equipment training jump. You are entitled to CRSC. I was awarded a 20% disability due to this. I'm a 100%'er and you can't draw both entitlements. May help some of you.
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  #31  
Old 8 April 2017, 09:13
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Dutch8654 Dutch8654 is offline
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Advice Please

I am 57 and got out in 89. I banged up my hip and lower spine on a jump in Puerto Rico, I am guessing in early 83. Within a bout a year that all seemed to clear up. Like my ankles and knees the solution was always a handful of Motrin and keep moving. Fast forward to about 10-15 years ago I had neck issues and was diagnosed with herniated discs and given those steroid injections. Presently it has popped up again dead center in the back. I have X-Rays scheduled for Monday at the VA for the neck and spine and they have already approved for me to get Physical Therapy at a Private provider.Hips, knees and ankles are still touch and go. So I guess my question is, do I go get the X-rays Monday and schedule the PT then hit the VSO at the clinic? Is that the first step? Between the ringing in the ears and constant, yet mild pain, its really effecting my ability to sleep and I feel miserable now. Getting old sucks!
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