Denial of VA Disability Claims – What you need to know

By / March 3, 2016 / Veterans Disability / 550 Comments

Learn the common reasons for denial of VA disability claims. See how high the VA error rate is with wrongly denying valid claims, and understand your right to appeal all or part of the decision.

When VA disability claims are initially denied, the first thing veterans should know is that the VA has a very high error rate. After you receive your decision packet with details of your decision or award, you can appeal all or part of the decision. The appeal process can take a long time, but knowing that there is a high error rate and that a lot of denials are later overturned can help guide your decision whether to appeal.

Denial Error Rate is Very High
The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) admits that it makes a lot of errors when evaluating VA disability claims. However, it doesn’t officially agree with the magnitude of the problem. The DVA has stated that it has an error rate of 14%. The Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed a group of claims and found an error rate of closer to 38%.

The Inspector General for the DVA issued a report last spring showing that its Oakland office made mistakes in the way it processed 39% of its claims. The Inspector General reported that the San Diego office had a 53% error rate and the Los Angeles office made mistakes on a whopping 71% percent of its claims.

In response to much media and Congressional attention to the problem with errors, the DVA issued a statement saying that the agency is “retooling procedures and deploying paperless data systems.” Its goal is to lower the error rate to 2% by 2015.

Common reasons for initial denial
Just because your claim was denied does not mean you are not eligible for disability benefits. As noted above, the VA commonly makes errors in its determinations. The denial can be a combination of not analyzing the facts of your case correctly, and it can also stem from not having proper evidence available.

Denials commonly result from these areas:

  • Not enough medical evidence to support your disability;
  • Agreeing that you have a disability, but not finding enough evidence to show that it is connected to your military service;
  • They may agree that you have a disability that is service-connected, but they might assign a rating that is too low for your actual symptoms;
  • They may agree you have a disability, but find that is was pre-existing to your military service and not aggravated by your service.

Many of these types of denials have a strong chance on appeal if you can secure documentation to refute them. It’s best to plan ahead and cover all your bases in your initial application. Track down all of your own military records and medical records; don’t rely on the VA to do that for you. In addition, seek your own medical opinion showing the connection between your disability and your military service. Seek advice to spot any weaknesses in your claim before you file it.

A case of missing evidence
A story from the San Francisco ABC affiliate highlighted a case of a Navy veteran whose claim was initially denied. The veteran served in 1983 on a destroyer that saw battle off the coast of Lebanon. In 2008, he filed a disability claim for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The VA denied his claim, because it said it couldn’t find actual evidence that he was in combat. A VA employee later came forward and said she’d done a Google search and actually found that the destroyer was engaged in combat, but the VA still issued the denial. The Navy vet has filed another claim and is waiting to hear a decision.

Since this veteran’s initial claim in 2008, the DVA has relaxed its evidence requirements for showing PTSD. However, this case shows a powerful example of how a claim can be denied for the wrong reasons.

The Center for Investigative Reporting has concluded that many veterans are unfairly denied their benefits. If you’ve received a denial letter, review our article Appealing Veterans Disability claims denials.

Denial of VA Disability Claims – What you need to know
2.3 (45.45%) 11 votes

  • Dear Rica,

    As to your first question dealing with a right foot injury, you need to distinguish two separate elements. The first element is that a veteran must have a current medical condition. That condition is the right foot contusion. The second element is that your husband incurred an injury while he was on active duty. The VA confirmed to your husband that he indeed incurred an injury to his foot in-service in 2006.

    Hence there is no contradiction. The VA is stating that the current claim is for a right foot contusion and also the VA confirms there was a 2006 injury. The problem you are failing to recognize is that you must prove that current treatment for a contusion links back to that 2006 injury. The linkage is known by the term “nexus.” In order to win an award for benefits this third element, nexus, must be shown. So your problem is to obtain professional opinion of this connection between the first & second elements.

    As to your second question dealing with a C & P exam, there is no mandatory requirement that such an exam be performed. The VA is not questioning that your husband has a current medical condition. Rather the VA is denying the claim due to the lack of nexus.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Hello Hello,

    If I understand correctly, you are appealing the denial of medical malpractice claim for a surgery which occurred in-service, military law applies and you would have to address your appeal to the branch of service in which you served. This matter is a “military law” issue and not a “VA” issue.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Hello Hello,

    Please clarify a couple points; then I will forward your question to a VA accredited attorney for response. Have you been discharged from the service? If so, did the nerve damage occur while in the service and do you now have a medical condition that limits you and that stems from the surgery/injections or from the nerve damage?

    Sincerely,
    Kay

    Sincerely,

  • Dear Govguy,

    The VA staff has provided you with good advice. You will want to formally request that the VA review a VA determination letter in which some compensation benefits were awarded. To submit such a request you need to file a written VA Form 21-4138: Statement in Support of Claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear James,

    If you have a question, please re-post and I will forward it to a VA attorney for response.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Joseph,

    Your application to the VA contains statements as to the nature of your claim. These statements are known as contentions. Each contention must be verified by independent evidence which would hold up to scrutiny in a court of law. For example, you must prove you are a “veteran”. This can be done by submission of your DD 214 showing, for example, an honorable discharge.

    One key element is to prove you incurred a medical condition in-service. For example, your PTSD was caused by a combat wound or that you were mentally traumatized by what you did or saw in armed warfare.

    Hence, your claim will fail unless you can provide evidence of an in-service medical condition, illness or injury. This can be done via in-service medical records, administrative records from your military unit or personnel records of in-service events.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Angelica,

    Yes, a C&P exam is a routine review of the specific nature of your medical condition. A physician or psychologist will exam you to determine the nature of your mental health condition and the degree of your current disability. This is one of the major ways the VA reaches a determination as to your claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Melly

    Information from a physician reported in a C&P exam is not going to be changed based on a complaint by the veteran. Rather, if you believe there is substantial grounds for validation of your claim, you should consider making an appointment with a non-governmental physician (a private pay doctor) in your community to conduct a professional examination and evaluation. Request the physician to render a written medical expert opinion as to the nature and extent of your medical conditions and degree of disability. Submit that report to the VA along with your appeal.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • You are welcome, Nettie.

  • Dear Nettie,

    It appears your want to make the argument that the VA made an obvious error by overlooking a medical report in your C-File. Just because you can prove you incurred an in-service medical event does not necessarily mean that you have a current disability for which the VA should grant a disability rating award.

    First, you need to prove that you had an in-service medical event, which you can do via the medical record you identified. Second, you must prove you currently have a medical condition and that condition has a diagnosis from a healthcare professional such as a physician and that the condition has, in fact, caused a disability. Note that it is not enough to have a current medical condition or treatment. There must exist an actual disability. Disability is more than treatment for a medical condition.

    Third, you need to prove the disability links to the medical record in-service.

    A CUE is a special type of error. It is a claim for revision of a previous denial. It can be filed at any time, even years or decades after the claim was decided or the appeal denied. CUE exists when: (1) either the correct facts were not before the adjudicator or the statutory or regulatory provisions in existence at the time were incorrectly applied; and (2) the error is undebatable; and (3) the error must make a difference in the outcome. In other words, a CUE is not a disagreement with a decision or an argument that VA got it wrong.

    When CUE does occur and a claim is granted, the usual rules for setting the effective date of an award are bypassed. The effective date of a CUE claim goes back all the way to the filing date of the claim with the CUE. This can result in huge awards of retroactive benefits.

    Because a claim for CUE is a review of an already closed claim, special rules apply. First, the “duty to assist” does not apply. This means that VA does not help a claimant with a CUE claim. In addition, a CUE claim must contain specific and detailed statements regarding the error, how that error affected the decision, and why the decision would be different (more favorable to the claimant) if the error is corrected. Merely stating that CUE occurred or general statements similar to those in a benefits claim are not enough. For example, a decision awarding benefits based on a single gunshot wound when the veteran had two gunshot wounds is a CUE. A CUE claim asserting that a gunshot wound was more painful than VA concluded is clearly not a CUE.

    A true CUE is not common and is a difficult claim to win. Further, a veteran can only claim CUE one time for each decision. This means that if a claimant files a CUE claim that VA finds does not contain the required level of detail, that CUE claim is lost forever. For this reason, claimants who believe that they have a possible CUE claim are strongly urged to seek advice from a VSO, registered agent, or experienced attorney.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Murphy,

    You need to have a plausible claim to file an application for benefits. Your situation describes plausibility. There are four basic things you must prove. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

    Thus, it appears your problem will be to prove you had an in-service medical condition or event which links to a current medical condition. So you will need to show the VA both your current medical problem and how it links back to an in-service injury. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. You should obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Sme Allme,

    The short answer is “no.” While a one-sentence handwritten statement is better than no statement, it is insufficient in itself. The submission of a VA compensation claim is not proof of an in-service linkage to a current medical condition. To be considered proof, a nexus requires much more. Nexus is a formal medical opinion which includes documentation from the physician that the expert reviewed your appropriate service records (such as in-service treatment records), a physical examination of you based upon that record, the taking of a medical history from you, the listing of a current diagnosis based upon that examination, and a statement of the relationship between your current diagnosis and that in-service event as reviewed by the physician.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Lynette,

    There is no statute that I am aware of that contains a provision governing any specified length of time. If you have a rating for an in-service connected injury, the rating deals with a VA compensation benefit award. The award does not address the issue of treatment for that injury, which is a separate benefit–VA healthcare. There is a priority list as to access to VA medical facilities and services.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear James,

    The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) will look at the veteran’s file “de novo.” This means that the BVA will review the file as if it was being reviewed for the first time without considering or giving deference to the previous decision.

    If a dispute over the veteran’s disability rating is one of the issues addressed in the NOD and is raised by the veteran during the hearing or conference, the BVA will have jurisdiction over rating issues. This means that the BVA can make a decision changing a veteran’s disability rating. In other words, one must be careful in filing an appeal, since the decision to do so can have consequences. The existing rating can be changed upward, downward or remain as it is.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Poppy,

    Proving a VA claim can be a difficult process. This is not an arena for a layperson. You can go through the process yourself but you may want to engage the services of a professional representative to make it easier and likely get better results. You can start with your local not-for-profit non-governmental agency such as the American Legion or the Disabled American Veterans. If you need the help of a VA accredited attorney you can locate a lawyer using the VA’s website to find one or several within your zip code.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Matt,

    In order to be awarded VA compensation benefits, one of the key elements is that a veteran be disabled from a diagnosed medical condition. UARS is otherwise defined as upper airway resistance syndrome. This is on the spectrum of sleep disorders. Mild cases of sleep disorders are classified as UARS. The airway blockage is originating from the upper airway, or nasal passage causing an increase in work of breathing.

    When a rating is issued, to be compensable the rating must be at least 10%. If it is below that level, then benefit payments will not be awarded. Since UARS is defined as “mild” it is going to be difficult to prove you have a significant disabling medical diagnosis for which benefits will be awarded. But, you can consider obtaining a medical evaluation and have the physician document your condition with a medical record as to the degree of your disability. Then, you can consider if your claim has merit.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Scott,

    I understand your concern, but the connection you wish to make is not a argument that will produce positive results as to a disability rating. Your condition was obesity. Your argument that sleep apnea is a byproduct to weight gain will not be recognized by the VA as to a disability rating.

    You need to make an argument that you have a current disability and then submit evidence of that medical condition in-service. In-service records can include medical reports. But, in-service records can be administrative records, personnel records and any other written documentation to support the recordation of an in-service medical event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Jay,

    Having knee surgery is one element you need to prove a claim for VA compensation benefits. Also, you must show, as a veteran upon release from service, that you have a disabling medical diagnosis. For example, if one recovers from a broken leg without disabling conditions, then there is no disability. In other words, one must have a medical event that leads to a functional disability.

    Accordingly, if at your last medical evaluation, you tell the physician that you have no symptoms and the doctor does not find any range of motion limitations, then it is possible that you have no current disabling condition. On the other hand, if you have active medical pain or range-of-motion limitations, then you may have a disabling condition. Upon physical evaluation, if a disability is determined to exist, then the next issue is the degree of disability. To be awarded benefits, the disability must be rated at least 10%.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Matt,

    In order to be awarded VA compensation benefits, one of the key elements is that a veteran be disabled from a diagnosed medical condition. UARS is otherwise defined as upper airway resistance syndrome. This is on the spectrum of sleep disorders. Mild cases of sleep disorders are classified as UARS. The airway blockage is originating from the upper airway, or nasal passage causing an increase in the work of breathing.

    When a rating is issued, to be compensable the rating must be at least 10%. If it is below that level, then benefit payments will not be awarded. Since UARS is defined as “mild,” it is going to be difficult to prove you have a significant disabling medical diagnosis for which benefits will be awarded. But, you can consider obtaining a medical evaluation and have the physician document your condition with a medical record as to the degree of your disability. Then, you can consider if your claim has merit.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Andrew,

    A veteran can enroll in the VA’s Gulf War Registry. The Registry is a voluntary program that allows a veteran to learn about possible long-term health problems that may be related to environmental exposures during one’s military service. The registry data helps VA understand and respond to these health problems more effectively.

    If you join the Registry, you can contact your local VA Environmental Health Coordinator about getting a free health exam. If you request the Gulf War medical exam, a VA doctor will perform an examination. This comprehensive health exam includes an exposure and medical history, laboratory tests, and a physical exam. A VA health professional will discuss the results face-to-face with the Veteran and in a follow-up letter.

    Important points about registry health exams:

    · Free to eligible Veterans and no co-payment

    · Not a disability compensation exam or required for other VA benefits

    · Enrollment in VA’s health care system not necessary

    · Based on Veterans’ recollection of service, not on their military records

    · Veterans can receive additional registry exams, if new problems develop

    · Veterans’ family members are not eligible for registry exams

    Veterans who served in the Gulf during Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn are eligible for the Gulf War Registry exam.

    You do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to take part.

    Veterans who are eligible for the Gulf War Registry may also join the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, which includes additional data related to airborne hazards.

    Note that the VA Gulf War registry evaluation is separate from VA’s disability compensation process. Veterans who want to be considered for disability compensation for health problems related to Gulf War service must file a claim for disability compensation. During the claims process, VA will set up a separate exam for compensation if necessary.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Aaron,

    A veteran’s statement that a current medical illness was somehow related to in-service medical events is insufficient, in itself, to satisfy the requirements of the VA law. In order to be awarded VA compensation benefits, there are various elements that must be proved. One of the essentials is that the veteran had an in-service medical event, illness, injury or aggravation of a medical issue. The veteran needs to produce a record or document such as a hospital record, a sick bay record or the like that documents an in-service medical event

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Martin,

    You can follow up with a private physician as you indicate. This will be considered as evidence by the VA in evaluating your case. This evidence will be considered as one aspect of your claim. This evidence may be sufficient to satisfy one of the elements of winning a VA compensation claim.

    Note that a VA claim is easy to file. But, the claim issues are complex involving medical-legal issues. In the final analysis, one needs expertise to submit the proper documentation. If you can go-it-alone and feel you know what you are doing and you win, that will save you some legal fees.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Aaron,

    Before I ask our VA attorney to comment, please clarify. You say you can’t sleep, but you also say you were diagnosed with narcolepsy, which is not being able to stay awake?

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Uma,

    You will need to locate some in-service record as to your husband’s medical issues. You should check with the VA or your own records of his VA claim files from prior claims you have filed. For this purpose, you should be able to locate the “C-file,” which is the VA Claim File . You will need that C-file for any new claim you file.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear C.A.,

    A VA compensation claim only deals with in-service injuries. A claim is not actionable for injuries which were not related to in-service medical issues.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Meg,

    It appears you are on active duty. As such you are covered under military law as an active service member. Your rights are subject to U. S. military law rather than VA laws. The VA laws apply once you are no longer on active duty and have received your discharge papers. The Disability Advisor is not in a position to answer questions about military law, so I suggest you contact your in-service legal officer for assistance.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Martin,

    You have a plausible claim. In order to receive VA compensation benefits, you will need proof that (1) you are a veteran, (2) you suffered an in-service medical event, (3) you have a current diagnosis of sleep apnea, and (4)that your sleep apnea relates to an in-service medical event. You may want a private physician to conduct a physical exam for you and work up a written medical evaluation with an opinion as to whether or not your current illness links back to any in-service medical event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Tyler,

    The decision making process for a VA compensation claim is a complex process. Without a thorough review of a veteran’s entire claim file (known as a C-file) it would be impossible to state with any degree of accuracy the probability of being granted an award of benefits. I suggest you have your entire file reviewed by a professional such as an accredited VA attorney or a veteran’s non-government agencylike the American Legion or the Disabled American Veterans.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Edwin,

    This response by the VA is vey good for you. Best of luck.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Scott,

    When a VA compensation claim is filed, the veteran makes a written statement of assertions. The assertions that one makes are matters which must be proven by independent evidence. The veteran’s statement, in itself, is not proof. No statement from the veteran will be sufficient in itself. One must submit medical records showing an in-service medical event. For example, one must have a military document or record proving that the medical event occurred in-service. You need a hospital record, physician report, emergency room bill or similar evidence dated back at the time of your service.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Trey,

    Please see my response to your first posting.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Trey,

    This response is to both your posts.

    In order for any VA claim to be successful, you must find or have the VA find for you an in-service medical record or military record showing that you had a specific medical event, illness, injury or aggravation of a prior medical condition. Also you must be able to prove that you have a current diagnosis which links back to the in-service medical events. Without these elements, you are not going to be awarded an additional rating.

    You may want to seek the services of a non-profit veterans group to help you withgetting evidence to support your claim. Contact the American Legion, or Disabled American Veterans to help with your claim filing.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Cedrick,

    Please see my response to your first post.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Dizrenzo,

    To be compensable, a diagnosis must be connected to an in-service medical event. If it is not, then there would not be a rating for that diagnosis.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Ronald,

    You will need to have a current diagnosis of a disability. Having asthma may or may not be a disabling condition. Make an appointment with a private physician who specializes in these types of disorders for an evaluation and a report of findings. If the findings support a disability, you may want to consider an appeal.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Don,

    You can always file a claim for VA compensation. But, you will need to prove four basic elements: (1) you meet the definition of being a veteran, (2) you can show in-service medical records of a medical event or events, (3) you have a non-congenital disease now (rather than a current medical disability due to a congenital disorder which has manifested itself post-service) and (4) there is linkage of your current disability to an in-service injury or illness.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Will,

    You have the right to file an appeal. All formal appeals result in a “de novo” review. This means the VA can increase your benefit, reduce it or eliminate the benefit. An appeal is a two-way street.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear No Way,

    You provided so much information that it would be impossible to evaluate and answer all your questions in depth. There are many free consultation services available to veterans to access your particular situation. I suggest your best course of action is to seek an appointment in person with an accredited claimant representative who handles VA cases. For example, you can check your telephone directory or web service on-line and find a non-governmental agency that assists veterans such as the American Legion or the Disabled American Veterans societies.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Myra,

    In most case, the Board of Veterans Appeals (the BVA) will process the appeal in the order it is received . Due to the backlog of appeals pending with the BVA, a decision will typically take more than a year from the date of receipt. As a result of all the procedural steps involved in filing an appeal, most BVA decisions are not issued for well more than two after the original VA denial letter was issued. The BVA will consider any new evidence you submit.

    Be aware that a BVA appeal is a de novo review. This means the matter is decided by a three judge panel headquartered in the Washington D.C. suburbs. The judges may increase the benefit rating determination, leave the rating award as is. Or, the BVA can reverse the award. There is one additional decision the BVA can make, which is to remand (send back) the case to the VA Regional Office for reconsideration of its original decision.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear K.,

    When an attorney represents a veteran for a VA claim, the attorney is your exclusive agent. Therefor answering your question would be disrupting your attorney-client relationship. The Disability Advisor recommends that you directly communicate with your attorney, who is paid to represent your best interests. Your attorney should be able to advise you as to any questions about the VA procedures and chances of winning your claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Cline,

    Under federal law, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is required to find certain documents for you if you adequately identify the existence of those documents in your initial application. For disability claims, VA is also required to assemble medical information necessary to make a decision on a claim. This is known as a duty to assist.

    In practice, VA has difficulty in helping you find evidence for your claim. This is because of the huge backlog of claims already in the VA system. You can certainly submit an application without any corroborating evidence and the VA staff may get around to helping you assemble the evidence for your claim in a year or two or more. So it is always better for you to find your own information to speed up the time it takes to document your application.

    In your situation you will need to provide much more than a simple nexus letter. You need to prove you incurred an in-service injury to your knees and prove you have a current diagnosis of that knee injury and further that the current diagnosis relates back to an in-service injury—and not just a sick bay call.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Bryan,

    Whenever a formal appeal is filed, the claim is referred back to the Regional Office (RO) by the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). Once the RO recertifies the case, the RO will advise the BVA. The BVA will take appropriate action after the RO completes its further review under the direction of the BVA.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Ricky,

    Refiling a new claim triggers a loss of retroactivity of benefits. The consequence of filing a new claim results in the abandonment of the prior claim and benefits; if awarded, benefits start with the date the new claim was filed.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Don,

    Every state has at least one VA Regional Office (VARO). You could attempt to call that VA RO (Regional Office) ot obtain the information you are seeking, but, the VA ROs are busy and you might not be successful in your request. Or, you can make an appointment for a personal visit. Your third option is to make a written request to the VA for this information under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Tony,

    The VA will not award you benefits without independent proof that you served with “boots-on-the-ground” in Vietnam. You have the burden to prove this contention. Your contention can be proven via your military records, medical records, branch of service records, administrative records of the company in which you served or affidavits from members of the military with whom you served at the time you were in-country (Vietnam). Without this documentation, your claim will be denied.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Jonte,

    Each VA claim is individually reviewed and an award is based upon proof of three elements. You must prove that you have a current diagnosis of a medical illness which results in a disability. Just because one has a diagnosis of symptoms and a medical condition, this does not necessarily result in a disability. Second, you must prove that the migraines relate to a medical condition, illness or injury which occurred in-service. Finally, you must prove that there is a direct linkage of the current diagnosis to that in-service medical event. About 70% of all VA compensation claims are new claims for an increase in existing benefits. The overwhelming majority of these new claims are denied. You need substantial proof for the VA to award additional benefits.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Trista,

    The basic issue is whether or not you have a plausible claim. A plausible claim means you have a reasonable basis in fact that you are currently disabled and that disability is based upon an in-service medical event, condition, injury, illness or aggravation.

    If you think you have a plausible claim, then you must prove that your claim is meritorious. Merit means there are documented records proving (1) you meet the VA’s definition of your being a veteran, (2) you suffered an in-service medical event, (3) you are currently disabled, and (4) your current disability links directly to your in-service medical event.

    Each of these four elements must be proven by independent medical reports and administrative records. The statements you make in a claim application are contentions. Your contentions must be supported by independent medical opinions, records and evaluations. So, when you reapply, consider what evidence you have or can get to prove each of these four points. Of getting an independent medical evaluation and opinion by a non-VA physician can help a claim. Also, if you did not have help with your first claim, consider consulting with an accredited VA attorney for a review of your claim and a strategy for proving a new claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attoreny

  • Dear Sme,

    It is possible you could file an appeal based upon how the VA determined your ratings. However, your attention should be focused on your overall degree of disability due to your medical status which includes all your disabling conditions. Whether your rating is from a single diagnosis or from multiple ones is not the real concern. The real issue is the veteran’s overall disabling conditions as it relates to one’s ability to perform work.

    Within the VA rating system, the degree of rating (for example a 50% rating) is not a mere addition of two separate ratings. One rating for one disorder at a 40% rating combined with a separate rating of 10% for a different disorder does not necessarily result in a 50% combined rating.

    The rating of the two might still be 40%.

    This often occurs within the VA rating system since the ratings are determined upon a complex set of formulas measuring the type of disorders, the degree of each disorder, and the relationship of the disorders, taken together, as they impact the veterans ability to perform work.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Jessica,

    It is important that you seek the services of a private physician to conduct an examination of your disability, to measure the degree of change or increase in your symptoms, and to prepare a medical report stating the nature of your diagnosis and the degree of change over time of your illness or condition. Medical evidence is required to prove a current disabling illness or condition. The VA will always want to see your current private medical file pertaining to your alleged disabling illness or condition. The VA will want to see evidence of the “chronicity” of the disability or condition. You must show that the condition is not temporary in nature, that the condition be chronic which means persistent or long-lasting.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Sme,

    The statements a veteran makes in a VA claim application are considered to be contentions. Contentions as to what a veteran incurred in-service must be proven by independent third sources. All VA claims must be proven by evidence. Most evidence consists of medical records. If these records are missing, the veteran will need to obtain other records.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Nick,

    When a veteran appeals a rating decision, you need to understand the consequences. First, the appeal will take months if not a year or longer to complete.

    Second, you should have a specific reason for the appeal with supporting documentation as to how the VA made a mistake in its determination. Thinking that the rating should have been higher is insufficient. Not meeting the veteran’s expectation is insufficient in itself since that belief is generally a conjecture. One needs objective information about how the VA evaluates a rating as well as medical proof that the rating should have been a higher amount & what that higher amount should have been. The rating criteria and process is complex and an analysis necessitates a legal understanding which only an accredited VA attorney or organization would have.

    Finally, a rating appeal can result in an increase in rating. However, by reopening a determination, the VA law provides for a “de novo” review. This means the VA reviewer will examine the claim in its entirety. So the new examination can result in a reduction in the rating allowed or a complete denial of benefits. In other words, the appeal vacates the prior decision and can “cut both ways.”

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Trey

    I had 6 initial contentions effective date of 3/2012 for the following.

    bi-lateral foot fungus
    – secondary right heel pain
    left shoulder surgery with residuals
    bi-lateral tinnitus
    bi-lateral hearing loss
    left elbow to hand nerve damage.

    I was non-service connected for all but the left shoulder surgery with residuals but rated at 0% the rater seemed to think I was not cooperating (No where on the c&p exam shows that I was not cooperating)

    I placed a NOD in 7/2013 and was able to secure Nexus letters for the shoulder, foot fungus, heel pain and nerve damage from my VA PCP.

    I just received word that I am being referred for additional C&P exam but only for the shoulder, not any of the other contentions. should i be worried that the DRO is not even considering the Nexus letters as evidence and my contentions will still be non-service connected? I might be a little per-mature however I am a little paranoid that all the work of getting the burden of proof has gotten me no where.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Trey,

      A VA compensation claim is relatively easy to file, but it is difficult to prove. Absent a contention of illness or injury being so obviously related to an in-service event, it really takes a professional who is an accredited VA attorney to represent a veteran because much skill is needed to analyze the merits of the contentions made, develop credible legal evidence, and present medical-legal documentation to prove a claim. This is not a simple process. More than 70% of all claims out of the 4 million claims filed annually are denied.

      The reason for the high percentage of denied claims is either due to the contentions lacking sufficient merit to be approvable or the evidence presented is insufficient to prove all the medical-legal elements that the VA law requires. VA claim is, in theory, a non-adversarial process, but in practical terms the claim process tends to become adversarial to bring a claim to a positive result.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      You should always consider having an accredited VA attorney represent your interests, since a claim submission is not a forum a layperson should be handling a claim denial on one’s own behalf. You need to seek a professional opinion as to the merits of your claim even though it is fairly late in the process as you describe your fact scenario. I suggest you seek such an opinion from a VA accredited practitioner in your community.

  • kyle

    I am service connected ptsd 50 percent, I have a proven stressor CIB etc… How do I go about filing a claim for migraine headaches secondary to PTSD. I got out in 2006 and only recently have started taking medicine for my migraines from the VA

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kyle,

      You will need to file a new claim with the VA specifically for this condition. You can file the claim yourself or you can ask assistance from a non-profit veterans association such as the American Legion or the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) or similar organization to walk you through the application process.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Mike

    Hello, I’m 50% disabled for asthma, lower lumbar strain and tinnitus. I have 6 other 0%. I appealed the 0% with tons of evidence and after waiting a year and a half I was seen via video in front of a judge that looked over my claims. She told me some of my test results were to old and she needed up to date info. I submitted everything with 45 days and another year and a half went by (so now were going on 3+ years). My 6 claims were sent back(remanded) because by the time they got to my claims it was over 3 years but that was not my fault. I did everything the judge said and came away with nothing.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mike,

      Unfortunately the documentation needed to prove a VA compensation claim is a high bar to satisfy. You should consider hiring a VA accredited attorney to review your case and render an expert opinion as to the merits of your claim. A lay person does not have the skills and experience to go it alone at a hearing in court before a judge. It takes a trial attorney to represent your best interests.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Robyn Willet

    Someone please help!! I received my denial letter for PTSD. The reason for the denial was due to my NOD not being filed within 1 year of rating decision. My claim was not in my file until May 2016, when I sought help for my issues. Can I do another NOD? TIA

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robyn,

      The one year period to file a response is absolute, so you cannot do another NOD. In effect, the VA closed your claim as an abandoned claim. You will need to file a new claim and start the process over again.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Philip Davis

    I have been receiving benefits for sleep apnea since 2007 and see that the rules for this medical issue have changed and are often denied now. Should I be concerned that they might change or stop my benefits of go on for a check up or to have my machine serviced or replaced? Is sleep apnea a static or permanent disability? Sorry if I posted the question on a differant that as well.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Philip,

      All VA compensation benefits are subject to ongoing review. Benefits can be increased, decreased on terminated based on a veteran’s current medical diagnosis. Because medical conditions can change over time, a person can recover from an illness or injury. That said, unless your check up shows you have improved a great deal, getting medical care should not result in a change in benefits. And, replacing or repairing needed medical durable equipment would not affect eligibility.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Tony

    HI,
    My case is very odd, but I’m sure it has happened before to people the military wants to screw. In 2004 I was stationed at Kadena AB Japan, I went to out process the hospital, and was told that my service medical records were not there. I’m like, what do you mean not here, they cant be found is what I was told. So 17 years of medical history is gone. I retired in 2007, how can I show in service connectivity for the va to examine when I file my claim, I cant at no fault of mine. I did file a claim just to see what will happen, but not going to hold my breath for anything. Every VSO rep I have told this story to says my records are somewhere, ok its been 16 years and they haven’t showed up yet.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tony,

      You can make a record request to obtain a copy of your military records under the federal law. This is a Freedom of Information request. You can send your request directly to the branch of service for which you served. Also, you may want to contact your local veteran’s not-for-profit organization to help you in making this record request. The American Legion or Disabled American Veterans charities can offer you assistance.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Davis Johnson

    Hi,
    I stumbled across this forum while looking for advice.
    In October i received a 0% TBI rating and a 10% Tinnitus rating. In early November an ENT evaluated me for my profound bilateral hearing loss and vertigo and after looking at my history and records he said it was consistent with bilateral posttraumatic menieres, but that he could not prove it because of the elapsed (30 years) time. He also said that it was “likely” that the menieres was connected to my service disability. He wrote a letter stating all of this. My DAV rep then decided to ask for a re-adjudication for the TBI. I am looking for any insight on whether or not the ENT saying “likely” instead of the as “as likely as not” or some other accepted phrase and him saying he could not prove it but that it was “consistent with menieres” might help or hurt my case. I also would like to know if re-adjudication vs new claim was the way to proceed.

    Thanks for your anticipated response

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Davis,

      These phrases to which you refer are known to attorneys as “terms of art.” You definitely want a physician’s written opinion to state if at all possible that the medical condition “is as likely as not” to relate back to an injury or trauma occurred in-service.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Davis Johnson

        Hi Craig, thanks for the quick reply.
        I am most concerned about the actual diagnosis language that he used. Saying that it was consistent with Menieres but also saying that he can not prove it because it happened so long ago.
        I am worried that ‘can not prove it’ is the only thing the RO will look at.
        Can you tell me what the VA needs as far as a diagnosis is concerned? I am already rated a 0% for tbi and 10% for tinnitus but i am worried that the nexus letter is insufficient and uses incorrect language

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Davis,

          The maximum rating for tinnitus is 10%. No matter how bad the situation is, the VA has a ceiling on a diagnosis of tinnitus. If you think that there is a second diagnosis, you must obtain a medical physician’s written opinion stating what is that diagnosis and that the diagnosed illness or condition relates back to a medical condition which occurred in-service.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Beverly Davis

    Can someone tell me if this statement means that I will be denied for IU due to being having PTSD.

    “It is the opinion of the evaluator that it is less likely than not that solely due to her ptsd, she is unable to secure or maintain substantially gainful employment of either an active or sedentary nature.”

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Beverly,

      This means the VA ruled your PDST, in and of itself, is not a reason for you to be unemployed or unemployable.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Received call explained I’ve been awarded IU service connection at 100 from the RO and my VSO Rep how will it take for decision letter

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Gable,

      The VA is a complex organization. Generally speaking, there are three divisions a claim goes through before an award is made. Each case is reviewed in at least three departments consisting of teams of about three to five people. When a single decision-maker team rules favorably on a claim, then the claim goes to a writer to prepare an award letter. If the approval is finalized, then it goes to other departments for implementation and payment. This is a complex system so it is impossible to state with any certainty how long an actual payment takes to pay.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Bryan

    I went to my c&p for PTSD. She said I have an alcohol dependency and drug dependency. I have been on Prozac for the last 6 months and prozasin for sleep. My spychiotrist diagnosed me with PTSD and they are treating it. Why would I get denied and told I have an alcohol dependency if that’s the reason I drink. I hate the va so much. I got out in 07 tried to get help didn’t get help and disappeared for 10 years till my symptoms got worst and this is what I get. Denied again.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Bryan,

      Excessive drinking is a behavioral problem that involves lack of self-control practices. The VA denies benefits for behavioral problems since it is not a medical condition which results from service in the military.

      Here is a parallel example. A person is bored in service due to the nature of military service. So one takes up smoking while on active duty. Many years later, one develops lung cancer. That is not a medical problem due to in-service military duty. The reason for the medical problem is that the person, albeit a military member, made the bad choice to smoke.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Bryan

        So I have an alcohol problem and everything I went through has nothing to do with my nightmares and sleeping problems?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Bryan,

          You may want to seek the services of an accredited VA attorney, who can evaluate your claim denial to determine what options, if any, you have. You can locate an accredited attorney on the VA website, where they are listed by geographic location.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • JW

    Served 4 years in Air Force and then 4 years in Army as an MP both places. Was young, thought I didn’t need help. Took me many years to finally realize how effected I was by what I experienced and how much it has affected my life and the life of family members that had to live with me.

    I have been diagnosed with PTSD by a VA approved psychologist and she stated that it was definitely service connected. Of course claim was denied.

    Appealed giving as many dates and details as I could recall. Got a letter now saying they have no record of my 4 years service in the Air Force. They have my DD214 showing all service for both branches but that’s now good enough. Now up to me to try and find records to prove service. It’s really sad how veterans get treated and I know now why I didn’t want to bother.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear JW,

      You will need to request your armed services records from the branch of the military in which you served. Under the federal
      Freedom of Information law, you can submit a request. Also, if you spent a significant amount of time at a specific base, you can request the administrative records or medical records directly from that base.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dan Varney

    I have a VA diagnosis for PTSD. C and P exam says do not meet full criteria, denied. Appealed and sent buddy statement of sargeant that was in my platoon and verified experience. We served in Operation Desert Storm. I also met the criteria for three service connected stressors. Submitted lay statement and DD-214 verfing service time and location. Submitted examiners notes that I pointed out the lies, SEVERAL contridictions, omittion of facts and where she changed my words to make “new” untrue statements. With duty to assist in mind, what else can I do to support my claim?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Dan,

      The VA laws and regulations are complex. You should seek an independent professional opinion as to whether or not your contention is meritorious. It takes a skilled VA accredited attorney to analyze your claim to provide a legal review, which involves looking at your entire medical records and military file.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • JOHN

    Hello and thank you in advance. I was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2002. I never served in combat. I did have several events while active duty that have caused me PTSD. I filed for PTSD in Feb of 2016 and was denied in Sept 2016.

    I had never perused mental health treatment prior to filing and did not have a dx of PTSD at the time I filed my claim. My examiner said that although I met all the criteria for PTSD, he stated It was not from military service because the stressor that VBA provided to him was not mentioned in the interview by me.

    The catch is that I NEVER used that stressor when I filed for my PTSD claim. I had no idea that VBA had used some random event from my Cfile to connect me to a stressor. The “quack” that interviewed me never once asked me to talk about the stressor provided to him by VBA.

    Since then I have been dx’d with PTSD by both a VA psychologist as well as a Psych doctor in town, not affiliated with the VA. The private Dr. has provided me with a nexus statement saying my PTSD is in fact military connected.

    Here is where my question comes in, the stressor that the VBA initially used to get my initial exam has now been listed on my stressor letter and is well documented with both psych Doctors. The incident was where a service member tried to kill themselves on a deployment we were on in Antarctica. He jumped into the icy water after an argument with his wife. I jumped in after him and almost died myself from hypothermia and near drowning from the heavy cold weather gear. I received a Navy Achievement Medal for my actions but the write up on the award states “Petty Officer John ——- came to the aide of a incapacitated service member while deployed to Antarctica” it does not go into detail of the event or that I entered the water.

    Since the service member that jumped in was a friend of mine I was untruthful during the questioning at the time and said it was an accident because he was intoxicated (yes, there is a small bar in Antarctica) He was sent home from the deployment after that

    I have searched for any kind of log of the event and nothing exists. I was able to track down another member of the deployment and had them write a “buddy statement” outlining the event. Between the now dx of PTSD, the nexus letter, the statement on the award and the buddy letter is that enough to make a strong case for the PTSD service connection?

    Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear John,

      To prove a VA compensation claim, it is essential to prove an in-service medical condition, event, illness, or injury. Without an in-service record, it will be difficult to advance your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Matt

    Hi I have a question about sleep apnea claim. About a year after I reported to my first duty station I started becoming tired all the time and my wife started to notice I would stop breathing at night and snoring very badly. When I got out of the military I decided to have a sleep study at my local va and found I had severe sleep apnea. This was about a year after I got out of the military. Is there a way I can get my sleep apnea service connected? Thanks in advance.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Matt,

      There are three basis elements involved in proving a compensation claim: (1) you have a diagnosis of a current medical condition. The condition must be diagnosised; (2) you need to prove you received a medical condition, illness, injury in-service; and (3) you must prove that your current diagnosed condition is linked to the in-service condition.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Michael Sparks

    I have attempted twice to see if I can claim my sleep apnea I developed while in the military. I didn’t get tested in the military as I was a reservist and where I was mobilized in the Middle East several times there were no facilities to test for sleep studies. I have been seen at the VA hospital where they have sent me twice for sleep studies since my return and I have been diagnosed by a entity paid for by the VA hospital and even was assigned a CPAP machine. I have had letters written by my military unit members as witnesses stating that I “stop breathing” while sleeping etc, and again was denied. I am wondering if I have my VA ENT Dr. write a letter stating from the facts of my military record and records from here at the VA with his medical opinion that it is more likely than not I developed sleep apnea while on active duty? Or will I be denied again?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Michael,

      You need the assistance of a professionally licensed VA accredited agency or a VA accredited attorney. A professional can review with you what constitutes evidence acceptable to the VA in proving your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Victoria

    My question has to do with secondary disabilities and C&P exams. Since 1993, my husband has been service connected for residuals of a pituitary tumor that mandates drug therapy to replace hormones that would normally be generated by a pituitary gland. He also has hypertension and IHD, and he takes blood thinners and pain meds for arthritis related to lumbar and cervical disability ratings. He takes a very long list of prescription meds for service connected conditions. He put in a claim in June 2016 for GERD and ED caused by some of these meds, most of which the VA provided. The VA took 90 days to deny the claims and did not provide my husband with a C&P exam beforehand.

    My question is under what circumstances can the VA legally deny a veteran a C&P exam?

    • Victoria

      Forgot to mention that he receives treatment for both conditions by non-VA doctors and we did send in his private treatment records to the VA.

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Victoria,

        This response is to both your posts. A “C&P” exam is discretionary. The VA has no duty to conduct such a test. If the VA, at its discretion, requests a veteran to undergo such an exam and the veteran fails to do so, loss of benefits may occur. Because the VA is not required to order an exam, to support any claim you should seek out the medical opinion of a private physician for submission to the VA to show how an existing medical condition relates to an in-service injury or medical event.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

        • Victoria

          Just a follow-up question to this. How does the VA’s duty to assist impact the situation? We’re still waiting to receive the Statement of the Case, but the initial decision letter denying the claims do acknowledge receipt of formal diagnoses and ongoing treatment of these conditions from non-VA doctors. However, later in the letter, it says no formal diagnoses have been made, an obvious contradiction. I also read that the claims were denied due to no evidence of symptoms in active duty medical records, but we didn’t claim them as primary. We claimed them as secondary to specific meds taken for conditions already service connected. We provided clinical evidence that those meds have side effects, in this case, GERD and ED. In looking at 38 CFR as to when exams shall be scheduled, I don’t see what we’re missing that is supposed to generate an exam. We are working on getting IMO’s from the treating doctors. Thank you.

          • Kay Derochie

            Dear Victoria,

            The proving of a VA claim is a complex medical-legal problem. It is not a simple matter of a straight-forward process. First, there is no requirement that the VA conduct a C & P exam. That is discretionary by the VA. Second, an attorney would need to review the complete decision letter from the VA in order to render an opinion of what is meant by the decision of the VA. The VA uses “terms of legal art” which differ from what most persons would take the wording to mean. There is an art to understanding exactly what is meant in the VA letter. So I suggest you contact an accredited VA attorney for advice.

            Sincerely,
            Craig L. Ames
            Accredited VA Attorney

        • Victoria

          How does the VA’s “duty to assist” impact its having “no duty to conduct such a test,” solely at its discretion, as you mentioned?

          • Kay Derochie

            Dear Victoria,

            Duty to assist is a federal statute in which Congress passed a law relieving the veteran of having to prove his or her claim. Rather, the burden rests upon the VA to prove the claim, if possible, for the veteran. Thus, most veterans are passive and do not proactively attempt to prove their own claims with the assistance of an attorney.

            A C & P exam is not a tool designed to prove a claim. Rather the purpose is to check the medical condition of a patient. By comparison, a veteran can request an independent medical exam and opinion from a private doctor. Of course, the veteran needs to pay for that exam. Most attorneys will ask a client/veteran to seek out an independent decision. However, neither the VA nor the veteran are required to seek out an independent medical opinion.

            Both a current independent exam and a C&P exam dealonly with the current medical state of a veteran. But to prove a claim, one needs proof of the medical condition incurred in-service. Also, there is a third requirement, which is the VA or the veteran needs to prove a nexus or linkage between the in-service medical event/condition with the current medical disability.

            Sincerely,
            Craig L. Ames
            Accredited VA Attorney

            • Victoria

              You said a C&P exam is not a tool to prove a claim, and is merely conducted to determine the current medical state of a veteran. However, the examiner always opines as to whether a condition is more likely than not, as likely as not, or less likely related to military service. So the examIner’s task goes beyond merely establishing the existence of a disability. He/she must evaluate any cause and effect relationship to service. My point is that the VA can certainly use the exam to deny a claim and often does, so similarly, they can use it to prove a claim. I’m well familiar with the Caluza Triangle. My point is that a VA rater with no medical degree and in full fulfillment of Caluza has decided to deny a claim without the benefit of an exam. At any rate, thank you for your responses and we’ll certainly pursue this on appeal.

              • Kay Derochie

                Dear Victoria,

                There are two points here. Most veterans are not proactive in the proof of a claim. Most veterans do not want to obtain his or her own independent medical opinion via a private, non-VA doctor. But, you always have that option. Second, the purpose of a C&P exam is not for proof of a claim. In fact, most VA exam doctors are reluctant to issue any written opinion to certify a medical disability. The VA decision makers are not medical doctors but rather lay persons versed in the legal-medical tests of the federal statutes because a claim is not just about medical evidence.

                Sincerely,
                Craig L. Ames
                Accredited VA Attorney

  • ISAAC GEARRING

    I had asthma before I went into the air force. I filed a claim for aggravation of my asthma and was denied saying that it was not service connected. I had a bad asthma attack on the physical conditioning field and almost died. I used my experience as a stressor in another claim in which I filed for non-combat PTSD which was also denied. Do I have a legitimate claim for my asthma attack?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Isaac,

      Pre-existing conditions are not covered events. For example, if one has a congenital birth defect and later is able to join the armed forces, consequences of that condition which occur after service have nothing to do with service in the military. The consequence likely would have occurred whether one served in the military or not.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Bryan Anderson

    Mr. Ames:

    I have Dercum’s Disease (DD). Started about halfway through my deployment in OIF. Its main symptoms are several painful lipomas, and there is history of those with DD first encountering symptoms after physical trauma. It first showed up after i fell off the back of a HMMWV and hurt my back. I have a stampted TMC call slip that says “large bump on back from falling.” By the time i got home i had several more bumps. I got them all removed at the VA, all were lipomas. They said i shouldnt get more but they could always remove them. I got a bunch more – the surgery removing them accelerated their growth. I applied for service connection for lipomatosis – i hadnt heard of DD at that time in 2008, and its a very rare disease. They denied me for papillomatosis, which is a totally unrelated condition that I have never had nor applied for. Several years went by and my symptoms and pain progressed, and i did some research online and found out about DD. I contacted doctors in several states, finally finding a doctor in PA (i live in IN). I met with her last year, and she diagnosed me with DD, and gave me a letter of diagnosis which stated plainly that trauma endured in OIF very likely caused the onset of my condition. I also was “unofficially” diagnosed with DD by the Jesse Brown VA in chicago’s dermatology department – they said they couldnt definitively give me a diagnosis because no doctors there had any experience with it. I do have documents from the VA stating that my symptoms are all consistent with a diagnosis of DD, however. I worked with a VSO to file for reopening my old VA claim, but was denied for having “no new evidence” despite giving them all the aforementioned documents. I did see that in my denial letter, they stated i was not service connected for “dercums disease (formerly papillomatosis).” I did include in the reopening claim that i had been denied originally for papillomatosis despite applying for lipomatosis. Do you think theyre just saying that dercums disease is unrelated to papillomatosis, and ignoring that I initially claimed lipomatosis? Sorry if this was incredibly long winded!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brant,

      One must determine if there is an independent intervening cause which results directly in the current medical condition. For example, if one breaks a leg in-service and later develops arthritis then there is linkage. On the other hand if one breaks a leg in-service, later has a new out-of-service injury to that same leg, and later develops arthritis, then the issue becomes from which injury did the arthritis occur. This is not a black and white answer. One must prove that the arthritis resulted from the first injury and not the second. This is very diffuclut to prove.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Bryan Anderson

        Mr. Ames:

        Linking DD to service isnt really the problem. Ive read several appeal cases of vets having DD service connected. While the cause of DD is unknown, physical trauma is often a trigger for the onset of the disease, and several case studies exist to that effect. My sick call slip for the base TMC showing that i had lipomas grow after falling from my hmmwv substantiates that my DD is a “result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service” – as it was the start of the condition. My question is more about whether the VA can get away with saying my initial claim from 2008 cant be reopened because the DD diagnosis i have (which states physical trauma is a trigger for onset of the disease) is not related to papillomatosis, which i was erroneously denied for in my original claim for lipomatosis. I feel like im in a strange spot because the claim documents i filed in 2008 were for lipomatosis, but the va decision denied me for papillomatosis. I assume it was a clerical error by the VA, but im worried itll prevent me from having my case reopened because DD has no relation to the papillomatosis i was erroneously judged on.

        • Bryan Anderson

          If it helps, this is basically my timeline:
          Feb 2007: fall off hmmwv, hit my back, get big painful lump where i hit
          Oct 2007: have since grown bumps on arms, go to base TMC, doctors say theyre lipomas
          Early 2008: have lipomas removed at VA, more start growing immediately after
          2008-current: dozens more painful lipomas grow
          Later in 2008: file claim for lipomatosis; recieve VA decision saying i am not service connected for papillomatosis, despite i never filed a claim for papillomatosis
          Early 2015: VA dermatology says i have DD, but cant give me official diagnosis
          Oct 2015: diagnosed with DD officially by private endocrinologist
          Jan 2016: apply to reopen 2008 lipomatosis claim with new evidence including DD diagnosis (stating my physical trauma in OIF was the cause of DD onset) and VA dermatology notes saying I have it
          May 2016: VA denies my reopening claim as not having any new evidence – says “dercums disease (formerly claimed as papillomatosis)”

          Now i am concerned they are saying my DD diagnosis is not new evidence re: papillomatosis, which i never actually claimed.

          • Kay Derochie

            Dear Bryan,

            It will be difficult for you to prove that your skin disorder is somehow related to your military service. In order to prove this contention you must be able to produce evidence that it first was incurred in-service and relates to active military duties. Based upon your comments and the background, it does not appear there is any connection to your active military career.

            As to the medical conditions of your discs, you may want to file a formal appeal. An appeal must be filed within twelve months of receipt of the VA denial letter. If that time period has passed, you should consider filing a new claim for that condition.

            Sincerely,
            Craig L. Ames
            Accredited VA Attorney

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Bryan,

          I cannot render a medical opinion on this matter. You comment that you received an unofficial diagnosis. This statement implies that the physician would not make a written opinion as to the nature or origin of your medical condition. Such a medical opinion likely would not be sufficient to be considered evidence in the court of law or in the evaluation of a VA compensation claim. You will need to have a written medical opinion proving linkage of your current medical condition with a medical event that occurred in-service.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

          • Bryan Anderson

            I have an official written diagnosis from a great doctor with experience in DD, stating explicitly that the fall on my back was likely the cause of the onset of DD. VA dermatology wouldnt give me an official diagnosis because they had no one w/any experience in DD. I have documentation it started in Iraq. Read several appeal cases of DD service connection. None of that stuff concerns me, i just wanted to give you context.

            My real issue was that i applied for service connection for lipomatosis (i didnt know about DD at that time), but the VA decision that was sent to me denied me for papillomatosis. I never applied for papillomatosis. Now that i know what my condition is, i tried to reopen my claim but im concerned that the error the VA made (denying me for papillomatosis when i claimed lipomatosis) will prevent me from being successful. Any thoughts on that issue besides appealing?

            • Kay Derochie

              Dear Bryan,

              What you are describing is not an error but a matter of how to interpret the medical evidence. You need to consider hiring the services of an accredited VA professional to assist in the processing of your claim. Contact the DAV or the American Legion or consider hiring a VA accredited attorney for a review to see if your claim has merit.

              Sincerely,
              Craig L.Ames
              Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dorothea Evans

    My husband is receiving benefits and now has cancer and applied for 100%. The VA now denies he is a Vietnam Vet and is asking him to prove it. The DD214 states South East Asia with Vietnam Medals and they no longer accept it. Records search is coming up with units he was assigned to but nothing so far specifically states Vietnam. He will lose all his benefits shortly as they gave us 30 days to respond. His records appear to be conveniently lost. We have payroll and TDY records requested but I suspect there will be no smoking gun their either. Any suggestions? He was in Phillipines and did TDY to Danang working on the Ranch Hand planes but try to prove it.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Dorothea,

      The response to your question is posted under the article where you originally posted your question, that is, under “How Much Does a VA Attorney Cost?”

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Joshua H

    I’m currently a 30% disabled vet. A few months ago I submitted a claim for an existing anxiety condition I developed while on active duty. I haven’t had any treatment for it since I have been out now and its been 1 year and the anxiety is coming back very strong. Will they look to see if I’m trying to get treatment while I wait for my claim to go through? I obviously need the treatment but I’m unsure if I should wait for a rating or not? Thanks for the help.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Joshua,

      In order to be awarded VA compensation benefits, you need to prove you have a diagnosed current disabling condition. Since you have never been treated after being in military service, you do not have a de facto current medical condition.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Joshua H

        Sorry if I was unclear. I was diagnosed for it while in the military. I have 3 pages full of medical records of my treatment and medications they had me on. I ended up getting out because I no longer wanted to take their medications. Once I got out, the anxiety came back so now im seeking treatment and disability again. I just haven’t been able to get treated since I was active duty(which was only 11 months ago). Thank you.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Joshua,

          As I understand your situation, you have had no treatment for your pre-existing medical treatment since you have been discharged from military service. Because you are not under any doctor’s care no after-service diagnosis has been rendered. Thus, you do not meet the basic initial eligibility test of having a current medical disability that is being actively treated.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Carmen

    I finally got my sleep apnea rating with the VA but when I got my notification letter the VA combined my sleep apnea rating with my asthma and gave me the higher rating between the 2 disabilities which was 60%. My medical documentation states that the 2 conditions have distinct and separate symptomatology and they are not duplicative or overlapping. Which means separate ratings can be assigned but the VA stated that this constitutes pyramiding. I filed an appeal for this because I’ve researched and found some vets were successful on the appeal side in getting separate rating while other were not so successful. I’m not sure what else I can do. I’m not sure if doing a congressional inquiry will help. Any advice would be great.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Carmen,

      You can request a Congressional inquiry, but it probably will not be helpful.You will need to obtain third-party, independent, self-paid medical opinion from a private physician who is board-certified as to the nature and extent of your diagnoses.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Carmen

        Ok thanks for the advice. I did in fact get an expert opinion and it did state my sleep apnea and asthma were two separate and distinct conditions and my symptoms do not overlap. I believe the Regional Office overuse the anti-pyramiding law and they over looked my expert opinion which allowed me to get service connected with the conditions in the first place. I requested a DENOVO review from the Regional Office and hopefully they can get this right at the local level vs BVA. Thanks again!

        • Kay Derochie

          Your are welcome, Carmen.

  • wesley carr

    i was diagnosed with sleep apnea by a VA recommended specialist filed my.claim and was denied?….i recoive 70% for PTSD already..should i just file a appeal?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Wesley,

      Responding to a VA claim denial is complex. There are many avenues of filing a response to a claim denial. You state one of several avenues. It takes a seasoned professional to understand the VA statutes, rules and regulations. A veteran needs to understand that a VA claim is easy to file and difficult to win an award. This case involves both medical and legal issues. You should seek assistance from a VA accredited attorney.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Lorenzo McElroy

    I was discharged from the military with sleep apnea in 2011 with a 70 percent rating. I applied for IU and was denied. Can you explain why I was possibly denied?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lorenzo,

      The Disability Advisor does not have access to your case file. It is impossible to render an opinion without review of your file. I suggest you contact a VA accredited attorney who can interview you and review your case file in order to provide an explanation to you. Each claim is individually evaluated and no two claim are alike.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Nick Sweet

    I was diagnosed with Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome while in service and claimed it as tendinitis because the corpsman said that’s what it was. I put the claim in and it was denied. I was just looking through my old medical record and saw that it was ITB friction syndrome! If I open a new claim and put in the claim these words: “liotibial Band Friction Syndrome instead of tendinitis, and have a diagnosis for it in my medical record, I should get a rating, right? I have residuals from it and it’s still swollen.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Nick,

      The label is not the critical issue. Rather what is important is to prove three things–first, that you were treated for a specific medical event while in the service; second, that you have been diagnosed with currently having a disability including presenting the extent of that disability; and third, that there is linkage between your current condition and the in-service medical event.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Don R Reed

    My wife is receiving 60 percent disability she was denied her claim for a increase or tdui but in the c&p own words it says she is unemployable by both physical anf mental what to do now

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Don,

      The proof of a VA compensation claim is a complex medical-legal matter. If you do not understand the VA claim process you will need to educate yourself about the process or seek professional assistance such as a not-for-profit veterans organization like the American Legion. These non-profit agencies have claim advisers who can provide basic information about the process. Otherwise, if you need in-depth assistance you will need to engage the services of an accredited VA attorney in the city in which you reside.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Years of Struggling

    I served in the military in 1996. During basic training I was injured and the sexual assaulted for weeks. I have 2 separate questions.

    1. I applied for disability due to the injury in 2000 and was denied then again in 2002. In 2002 I never received a letter stating the denial. I called several times and was told that I was denied. In 2016 I went back to apply because the back & neck injury that I received in the service is really server now. When I went to reapply the lady at the VA Hospital told me that I was NEVER denied. That I was just rated at 0%. She said that I should have been told whenever my condition got worse to apply for an increase. Since I never received a letter and I was told verbally by 2 different people that my case was denied can I appeal the decision that was made in 2002 or is the only recourse is to reapply.

    I know I should not have waited this long but I also suffer from PTSD which causes me to limit my contact with people and because I had applied twice and was told both times that I was denied I did not have the strength to try again. If my condition had not gotten so bad that I can do nothing now I would never had gone back.

    2. I am a female and I was sexual assaulted for weeks by a female officer in 1996. I tried to report it to my commanding officer and I was asked by him if I was “gay”. I said no and he told me that because I was saying this about my sergeant at the time then I would be considered “gay” and I would be kicked out. Even though I explained to him that it was unwanted and I was scared. I ultimately even contracted an STD from her. But out of fear I could never report it. It has affected my entire life for years. Recently my mother told a friend about my condition and he told her to have me go tell now. That I should have been receiving disability for years because of this and that it does not matter that it was female to female assault.

    This is not recorded in my military file and for years I sought out treatment when things got really bad for me under different names for fear of losing my children. The only thing that is on record under my name is the STD but that to is NOT in my military file. Can I apply for disability for this and if so how can I force them to go back to when it first happened since I was not allowed to report it then or seek any type of compensation then because of the “dont ask dont tell” laws that were in place. Or how far can I go back since I was NOT allowed to report it?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Years of Struggling,

      You can always file a new claim contending a medical event occurring in the service. Note there is a difference between a zero rating and no rating. No rating means the VA did not find an in-service condition giving rise to a disability while in service. A zero rating means the VA found that an in-service medical condition was incurred but that the medical event did not rise to the level of at least a 10% disability rating.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Clem

    Medically separated at 70% in ’98. Currently rated at 90% with multiple medical issues. My repeated claims sense ’98 for Sleep Apnea have all been denied. I was diagnosed by Duke University Hospital with UARS/OSAHS on 5/15.
    My claims would come back denied with the statement “Your Service Records” have never indicated any kind of sleeping problems/issues and they stated that my sleep problems are Anxiety/depression related.
    I went threw my personal copy of my medical service records in which I found that I had complained multiple times about sleeping issues. Yet, nothing was ever done about it during service. Would my old medical records of complaints be the evidence needed to support my claim of Sleep Apnea/ UARS/OSAHS? Thanks!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Clem,

      You can try submitting those records of clinical visits in which you complained of sleep problems, but they may not be given weight because a record of a complaint is not a medical record of treatment, diagnosis, illness, injury or medical event that is a necessary document needed to prove the existence of an in-service medical issue.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • RESERVIST

    I currently receive a VA disability with a 70% rating for PTSD only. My Unit is requesting that myself and everyone else receiving a VA disability submit a copy of my VA disability and percentage plus all supporting documents for that rating. I currently do not receive any disability from the DoD. Do they have the right to do this?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Reservist,

      There is nothing you need to do. The judge has discretion as to when to hear your case. There are more than 1.25 million pending cases, so the VA has a huge backlog resulting in everyone having to wait a long time for their turn.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Brandon veders

        I filed my case back in April and its August now.It has been stuck in Gathering of Evidence since April. My estimated completion date changed once it went back one monthThe completion date is October 7th 2016.I have been diagnosed with ptsd and have had numerous of dr.appointments with VA Doctors,Physc,and social workers and now im.still attending all.of the appointments.My case is stuck in gathering of evidence in which i know there is more than enough evidence in the system from Va doctors and physc that i am currently seeing.I havent had a C&p exam or nothing.Do you know the reason i havent had a c&p exam and why its stuck at gathering of evidence and its been 4 months now.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Brandon,

          There were more than four million VA compensation claims filed last year. The VA system takes a long time, often years for a claim to be developed for evidence within the government. Your situation is typical. What you may think is adequate information may not be so to the VA. It takes a skilled attorney to ascertain what evidence is needed to prove a VA disability and for a veteran to receive a benefit award.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • MrsK

    I know this might sound unusual, since most people are trying to increase their rating, but my situation is different. I was given a rating for a mental health diagnosis that I didn’t even apply for. I would like the VA to no longer give me compensation for this disability because I do not believe that I have it, nor did a professional that I talked to recently. How do I get the VA to remove this rating from my C &P? I do not want another exam, I just no longer want to receive compensation for something I don’t have.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mrs. K.,

      You can make an appointment with your VA Regional Office in the state in which you live. You can explain your request for termination of benefit rating in person and a governmental officer will assist you. The nearest VA office can be found in the Yellow Pages or you can search online for the information.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Eric

    I filed a claim in 2013. Won service connection for several back injuries. On active duty I continually went to mental health and was diagnosed with adjustment disorder with depressed mood due to my back injuries and insomnia was listed as one of my symptoms. My mental health records were separate from my service records so I didn’t really know what the diagnosis was when filing my claim so I listed it as insomnia. I have a matching diagnosis of adjustment disorder w/ depressed mood w/ insomnia as a symptom for the past few years as a result of my service connected back injury. Until recently when it was upgraded from adjustment disorder with depressed mood to depression as a result of my service connected back injuries, with the reasoning being adjustment disorder is usually temporary. My claim for insomnia was denied stating no clinical diagnosis. I believe this is because in my service records it doesn’t say insomnia as the diagnosis says adjustment disorder/depression with insomnia listed as a symptom. I talked with a VSO who told me to appeal it on the grounds that VA should have seen insomnia in my records as a symptom of my adjustment disorder/depression and claimed it as adjustment disorder/depression. The VSO said if the DRO denies it to file a new claim for depression. I talked with another VSO who is telling me something different than the first VSO, saying that since it said insomnia on the initial claim that it will be denied and that VA has no duty to claim it as adjustment disorder/depression despite my active duty records showing insomnia as a symptom of the adjustment disorder/depression. So a second claim was filed listing Depression secondary to service connected back injury. I did a C&P exam recently the Pysch Dr. said that my condition was service connection and that I had depressive disorder as a result of my service connected back injuries. She said she was going to write it up so that I would win as there was no doubt that my insomnia is a result of depression caused from my service connected back injuries. Do I have a chance of winning the appeal or will I have to wait for the new claim to go through? Despite my writing insomnia on the initial claim form when VA saw in my military service records that insomnia was a symptom of adjustment disorder with depressed mood, which matched my current diagnosis should they have claimed it for me?

    Likewise, my back condition worsened after my decision with a new MRI showing pinched nerves, herniated discs, etc caused from disc problems which I was already service connected for several spinal issues and given a 30% rating. This occured during my window to appeal. As a result of the pinched nerves, herniated discs, etc, the emergency room and my PCP noted that I could barely move my left arm/shoulder. I was referred to a surgeon who also stated my arm/should could not move properly as a result of the pinched nerves/herniated discs in my back/neck. I filed on my Notice of Disagreement that I wanted an increase for my back based on reduced Range of Motion and that due to the back/neck injury worsening it now causes my arm/shoulder to lack Range of Motion that based on the medical evidence. The VSO told me the new injuries would be service connected on my NOD, but that the shoulder wouldn’t because it would have to be filed on a new claim, she filed a new claim for Shoulder secondary to Service connected back/neck injury. I was just given a C&P exam in which the Dr. noted that my arm/shoulder Range of Motion was very bad and that it was a result of my service connected back/neck injury. He said on the medical end this was something VA is responsible for. Can I win this on appeal? Or despite VA being responsible for it, will they deny it stating that I listed it on my NOD rather than my initial claim? The shoulder/arm had not occured yet on my initial claim, it only occured because my service connected back/neck injury had worsened. Regardless I have the NOD pending and a new claim that has been pending for 2 months.
    Suppose the NOD is denied stating that the arm/should should have been claimed on a new claim. Can they use the C&P exam I just did, with the new claim I filed 2 months ago?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Eric,

      Whenever VA benefits are awarded, the veteran always has a duty to cooperate in any benefit reevaluation. There is no freeze on VA records as to how any given medical opinion or evaluation impacts a benefit currently being paid . Also, if one fails to attend a C&P at the request of the VA, this can result in a finding of lack of cooperation and can lead to a withdrawal of benefits. Also, if one files a new claim, that claim filing opens up the possibility of an increase or a decrease in benefits. So you must understand what you are doing. You should have a professional advise you in any claim submission since you can be risking a lot.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Terry

    I have an appeal in that is dated 2012 but is actually from 2008 when it was first filed and every time i call to check on it i get a different answer and no none can tell me when whats going on except just sit and wait.
    Same thing with another appeal (NOD) that is dated 2013, its a NOD and nothing is being done either. I am told they combined the two and will be worked on when its my turn, i thought they were pretty caught up on old appeals?
    What can i do?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Terry,

      Your understanding of the VA claims backlog is incorrect. There are more than 4 million claims filed annually. There is more than 1 million claims backlogged. So it can take years to process your appeal. You can be proactive and submit proof of your claim on your own rather than placing the burden to fully develop the claim by the VA; but absent hiring a third party professional to represent you, it takes much research to learn how to do so.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

    • Jay

      Hello, I filed my claims in 2008, got some claims denied and some awarded. Total 40% rating at the time. After a few years of filing again and not getting any answers, in 2013 I was advised to take my claims and all the evidence I had to the DAV, I let them help me and with in a year I’m at 100% now T&P. If you have the proper case file and the medical to back it up, I’m a firm believer the DAV is right advocate for you. All the Best, Good Luck and keep pushing…

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Jay,

        This site is not set up for conversation between visitors; so messages from one-site visitor to another are not posted. I am making an expectation with your message in which you testify to the effectiveness of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), which is an organization recommended by Disability Advisor’s consulting VA attorney.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

    • Pamela Ratz

      Your best resource believe it or not is your Congressman. A lot of people do not know that in the “chain of command”, your VA Regional Office reports to your Congressman. Your Congressman’s office will have one or more congressional aids assigned to assist with Veteran Affairs. They have helped us with my husbands appeal in the past and have been very successful not only in our appeal but for the care that is sometimes to hard to get at the VA.

      Hope that helps you in your appeal.
      Sincerely,
      Pam Ratz

  • Roy F.

    I served in Desert Storm, I filed a claim for PTSD and Sleep Apnea. I was denied because the C&P doctor simply didn’t state all the information. In my NOD I was able to inform them that I never had my glasses and she said in a sarcastic way do you want me to read the questions to you? I said no because I didn’t want her to think I didn’t want to take the test. Prior to me seeing her the receptionist gave me a form to fill out in the lobby I asked him could my son read it to me because I forgot my glasses he said yes it’s just a mileage form. I submitted a notarized copy of my son’s statement with my NOD. I paid for a sleep study VA. Said I have sleep apnea but not service connected. I checked my EBENIFTS the other day and it now states PTSD-Combat/Fear-easing standard. I was in some serious situations in the sand we were ambushed and lost some great soldiers and more wounded. I was also given other very specific orders. I have called The VA, VFW and the American Legion and no one knows what PTSD-Combat/Fear-easing standard means. If anyone knows can you please let me know or do I need to get an attorney?
    Thank you.
    Roy

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Roy,

      My response is to both your similar posts. You can always make an appointment at the VA Regional Office which is handling your claim. The Decision Review Officer can instruct you as to the meaning of its letter. In the alternative you can engage the services of an accredited VA attorney to review the VA determination letter.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

    • Roy F.

      Thank you for your response.

      Roy F.

      • Kay Derochie

        You are welcome, Roy.

  • Roy F.

    I served in Gulf War 1 put in claim for PTSD and Sleep Apnea. VA said I not have PTSD from what Dr. said at exam but she did not state the complete truth in her report. Had sleep apena study done the VA said I have sleep apena but not from service. I filed NOD my ebenifits now says PTSD/combat/fear easing standard.I was involved in some serious situations. Our unit was ambushed and we lost some great soldiers and had wounded. I was also ordered to do some other things. I asked VA, and VFW no one can tell what PTSD/combat/fear easing standard means. if anyone knows I would appreciate the help or do I need to hire a lawyer? Thank you

  • Mike

    I am currently going through an Medical Evaluation Board for my lower back. When I conducted the range of motion test for my back, I asked the doctor if I could use my arms to brace my legs on the movement. I was able to bend to my waist level using my arms. From what I was told, this test was not conducted properly. Upon hearing this, my lawyer suggested that I get re-evaluate the range of motion for a second opinion. I am meeting the formal board to see if I can get approval for MEB re-assessment. Do you think the board will consider re-assessment based on the information I provided? Thank you for your time.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mike,

      Since you are represented by an attorney, protocol dictates that you need to discuss your inquiry with your paid legal representative. To represent a veteran in a VA benefit dispute, that attorney must be accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs and must take various educational classes dealing with VA benefits. Your attorney will be able to answer your concerns in an ongoing and pending claim before the VA.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • emma

    hi i am active duty airforce and was diagnosed with colon cancer in December i am almost finished with my chemo treatment in July. I am slated to get out of the airforce after doing one enlistment, the airforce did not medically discharge me because of the amount of time i have left, will the VA cover me for future follow ups to see if there are still signs of cancer and what not?

    thank you,

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Emma,

      You will need to file a benefit claim for eligibility into the VA medical benefit system. There are nine classes in order of priorities to eligibility for treatment at a VA facility. This classification system is complex and an assessment will be made by the VA as to which, if any, class, of veterans you may be classified under. Then dependent on the class, there is a order of priority for medical services based upon type of service within that class and how many other veterans are ahead of you in that line.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • J W

    I’m at 40% for a couple things, one of which is 20% for my upper back and spine. I have been out since 2011. Since my initial claim that year, I have been denied 5 times so far for my kneecap, which I shattered in 2009 3 months before I deployed due to a mishap while working on an up-armored 7-ton, and went to medical for it and have proof of it happening, yet again I have been denied because in their words “it did not happen during military service” also I was denied injuries on my neck that I filed for the first time this year due to there being lack of treatments and diagnosis. That part is true, due to the fact that I was made aware of the physical injuries this past March 2015 by my new primary doctor after she brought it up from an MRI done back in 2010 that shows the injuries. I had no idea about them, and always thought my neck is the way it is now due to my upper spine and back getting injured.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear JW,

      If you have a question and post it, I will forward it to an accredited VA attorney for response.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Eddie

    I am service connected for asthma and I’m currently prescribed between 60-40 mg of prednisone daily. I originally submitted my claim for an increase back in October 15. The VA “reviewed” my claim and denied my increase and mentioned in my decision letter that if I’m prescribed prednisone on a daily dose to please resubmit my claim. Thinking to myself I just submitted my medical evidence that shows I’m on a daily dose of prednisone, so I resubmitted a reconsideration claim with the evidence in March 16 plus additional evidence that shows my dose hasn’t decreased. Today my claim was completed and according to the VA call center my claim was once again denied and I’m still at 60% for asthma. The VA system is a joke, CFR 38 clearly states if you’re on a high dose of a steroid for asthma you should be rated 100%. 20 mg or higher to any doctor is considered a high dose. Fed up with this system.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Eddie,

      You may want to consider filing a new claim dealing with taking prednisone daily. You can complete a new claim application and request a ruling on this event.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Tiffany

    Hello,
    I have been receiving 20% disability payments for carpal tunnel for close to 10 years. I recently received a letter stating that since I do not have a current diagnosis on file they will stop payments or I can go to my family doctor and get a current diagnosis. I went to my current doctor and she did a Nerve Conduction Test that said I did not have Carpal Tunnel but instead Ulnar something of the other and is like carpal tunnel but a different a different nerve. They did a nerve conduction test at the VA a couple of years ago but they did not say what the out come was. Anyway, my doc is sending me to another specialist in two weeks. My questions is, was I misdiagnosed and missed the treatment needed for this ulnar nerve situation that has since gotten worse. What is my next step?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tiffany,

      The Disability Advisor answers general information questions dealing with the process and procedures of filing a VA compensation claim. The Disability Advisor cannot speculate as to whether or not a situation is medical malpractice. You will need to engage the services of an attorney who specializes in that subject matter.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Cindy S

    My husband has severe sleep apnea after serving in Desert Storm. He came back from Desert Storm waking vomiting, etc. He failed a sleep apnea test years ago, was denied treatment and denied his claim. I read that it was very common to fail your first test but knew he struggled to breath all night long. Over ten years later, I had him go to a sleep apnea doctor apart from the VA. Sure enough, he has SEVERE sleep apnea, waking 49 times in one hour. We sent a claim in. It was ell documented all the various exposures to gasses, etc, he was exposed to and it was awarded.

    My question is, is there any way to recoup any monies for all those years he received no compensation for it? I can’t imagine it was good for his health to not have treatment. )-: He was beyond exhausted when we met and hardly functional. Thanks.

    the wife of a hero.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Cindy,

      No, a veteran cannot obtain retroactive benefits when a new claim is filed. A “new claim” means a prior claim has been completed and the veteran files a new application with the VA for benefits. That “new” claim can be for the same condition that was denied previously or the claim can be for any condition not addressed before. With a new claim, the benefit award is dated from the date which the application was filed with the VA.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Ex Airman Victim

    I feel that I deserve recourse. I never knew what happened changed my life to be so hard all these years. Does their diagnosis even count? They say im not service connected. Will it help get my discharge changed? Can I get benefits or compensation? Can I get recourse for the way I was treated? I had PTSD the whole time. Can I get it changed to medical discharge?

  • Ex Airman Victim

    I hope you are still answering things as I really need guidance. I was raped in 1997 twice by a superior in my squadron. I tried to report it to a supervisor and was told by her “I knew you were going to be a problem”. She then proceeded to tell me the Sr Airman that raped me was a good man and that I better be sure of my next move because she didn’t feel anyone would buy my story. She told him and others in my squadron. Rumors spread people stared and made remarks. I put in my mind that she was going to make it hard to get anyone to believe me and I shut up. I went to the ER multiple times for pregnancy tests because as a young girl I did not know what pregnant felt like. My supervisor came to the ER one day when I was there but late for work and told me to get dressed and leave.I got an LOR for going to the ER and was told not to return there. After some time passed I became ostracized in my unit. I couldn’t tell my parents because I was ashamed and they told me to suck it up when i told them i wanted to go home. So one day I had enough of my supervisor harassing me and I tried to commit suicide. I survived. They put me in a mental health ward. After I returned to duty my performance suffered in my skills testing. They suggested discharge and offered me Honorable. They said if I didn’t take it I may end up with dishonorable later and that this was best. I hated the anxiety and depteddion I felt everyday so took the offer. They wound up tagging me with Honotsble/ unsat performance. I thought I had benefits but didn’t. For years after I got out I had panic attacks, did drugs, night terrors, couldn’t get work, hated to follow orders without feeling attacked. I was angry, self destructive, I was a stripper and only dated women. I hated men. I went to the VA for help so many times and was turned away. Recently (March 2016)they coded me with MST because I went into the VA during a panic attack and demanded help. I told this story and they gave me antidepressants and diagnosed me with PTSD. Can I be given a service connection now? Or my medical?I read most rape victims get this treatment with no recourse in the military. They just want their discharge changed. I feel like I was pushed out and set up.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ex Airman,

      This is in response to both your posts. You present information about a complex situation which occurred in the military. The military branches of services do allow for a reconsideration of discharge records. You should consider hiring a private attorney who is an accredited VA attorney. That attorney can meet with you and analyze your particular situation and render an opinion of possible actions, if any, that you could consider. Check with the VA website at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/to locate an attorney in the geographic location where you live.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jeff

    QUESTON ON LOST RECORDS

    A claim on my knee issue (degenerative arthritis), which was diagnosed by the VA, was turned down since my military medical records had been lost in the system. I naturally have my DD214.

    I was in the Infantry for 27 years and Airborne (paratrooper as in more stress on knees) for 8 years.

    I am at a bit of a loss. They diagnosed the problem which in plain English means the bone is worn down (27yrs Infantry, go figure) and they say they can’t establish service connection, despite the obvious logic. My civilian employment has been sedentary as well.

    I have appealed for a DRO Hearing. Would an outside Drs opinion stating that the condition is consistent with my duty be admissible and at least persuasive?

    Thank you very much for your time and advice people. I really do appreciate it.

    Jeff

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jeff,

      You can prove an in-service medical event by producing military medical records, personnel records, administrative records or private (non-military) records or statements from military personnel. If you do not have access to any of these type of records, you will not be able to prove an in-service medical event.

      Also, it is insufficient to provide current medical records that “the condition is consistent with military duty”. What you must have is a current medical opinion that is a “nexus letter.” This means a doctor must render a written opinion that it is “as likely as not” that your current disability relates back to an in-service medical event.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Nikki Barron

    I have been rated 50 % For PTSD after fighting numerous denials for 19 years. recently the VA denied my claims for IBS & Migraines . They state that I had these conditions before service and that these conditions were not made worse by the Military. I disagree, on 3 points one Title 38 presumption of Soundness, 2 . Military medical records show the IBS was diagnosed in the Service. 3. I believe, that IBS & Migraine’s are Secondary conditions to PTSD and mine was from Assault & Sexual Assault during my time in the USAF.
    Your Thoughts Pleasae are Appreciated

    NIKKI B USAF

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Nikki,

      Since you have been denied benefits for 19 years, it suggests that either you do not have a meritorious claim or you do not have the knowledge as to what medical and legal evidence is necessary to submit a successful claim to the VA. The filing of a claim application with the VA is easy. The VA makes the claim submission process simple. The difficulty lies in what information is needed to support the contention(s) made in the claim application. Now is the time for you to consider engaging a professionally accredited VA attorney to review your claim and advise you of its merits. You can find a list of accredited VA attorneys in your area at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Joanie carothers

        I have a question? If you have a disability rating but were denied because they say it was not service related what does that mean? The VA rated my father in law at 50 % back in 1992 but denied the claims. He was in Vietnam sprayed with agent orange had 4 bladder cancer surgeries. If these were non related to his time in service why did he get the ratings? I’m going crazy trying to figure it out!!!

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Joan,

          You are co-mingling various issues and lumping problems together. First, when the VA makes a ruling of a 50% disability rating, that 50% rating may be for one medical problem or due to a combination of medical conditions. You will need to research what was the VA ruling and upon what medical condition or multiple conditions it was based. Next, you need to research if your father subsequently filed a new claim or multiple claims for either a new medical problem or if he requested a higher degree of disability rating based upon further medical issues related to that or those prior disabilities.

          You state your father’s claim for Agent Orange was denied. If there was a 50% award, it follows that the claim was not denied. But, the award may be for conditions other than Agent Orange or only in part for Agent Orange. Accordingly, as stated, you will need to review the actual decision and all subsequent decisions to sort this out. Maybe you need to consider having an attorney review the claim and sort this out for you.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • S.D.

    I was recently approved 30% disability by the VA! I had filed a claim for PTSD which was denied! I talk to someone at the VA that sent me paper work for depression and he put in for me with the VA with the “Intent to File!” I just had my first doctor’s visit where the very first question they asked me was about my PTSD and Depression! They drew blood, I talked to the doctor about all my problems and a social worker! They are setting me up an appointment to speak with a psychiatrist! Will you tell me what all of this means please??

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear S.D.,

      Simply stated, this means there is a burden of proof required to support your contention that you are medically disabled to the degree which would justify the VA paying you a compensation benefit. One can always state she or he is disabled. But, that contention must be proven by medical-legal evidence independent of your statement.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Nick

    I put in for an increase of my 30% ptsd rating. I have seen a new VA therapist at the Vet Center and she put that my ptsd has worsened in the past few years. Is that enough evidence or should I go and get a second opinion? Thanks.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Nick,

      Most claims for an increase in ratings are denied. About 70% of all new claims with the VA are for an increase in rating. So you should seek the counsel of an accredited agency or a VA accredited attorney who can review the merits of your claim and determine what your best course of action is.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Melissa

    I was denied VA help recently and need help. I was raped while under orders at Basic Camp at Ft Knox. I prosecuted the drill sergeant and did everything I could to get over the incident and subsequent treatment for standing up against it. The VA denied my claim because I officially enlisted 2 months after basic, so they say it wasn’t service connected. I did everything right in the prosecution but because no one has copies of orders from 20 years ago, my PTSD claim is denied. My county VA advocacy suggested I find the rapist and sue him as my best option. After a few days of severe depression from the shock of being told to find my rapist, I’m at a lose for what to do. I have no way of providing evidence, other than logic that you can’t be at basic unless under orders. What should I do?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Melissa,

      When a person files a VA compensation claim, the claim is based on a contention of what existed in the military. That contention must be proven by the submission of evidence independent of the allegations made to support the claim. For example, if one contends she broke her ankle in-service, the VA will require proof of the broken ankle. So one would need to submit the medical X-rays or examinations that were performed while inservice or the medical records or doctor’s notes from that in-service event.

      A MST (military sexual trauma) claim is no different in that respect. One would need to have written evidence of that in-service evident such as a rape kit test results, records of the military police report of the incident, physician notes, or the like. You will not be able to advance your claim contentions absent submission of in-service records from twenty years ago.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

    • Curious

      So you’re saying that you don’t actually enlist in the military until after you complete basic training???

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Curious,

        This question does not deal with the VA but with Military law which is beyond my scope.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

  • Arnie

    Hello,

    I filed a claim for PTSD which was received by the VA on 9/30/15. I have since been seen at a third party clinic appointed to me by the VA to see if I have PTSD. Now, ebenefits shows that my claim is “preparation for decision”. My question is, are denial letters usually sent out faster than award letters? Would I have known much sooner if my claim was denied instead of waiting all this time? I have a buddy who says he was immediately denied because he was lacking evidence, and that since mine pretty much went smoothly, I should be approved?

    thanks for the help,

    Arnie

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Arnie,

      It is of no value to speculate as to what the passage of time means in the processing of a VA compensation claim. Whether the time to process a claim is brief or long is not a criteria as to success or failure in getting awarded benefits. Each claim is independently evaluated; this leads up to the decision. There are so many variables that it is of no value to speculate on placing any meaning whatsoever on the time element.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Arnie

        Thanks for the prompt reply Craig. I just checked today on eBenefits and the claim is now closed and shows complete, and the claim is now under the historical claims section. It does not tell me if it is approved or denied, but there is a link on instructions on how to appeal. If it is denied, what are my next steps to appealing and how should I prepare for the appeal process?

        Thanks,

        Arnie

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Arnie,

          A response to a claim denial is not a simple process. There are alternative ways to file a response to the VA. For example, there are 2 types of appeals. I suggest that you seek the advice of a VA accredited attorney who can analyze your written VA determination when you receive it. That attorney can render an opinion as to the merits of your claim and determine what steps, if any, you should consider.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • LARRY

    HI KATE,

    I was diagnosed with type 2 in 2012. I was turned down for chronic neuropathy, Because it was diagnosed at an earlier date.
    I was diagnosed for pstd a week after my claim was turned down for neuropathy,

    Heart disease turned down, I had a stent and mini stroke. thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Larry,

      If you have a question, please post it so a VA attorney can reply.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Edgar Hernandez

    I recently was denied my claim by the VA. I was in the active duty USMC for some of my claims and they are documented by military records. The other claims are from my time in the National Guard. I didn’t see military doctors when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and suffer from bradycardia. The VA states it wasn’t service connected. Although I was diagnosed during my time in service and on orders. It was also filed as hyperthyroidism. Just looking for some help.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Edgar,

      Your claim on its face does not seem the type of medical condition which is service related. You do not explain any context how a common thyroid problem relates to activities performed in-service. Accordingly, your diagnosis may have no relationship to military activities.

      The issue is how are you going to prove that hyperthyroidism would not have occurred if you did not serve in the military. In other words, many common medical events occur due to the nature of genetics, advancement of age, and pre-dispositions. It is not like you broke a bone in-service and now have resulting aggravation of that old in-service condition. So you need to explain how a hormonal imbalance and/or cardiac condition was service connected.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Greg

    What does “REP” mean under the “Type” column in Pending Disability section?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Greg,

      I will take a guess that it means you have an attorney or other person representing you in your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Marty

    The worse part so far for me being denied is that I know its in my medical records and still I get denied. I have always been a mechanic and now supervise those same mechanics. I have 28 years in the military and still going and shouldn’t have to play all these tricks to make them approve my claims. Almost every claim is presumptive and yet I still have to fight. If I go to the clinic they don’t want to hear my issues and I get diagnosed from what everyone else has complained about that same day or week. Severe cough. Ok well it looks like you have athletes foot and Ill give you some spray to help.. really but I am here about my cough. yea its from your feet…………. Denied not service connected.. but it is an environmental hazard from the gulf war..

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Marty,

      If you have a question, please post it and I will forward it to an accredited VA attorney for response.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Leo Fountain

        Hi Kay. I am currently recieving 20% for 2 disabilities that were granted me on 6/16 for injuries from 1979, hearing and back. I am looking to upgrade the percent. Can I use my civilian Primary Care DRs. evalutions in the appeal process and should I also get a VA Primary Dr. to evaluate my disabilities again? I am worried that my medical ins. co. will come after me for all the years of back treatment I had through civilian Drs. instead of through the VA.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Leo,

          It is irrelevant from whom you receive a medical opinion as to a current disability as it relates to an in-service medical event. What you need to prove is that the current medical diagnosis links back to an in-service medical condition. Also, you need objective evidence that there exists a substantial increase in the degree of disability you currently have. The overwhelming numbers of claims submitted to the VA allege the same issue, which is that the veteran wants an increase in benefits i.e. a higher rating. 70% of those type claims are denied outright and it will typically take years before you get that written determination of claim approval or denial from the VA.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

          • Leo Fountain

            Thank you for the info.

            • Kay Derochie

              You are welcome, Leo.

      • Jen

        Hi, I was raped 2 times in the military. This past rape affected me the most. I have been in and out of inpatient, seeing a psychiatrist and therapist, on different medications… The VA gave me 70% for PTSD/MDD/ANXIETY but the DoD did not find that to be unfitting. I appealed the DoD to get PTSD/MDD as an unfitting condition, I also sent up new eval from my psychiatrist, and a letter from my CWO, roommate and ret 1stSgt who all stated that the rape affected me at work and at home. BUT for some reason, my command did not give me bad FITREPS (USMC) so the reason I received for those diagnosis’ not to be found unfit was because I had childhood abuse and because my FITREPS show I could so my job… But I was never at work and when I was I was medicated, forgot a lot, depressed etc. Idk what else to do.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Jen,

          Your claim is really two distinct claims. The claim involving the VA is a post-military discharge case as a “veteran” of prior in-service matters. On the other hand, your DoD case is a matter of pre-discharge issues. The Disability Advisor deals with veteran claims and not Department of Defense matters. For in-service issues you may need to seek out the services of a military officer/attorney such as the JAG officers, who handle Navy and Marine service personnel.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Karen Mamalakis

    I am sorry…In my statement Below, I said that the VA denied my appeal. That is incorrect. They denied my neuropathy/joint muscle pain/Chronic pain CLAIM. I have been getting worse since 2012. I cannot stand or sit for long periods. I now have a letter of Reconsideration awaiting.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Karen,

      Your added statement seems to indicate you filed a further request to have the VA review your claim. If the VA is further evaluating your claim, it will take a long time for the review to be completed.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Karen Mamalakis

    I served in the Persian Gulf (Bahrain) from July 91 to Aug 92. My VA Hospital has failed me miserably on the Burn Registry. They continue to tell me that there is NO doctor and No registry. ….so I had a great VA doctor until she committed suicide and last year, she sent me from Louisiana to Wash DC to the WRIISC….where I was evaluated. I have chronic fatigue and my current hospital did evaluate me with sleep apnea….I also have neuropathy and muscle and joint pain. My civilian doctor evaluated me back in 2012 because my pinky toe has been dead since 1992. Then I begin to feel the tingling as the pain moved upward into my left lower extremities. Anyway, with ALL of the diagnosis, the VA DENIED my appeal and now I have have sent in a letter of resonsideration through the DAV (where I am a Life member) April 2015. Still I have heard NOTHING. I called my congressman and he is SLOWLY looking into it. I looked up my info online under ebenefits and I see that it is in limbo. Under Type under pending disabilities I see “Rep”….what does Rep mean please? Also I can no longer physically do my job and I will have to sell my home soon. I am absolutely SICK of this waiting game. Veterans are in Pain. Veterans are dying and still…..Waiting.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Karen,

      Rep means “representative.” Based upon your information, it is possible that you had a DAV or American Legion or a similar non-profit organization help you with the filing of your claim. You need to look at your papers to see if the VA copied in the DAV or other representative. You should check in with that organization to see how it can further help you. If you do not have a representative you might want to consider hiring a VA accredited attorney to evaluate the merits of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Marcy

    I was in Iraq from Dec 2004-Dec 2005. Midway through my tour I started falling asleep everywhere and at the worst times. I thought it was due to sleep deprivation and figured it would eventually straighten itself out. I didn’t think I had a problem so it wasn’t reported until after I’d gotten out the military in 2007. It had gotten worse and I totaled 2 cars as a result. I got a sleep study after the car accidents and which showed that I have idiopathic hypersomnia. I was denied compensation back in 2009 due to it not being “service connected”. I was told to get buddy letters as that is the only way to show that it started while I was on active duty. Is there anything that you could suggest which would be helpful with my claim?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Marcy,

      You need to be able to prove that you had a medical condition that occurred during service and is still currently diagnosed as a medical condition. I suggest you seek the help of a private physician and see if you can obtain a medical opinion that your current condition probably or likely occurred during in-service duties.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Curtis Gill Sr

        Is there any way of finding out the VA’s decision on my disability compensation? I checked online today and it was changed from “Pending Decision Approval” to “Preparation for Notification”.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Curtis,

          Your file has been moved from the pre-determination division to the determination division. This means someone will be making a determination on your claim. But, it may take time for that determination to be made. Preparation for Notification only means the claim is being reviewed and all pre-determination evidence is completed.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Don,

      You make some good points; however, this site is not set up for visitors to provide guidance to other visitors. Accordingly, you message to Marcy has not been posted. I will keep in mind the points that you brought up in responding to site visitors when applicable.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • garion

    I was denied for pancreatitis by the VA because they said I didn’t have a official “Clinical study” done stating I have pancreatitis even though the VA C&P examiner stated in her notes I have pancreatitis and it’s service connected. The VA said they don’t see in the records I had a clinical study done. I just got back the VA denial letter about 2 days ago. I went straight to my private doctor and requested all my medical records and I have 20 pages of evidence that I have chronic pancreatitis. I had to go to a specialist (gastrointestinal doctor) and diagnosed me with pancreatitis many years ago. The VA didn’t have those records so part of it’s my fault. I thought the C&P examiner’s evaluation would have been enough. How can I get the additional new and material evidence to the VA without doing a long drawn out NOD that can take years. I just got my letter 2 days ago from the VA. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Garion,

      The rules applicable to a formal response to a VA claim denial are complex. A skilled accredited VA attorney can explain the choices you have in how to respond to the denial and a NOD might not be the appropriate one. In all likelihood, no matter which pathway you elect to file a response to the VA, that response will require the VA review the entire file again. Thus your case will be looped back into the VA claim determination system. Even in what you think is a simple matter of submitting new records, the submission will trigger a protracted claim review. Often the case can drag out for years. There are more than 4 million claims submitted annually. Currently there is a backlog of over 1.25 million cases. You can find a list of VA accredited attorney on the VA website at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Donald Bailey

    My spouse filed in 2012 for multiple disability claims for me. I received 70% in 2013. She then proceeded to open my claims/appealed, and they adjusted the amount to 80%. Since then I have been hospitalized over 42 days. 6 heart procedures, and amputation of my right foot. I have not worked since 2014. I was the sole provider for my wife and children. At this point a decision has been made on 100% unemployabliity, temporary disability, and increased compensation. If denied and only given 90% or so. What is the best avenue to take. I recently had another heart procedure, and will be required to have a pacemaker due to the atrial fib. Should I file for increased compensation on the new info?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Donald,

      Ao that I can understand your situation better and attempt to respond, please check the following sentences in your post to be sure they are correctly worded and if not, let me know what they should say. They seem to be contradicting each other.

      :At this point a decision has been made on 100% unemployabliity, temporary disability, and increased compensation. If denied and only given 90% or so.”

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Heidi

    Hello, I was discharged 2010 with a 10% for left knee, osteochondritis dessicans. Since then I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, high blood pressure, sinusitis ( which led to surgery) , and peripheral neuropathy. My knee has degenerated significantly leading to further disability such as range of motion, arthritis, increased scar tissue from multiple surgeries. I would like to appeal/review my original decision and also see if other health issues will be considered. I am in bossier city Louisiana and am struggling to find a v.a. accredited representative to help me. Can you advise please? Thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Heidi,

      You can find a list of accredited VA attorneys in your state by visiting the VA website at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Regina Golding

    I filed a claim in March 2012 for bipolar disorder and other issues, I was awarded disability benefits for the other issues in September 2013 but was denied for bipolar disorder because the VA said that I had depression before joining the Army and that bipolar was a natural progression of the depression. How is that possible, they are two different diagnosis and the VA stated that my bipolar pre-existed my service. I served over eight years in the Army before being diagnosed while deployed to Iraq. How can the VA say that I had bipolar for my entire service but never showed any signs of it? It seems like they are reaching for a reason to deny me. What should I do next, I have filed an appeal and they denied it again saying that a VA doctor said that when I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 12 it was LIKELY undiagnosed bipolar. Can they do that? Thank you for any help.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Regina,

      Based on your comments, it appears you do not understand the complexity of proving a medical-legal claim which is the nature of a VA compensation claim. You do have the right to file a further appeal. I suggest you seek out an experienced VA accredited lawyer who can analyze the merits of your claim contentions. A skilled professional knows how to prove such a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • BERNARD EDWARDS SR

    I was denied for PTSD, Mental Condition anxiety, depression and panic attacks. It said the “The available medical evidence is insufficient to confirm a link between current systems and in service stressor. It says there was no event, disease or injury in service. But I was treated in the USAF for severe anxiety, depression, increasing irritability and tremulousness”. It Also states. While my service treatment records reflect complaints, treatment, or a diagnosis similar to that claimed, the medical evidence supports the conclusion that a persistent disability was not present. So I was “Honorably Discharged” under admn 39-12 in 1971 instead of 39-4 for the disability I incurred in the USAF. What would be the best route to take to appeal this denied claim. I am currently 100% Disabled per SSI for severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks. All of this info was put in my claim. My C&P examiner said that he saw the connection and would put it in his notes to the VA. I wonder why I was denied. What do I do next, I’m in remission from stage 3 colon cancer, also.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Bernard,

      You should consider hiring an accredited VA attorney to file an appeal on your behalf. In the alternative, you can file the appeal and submit written arguments, medical records, and other relevant medical evidence to prove your claim contentions in a formal hearing.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Donna

    I have service connected for renal cell carcinoma and nerve damage. I submitted a secondary claim in 09 for bladder leakage and incontinence which was rated at 10%. While going to va I asked for a referral to gyn/urologist but was denied for 2 years. The doctor diagnosed with mixed incont, when I applied for increase it was denied because I hadn’t received surgery and lack of going to Doctor. They explained it was a secondary condition and how to receive higher rating. After two years of struggling I had a mesh installed to help stress incon and 8 months later Botox for urge. But they know claim the incont is not serviced connected to the nerve damage. They are back peddling. Is there anything I can do or a local lawyer in my area to help?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Donna,

      Once a VA determination has been issued, you have one year to file a claim response or appeal. If you did not file such an appeal or response, the claim file is closed since you have abandoned the claim. You will need to file a new claim and start the process again. I suggest you contact your local veterans non-profit organization such as the American Legion or the Disabled American Veterans for assistance.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Rich

    Mr. Ames,

    I, like many, have been going back and forth with the VA about Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). How can the VA keep denying it when all their ligature says apply you might be eligible and public law says it’s payable.

    I just had another CNP on 12/30/15, for an increase on my knee and shoulder and all the doctor did was move it up and down three times and wrote in the report all was normal. Really?

    I’m sure everything is going to come back denied again, so this time I would like to let an attorney review everything and let me handle the appeal. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Rich,

      Many veterans are led to believe the VA claim process is a simple matter. Most vets think your role is just to file an application and the VA takes over the claim for an investigation. While that is a simple truth, most veterans make the mistake of sitting back and letting the VA do all the work. Because there are so many claims filed, the VA is overwhelmed resulting in claim denials due to the nature of how evidence is developed.

      The best course of action is to be proactive, hire an accredited representative, submit your own medical information, and including private medical opinions, tests, treatment and documentation of your own claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • James Wheat

        To Mr. Craig L. Ames Attorney…….
        I was in the US Army,Desert Storm Desert Sheild.
        I was denied for secondary for Cpap which I need and wear every night.
        I have 50 percent PTSD and 10 percent Tinitis , Now I am 60 percent total.
        You sound like you know your stuff.
        I need help on this matter.
        Thank You ,
        James and Antoinette Wheat

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear James,

          You should consider looking at the Department of Veterans Affairs website. There is a section for accredited VA attorneys in the geographic area where you live. (We have removed your contact information from your post to protect your privacy.)

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Cindy

    I am in appeals with my husbands claim. He passed away in 2012, from cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). He was in the army in the early 60’s. He served part of his time in Korea. There have been some cases approved for this type of cancer due to drinking the water there and eating the fish. This type of cancer is very common in Korea. My question is, I called the VA a couple days ago and they said I am now at the ready to rate stage. (I started the appeal in 2013). Does ready to rate mean it’s approved and just waiting for a rating? Thanks for your help!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Cindy,

      There are three stages to an initial claim: (1) filing an application and setting up a claim file, (2) predetermination or investigation stage which deals with any evidence of the contentions made in the application, and (3) rating determination.

      All claims go through these three stages. So do not read anything into whether or not the claim has merits. That is the purpose of a determination–to make a decision as to the whether the claim merits a rating.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Nick

    I was just diagnosed with sleep apnea by a private doctor’s office, the doctor said he believes the sleep apnea developed while I was in the Marine Corps and is willing to write a letter to the VA, I have my wife to testify that I have been waking up for years gasping for breath while sleeping while I was in the Marine Corps and after, I believe it was caused by the burn pits in Iraq, which I have photographic evidence of me actually being in, but I don’t have anything in my medical record showing an issue with sleep apnea because I didn’t even know what it was when I was in. Is there any way of knowing if I should try to make a claim for this? Or should I just contact the American Legion and get them to assist me?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Nick,

      You can file a claim application on your own or visit a non-profit vets organization like the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans to assist you.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Chris Beck

    I just received my SOC, it seems a little confusing-I was denied for an increase for Barrett’s esophagus. But, in the Reasons & Basis it states my GERD warrants a 10% evaluation, my ulcer warrants a 20% evaluation and the “we” have assigned a 20% evaluation for the ulcer.

    I take it that this letter is a SOC with a partial award of benefits; is this correct?

    Of note, I was originally rated at 10% for Barrett’s and didn’t even know it had recently been increased with back pay from May 2014.

    Thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Chris,

      You have a combined rating for multiple medical conditions. Each rating is evaluated separately. But, in addition, by considering all medical problems together, the VA makes a combined rating determination. Just because two conditions each are rated at 20%, for example, does not mean that the total rating will be 40%. The rating as combined can be 20% or more dependent upon how the VA values the totality of your disability.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Chris

        Thank you; to clarify the Barrett’s esophagus was originally rated at 10% but apparently has been increased to 20%. The decision only addressed the Barrett’s and not the GERD and Ulcer-which I provided medical findings for in a seperate claim.

        So I was confused when I initially read the SOC, it stated that my request for an increase for Barrett’s “which was recently increased to 20% is denied”. But it went on to rate two other items in seperate claims. I understand that the digestive system poses concerns with pyrimiding so the DRO seems to have rated the Barrett’s seperate you from the GERD and Ulcer. With the ulcer being a seperate rating from the Barrett’s and the GERD rating falling under the ulcer in totality.

        I could be wrong but I am trying to figure out what is combined and what is seperate.

        Thanks

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Chris,

          You state that in the SOC “…it went on to rate two other items in seperate claims.”

          I cannot analyze the question asked due to the information you provide. A Statement of the Case (SOC) covers all matters for a claim that you are appealing in whole or in part. By definition you are contesting a claim decision, so I do not understand what you mean by the SOC containing information about “separate claims.”

          I suggest you contact an accredited VA attorney who can sort out and analyse your SOC.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Kevin S Stailey

    Hello and thank you for your dedication to helping Veterans with useful and such valuable advice. I retired from the US Navy on Oct1 1995. Shortly thereafter I was advised that I should go to the VA and apply for benefits. This is on record. When I went to the VA Hospital in Decatutr Ga., just outside Atlanta, I was told that I was not eligible for VA Benefits because I was employed with a well payng job ($33,800.00 annualy before taxes plus my retirement of approx. 1100.00 monthly gross). ((I did serve in both the Iran / Iraq War in the Persian Gulf, 2008 off the coast of Lebanon though we did maritime patrols in that War Zone we never saw combat, and I served in Operation Desert Storm where we saw significant combat.)) This is important I believe because when I went back due to increasing issues with PTSD, Depression, and several other Service Related Issues, I was told then that the VA made an error in telling me I wasn’t eligible because my being in Operation Desert Storm was an “Automatic” qulifier for VA benefits. I have two questions then in regards to this..1. Is it correct that the VA was incorrect in my initilal denial of eligibility since I did serve in any or all of those Wartime Environments? 2. If I am eventually granted VA Disability Compensation, will that, or can that be pursued to, be Grandfathered / Back Paid to 1995 when I was “improperly” denied VA Benefits in my initial request? Thank You in Advance for taking the time to respond.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kevin,

      VA laws are complex. The analysis of an individual claim is a nuanced process. There are more than 700 types of disabilities recognized by the VA. So you should consider having a accredited professional review your case.

      But, in any event your claim for benefits is dated as of the date the VA receives and logs in your claim application. Benefits are not generally retroactive. It is a rare event to make a claim for retroactivity. In your situation it appears no claim for such would be viable.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Joe Miller

    Hello

    My question is I have a rating of 30% for asthma in 2006 and recently I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and will be going to the hospital to be fitted for the breathing machine. Can I file to include sleep apnea as a secondary due to asthma? Thanks for the time.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Joe,

      You can just file a new claim for sleep apnea. Whether it is primary or secondary is not the controlling issue.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Mandy

    I applied to the VA for disability with 3 conditions. I was approved for two but was denied for the third due to a “lack of objective evidence.” I recently applied for an increase for the two conditions I was approved for and re-applied for the 3rd condition which was approved this time because the doctor who examined me said my military medical record clearly shows I have a problem and it is service connected.
    Can the VA do that? Have on doctor say I don’t have a problem and then another doctor say I do?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mandy,

      Licensed medical professionals render medical opinions. It is widely known that patients can obtain a second medical opinion. Diagnosing a medical condition is not always easy to do. So yes, the VA can do that and, yes, doctors do not necessarily render similar opinions. This is a common occurrence.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Wayne Filkins

    I broke my jaw back when I was in the marines in 2003 and never saw a doctor. I believe it healed wrong and has caused me chronic pain and all sorts of problems since then. It caused migraines and other pain, and for these reasons I did seek medical help a few times while in. They didn’t connect the migraines to the jaw problem but that’s their own fault and it took me years to make the connection. I went to the VA after several years of being unemployed and in pain, and they did an xray and said my jaw is fine. Here I am 2 years later, still can’t get a job or accomplish anything, just sitting in my old room at my parents in constant pain. It has made me depressed and antisocial. I lost all my friends and the path I am going down will lead to me being homeless. Is there anything I can do? This is ruined my life for over 10 years. My jaw is noticeably off track when I open and close my mouth and I can feel the jaw bone pushing into my ear. I think surgery would help but either way I lost so much time, and they claim nothing is wrong with it. Literally everything I have gone to the VA hospital for has been completely pointless, it’s as if they have no clue what they are even doing there. I filed for disability when I got out, because of back and jaw pain and they said they didn’t see enough proof, but that’s because in the military they tell you to “suck it up” and you pretty much get in trouble for seeing the doctor. This problem seems to be cutting off bloodflow to my brain or something because it leads to anxiety and depression and if I pull my jaw out a bit I feel better for a day then it just pushes back into my ear. I would appreciate any advice. Please help.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Wayne,

      If you want to file a VA compensation claim, you will need to prove that you broke your jaw while serving in the military. This means proof of this medical injury other than by way of your assertion. This means you need substantiation of the medical injury via a doctor’s report in the service or other written documentation confirming the facts of the injury, such as affadivits of other service personnel. The VA will not accept your word alone. Second you must be able to prove you have a disabling medical condition currently which specifically relates back to that prior in service injury. If you believe you can prove these contentions, then seek free services of the American Legion or similar service organization to help you file your claim. If you cannot work, you might also try filing for other benefits such as Social Security Disability.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • KENNETH MAIRA

    Hello, I am a 69 year old veteran who files a claim 3 years ago for diabetes. I was granted a 20% rating and in the course of the exams they you d early stages of lung cancer. Part of my lower lobe of my lung was removed and after 2 years I received a letter saying g they were dropping me from 100% rating to 10%. At my age, I don’t see how having part of my lung removed warrants that I have gotten better. Any advice.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kenneth,

      You do not provide sufficient background information and context as to what the VA rating for diabetes at 20% has to do with a later rating of 100%. Presumably, you filed a later claim for an increase in VA rating, specifically due to lung cancer.

      It appears you had a recent examination and perhaps the VA has found the cancer is in remission. You need to review the VA decision letter to determine why the 100% rating and for which diagnosis has resulted in a determination of a reduction in rating. I suggest you have an accredited professional organization review your rating decision letter from the VA, so that the nature of the VA ruling can be pinned down and to analyze if the rating decision should be appealed.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • KENNETH MAIRA

        Yes it was for the long cancer that they now deemed to be @10%. My question was more in regards to how to go about disputing the claim. I’m almost 70 years old and have lost part of my lung. And have been cut from $3000 to $900 a month which is severely impacting financially. Do you have a recommended organization Togo to in the NY City area?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Kenneth,

          Try contacting your state’s Bar Association for a list of accredited VA attorneys.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

    • ron agcopra

      Currently I’m rated at 50% by the VA for almost 10years now with a icd 5243 on my back as well as tennitis. I recently filed a secondary claim for bilateral lower neuropathy and the VA c and p scheduled me to come in for an exam. I’ve been reluctant to show for the exam in fear of them lowering my rating if the Dr writes down that I have improve. In my opinion my range of motion have stayed the same as when they rate me back in the early 2000. Except now I’m feeling intermittent numbness, tingling, occasional shooting pain which originate from my back down on right side of my leg and sometimes both leg. I spoke with the Dav and I was told that my case is not subject to re-evaluation. Now I’ve heard of other come in for a c and p exam and their rate got lowered. Am I right to assume that since this is a secondary condition that all the c and p Dr would examine is for that condition alone or what.
      Your advice is much appreciated thank you

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Ron,

        The VA claim process is complex. One needs to put disabilities in context. When a person breaks his leg, that person may be totally disabled for a period of time. When the bone heals, then the person may not ever have a residual pain or any problem, and the person goes on with his life since he is no longer totally disabled let alone partially disabled.

        So when one looks at a VA claim, the disability for which the veterans receives a benefit can be reevaluated over time. Sometimes the medical condition improves, which means the rating is either lowered or eliminated due to the medical recovery of the patient. Sometimes the condition is stable and sometimes the person’s disability gets worse.

        So when a veterans submits a claim for an increase in benefits, the VA will reevaluate the entirety of the veteran’s health. This may mean the VA will determine the rating to be the same, increased or reduced. That is the nature of the risk when a veteran submits a new claim application.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

  • Teresa

    Hello, I received my 100% rating in Feb 2015. My PTSD rating was only 10% as the majority of my mental health records were not included. My VSO rep informed me that we should ask for an increase and add the Mental health records because I’m not currently P&T. I’m currently, awaiting a response, my question is can I stop the appeal/increase at this point. As, I don’t want to appear ungrateful or unsatisfied. Please advise

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Teresa,

      Did you type what you meant? Did you mean to say you got a 100% rating in February? Please clarify before I forward your question to a VA accredited attorney.

      Thank you,
      Kay

  • Tonya Barber

    Can you explain this? My husband was in the Air Force from 1989-2003. He was deployed to Eskan Village Saudi Arabia in 12-1991 to 4-1992 and Zagreb Croatia 6-1997 to 10-1997. His claim for his skin rash has been denied with “while your service treatment records reflects complaints, treatment or a diagnosis similar to that claimed the medical evidence supports the conclusion that a persistent disability was not present in the service. There is no continuity of symptoms from service to the present, we received your medical evidence which discuss the symptoms of your medical condition. The VA option found no link between your diagnosed medical condition and the military service.” The records submitted were medications issued in service 1997- hydrocortisone cream. 1998- Triamcinolone cream, for red itchy blotches on hands and feet for the past 5 years on and off, possible dyshidrosis. The fact the he had this cream filled again before separation exam and then reorder by C&P provider at his first C&P exam in 2003. He started seeing the VA in 12-2003 and ever since he has been prescribed Triamcinolone cream. He has always gotten his care from the VA but, his skin rash has been labeled dermatitis, Tinea Vesicular, eczema, fungal, atopic dermatitis. We submitted treatment records for every year from 2004-2014 that had mention of his rash by his providers and the Triamcinolone cream that was ordered and refilled every year. Since this showed he had continuous treatment for his skin rash from 1997 to current and the fact that he was prescribed the steroid cream Triamcinolone from 1998 to current. I would think this is a link, now it is unfortunate the the VA providers cannot come to a decision what exactly it is but some from of eczema/dermatitis.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tonya,

      You should seek out the services of an accredited VA attorney. Your husband’s claim is all about proof of a current medical condition which is “chronic” and “disabling.” Chronic means persistent and ongoing for at least 6 months without remission after treatment. Disabling means there exists substantive limitation on the daily activities of living which result in an interruption in ability to actually perform meaningful work. The claim for a skin rash can certainly exist, but a level of disruption in his life of that least 10% must be proven.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited V.A. Attorney

  • Ryan HT

    I have a bit of a complex situation. I got my decision in June/July of 2011. Total disability rating was 20% for my right knee, which I had surgery on during service, and tinnitus. Marine Corps Infantryman with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, combat included.

    I have “Service-Connected” but with a 0% rating for PTSD, both feet, and my right hand which was broken at a time during service.

    One of the reasons on my packet for my decision was because my entrance physical from MEPS when I enlisted was “lost” and not available.

    How is this possible? And how is this something that I could fix when I was never the individual responsible nor in possession of my medical records during my entire military career?

    The issue was brought forward to my state Senator at the time, and his Veteran’s Affairs workers sent letters to several offices only to get a reply that after 4 years, those records are destroyed and not able to be obtained.

    I doubt I have any of these letters around anymore but the government must have record of it somewhere.

    Basically, my question is: Where do I go from here in order to obtain the right disability rating that I deserve? I’m past the appeals process and have no idea how any of this works. Everyone I’ve served with is over 60% rated.

    This has torn me up for some time and I need to seek help.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ryan,

      First, you will need to file a new claim to begin the VA compensation application process. Second, you will need to seek out other records from your military service. For example, since your initial medical records cannot be located, you need to check out secondary record sources such as your personnel files, your base records, private medical records if applicable, and the like. You will not be able to win an increased rating without proving current disabilities or increases in your medical conditions. The best source to prove this is from private-pay doctors not associated with the VA. This will cost you money to do so, but that is what you need to consider.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jbrown2015army

    I receive compensation at a rate of 50% but never got a descion packet who can I contact for this?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear J.,

      You should contact the VA Regional Office where the claim decision was issued. Under the Freedom of Information Act, you can request a copy of that decision.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jose

    Hi, I recently did my disability claim and got denied on my knees, wrist, jaw and lower back. On two of these I was told that while I did seek treatment I don’t show that it continually bothers me i.e. don’t have a lot of doctors visits or history of it. I don’t have the luxury of time or money to waste on seeing a doctor every time I feel pain, and usually got seen by a corpsman, so when I finally registered with the VA seven years later , I finally got these things checked out. Well, for my wrist, arm and jaw issues the VA doctor told me it would be better to just deal with it than operate because it would just make it worse. Is there anything I can do to help me atleast get 0%? I still don’t have a lot of time or spare funds to go every time I have an issue with my pain.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jose,

      Unfortunately, when you file a VA compensation claim, you need to substantiate your contention with records. You will need to obtain medical treatment which results in a diagnosis which proves a disability. There is no way around not proving a claim which is all about medical documentation. If you are not willing to invest the time and effort to see a doctor regularly, your claim is not going anywhere.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

    • Ron Harris

      1. Talk to the “Patient Advocate” representative at the VA hospital where you’re going for healthcare.

      2. Get a “2nd opinion”…. if you have to go outside of the VA (private medical doctor); Remember its’ your body & your health..

      3. The Choice Program- go online research this program.

      4. Don’t Give up

  • Johnny

    Hello I have recently been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. Prescribed a CPAP and all. I never went to the doctor of this on active duty. But I know this has caused various other problems that co-inside with my PTSD and headaches (which I got denied for) from stress and no sleep. Can I file a claim to to try and get a percentage for Sleep Apnea and Headaches. Do I have a chance or I will be wasting my time.

    JOhnny

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Johnny,

      You can file a claim so long as it is plausible. Plausible means that it has some basis in fact related to military service. The four elements needed to prove a claim are (1) you are a veteran, (2) you had incurred an in-service medical condition, (3) you currently have a diagnosis of a disability, and (4) there is linkage of your current medical diagnosis to an in-service medical event.

      You do not mention anything about having an in-service medical condition nor that an in-service medical condition links to your current sleep apnea diagnosis. You need to think about records you have or can obtain from your military service record that would support to your claim for compensation related to a service-connected condition.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • woody futch

    I was denied claim for tenninatis the va dr and the va said not service connected he asked me how long I had the issue I told home for years he repoted I said one yr I was on 5 ships and contened that it caused the issues do I have chance to reopen and win

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Woody,

      You do not state the date when the VA issued your decision denying your claim. You have one year to file an appeal. Otherwise you have abandoned the claim. This means you may need to file a new claim. But, a claim involves more than the mere filing of an application. You need to understand that a disability related to in-service medical problems must be proved. This takes a seasoned professional, such as an accredited attorney or organization approved by the VA like the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Paul

    I have already been through the process of my initial separation and MEB Findings. I was a little upset to see both knees, and one of my ankles come back as not service connected. I have my next C and P exam in a week and I am providing them with roughly 30 pages of knee visits they should have seen the first time. Should I expect the same results for my knees.

    Once this claim is complete I plan on completing my ankle claim in which I have several pages for that also, but with the same foot have a loose body floating around in it, a heel spur, hammer toe( not technical name) should I include those claims?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Paul,

      You should always tell the VA the total extent of your service-related medical problems on any claim,. Whether there is one claim or multiple claims is not the issue; the issue is reporting as a claim all in-service conditions covered.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Trelease

    I was just diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and was also denied a claim for multiple things that could be affected by Fibro. I am currently at 90% but being dropped down to 70% in February because I had bilateral carpal tunnel surgery. So they are dropping those ratings, but I still hav so much pain in both wrist. I also had surgery on both elbows, have issues with my shoulders, my neck, my back, my knees and this how I’ve been diagnosed with Fibro. Now I’m trying to figure out how to get service connection for Fibro since I’m just now getting diagnosed. I was in military from 1995-2003, gulf war veteran. I don’t what needs to happen, should I appeal my claim I just received denied or do a new one as secondary? Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Trelease,

      Often the VA gives the impression that a compensation claim is a simple process. It is if you are speaking about filling out a claim application form and sending it to the VA Regional Office for processing. The difficult part to understand is that the VA does not explain that the proof of the claim is a separate process and that process involves both medical evidence and legal evidence to prove a rating. A rating involves four complex issues.

      So you have a choice. You can simply file an application and see what happens. Alternatively, you can engage the services of a professional accredited organization such as the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans or a VA attorney to represent your interests. Only someone with claim expertise of the medical and legal protocols really understands how to determine if a claim is viable and know how to go about the business of proving the claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • James Pritt

    Is it true the VA has informed their. Doctors not to write letters to help with unemployability?

    I am stuck at the point it dose not matter what other ratings I get, the rating will not go over 94 %.

    Due to my service connected diablites I have not been able to work for the last four years.

    I struggled a lot evern before then. The c&P exam sounds fishy. There is contradictions in the way the examiner filled it out. Therefore I need a letter from a doctor to support unemployability. I do have a vso with the DAV.
    Do you have any ideas how I can locate a neurologist that works with veterans?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear James,

      There is no written policy, but there are internal pressures within the VA as to how much time its staff can devote to assisting a claimant. Accordingly, you will need to engage a private medical provider at your own expense to see whether that private provider will prepare an appropriate medical report for you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Tabitha

        I enlisted in the army but only served 1 year and 3 months. I broke a toe and had bad stress fractures , so I intended ptrp. Am I eligible for comp? I haven’t been to any drs due to not having insurance. What can I do? Will they just schedule me a c&p or BC I wasn’t in 2 yrs I’m not eligible. I cant walk long distances, be in the cold for long or my legs will throb. I know something is really wrong, I just don’t have the means to prove it. General under honorable.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Tabitha,

          All VA compensation claims require proof. The VA is not required to provide a C&P Examination. But, if one is provided it does not necessarily follow that the VA physician will find that you have a disability. The best course of action is to obtain a medical opinion report from a private source. You will need to seek out treatment and prove the claim.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Brandon McClinton

    Is it possible for me to get any type of info? My claim involves Lupus and Raynauds. I have current diagnoses for both. Also, I have medical evidence from service showing various symptoms. The lupus claim is in “preparation for decision ” phase as of now, but the claim was submitted in October of this year. I fear it may be denied. Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brandon,

      If you can clarify specific questions you have or what type of information you are looking for, I will forward your question to an accredited VA attorney for response.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Kyle Bowler

    I was going through my grandfathers military records recently, he’s 88 and mostly blind and deaf, he served at the end of WWII (got a waiver) and Korea, being a veteran myself the rest of my family asked me to translate. I found an SF 600 with a VA Disability Rating on it of 40% that’s service connected we were sent that from the naval records center. He has not received compensation for it ever. What should be the next step?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kyle,

      Your grandfather can file a new claim application for VA benefits. Basically, there are two types of claims. First, if your grandfather is in financial need due to otherwise non-reimbursed medical expenses such as for aid and attendance, he may qualify for Pension benefits, which does not require a service connection to the disabling condition. This is a benefit which is subject to “means-testing” (asset and income threshold tests).

      Second, he may qualify for Compensation benefits. He will need to file a new claim which can up to 2 years or longer to process. This is due to the significant backlog of pending VA claims. As an alternative, you can seek professional assistance from an accredited VA lawyer. Some claims can be expedited if the person filing the claim understands the nuances of what is known as the “fully developed claim process” where you assume all burden of proof rather than relying on the statutory provision that the VA assumes the burden to prove the claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Tim

    Active Duty 2001-2005, Reserves 2005-2014, with mobilizations in 2008 and 2011. In 2009 I finally had a sleep study through civilian doctors, diagnosed with sleep apnea when I was 26 used a CPAP for 3 years. I decided to have the UPPP surgery to correct the sleep apnea, in order to stop using the CPAP. Surgery was successful (thankfully!). Buddies have mentioned I should put in a claim for sleep apnea. My question is whether I even have a case seeing it wasn’t diagnosed while I was on active duty, and that I no longer require a CPAP. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tim,

      There are three basic requirements to meet for a veterans compnesation disability claim. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a chronic medical condition, (2) you had that medical condition, illness or injury when you served on active duty, and (3) you can prove that the current disorder links back to a medical event occurring in service. In your situation, you state that the surgery corrected the sleep apnea problem at least to the extent you no longer need a CPAP. Accordingly, it is going to be hard to prove you currently have a non-corrected diagnosis resulting in a chronic disability now.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Kevin Paul

    As a Vietnam Vet I was injured by a grenade, I have been disabled since the inservice gernade injury. After reviewing 1968 records the VA failed to treat the femur fracture only addressing the tibia and fibula and loss of calf muscle. There are pages of the report missing. We filed our original claim in 1989 for 100% and have been working through the process. The last appeal for 100% took us to Washington DC and the Board or Appeals. The Board decided to reopen the claims and grant the previously denied claims. This letter was dated October 24, 2014. Since that date the VA in CT has not accepted the letter and has not requested that we go through the evaluation and exam process again.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kevin,

      If you have a question, please post it and I will refer it to an accredited VA attorney for response.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Will O

        What does it mean when the claim status states “View appeal status”?…It was not an appeal.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Will,

          I don’t know why there would be a reference to an appeal if you have not filed one.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  • Eric Nelson

    I was given a 10% rating for right ankle injury that occurred on active duty. But they denied my right knee issue that I have had surgery on. Its my belief that my right knee issues are from me compensating for my right ankle. There is nothing in my military records about the knee just the ankle. How do I prove the knee is from the ankle?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Eric,

      You have submitted a claim. That claim must be proved via medical evidence of an in-service medical condition. A belief is not proper documentation. As such, your opinion has no bearing on advancing your claim forward. What is needed is medical-legal facts in support of your contentions. You will be well served by seeking the services of an accredited VA lawyer.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Rachael C

    I never had depression until I was in the military, but there wasn’t one specific incident or trauma that caused the depression. Years later I am still trying to find an antidepressant that works without bad side effects. I did not have depression, I joined the service, then developed depression. How could I even prove that it is service related?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Rachael,

      Recognize the distinctions among causation, concurrency and coincidence. You need to prove that your depression was caused by your military service. First, you must show that you had, in fact, an in-service medical condition, in your circumstance, depression and, second, that in-service condition has resulted in your current medical diagnosis. If your were treated for depression while in the service, that might provide proof of an in-service medical condition.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Hai

    I submitted a FDC and I received 40% disability but VA says I still have 3 conditions pending (Sleep Apnea, PTSD and TBI). When will I received the decision packet? Should I received it based off of the current findings or will I only received it after the case is completely closed with the 3 pending conditions?
    Also, I was rated 0% for ED. How do I file for SMC-K or should it have been done concurrent?

    Hai

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Hai,

      I don’t have sufficient information to offer an opinion. I suggest you contact a professional claims service provider such as the American Legion, which can review all documentation of your claim to determine, what if anything, needs to be done.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Martino

    I have a claim in since September 2014 for tinnitus, left and right knee condition, vision condition, Right index finger, depression & anxiety, acid reflux, and bronchitis. Received c&p exams with VA around August 2015 only for a hearing exam, and an exam for my right knee. September 2015 i check ebenefits and my claim is closed with letter sent for notification. I receive the letter of denial and I gave it to my representative who is helping me with my claim, october comes and i receive fedex packet with 5 exams to do through QTC and not VA this time. its QTC exams for everything including my psychiatric exam. just finished the last one OCT 22nd 2015. Im confused on how my claim is closed and I’ve been denied but still receiving QTC exams……Does this mean i can be rated in due time or my claim being denied reversed? or does anyone have any idea what may be happening? Thanks in advanced

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Martino,

      Since you say that you have a claim representative, I believe it would in your best interests to have that representative advise you because that person would be familiar with all aspects of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • BoGoLo

    I filed a claim for flat foot in March 2015. I was denied disability for my flat foot claim in July 2014. Explanation stated: There was no continuity of symptoms from service to present.
    I filed a motion for reconsideration in August 2015 with more evidence of current treatments. In September 1015 VA send me a decision letter stated: The claim for flat feet is considered reopened. However, the evidence continues to show this condition was not incurred in or aggravated by military service. Any advise

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear BoGoLo,

      Filing a VA compensation claim is the easy part. Proving a rating is the difficult part. There is a four-prong test in order to prove a claim. Each prong has multiple subsets of evidence needed to prove a rating. You need to approach a claim in its entirety and not piece meal. What the VA is telling you is that it has not found any evidence that the medical condition you contend exists was ever treated during the time you were in-service. You will need to locate medical treatment records from your in-service military files showing that you were treated for flat feet during the time you served.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

    • Michelle Espino

      I had filed for disability for my flat feet. I was denied because I had signed a waiver to let me join the Army. Well I served for over 9 yrs and had temporary profile due to plantar fasciitis and spurs. I almost had a permanent profile, but was put on bed rest for pregnancy. So the PA felt I didn’t need it. I really don’t know what to do know. I had orthotics custom made for me while active duty. I had some made for me after I gotten out. I still have a hard time with walking. It was denied when I live on Ft Knox

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Michelle,

        You can consider filing a claim application for compensation through the American Legion or a similar non-profit veterans association. You will need to show your current medical condition relates back to an in-service medical aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

  • I received a 90% rating from the VA on multiple awards, but they denied my claim for back pain, neck pain, and sleep apnea. I was in the service from 1982 – 1986 (Army) and again 1988 – 1992 (Marine Corps). I never reported the sleep apnea, but they gave me an award for asthma and eczema due to my involvement in the Persian Gulf.

    The medical service documents lists my car accident – no actual back or neck pain reported, fell down a flight of stairs – back and neck pain reported, and slipped on barracks floor having too much wax – back and neck pain reported. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for the last 2 plus years for the neck and back. In your opinion, do I have a basis to submit an appeal for back, neck, and sleep apnea?

    Thanks Lloyd

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lloyd,

      Based on your explanation of your medical conditions, you are stating you never had sleep apnea in-service. The in-service requirement includes that your medical condition be treated while you were in the service in order to be considered for a rating.

      As to pain management, the issue will be whether or not you had a chronic in-service medical condition. This means you had a medical condition which persisted for at least six months during service. Being treated for a temporary or acute medical condition which is not persistent is insufficient to prove a claim. Seeing a chiropractor may be considered maintenance of a current state of health or disease. It does not necessarily mean you have an ongoing illness or injury related to service. This medical condition must be diagnosed by a physician and you must have a specific diagnosis which relates back to an in-service medical event. You need to seek out the medical opinion of an MD who will state “nexus” (inkage of your current condition back to your in-service fall.)

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Filed claim prior to retirement in Aug 2009. VA RO minimally approved 10% pursuant to Da Luca vs Brown in Nov 2012. Timely appealed rating with NOD in May 2013 for DRO Review stating that rating was incorrectly too low and not based on proper criteria. Another Comp exam in May 2014. VA RO DRO approved increase to 40% in Apr 2015 under different criteria, however, adjusted effective date to May 2014. Filed CUE and VA Form 9 in May 2015 stating that only permissable effective date is Aug 2009 based on continous claim theory. RO denied CUE, however, is still considering the VA Form 9 appeal. The VA DRO cited acertainable objective evidence resulted in increase and later effective date. My question is, my claim was not re-opened or a new claim for increase, but rather an original claim – would not the effective date remain the day following my separation from the Army?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear James,

      No, benefits do not go back to your date of separation from the service. The VA law is much more complex then you believe it to be. If the VA determines that a veteran has a disability that justifies a rating, the rating can potentially be retroactive to the date that the claim application was received and date stamped by the VA.

      The VA renders an opinion of disability based upon the date the current disability is manifested. For example, if there is clear evidence that a specific current disability has an occurrence date prior to the claim application date, then the VA can determine the disability is active on the claim filing date, and thus the rating is retroactive to that date.

      But, if the VA, for example, conducts a Compensation & Pension (C & P) exam on a later date, after the application, and finds that the disability manifested first at that time, then the disability can be determined on the date of that C & P exam and benefits would begin with that date. Without analyzing your specific claim, I can not state what factors were used in your determination.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Mr. Ames: Thank you for the insightful information. Your assistance to Veterans like myself is truly remarkable in aiding them in “getting them on the right track.”
        In very brief, I do recognize the vast complexity in the VA setting effective dates. In my specific case, and with no VA decision in several years, I sought civilian treatment for my left knee in Jan 2012. Ortho Doc at surgery diagnosed severe chondral level 3/4 disease; healed tear in Meniscus; moderate pattelar subluxation; bone spurs; and, advanced degenerative arthritis in my left knee joint. He shared that I would need a knee replacement but encouraged me to delay for decade when I reached my 60’s if I could maintain acceptable function and tolerate pain (30-year military career).
        I had comp exams in Aug 2010; Nov 11; and, Aug 12, that all predated the appeal exam in Apr 14. No intervening injury, trauma or incident after Jan 12 surgery. Further, at Apr 14 exam, no new x-ray films taken simply history and prior medical documentation. In my opinion, the Nov 12 award of 10% was simply and unfortunately a “low-ball” award on an initial claim that had been pending for more than 3-years.
        Accordingly, for the VA to thereafter correctly rate my left knee on appeal to 40% several years later; albeit it great, is much less so when they elect to adjust the effective date to May 14 thereby potentially eliminating up to 5 years of retro compensation. I understand that with you being a Accredited VA Attorney that you likely cannont comment on the specifics.
        Accordingly and again, thank you for all that you do for Veterans like providing excellent information in “threads” like this. As for my case, I plan to seek BVA review, and even Veterans Appeal Court review, as I do not believe or trust that the VA correctly, lawfully, or fairly determined my effective date. In closing, thank you. V/r, Jim

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear James,

          You should consider having a professional analyze your claim. Being proactive and understanding the elements needed to prove a medical-legal adverse determination by the federal governmental VA agency is important. Lay persons can file a claim application or an appeal but the reality is that it requires a knowledgeable advocate to advance tested arguments based upon the law, regulations, and prior cases to prove a claim.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

      • Larry Banyash MD

        I have filed a claim for pulmonary hypertension proven by three VA echocardiograms. Double heart cath next week. I have stated the disability, which is severe, was secondary to my sc mitral valve disease of 30 yrs–now federally protected. I am in certain of which two events I need to use as a nexus: 1 called the hosp commander a son of a bitch, placed on house arrest the next day and flown to Shephard AFB psychiatric center for exams–handcuffed in front of my peers (which the medics took off on our drive to the military airport) rehand cuffed just before the flight. In full class A dress. Disrobed to nudity and placed in an observation room, locked, padded for next 24hours–no sleep whatsoever for 72 hrs and paranoia about what was to occur. Testing on the hour almost every hour for next three days. Mom and Dad lived in Wichita Falls, wrote President Reagan re what they presumed heinous treatment, hosp commander called by his side and advised immediate status of my mental health, and if normal, immediate hosp discharge and transportation back to Warren–which was the case. Left me stunned and with chronic panic disorder till this day–30 yrs later. Severe emotional trauma—>limbic system damage having control over anxiety and breathing control. Central sleep and OSA

        developed 16 yrs later–>ILF>>mod severe pul hypertension now.
        Or, 2: exposure to pcb’s on environmental analysis of the waste pits, waterways and ground water as the medical director of the analysis crew once monthly for 1.5 yrs>>ILF over the years and now mild to moderate cardiac enlargement with pul hypertension and great difficulty breathing. Honorably discharged one month after my hospitalization by my request and any deleterious comments expunged from my record by a special credentials committee over signed by SAC surgeon general. Sorry for the length but need some intelligent advice on this nexus. Thank you in advance. (3 visits to infirmary for flu like illness with sore throat, and pain and rectal bleeding during the time I oversaw the environmental analysis crew.). Pretty appropriate for Halloween–the horribleness of it all. What is the most appropriate nexus. After 30 years the base cannot locate exact dates of our monthly exams as it was weather dependent. Warren is one of the 150 superfund sites. At the time we were unaware of our own risk–even though we took. As we look now, very simple precautions in contact avoidance. 40% combined disability–ratings now protected for heart condition, chronic nephritis and GERD.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Raymond,

          If you have a question, please let me know and I will forward it to an accredited VA attorney for response.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  • Allen

    Craig,

    I was awarded 100% service connected disability on October 5, 2015; however, there were some portions of the claim that were denied that I feel were definitely service connected, and I would like to receive care (or at least have them monitored) by the VA. I had been diagnosed with photosensitivity/photophobia (from working in dark rooms with no windows, and nights shifts — forced to sleep during the day) by a civilian optometrist that I had paid out of pocket to see after my military optometrist refused to schedule the appointment and suggested I “just wear sunglasses”. Additionally, benign fasciculation (muscle tremors) was noted throughout my medical records, but the neurologist I was seeing on active duty was not sure what to attribute it to. In his notes, he annotated possible medications that I was taking and stress; however I was denied for service connection for both the tremors and light sensitivity. I also showed the C&P exam physician a video of the tremor that I took the night before, since it happens at random times. My concern is whether I should take the time to appeal the decisions on these factors, seeming ungrateful for the 100% P&T rating that I was able to obtain service connection for. Even if they are rated at 0% I would like some sort of service connection annotated, is that worth appealing?

    -Allen

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Allen,

      An appeal involves a de novo review. This means the VA in its decision reviews the claim in its entirety. This can result in reversal of your 110% combined rating or a reduction in the rating. This is what you place in play in an appeal as you described your situation. If you appeal, the fundamental issue is how are you going to prove service connection when the VA has ruled it is not. Resubmitting existing records is not going to probably be beneficial in your situation since the VA has already reviewed the military records. You are risking a lot for a little.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • I was denied my claim for multiple joint arthritis and bursitis although the VA has x-ray evidence, service records of the injury, and has granted service connection. The claim was submitted 6 months after discharge from service. I filed an appeal and they gave it a staged rating of 10% then 0%. Now after filing a NOD, they want to send it around the curve again (the SOC says you do not have any current symptoms) and no new C&P exam. My claim and appeal is 5+ years old now. How do I proceed with this issue? I appreciate your help again in advance!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Anthony,

      You state that the VA issued you a Statement of the Case (SOC). This means you only have 60 days to perfect a formal appeal. If you fail to do so then your claim will be closed. Accordingly, you can abandon the claim or file a formal appeal within the strict timelines required by law.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Thanks for your speedy reply. I submitted the VA Form 9 to “perfect” my appeal in 2013. I still did not get a reply, only says “Notice of Disagreement” pending and no date available. Disabilities are all service connected, x-ray evidence, limitation of motion is noted with VA and service records included. What else can I do or need? Thanks again in advance.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Anthony,

          You have perfected a formal appeal. An appeal can take years. You need to be proactive in providing medical – legal evidence to prove your claim. Otherwise there is more than a 70% probability your appeal will be denied. A claim is complex and is technically difficult to sustain unless one is an accredited VA attorney well versed in this speciality federal benefit claim arena.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

          • Thank you so very much for your reply! I will get x-rays proving arthritis from my own doctor (and to the degree of damages) and quote the appropriate regulations for my claim! I appreciate it, and I will also secure an attorney. Once again, thanks!

            • Kay Derochie

              You are welcome, Anthony.

  • Ariana

    On June 2015 I received a call from the VA. It was to schedule my VA physical, I told them that I was not going to be able to make the appointment because I was currently out of the country. They told me that I would have to resubmit. When I got back, I called the VA office in Camp Pendleton and I was told that I didn’t have to resubmit and that I would just have to wait for a call back from the VA to reschedule my physical. Today I received a letter stating that my claim was denied. I was under the impression that before my claim could be approved or denied I had to get my VA physical done. Is this not true?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ariana,

      No, you are not correct in this assumption. A claim can be denied for many reasons. The decision letter from the Regional Office will provide an explanation for the denial, which is subject to being appealed if you so elect.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • I got out the Corp with 30 per cent for my ankle I have been in backlog 9 years an had surgery again on the same ankle asking for 100 per cent appeals have been denial but the is service connected what am I doing wrong

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ricky,

      You need to seek the professional help of an accredited attorney who handles VA Compensation claims. You can go onto the Department of Veterans Affairs website and conduct a search of accredited lawyers within your zip code area.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • craig

    I filed a claim in October of 2014, I finally got a decision back of denial for all things claimed. All reasoning for denial is the same ”condition neither occured in nor was caused by service” as I read further down in the explanation section it reads ”youre service treatment records were unavailable for review”. So how can the deny my disability claim with even looking at my medical records pertaining to my active duty? And how can they claim no disability is tied to my service without looking at any of my medical service records? Super confused please help.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Craig,

      The VA requires objective medical evidence to determine the nature and degree of a disability. If your military records are unavailable, I would suggest you need to find a professional resource that can determine how one goes about proving a disability claim. There are many not-for-profit service organizations which can help you, such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames.

  • Michael Sparks

    I came off my last mobilization in the year 2013. I was seen and rated in 2014. After a while I took another look at my disabilities they rated me for and noticed that I was not service connected for chronic rhinitis while in Kuwait. I have several visits paperwork showing my complaints of this and was still not service connected. Even after all this time is it too late or should I start an appeal? I’m also trying to get connected for sleep apnea which the VA sent me for 2 sleep studies and provided a CPAP machine, but no documentation showing I went to a sleep study on active duty is proving to be very difficult. Help please

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Michael,

      You can file an appeal to the VA’s Decision if you do so within one year from the date of the decision. If you are beyond the one-year appeal period, you would need to file a new claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Michael

        So since I have been denied on my second appeal for the sleep apnea even with witness statements from my military unit members, I am wondering if a letter from the VA ENT Dr. stating based on his medical opinion that my sleep apnea is secondary cause from my primary issues with chronic Rhinitis and sinusitis and loss of smell/taste and developing a polyp while on active duty will help in the decision process for this claim to be approved? When I was sent to the Middle East there was no testing facility for sleep apnea and that is the reason I was not tested before.

        • Michael

          I forgot to mention that I am rated at zero percent for the polyp and sinusitis and allergies.

          • Kay Derochie

            Dear Michael,

            Please see my response to the other comment you posted on the 20th.

            Sincerely,
            Craig L. Ames
            Accredited VA Attorney

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Michael,

          A zero rating means that the VA has concluded that you had an in-service medical event and that you currently have a medical diagnosis but that you have no disability to an extent significant enough to justify a benefit payment. Your current problem must be more serious before the VA would allow for a benefit reward. As to sleep apnea, you will need proof that the apnea occurred in-service and that there is a linkage between your current diagnosis and that in-service medical condition.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Brittany

    My boyfriend was in the army for a little over a year and after basic training he seeked help while still in service for PTSD because of the things he went through while in there.. he was not deported or in combat but was diagnosed while in and records show as such .. he was denied benefits because they said it wasn’t service connected even though he had no record of any mental illness before he went into the military.. we have appealed and are currently waiting .. what should our next move be if he were to get denied again? I feel they are throwing him for a loop?!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brittany,

      In an appeal, it is best to consider having an accredited VA attorney represent the veteran. An appeal is complex and about 70% of claim appeals are denied. Check with your local State bar association for a referral.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Larry Elder

    I retired Aug 31, 2014. I did not receive my first VA payment until April 2015. I just received a letter stating I was denied my residual back pay from Sep-Apr. How is that possible considering the VA didn’t pay me during that time? When I called the VA to confirm this letter they said yes, I was denied the back pay because I cant receive full retirement pay and VA pay at the same time. The VA said to appeal this I am supposed to write a letter to the American Legion Regional Office. How did I go from dealing with the VA to the American Legion?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Larry,

      Due to limited information and not being able to review your complete claim application file, I am not able to answer your inquiry. You should follow up with the American Legion, whose staff can provide an explanation.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Reginald ward

        mr Craig aimes I didn’t know the va had attorneys well u guys help us at the regional level

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Reginald,

          All federal governmental agencies employ in house attorneys to assist the government in its business activities. These attorneys represent the government and”we-the-people,” that is, the American people’s interests in the business activities of the government. They do not represent individuals in claims for government benefits.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames

  • Durwin

    I have filed a secondary claim (esophageal stricture) due to my GERD/Barrett’s Esophagus. In the C&P report, the doctor claims that I do have moderate esophageal stricture, but it is not due to my GERD/Barrett’s esophagus. I am awaiting the decision from Regional Office.

    should I have just filed a new claim for the esophageal stricture or will they automatically separate it into a new claim? If I do get denied for the secondary condition, should I appeal or just file a new claim?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Durwin,

      The VA claim process is complex. You do not want to file a new claim. The consequences of making that decision is to start the “clock” again. This means, if you are successful in proving a rating, the benefit award is measured from the date the VA processes the new claim. Benefits do not retroactively go back to an earlier time. So you need to pursue an appeal –and you should have an attorney accredited by the VA represent you.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

    • Jason Thomas

      I have a 10% rated disability claim for asthma. I have 0% ankle claim. My records reflect multiole ankle sprains and profiles for running.

      Three years after discharge. I was diagnosed with type II diabetes. I have 1/2 dozen sworn statements from soldiers I served with stating the last year in service they observed me having excessive thirst and carry drinking bottles which was a change. I have civillians I worked with who ovserved the same behavior. I have another person who observed the symptoms befor disgnosis and the resuction and elimination if them after treatment.

      There is a lot documentation to support that diabetes goes un detected for years and can be caused by reduction in exercise and weight gain.

      Can I possibly use these sworn statements (very specific) and lay informatio to suggest my DM II was undiagnosed and possibly service connected to get a primary rating and service connection for Type Ii diabetes?

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Jason,

        You will need an accredited VA attorney to review your claim and any possible evidence. A compensation claim is a medical-legal determination and proof of entitlement is a complex process.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

  • MarineMomma

    Hello,

    I was a reservist who was involved in a vehicle accident on a drill weekend. Following the accident I suffered back problems and was given an honorable discharge with a (JFW) (3) code. I filed a claim just recently after being discharged. Is the lapse in time going to be a problem? The vehicle accident was over 6 years ago, however whenever I had a flare I was seen at the VA.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear MarineMomma,

      There are a number of issues in your claim. You will need to have a professional review to see if you have a potential claim. Generally, reservists are not a covered “veterans” absent meeting specific “active duty” requirements. You will need to explain to an accredited VA lawyer in what capacity you were serving when the accident occurred so that it can be determined whether that accident would have been in the course of active duty or active duty for training. Also, if the claim is actionable, it dates back to only the date your claim application is received & processed by the VA. It does not date back 6 years for calculating payment. If the medical records and records of the incident are clear and available from six years ago, the late claim may not be a problem.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • cecil pearson

    would a weak left knee be considered secondary to a right knee service connected rating

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Cecil,

      A left knee weakness is probably separate from a right knee issue. Plus it is important to understand if a doctor has, in fact, found that there is a disability related to the left knee. One can have a medical condition without a disability. If that is the situation, then the claim is not actionable. For example, one can take a pill for diabetes which can control the condition so that there is no disability.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Johnny Wright

    Served in Marine Reserve and suffered from depression and other things over the years due to a helicoper crash at Camp Pen. California in 1984. Told all of my adult life Reservists and National GuardMen can’t go to the VA. Ever. Because of lack of Active Duty days. Wow. Applied for disability….denied. They said they don’t have a record of my medical treatment at the VA because I can’t go to the VA. Thanks America.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Johnny,

      The definition of “veteran” is a legal term. Most reservists and members of the National Guard do not qualify as a “veteran” absent being on “active duty.” Note that “active duty for training” is a different classification from “active duty.” So, serving in the military for training purposes (such as a reservist) does not qualify that person as a “veteran” for VA benefit purposes. You can read the narrow conditions under which a reservist can be eligible for “veterans’ benefits” by checking the VA website for its definitions.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Johnny Wright

        Thank you.

        • Kay Derochie

          You are welcome, Johnny.

  • raymond davis

    I am currently in stage decision pending final approval in compensation from VA. on ebenefits there is a notation that says no date, then no longer needed and finally secondary action required. my question is secondary action on what? why is this not detailed so the veteran can make sense out of this request? thank you for any insight you can give
    me concerning this.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Raymond,

      Without a review of your complete file, it is impossible to speculate on the answer to your question.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • My husband was denied benefits. The packet stated that his disabilities were not service connected. The VA diagnosed him with PTSD, depression and anger management issues. During the process they asked for an explanation concerning a statement the Dr. Made in his psych exam. The DR stated that his ship was struck by a torpedo and they wanted clarification. He did not tell the Dr that his ship was hit. He told her that his nightmares started when he was aboard ship and his ship was in the middle east in the 80’s. He has earned 3 expeditionary medals in regard to his service during the Iranian hostage crisis and the Iran/Iraq war. Does he have grounds for an appeal? He currently sees psychiatrists and therapist at the VA for ongoing treatment.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Gloria,

      Your husband should have the claim reviewed by a professional who can determine his options for appeal.
      Vet organizations help with only basic paperwork, but it is a free service. Your husband might start with having his claim reviewed by one of these organizations such as the Disabled Veterans of America. Then if they recommend an appeal, he can get an attorney to craft the appeal. The attorney will request a contingent-fee agreement, meaning that a fee applies only if case is won.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Shelton

    I retired from the USAF in 2005 and waited until 2008 to file a VA claim for various issues that were all annotated in my medical records. My initial approval was 20% and dated July 28, 2009. Only two of 15 things I claimed were rated at 10% each. I knew I could appeal the decision within a year, so I sent my appeal paperwork in and got it in on 7/27/10…I received word that my appeal was denied because I waited longer than a year. When I go on e-benefits, it has my initial claim and approval date of 7/28/08, but it closed on 7/20/09…that is nine days short of a year. Is this normal? Not knowing what I may know now, I did nothing. Can I go back and re-submit my appeal with my original information and dates seeing that I did get the appeal in prior to a year?

    Thanks for your time,

    Shelton Becknel

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Shelton,

      You must file your appeal within one year of the decision letter telling you that you appealed late, so it appears now that you are too late for an appeal. You will need to file a new claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Adrian

    I initially filed on 2/20/2015. With copd, sleep apnea, headaches, fatigue, PTSD, schizophrenia, major depression, sleep disturbance (narcolepsy), joint pains neck, neck condition, arthritis, gerd, and dizziness had my c&p exams June 24, 29 and July 15. Which was a waste of time according to one examiner i have full movement of my neck, shoulders and hand. Which is totally false. Thats why im in therapy for traction now. And i dont have full strength in my right hand. At any rate i was denied all claims everyone says not service connected on ebenefits. Haven’t received my denial packet yet but i know what it is already.

    • Adrian

      No reply?

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Adrian,

        Please see my response of a few minutes ago.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Adrian,

      Thank you for the additional information; however, you still have not posed a question. If you have a question and post it, I will forward it to our VA consultant.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Adrian

        How should proceed?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Adrian,

          This response is to your three postings. You will need to have a professional review of your claim, if and when the claim is denied, to determine whether you have grounds for a viable appeal. You can contact an accredited VA attorney, the American Legion, or the Disabled Veterans of America for assistance in the event of a denial.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • i file claim in Mar 2015 for legally Blind, 3 Va doctor said that i am legally blind, and i was issue Certificate of Blindness from the VA. I went for a second opinion and the doctor agree that i was legally Blind, the doctor that me the second opinion is a Opthalmology, i was shocked about the news the that i received from VA. I also had another opinion done and same result. i submitted all the inforation to VA. All of my visual field stated that i have less than 10 degree left. i did my C and P exam i was told that test didnt go well and the doctor stated that i am not legally blind. 3 visual field stated that i am. 5 medical person agree that i am. Do the rater look at all the medical report before he make rating. My claim status is in the gathering stage. What do i need to do.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Alexander,

      You need to consult with a VA accredited professional to determine the merits of your claim and to develop medical and legal evidence to prove your disability. It is not enough to get a report that you may be legally blind. You must show a disability as a result of your medical condition. I suggest you contact the Disabled Veterans of American orthe American Legion to assist you.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Josh

    Hello I was labeled 40% when I got out in 2008 but my back has gotten worse . My 5 year check up they added 10% to my back up to 20% however my overall rating stayed at 40% since it has been over 5 years I have read that I should be protected from getting a decrease if and when I submit for an increase is this true ? I have had x rays and my back has gotten worse and the x rays show it the Dav told me to get a check up by the spinal Doctor to try to get evidence .

    • Josh

      And it causes my neck to hurt they labeled it as arthritis and degenerative disc disease

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Josh,

      You are co-mingling two distinct concepts. You have a combined rating and not a single rating. The VA uses a weighting of medical conditions since some conditions are more serious than others. With a combined rating one single rating may increase, but it may or may not impact the combined rating. In your scenario, the VA has ruled no change in the combined rating. As to the second point, when a new claim is filed, all your medical ratings are subject to being reviewed so that ratings can be increased, stay the same, or even be decreased or eliminated. However, there are exceptions to this policy in limited circumstances.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Josh

        What I’ve read is that if you have had the same rating for over 5 years it’s rare they will decrease the overall is that true ? They have to medically prove the condition has gotten better to decrease the rating is that true ? Would it be smart though to go for increase since my back has gotten worse though ?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Josh,

          Whenever you file a new claim, all your medical conditions and disabilities will be reviewed by the VA. The VA can increase your rating, leave it as is, or eliminate or reduce your rating. These are the risks a veteran takes when requesting an increase in rating. Also, the VA, on its own, can review benefits paid to determine if the veteran’s disability and health have improved. If they have, the rating can be reduced or eliminated. People do recover over time from medical illnesses and, thus, the VA can reevaluate the claim.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Anthony

    I filed my original claim for back and PTSD in 2012. My claim was denied and filed appeal in 2013. Recently in April I received a statement of the case which only mentioned the back condition, no mention of the ptsd claim. In May I received a call from the regional office the woman stated that I was awarded 70 percent for ptsd and told me what my back pay would be when I asked her if my dependent has been added she told me no. She took the info over the phone. About a month later my dependants showed up in e benefits when previously they were not listed. Longer story short since receiving the phone call I haven’t received a decision letter on the ptsd. Ebenefits is also not showing a rating. Any advice

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Anthony,

      You need to look at your new claim application, which was filed in 2012 and the appeal filed in 2013 to see if you included a specific contention for PTSD. Maybe you filed more than one claim. Accordingly you may or may not have another claim pending. You need to match and compare the written application(s) to the VA Decision letters as well as tracking and comparing them to the Notice of Disagreement. If all these documents are not in sych, then you probably improperly filed and appealed the claim(s). You may have to file a new claim and start the process over; however, if you remain uncertain about the status of the claims, be sure to get full clarification from the VA before proceeding.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Terrell

    I file a VA claimed on 11/2014 for TBI, head/facial trauma, memory loss, migraines, neck and back pain. On 06/2015 VA send me a form requesting more information about my illness as a Gulf War Veteran and taking the GW Registry exam. They gave me 30 days to submit the information. So i was able to take the exam at the 30 day mark, i submit everything via online thru eBenefits. I was schedule for C&P exams in 08/2015. So i look online to see that the form was uploaded to VA 1 day late and i notice that the claim was in the preparing for a decision. So i assumed that wow I’m going to get a decision. A couple of days ago, i find that my claim was completed and denied. I have two questions 1. how can VA denied my claim when i have pending C&P exams. 2. how can VA denied my claim based off a disability that i did not filed initially(Gulf War Syndrome). I still have buddy statements, health exams and other disabilities that i needed to submit for this claim but now its closed. I called the 800 number but they couldn’t help until i receive the letter. I just do not understand it.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Terrell,

      You raise complex issues which can not be simply answered. You will need to have the complete case file review of all your paperwork by a professional skilled in VA claims.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • adrian

      I had my c& p exams in june and july. Today i look at ebenifits and all 14 of my claims were not service connected. Wow i started getting all kinds of chronic conditions back in 2009. And this is what i get from the va. Thank you for your service. What a joke!

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Adrian,

        Do you have a question? If so, please post it and I will forward it to our VA consultant.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  • Simon Lloyd

    I received service connected and non-service connected ratings in 2008. I immediately went to an advocate at the local VAMC to get help with an appeal in regards to a denial; I missed an C&P exam appointment for a claim. Is was noted in the decision letter that the “evidence from this examination which might have been material to the outcome of your claim could not be considered.” The appointment was missed because my other appointments that day, for non C&P exams, were delayed and I didn’t make it to my C&P exam in time. I explained this to the advocate, but I was deterred from filing an appeal until I could show that I could be diagnosed by a VA doctor with the disability being claimed. Is there any route I could take to reopen the claim, or is it pretty much final?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Simon,

      You will need to file a Notice of Disagreement and request that the VA reschedule the exam, but VA does not have to do so.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Edwin Hernandez

    I have my case currently with the DRO for review. I was denied benefits due to a BCD. I submitted two medical opinions from Dr.’s that state that after review of my medical evidence while in the service I was insane during my time in service and under the VA regulations in there medical opinion it caused my BCD. The DRO has had my case since March 2015 and I am still waiting…. Is medical evidence from 2 medical experts enough to win? Can the DRO seek his own medical opinion on my case? Thank you

    • Edwin Hernandez

      My claim is for PTSD and my new evidence was from the two medical experts that was sent to the DRO

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Edwin,

      This response considers your second post as well as this one. It is impossible to answer your inquiry without review of the referenced letters and your entire claim file. You need to seek out the services of a VA accredited attorney for advice.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • agustin

    Hello,

    I am current going through a MEB, I just got my ratings and peb findings back. some of the rating that I had claimed were found not to be service connected. the two claims that I am most concerned about are bilateral pes planus (flat foot) and patellar femoral syndrome. I joined in 2009 and during my meps exam was found to have normal arches, I have a copy of that document. do you think that would be enough to overturn the decision?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Augustin,

      No, that would not be enough. You need to seek the help of an accredited VA attorney who is knowledgeable in how to appeal claim denials.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Mike

    My claim was denied because I forgot to submit it. What should I do to file again? It’s like I started the process, received the “packet” and never submitted it. This was three or more years ago. Thanks.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mike,

      If the claim is not followed up on and the one year appeal period has run, then the claim is closed. If you want to file the same claim, you need to start all over again with a new claim filing.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Derek Kirk

    I filed for three separate injuries in 2001. Two were denied and I was given 10% Service connected for the third. One injury was a back injury(denied benefits) and it has gotten worse. I spoke with some vet buddies and they say I should go back to VA for increase in disability or appeal. Is that even possible? I mean, I see where they say to send in new case with new evidence but does that really work?

    Thx,
    dk
    Jacksonville, FL.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Derek,

      Most veterans are lead to believe that filing a claim is simple. While that may be true, proving the claim is complex. That is why it takes a skilled claimant’s representative such as a lawyer to know all the detailed processes needed to prove a meritorious claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Tommy

    During a recent visit to my local DAV VSO to submit a follow-on application (my service connected issues worsening) in March 2015, the VSO looked at my file and saw that the VA had made an error on my initial disability rating back in 2003. He said that because both of my shoulders had been reconstructed while on active duty, I should have been awarded a much higher rating than 10% for both shoulders. He stated that the VA’s error was valued at approximately $160K in back-pay. He submitted the application for additional examinations for my worsening conditions; but he didn’t tell me how long it would take the VA to rectify their error, and pay me this back-pay. If I owed the VA money, they would be hounding me daily, or sending me nasty letters. Now that they owe me, I have no idea how long it will take to get paid. Any ideas??

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tommy,

      You are making an incorrect assumption that the VA “owes” you anything. You must prove your claim by substantial evidence. If you cannot do so, your new claim will be denied. If benefits are granted, they will only be awarded based upon the date the VA received your latest new claim filing.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Mechell

    I was recently denied for 3 claims submitted to VA to include LODs for the three claims, doctors statements, and test results, all with dates to coincide with each issue. Bilateral CTS, Bilateral tibia stress fractures, and Sleep Apnea. Each claim I was rated with 0%. The reason VA gave me for denial is “each diagnosis wasn’t current enough, they are not within a year”. At the time I submitted the claims, they all were current and once I got the denial letter is when the year was up. I spoke to my rater personally, he told me ” all you need to do is go get current diagnosis for each issue fax them to me and the VA Evidence Intake Center and I’ll look at your ratings again”. Did all that over the course of 4 months and now he (the rater) tells me “you have to re-open your claims because these have all been closed”. I’m like, seriously? This is not what you told me 4 months ago. By the way, he initially told me my claims weren’t service connected, but he rated me 0% for each….. Are they(VA) kidding me? Can they (VA) really do this?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mechell,

      You need to be proactive in the claim process. Submitting medical treatment records at a point in time is insufficient. You need to produce current records, on an ongoing basis, to prove there is a “current” disability and not one that only existed at a point in time in the past.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Mechell

        What I submitted was current at the time of submission. I’m currently going to the doctor when I need to and when I’m scheduled to go. They are all ongoing disabilities. I’m currently using a CPAP for my sleep apnea, there are still symptoms from bilateral CTS and my bilateral stress fractures aren’t healing, these are ongoing for which I see the doctors currently.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Mechell,

          Ongoing treatment is not the issue. The issue is whether or not you can prove (1) that you have a current medical diagnosis; (2) that it is a chronic condition, meaning lasting more than six months; and (3) that the current condition actually results in a “disability. Accordingly there is much more to prove the claim than you realize. And, the above description is only one of the four major elements that you need to prove. You should probably contact a skilled lawyer to assist in how to prove your claim.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Deanne

    My husband was denied compensation for PTSD and Sleep Apnea with no SC and rated 0% for SC multiple lipomas and scars from when some lipomas were removed while active duty. At his exam with the VA doc he said she said he was depressed and possibly bi-polar. Also mentioned Fibromyalgia considering his multiple lipomas all over his body. He has over 50 and continues to find more every month. Yet their decision says since the lipomas don’t hurt and the scars don’t hurt a 0% rating is awarded. He is in constant pain, in his joints and even the lipomas hurt. He has a few along his spine and just recently found one on one of his testicules. He has had multiple visits to the ER for Anxiety attacks. He’s just given a downer and sent home saying his heart looks fine. I want to appeal for him as since this is the second claim (first one filed in 2004) denied…he is defeated and depressed. Please let me know where to go from here. Appeal, get more evidence or diagnosis from a private doctor, etc. and does he need to file a new claim stating anxiety, fibromyalgia, gulf war illness? I’ve read in some forums where a vet has claimed multiple lipomas and then diagnosed by C&P exam doc with Dercums Disease & Fibromyalgia. Please help

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Deanne,

      You need to have a better understanding of the VA laws, regulations and processes. The rules are complex. I suggest you seek assistance from an accredited VA attorney.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Erica

    My husband has been denied a disability increase twice he suffered a broken wrist during desert storm the military preformed surgery .He currently receives a 10 percent disability. However within the last 2 years things have went down hill he’s not able to preform his job. He had to resign after 19 years. Please help with advise for the next step he can take to possibly get a increase.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Erica,

      Your husband should seek a claim denial review by an accredited VA claimant’s representative.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Curt

    I served with the Rangers at Ft. Lewis and was an infantry weapons squad leader in Panama for two years. After 19 near-death experiences, the VA says my PTSD was “not attributed or aggravated by military service”. My claim is now 3 years old. I tried going through the local VSO office but was told to “keep waiting” and I missed the deadline for my appeal. My 20-page “denial of benefits packet” is full of errors…..who should I go to next? This is INSANE….how do they figure parachute accidents and getting shot at was “not attributed to military service” ???

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Curt,

      You need to seek out the services of an accredited VA claimant representative in order to develop a strategy to prove a claim which has resulted in a denial.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Stephanie

    I filed a claim in 2013 for a lung injury i received while performing maintenance on a military radio that exploded in my face. I provided a Line of Duty report which documented the incident happened while on duty. I provided medical records showing I was diagnosed with chemical induced asthma and another lung related inury that required daily medication. My claim was denied for the reason of “not service connected.” I filed an appeal but the ebenefits page does not indicate they received anything I sent them. How can I find out the status of my appeal?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Stephanie,

      If you cannot locate information on your claim online, I suggest you make a visit in person to the VA Regional Office to make an inquiry as to your claim status. Due to the volume of pending cases, it is unlikely that you can reach a VA staff member who will answer your questions by phone.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Vianne Robinson

    I am in the process of waiting for my claim to be approved or denied. At my initial exam the Dr. and the VA were unable to locate my medical records from the demob station since they were not released back to me. In addition to that I was never given an exit physical coming off mob orders and all the medicial documentation that i was able to police up for my conditions were during my time in the reserves.

    Im unsure of what to do now.

    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Vianne,

      You may want to seek out the assistance of an accredited claimant representative to provide help with presentation of evidence to prove your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Brian Stevens

    I originally filed my claim with the VA in 1998 for respiratory problems associated with gulf war service and got denied. I appealed the denial and again got denied. I have denial letters about 3 inches thick. Fast forward to 2003-2004, I was deployed again for OIF/OEF on Iraq and Kuwait. Now my breathing problems have gotten worse. The VA in 2011 finally started doing medical testing with pulmonary function tests and the lady doing the test said it was consistent with pulmonary fibrosis and constrictive bronchiolitis. I still have gotten nowhere with the VA regarding my claim and or appeal. Its been sitting in the regional office since i filed the appeal in 2011. What can i do to get them moving?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brian,

      You can be proactive by obtaining, at your own cost, independent medical tests and medical opinions as to the nature and likely origin of your current medical conditions and how, if at all, they relate back to in-service medical conditions.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • james

    i faxed my letter of disagreement 3 weeks ago, yesterday my appeal was at the first stage and then it disappeared, i called the next day, this morning, and was told some type of letter had been mailed out. Does anyone have any insight on this situation?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear James,

      You may have received the letter by now to clear up the situation. In any event, you did not provide enough information for me to comment.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Anthony Coppedge

    I originally filed a claim for PTSD and sleep disorder on 11/05/11 It was denied I had PTSD/anxiety disorder but they said it was not service connected. I was treated by a VA doctor for anxiety with medication since 2011. Things got worse went back to the VA filed another claim on 4/24/13 for PTSD, Sleep disorder and anxiety as diagnosed by VA mental health professionals and was denied benefits again. In 1/2015 filed again for Major depressive disorder/PTSD/Anxiety disorder and sleep disorder as diagnosed by VA mental health professionals and outside the VA consults and was approved 70%. Should I be back paid for any of this?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Anthony,

      No back pay will be due. Payments of disability compensation is based on the filing date of the latest claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jeff Brown

    Hello, my claim is in appeal and since 2009. It sound like they’re almost done, but sketchy about them approving for an anxious issue. I’m sure its connected to “in-service” because I two assaults inflicted on me by fellow soldiers due to no fault of my own. Only one of them are documented in the active duty service records and they still denied my claim for lack of “continuing issues” but they are contiuing but with gaps since the incident. thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jeff,

      Do you have a question? If so, please post your question and I will forward it for response from a VA attorney.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Marcus f

    i was downgraded from 70 to 50% because the evaluation doctor said I was “getting better.” I have degenerative disc disease and new MRI showing my disc disease is progressing and my herniated discs are now torn and spilling fluid into my facet joints which is causing visible nerve issues. I feel worse than I ever have, yet the VA said they are not granting me any higher than 50% even with the new MRIs showing condition is worsening. What can I do?
    When I had my eval with the doctor that said I was getting better, she did a 2 minute exam and asked me questions. Everything I answered sounded mostly like, I am doing worse, my pain meds are not helping, yada yada yada. This is the Phoenix VA…. Go figure.
    I want to file an appeal but if my MRI showing worsening of condition didn’t help, won’t they just deny the appeal? Thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Marcus,

      A dispute or disagreement between you (as claimant) and the VA is what an appeal is all about. A formal appeal to the BVA (Board of Veterans Appeals) is about these types of disagreements. You may wish to seek professional help from an accredited VA attorney.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • theron gray

    Hello. I have a question. I severed two years in the United States Military and I was wondering how could I get help from the VA? Is there a place I could go or anything?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Theron,

      Please say what kind of help you are looking for and I will forward your question to a VA attorney for reply.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Robert Shabazz

    Hello,

    I was recently denied compensation for the second time for sleep apnea; according to the V.A. because of lack of service connected evidence.

    I retired from the navy in 2006 but my medical record was lost in 2003 by the navy; prior to that in 1998 I began experiencing episodes of waking up choking or gasping for air. When I went to medical the doctor was baffled as to what it might be but after discussions with other doctor’s at the clinic came to the conclusion that it was probably panic attacks.

    So for next 13 years or so I thought I was simply having panic attacks whenever this occurred until I became concerned that I was have the same symptoms more frequently.
    After being examined, my doctor asked if i had ever been tested for sleep apnea and I told him no; so after having a sleep study done it was discovered that I did have sleep apnea and supplied with CPAP machine.

    Though I have repeatedly told the V.A that my orginal record was lost when I made my claim; the V.A. still seems to ignore that and only reference from findings or lack of findings from the reconstructed record that was made for the last 3 years of my career.
    I have supplied documentation from a neurologist suggesting that the panic attacks where more than likey misdiagnosed and was actually sleep apnea. Also I included in my claim was the findings from the sleep exam verifying my sleep apnea and a notarized letter from wife witnessing that she obsevered my interupted sleeping habit for 23 years.

    I have been searching for my STR for the last 12 years with no luck; though I’m by no means giving up with my record missing, I’m not sure what else to do at this point.
    I would greatly appreciate any guidance that you may be able to provide; thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robert,

      You need to figure out a way to prove that an in-service event occurred. This is a matter of proof. You need substantiation of that in-service event or you will get nowhere with your VA claim for benefits. You need medical records, personnel records from the service, witness statements, and any other related documentation.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • tyeshawn

    Hi i had a claim just completed friday nothing in eben is updated should i just wait till next week to see if anything gets uodated so ill know if i was aprroved for iu. I have 70% for mdd and 10% for my back so i meet the guidlunes for it and th c&p psychologist said in that i was total and permanent. And that i could work physically but mdd makes it unsafe for others and my self. Just been eaiting a year and this waiting is causeing more stress not knowing whay they decided to do.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tyeshawn,

      I am unable to ascertain what it is you are waiting and do not have enough information to respond.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Karla

    Hello. I recently filed a claim for PTSD, jan 9. I saw on ebenefits it was denied. I was treated during OIF 3 while deployed and I only opened it because my shrink said I had PTSD. It’s on my medical record. I already have a 10% for anxiety ONS, but my triggers are from combat, not afterwards. I have some records from OIF 3 but not alot since they lost it. I don’t want to appeal because I’m already waiting for 5 yrs on a previous appeal. I have alot of evidence, what else can I do? Thank you in advance.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Karla,

      You may want to consider obtaining a professional legal opinion about your claim from an accredited VA attorney. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Shawn B

    Just saw this on eBenefits. Does the below mean all of my claims were denied?

    Disability Rating Decision

    right wrist condition Not Service Connected
    lumbar radiculopathy left leg Not Service Connected
    cellulitis right eye Not Service Connected
    lumbar spine condition Not Service Connected
    dyshidrosis bilateral hands Not Service Connected
    blepharitis bilateral eye Not Service Connected

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Shawn,

      Yes, your claim(s) have all been denial. There are 4 elements which must be proven to support a favorable decision. One of those elements to be proven is that you had a specific medical condition, illness, injury which was incurred in-service. The VA is telling you that it has determined none of the problems you raised were related to in-service medical conditions. You need to show the VA actual records of in-service medical problems and how or if at all your current problems relate back to those in-service events.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Shawn

        Thanks Kay,

        That’s an interesting finding by the VA since a VA rep is the one that looked through my military medical record and came up with the medical conditions to claim. I did not submit the claims on my own.

        V/r,

        Shawn

  • James

    Im not sure if this was posted before, I tried reading through all of the previous posts. I have discovered that my initial claim was not all 0% service connected, the important things were totally denied which is what Im having issues with now. Im well past the year timeframe to appeal, but I would like to see if I can get evaluated again. What do I need to do if there is anything I can do.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear James,

      When a claim has not been followed up on for one year, the VA considered the claim denial to have been finalized. You will need to file a new claim, and start the process all over again.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Martin Santor

    Ok this is complicated.
    I filed a claim 5 years ago for PTSD and chronic headaches and neck pain ect for a neck injury I sustained in the navy.
    When I sustained the injury, I was misdiagnosed and actually walked around with broken vertebrae for ten years. I have dealt with a lifetime of pain. That is VERY WELL documented by my civilian doctors since leaving the navy.
    He’s where it gets weird. When I requested my medical service records, they simply sent my two pages which bus only a fraction of my total record.
    I have worked for all this time with the VA and have settled my PTSD portion of the claim successfully. All the while asking when we would be addressing my Veterens rep when we would be addressingmy neck issue as I HAVE NEVER HEARD ONE WORD about it.
    Repeatedly I’ve been told to be patient that it would be soon, just that they are so far behind.
    By some miricale , I very recently discovered that my ex wife found a box with MY ENTIRE SERVICE RECORD COPIES IN IT! I thought it was lost but I have a very complete set of copies of my entire record showing many , many documented headaches, neck pain ect ect!! This is gold right!!
    When I brought it to my veterns service rep, he informed me suddenly that the VA had deemed my claim to be ” abandoned” since they had not heard from me about the neck.
    I’m very confused and upset about some things.
    1. Why did the va not send me my service record when asked? If they had, I could have submitted the entire thing five years ago when I submitted the one page they had provided.
    2. They worked with me continually throughout the settlement of the PTSD portion and yet claim they could not reach me for the info needed for the neck portion. It’s riduculous because I gave them everything that I saw they asked for ( until I discovered my entire record) and I’ve been asking about why I have not heard about my neck since the beginning.
    What to I do now? I’m told that I can’t appeal because they closed the case more than a year ago but I don’t feel I was informed correctly or provided info that I should have been anyhow!
    Please help, This is my veterns reps fault for telling me it was fine and to wait and the vas fault for losing my service records.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Martin,

      The VA often will deem a claim abandoned when a veteran does not respond in writing within a thirty-day period to a written request letter from the VA . When this happens the VA make a claim determination based on the information in file, which will result in a claim denial. Apparently this is what happened in your situation.

      I suggest you seek counsel of an accredited VA attorney who can file a formal appeal of your claim denial. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • julius

        I filed my claim September 14 2014 for ptsd,back pain,and shoulder pain when I filed in September my claim went to ready for decision phase then it was sent to a rater then the rater said it wasn’t enough evidence so they sent it back to development stage and I got assigned a c and p exam on 2 on june 11 2015 and june 16 2015 my ptsd exam doctor noted that my ptsd was service connected but my other two doctors have not put the notes in the computer yet when I called one of them he said he was still reviewing the paperwork and he’ll have it in the computer in 2 weeks he also stated that once all the paperwork was done that it would take 2 months before my benefits got started I know they are not raters but he must feel good about my claim What’s your take on this

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Julius,

          I am not able to offer an opinion without a review of your complete C file. It could be to your advantage to engage an accredited VA attorney or representative from an organization qualified to represent veterans and have them review your file and provide guidance.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • David Hughes

    In June 2014 I submitted a disability claim to the VA for back problems. I submitted copies of my military record showing I had back pain after moving furniture, and subsequent visits for back pain. In December I received a letter stating I had been scheduled to meet a VA doctor for an exam. The exam was in January and a month later I received a letter saying my claim was denied. I talked with a neurosurgeon who does a lot of workman’s comp packages. He said there is no way to prove my documented back pain was not the cause of my current back problems (spine degenerative disc disease). I had back surgery in 2009 for a herniated disk and all was good until a year ago. Since then I have been seeing a pain management doctor and gone through physical therapy, with no results. All this was documented in the original package. Since the surgery was after retirement, would it be worth submitting an appeal?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear David,

      An appeal’s success is dependent upon submitting the documentation needed to substantiate the claim for disability benefits. This is not a simple matter. One must be able, via written records, to prove (1) a medical condition was incurred in-service; (2) that you have a current medical condition, (3) that there is linkage of the in-service condition with the current medical condition and (4) that you are a veteran who is qualified to receive VA benefits. Often, a case requires a review of an attorney who can determine the strength of your records as it relates to your case. The accredited attorney may be able to determine how to fully develop information to present to the VA to help proof your claim. You may want to seek a professional opinion about your appeal. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jeffrey B

    I was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident after completing the Army OCS selection process and had signed a contract to attend. After I recovered, I was told to submit a packet to reschedule my OCS date. That packet went to the Army Surgeon General’s office. I was told, ultimately, that I was too busted up to be able to serve: I had nine broken bones including a shattered ankle, broken pelvis, damaged vertebrae, and broken shoulder blade.

    I filed a VA claim for disability, and the VA requested my medical documentation. Oy VEY is there documentation, to the tune of fifty pages.

    I’m just curious here, does this case have a snowballs chance of being approved?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jeffrey,

      I cannot say whether you will be eligible for benefits. To prove a claim you must first show that you incurred an in-service injury. Some accidents may be deemed to be incurred as a result of misconduct in-service so that the VA will deny benefits. If your in-service injury is found to be actionable (potentially eligible for benefits) then you must show a current medical condition as well as linkage to your in-service injury. Finally, you must meet the tests of being a veteran.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Lavonne Nelson

    I am 60 percent right knee and 10 percent right ankle service connected.I filed left knee bilateral hips low back pain secondary to my right knee.and I was denied. the c and p examiner stated that he did not see a abnormal gait and it is probably due to my age. in my file is multiple doctors diagnoised me with a antalgic gait including va doctors.2002 doctor told me that I have moderate to severe arthritis for my age in my hips. my right knee has a acl tear,chronic lcl sprain,mild mcl sprain, severe arthritis, effusion,edema and other ailments. this were I am confused I had two c and p for my left knee my first the exam the examiner says least likely as not greater than 50 percent and he put in the rationale definite weakness of right knee contributed giving out,fall and tear of acl. my question is are secondary condition hard to prove. or should I appeal or do I or do I not have a case thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lavonne,

      You should consider paying for and obtaining a medical consultation with an independent physician to evaluate your condition. Have that physician complete a written medical evaluation and submit it to the VA for review.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Curtis Thomas

    I have an appeal that currently says:

    Decision & Claims File Dispatch: This indicates that BVA mailed the decision to you (and your representative, if any) and transferred your case to another location. Please refer to your Appeal Detail screen for further information about the specific location of your case.

    This status was updated on 10/1/2014 neither myself nor my VSO have received any kind of notice. What is going on and is this a bad sign?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Curtis,

      I suggest you call BVA and obtain a copy of the decision.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • melvin caldwell

    I have a pending claim thats in the Prepare for Decision phase. This is a reopen claim for PTSD. I started this claim jan 15 of this year ( 2015). However, the original claim was opened July of 2010. I wasn’t sent letters of an exam and I was jumped and beaten on Jan 1 of 2010 therefore didn’t make it to any exam that I wasn’t even aware of. Would I receive back pay dating back to 2010 or my current claim date? Also, My VSO rep wrote the reason for me missing the appointment in my claim packet.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Melvin,

      You do not indicate when your first claim of July 2010 was denied and whether or not you abandoned that claim by not filing a formal response to the VA,for example by timely appealing a claim denial. If you failed to act within one year, then that earlier claim has been finalized. It appears you filed a new claim on 1/15/15, which will serve as the date of benefit eligibility assuming the VA were to rule favorably in your current claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Sharon Stack

    I’m 70% VA disabled and filed for unemployability. My request was denied because I didn’t get the notice to submit a VA 21-8940. Should I file an appeal or NOD with submission of this form? I seen I have a year to appeal and if I wait a few more months I can than drop my highest earning employer, the Army from the VA 21-8940. Don’t know if this would benefit me, or demonstrate a pattern of declining income. Thanks in advance.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sharon,

      By the context of your question, I am assuming your are not presently employed. So if you are not now employed, your past employment does not add or detract from the issue of “unemployability.”

      If you are seeking to file an appeal, you may want to consider having a professional accredited representative review your claim as to whether or not there exists meritorious grounds for an appeal. You have one year from the date of your claim denial to perfect an appeal.

      A veteran can certainly file an appeal on independently. But, most lay persons do not have the background in the VA law, regulations, and standards of proof needed to overturn an adverse decision. An appeal will be lengthy so you need to consider what is your plan of action. I suggest you seek counsel of an accredited VA attorney. You will pay attorney fees only if your case is won and you receive benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Christopher

    Hi,

    Maybe 4 months ago I was diagnosed as a primary insomniac from the VA, this was an amended claim as I did not realized insomnia was covered when I initially filed. My medical record reflects when I started taking prescription sleeping pills. I received a 10% rating but due to VA math it did not increase my compensation. They told me that insomnia does not effect a major life event and I completely disagree. I am also currently awaiting the appeal process to get my ears covered for tinnitus that was filed with my original claim as they denied it the first time. I went to an independent Dr. and she stated that she could not say for sure that it was caused by military service but she would strongly recommend that it was. Long and the short of it I don’t know how to proceed.
    Thanks.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Christopher,

      You likely need attorney assistance with your situation. You will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Keith Britt

    I had a sleep study done by the VA it came back that I have sleep apnea. They gave me a me a C pack machine. I file my claim and they denied it saying not service connected. They can’t find my medical record from the military. I file for appeal do I have a good chance for it to get over turn?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Keith,

      When a formal appeal is filed to the Board of Veterans Appeals, the appellant (veteran) or the veteran’s representative must submit a written explanation as to the reasons why the VA failed to properly apply federal law, VA regulations, or the facts to the veteran’s claim. A veteran can file the appeal on his own behalf. Alternatively, a veteran may seek services from an authorized representative such as a VA accredited attorney. There are no fees until your claim is won.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Eddie padilla

    My PTSD claim was denied even though the VA diagnosed me with PTSD. I have appealed but have not received any word for two years. Since then I have submitted additional documentation from my private doctor for support and submitted proof of receiving a CIB. Should I begin to seek legal counsel?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Eddie,

      You may be able to receive some helpful legal advice without cost from an VA accredited attorney while your new claim is pending. It is possible an attorney can assist in your developing records to prove your claim. In the alternative you may want to seek legal counsel after you receive a VA rating decision in the event your claim is denied. There’s no charge for consultation.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Demetrius

    I was denied almost 2-3 years ago after a vigorous battle with them and several submissions. They take everything out of you! I was getting 10% from 2004 until about 2009 when a guy I know told me that as a USMC Artilleryman, I should be getting more because my body got destroyed. Well after filing again, they finally upgraded my claim but pretty much denied everything else. Maybe it was an attempt to shut me up again. I’ve been on 800 motrins since I got out which VA has no issue giving me. My back is in constant pain and my knees are SHOT from jumping off an 8 foot truck for 6 years, not to mention the ENDLESS 3+ miles we ran. I even busted my knee and was trucked out the field during a training incident. They issued me knee braces in 2013 and 2014 and offered a cortisone shot. I opted out of that as they said that could not guarantee any results and it will be short term at best. VA authorized physical therapy for 12 weeks for my back and knees at a place of my choosing. I completed that and continue to do the exercises myself. I’m still trying to get more sessions if possible. After all that I went through, I wanted to get a solid year of my being seen for my knees and back documented to let them know that this is an ongoing issue that is service connected. I’t seems things have changed since the last time I filed so I guess it is time to see what happens this time around. I don’t know what else to do. I walk about 2 blocks and my knees are DONE. Steps are a nightmare! My knee even gave out going down and I ate the pavement. The physical therapist even stated that my knee had too much play in it. I’ve been denied for my knees twice already. Should I file again? Is it even worth it?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Demetrius,

      You need to have a plausible claim to file an application for benefits. Your situation describes plausibility. There are four basic things you must prove. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

      Thus, it appears your problem will be to prove an aggravation of your current medical problem and how it links back to that in-service medical injury. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. In the alternative, you will need to obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

      In the event you receive another claim denial, you may want to explore seeking the help of a professional who can help you with a claim appeal.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • tj

    I enlisted in the Navy in 1998 passed all physicals and entered training in 1999. After being in boot camp for a month while at dentist I was found to have a high bp. After a short hospital stay and numerous biopsies I was diagnosed with end stage renal disease ending my service time. After returning home I applied for disability and was denied. After two kidney transplants and current date I want to reopen my initial claim and called today however rep stated my claim was not active should I reapply or continue with previous. Keep in mind I now receive all medic

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear TJ,

      Your post does not include a question. If you have a question and would like to pose it, I will forward your question to a VA attorney for response. If you are unable to work or are working and earning less than $1,090, I suggest that you apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI). If you are earning more than that but are on dialysis, you can apply for Medicare only.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Curtis Thomas

    The status of my appeal says:

    “Decision & Claims File Dispatch: This indicates that BVA mailed the decision to you (and your representative, if any) and transferred your case to another location. Please refer to your Appeal Detail screen for further information about the specific location of your case.”

    What does this mean and how long will it take for some kind of notification.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Curtis,

      You will need to act promptly since it appears the Board of Veterans Appeals, which is located in Washington, D.C., has issued a final decision as to a formal claim appeal. If the BVA’s decision is unfavorable you have limited time to act further otherwise the decision will become finalized. You will need to check with the BVA to find out if your decision was mailed to you at your correct mailing address.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • cecil pearson

    Ebenefits says my claim closed on 2/04/2015 and made the following statement
    appeal is possible
    decision notification sent
    development letter sent
    Does this mean that my claim has been denied

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Cecil,

      The annotations seem to indicate that, yes, your claim has been denied. If you disagree, you can request a copy of the claim file so you can see the exact reasons and, if you disagree, you can appeal within sixty days of the date on the denial letter.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Ginger Bowles

      My file was also “closed” on March 10, 2015 with the same comments. I do not know why yet. I contacted DAV and they are helping me “fix” it.
      I have contacted the VA archives and they have all of my medical / service records. They guy was able to click on each one electronically and said there were over 100 pages. He told me to submit a Standard Form 180 and fax it to a number he provided. I did that on March 16. I followed up with him yesterday and the fax has not been processed yet. He instructed me to call back next tuesday so they can help expidite sending me a CD with all my records. All of my health care has been performed by military (base) providers since 1986 so the VA has access to everything. The denial was pretty surprising because now I just had a second surgery for an injury sustanined on active duty in 1987 and will require additional surgery for a secondary injury sustained during that accident to my neck. (herniated disc/bone spur/nerve damage).

  • If anyone has any ideas on what I can do please let me know HELP.

  • I was denied my claim, due to they could not read my medical records they were to sloppy. And deemed it not service related.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear David,

      It seems to be a contradiction that on the one hand the VA could not read your medical records but on the other hand the VA found that your records did not show a service connection. I suggest you obtain a medical expert opinion, at your own expense, describing your current medical conditions and how these conditions relate to your in-service medical diagnosis, injury or accident. If you can obtain a favorable medical opinion then submit this new and material information to the VA. You might also ask your doctor, whose notes are illegible, to have the notes typed up (likely at your expense) to see what is in them.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • ERIK BENEDICT

    I got out of the Army in 2003. I was in Iraq and saw combat. I was not going to submit my clam due to the rummer that you may not be able to buy a fire arm. I was going throught the process of submitting another claim and ended up talking to The VA about my PTSD. I was put on a few medications and and talking with someone every few months. I then decided to submitted my claim and took the test. I then talked to someone right after the test for an interview. He was such a dick and wanted to know everything about my past including when I had my first drink. I told him 20 years old. I was not big into drinking and felt good about that. he then asked me if I had ever had a sip before that. I replyed when I was a kid my father gave me a sip here and there. then asked my age at that time. are you kidding me. I got a little pissed and then he just kept pushing with a lot questions that I couldnt answer due to the age and date. how am I going to remember the first time I had a sip off my dads beer, or how long I got shot at. long story short, I got mad and shut down because I hate that additude. I feel he was just trying to shove me out and give up. He was an ass hole. I was denied for being to vague on my interview. I had this problem when I got out and gave up because the VA was just a joke. I heard they were better now, so I resubmitted a clame. The VA is still the same. I cant understad why the VA even tries to help if all there going to do is make it harder for vets to get the help they need. He never saw combat. WTF would he know. I have been drinking a lot for the last 12 years due to Depression and decided to get help. I have had problems with my health, Family life, work life and friends are hard to come by. I have had a hard time just caring about life. This has been a nightmare. shame on you VA. Thanks for bring all this shit back into my head and life. I always felt a little dumb about the way I feel and now I feel like I am on my own again and much worse, and with a pocket full of meds they gave me then denied my claim.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Erik,

      If you wish to appeal your claim, you can talk with an accredited VA attorney about the viability of an appeal. You pay VA attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Brian Kissner

    I recently became disabled due to my service connected disability’ all my treatment was through my VA clinic and hospital . I was told by my VA doc that I would no longer be able to perform my normal job due to the physical demands, and was taken off work because of it. so I applied for a review and increase. my C&P doc performed my exam and I did not notice till later she did not write or take notes during the exam. so my clame was denied and I got a copy of the C&P , boy it was way off from what happened in that room. what DO I DO
    please help

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brian,

      Every action taken by the VA has consequences. The VA will rely on that C & P examination as grounds to determine a service connection or lack thereof. You can be proactive in responding to any adverse result of a C & P Exam by providing to the VA a medical evaluation report from a medical expert at your own expense. If your claim has been denied, you will need to file a response or you will waive your rights to a further review of your claim. You may want to seek the services of a professional to review your options with you.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jeff

    My VA package came back couple weeks ago and stated that I was denied for all the claims I listed. I believe it is because I never send in documentations. I kept on moving and I believe that every time they send me a letter, I was either move or it never got to me. Anyways, How to I initiate an appeal? And also do I need to go to a VA Hospital so they can do the checkups or can I go to my regular primary doctor? And also, I am planning on moving again so how long do I have till the appeal process expires?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jeff,

      Let’s cover the last question first which is the time limit to appeal a claim denial. You have one year to file your appeal. As to the first problem you raise, you need to understand the process. You, as the claimant, have an affirmative duty to help the VA develop evidence about your claim. Whenever the VA needs to contact you, it will send you a letter. The VA gives you 30 days to respond. If you fail to respond timely at all or if you provide only a partial response to what the VA is seeking, then the VA will make a decision based solely upon the information it has currently in your claim file. Undoubtedly, this is the reason all your claims have been denied.

      Finally, you must immediately update your address change whenever you move. Since you know where you are moving to, you should plan ahead & notify the VA at least one or two weeks before your move so that your VA claim file has in it your current address.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Gary Harding

    I went to the VA and was awarded 30% because I was in combat. I didn’t know I needed to bring all supporting documents. So i sent all letters, medications. Statements from jobs loss due to my temper and depression. I’m seeing a counselor and I am on several medications. I’m seeing a psychologist and they have both sent letters saying my PTSD is a direct result from my time in combat. I have had over 20 jobs in 20 years. The VA still denied they said that they don’t think my problems come from being in combat they say they could have stemmed from something before and counseling should help.
    They first said they needed more medical proof my counselor and psychologist sent letters to them and they still deny me. I don’t know what to do now appeal again but then what? I guess I can call the American Legion but what are they gonna do? I need help. Wish I could sue them for not taking care of soldiers. Please help

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Gary,

      When the VA sends a veteran for a medical evaluation and a negative medical report is issued, you can submit opposing information. You can obtain an independent medical evaluation from an expert in the field of medical practice to which your problem relates. You can obtain this evaluation at your own expense and submit the results to the VA.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Richard

    In 2005, While doing my duty as a 92G for rotation support. An open can fell from the top of the table and hit my left thumb or severely cut the lower tip. I was a Army National Guard on TITLE 10 orders for a year.

    I was taken to a clinic because of my injury and blood loss, and as i can remember i was given a LOD or LINE OF DUTY regarding my injury from my GUARD unit. Since its been 10 years past and i don’t have copies of my medical records? Can i file a VA Disability? Please let me know! Thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Richard,

      You need to have a plausible claim to file an application for benefits. Your situation describes plausibility. There are four basic things you must prove. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

      Thus, it appears your problem will be to prove you had an in-service medical condition or event which links to a current medical condition. In your question you do not state that you have a current medical condition. So you will need to show the VA both your current medical problem and how it links back to that 2005 medical injury. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. In the alternative, you will need to obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames

  • David Douglas

    I’m a desert storm vet for 14yrs the doctors had in my medical records that all my problems comes from me drinking an drugs an im a lier who couldn’t be trusted..I was unaware of these accusations untill my claim was denied.Remind you that the VA don’t have one test where I test positive for drugs or alcohol because I don’t drink nor do drugs.Records have been changed to state that my problems was the result of ptsd..can anyone direct me to my next course of action..

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear David,

      Based on the serious allegations you make as to the VA modifying your service records, you may want to have a VA accredited attorney review your service record. This is commonly referred to as a “C -file” review. An accredited attorney can determine if your allegations are meritorious and if so, that attorney can file an appeal on your behalf.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA attorney

  • Georgine Woodley

    I applied for disability when I got out of the service. They did not give me disability benefits but said that my service connected disabilities are service related but less that 10 percent. They said the following are service related
    Rhinities
    Bowell condition (IBS)
    Infection of the lung
    Back Strain
    Condition of the skeletal system
    What does that mean condition of the skeletal system…?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Georgine,

      The skeletal system means your bones.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • angela

    I filed a claim for PTSD. I got my decision in the mail stating: service connection for ‘treatment purposes only” under 38 U.S.C. chapter 17 for major depressive disorder (claimed as PTSD) is granted because the records show you are diagnosed with this condition and you served in the Gulf War. Compensation is not payable for this condition

    Can you help me to understand why I am granted treatment but not compensation?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Angela,

      Gulf War Veterans may be eligible for a variety of VA benefits, including a Gulf War Registry health exam, the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, health care, and disability compensation for diseases related to military service.

      The VA has found that you qualify for healthcare benefits only. It seems that the VA has classified you as having a “chronic multisympton illness” or an “undiagnosed illness.” A prominent condition affecting Gulf War Veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.

      As to disability compensation benefits, the VA rates disabilities in 10% increments. So it appears the VA has found that your disability rating did not reach 10 percent. As a result, you do not qualify for monthly disability compensation benefits. You may file an appeal as to your 0 percent disability rating. You will need to prove that your rating is at least 10 percent in order to receive monthly disability compensation benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jason

    I was just denied from the board of veterans appeals on a left hip lateral tear, with secondary knee pains. It was documented numerous times while I was on active duty and after I got out. But was told different causes of my knee pain. Just recently before my video conference with the Board of Veterans appeal judge I had my knee examed by a specialist. Who found out that my knee pain was due to a labrum hip tear. So I introduced that new evidence to the judge but my denial said that during my second exam my knee/ hip didn’t hurt. So it must of happened after I was out of the Marines. But it was hurting while I was active duty but it was miss diagnosed by the doctors and it hurt on my first va exam as well. But was never diagnosed properly by the va even after I got out of service. It was until my private specialist took X-rays and I had two mri’s done first on my knee then on my hip which is when he found the problem. I have been working with my local DAV on this issue but I have not seen them since I got my denial letter just a couple of days ago. How can I fight this blatant disregard of va doctor’s not taking the extra step to find out the true problem with my knee but now they don’t want to compensate me?
    Any advise would be greatly appreciated
    Jason C.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jason,

      You may want to have an accredited VA attorney review your “C” file and the decision of the BVA. Proving that your medical event was incurred in-service and that it links to a current medical condition can be complex and difficult to prove. You only have 120 days to appeal your BVA claim denial to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

      Also, there are procedural methods in an appropriate claim denial to possibly find sufficient grounds to file a Motion for Reconsideration or a Request to the Regional Office to Reopen your claim application. However, there are legal consequences to each of these options. So you must act with dispatch and professional legal assistance should be considered.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Lyle Smith

    I recently received a positive rating for a condition aggravated during my service duty, but the problem is they only rated me beginning in 2013. I filed my initial claim in 1969 and appealed the case in 1970. The compensation doctor indicated that all of my disabilities were a result of residuals from the surgery I received in 1967, what can I do to get the date to reflect the original filing?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lyle,

      Your effective date of benefits is the date your new claim application was filed with the VA. Although your claim involves linking your current medical condition back to the date the medical event occurred in-service, the date of payment is not retroactive. You do state your original claim application was filed in 1969. But, you do not state when you filed a new claim or a request to reopen that original claim which was denied. By your statement that benefits were awarded back to 2013, it appears you filed the new claim application in 2013, Thus, the benefit are awarded only back to the 2013 filing date and not the original application date in 1969.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jennifer

    I received a 10% rating for spinal deformity, 0% for migraines and foot disorder that was found to be service connected. I sent in the NOD 16 months ago and haven’t heard anything back from the VA. I went in to the local office and they told me my claim was in the appeal process and that I must have sent in a form 9. I haven’t sent anything else in beside the NOD. I really feel that my initial claim had a large number of errors and I am so confused as to what is actually going on with my claim. Should I have been notified that my NOD was received? How is my claim in the appeal phase if I have never heard back from the VA?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jennifer,

      The filing of an appeal requires you to take two steps. The first step which you completed is filing your Notice of Disagreement (NOD). Then, the VA will either grant your claim or send you are Statement of the Case (SOC). A Statement of the Case describes the facts, laws, regulations, and reasons that the VA used to make its decision. The VA will also send you a VA Form 9, “Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals,” with the Statement of the Case. You must complete this VA Form 9 and return it to the VA if you want to continue your appeal. Accordingly, since you state you only see the NOD in your file, it appears your claim appeal has not been perfected since you have not completed VA Form 9. But, if you find that both the NOD and VA Form 9 have been completed, then your claim is will be reviewed eventually (generally up to 2 years) along with the other 2 million pending claims nationwide.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • JoJo

    What constitutes a service-connected disability? I was just denied today on my claim–all ailments at zero percent–even those where I was seen and treated while on active duty. I was told “there is a record of treatment, but evidence does not show a chronic disability during service nor after active duty therefore service connection is denied.” Also, it says “the evidence does not show a current diagnosed disability. There was no continuity of symptoms from service to the present.” I have been treated consistently for rhinitis and sinusitis for the past 20yrs (throughout active duty, reserve years, and once i got out), and turned in all records from military and civilian through 2011..claim was filed in 2013 but i had so many visits for the same ailments that i stopped at 2011. Even my PTSD claim was denied, and i spent 10yrs working at the Dover Port Mortuary, beginning with my active duty days, and throughout my time as a reservist (1994-2004). I never sought help, or told leadership about the nightmares, etc because mental health visits back then were frowned upon. I had never even heard of PTSD to even know to complain about it then. My stress incident reports read like something out of a Spielberg movie, yet I was told “PTSD requires medical evidence diagnosing the condition; a link, established by medical evidence, between current symptoms and an in-service stressor. The available medical evidence is insufficient to confirm a link between current symptoms and an in-service stressor.” I have been seen and treated over the past year and a half (twice a week) at a Vet Center for PTSD (individual and group counseling). I turned in records to the VA to show my treatment path and diagnosis, yet nothing. I thought service-connected meant something occurred during a member’s time in service. I also turned in all certs i was awarded from the Mortuary, as well as the training and Letters of Appreciation for the mass casualties i participated in to prove i physically worked there for the span of years. What am I missing here?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jojo,

      Based upon the way you describe your situation, it appears that the VA established the connection of your current condition to the service event. If the VA’s letter to you states that it found a 0% rating, then this means your injury is service connected. But, a 0% rating means that the injury does not rise to a high enough percentage of disability to receive benefits, 10% or higher rating. So you have two choices. Either appeal the 0% rating or alternatively you can request that your claim be reopened within one year when you have new medical records showing that your disability is of a higher degree.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Glenn McLamb

    Involved in a auto accident on base,(rear ended by another car),all this is in my med.reports from the Naval Hospital.This accident occured in 1973,no I have not been to a regular Dr. much over the years with this so I dont have a lot of proof,and thats why I was denied.What times I have been do I need to get my Dr. to state that this injury has a connection to my now having severe problems with my back and the pain shooting down my leg?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Glenn,

      The VA has a duty to assist the Veteran in the investigation and proof of a service-connected injury which qualifies as the foundation for a rating. But, it is always better for the veteran to be proactive and seek out the medical services you need to treat your injuries and deal with your symptoms. If you are claiming to be disabled you need to obtain medical records proving the increase in the degree of your disability. Otherwise, your claim is probably going to be denied again. Therefore, in addition to being sure that the VA has all your military medical records, you should provide any records that are available after your discharge and a statement from your current physician if the physician has the knowledge to be able to state that your current condition is an outgrowth of the a service-connected injury.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Patricia Cothron

    My husband has been denied for the last 20+years. All of his documentation was signed by his CO and the higher ups as being an “in the line of duty” injury. He was taken to a civilian hospital due to weather conditions, so there are no linger, any records on him. The army SENT HIM THERE….then complained that it was a preexisting condition based on that and a doctor who never saw him gave an opinion based on his civilian job and having been offered a back brace to keep from getting a back injury. He never had an injury until he fell in a hole during Mandatory PT. He has filed, refiled and filed again…..where do we go now? He has a herniated disc and the ARMY recommended he have a desk job…but no benefits.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Patricia,

      Your husband’s VA claim has been denied apparently on the basis that he has not been able to prove that his current medical condition links back to an in-service connected injury.

      It is not sufficient to allege an in-service injury. There must be existing documentation of an actual in-service medical report as to this incident from 20 years or more ago. If you are able to find such an incident report, that report must contain a medical finding of an in-service connected back injury. Finally, your husband needs to prove a linkage of his current medical diagnosis to that 20 year or more accident. You can always file a new claim. But, it appears doubtful his claim will be considered meritorious if he does not have any new medical records to submit that would support a reevaluation. You need to find new, material, important medical records.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Andy Andras

    I need help in filing a Form 9 for finial appeal consideration to the VA in D.C.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Andy,

      A VA attorney from Disability Advisor has contacted you via email.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Andy Andras

        Kay, please have them contact me again, I must have missed their email …… thanks !!!!! Andy

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Andy,

          I requested that you be contacted again.

  • Marc Lopez

    I was denied my VA claim today for Sleep Apnea as the stated that it was not serviced connected/ connected to PTSD. What options do I have from this point?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Marc,

      You have to file an appeal. Ask the doctor who diagnosed the sleep apnea if he/she thinks it is caused by your PTSD. Also go the VA and request your “C” file so you can see the complete record to determine how they made the decision.

      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney

  • Ronald J Netter

    My name is Ronald Netter. I received a right knee injury, while on active duty. It cau

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ronald,

      It looks as if your question was cut off. Want to try again?

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

  • Thomas Hill

    I injured my feet (which resulted in a diagnosis of pes planus) in Viet Nam the summer of 1966 and was medevaced to Clark Airforce Base Hospital and then was give arch supports and metatarsal bars on the bottom of my boots. Ever since my feet have been giving me problems with pain and discomfort and had a negative affect on my jobs through the years and trying to live a healthy life style by jogging, walking, etc. I went to the VA numerous times and always got differing determinations either affirming I do have a service related disability and others saying I do not. Then finally in 2011 they did once again claimed I do have a service related problem with my feet and was awarded a 30% disability but only in effect from 2011 onward. I appealed in Sept 2012 requesting from the day of my discharge in Sept 1969 but they declined in a letter dated end of October 2014. My first visit to the VA regarding the pain in my feet was in July 1973. I was never informed up my discharge to go to the VA within one years time and claim for disability for my fee. I only then did go after living with the pain for a long time and upon advice from a WWII vet which he advised me to go to the VA for treatment. Viet Nam vets were not received well during those years which also hindered me from going and certainly was proven more times then not through the years following my discharge. I have documentation of the visits to the VA regarding my feet and the differing determinations and documentation from the Navy which I joined in 1973 and was discharged after 6 weeks because of my feet. I know I need to appeal again but is there anything I can include in my next appeal (which I plan on submitting the 3rd week in November this year that will help me to get the disability starting in 1969? And based on the baisic information I provided what are your conclusions if I have a strong case or not?
    Thank you very much.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Thomas,

      To respond to your question, I need more information. When did you actually apply for disability the first time? Did you file an appeal when you were denied? If so, do you know why they granted benefits this time?

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown ESQ
      Attorney at Law

  • Neil Harris

    I filed a claim for Migraines and Sleep Apnea. I was denied with the reason of not service connected on both. I had these problems through out my military career. I never went to sick call for them with the exception for going to the emergency room after a vehicle accident. Somehow those portions of my records disappeared from my medical records. The vehicle accident records would add proof for my migraines.

    Could someone advise me on what I can do, or even if it is worth the time.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Neil,

      I suggest that you go to the VA and request your “C” file. It will take two months or more. File your appeal now.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • Judy

    I received a package in the mail for a contracted VA C and P examination. I noticed that not all of the issues I filed for on my claim are listed on the paperwork for the C & P examination. Does this mean that those claims (Sleep Apnea, Bronchitis, Depression & Tinnitus) are going to be denied? For the record, I did have evidence in my military records that proved those above mentioned things…however for C & P exam those listed claims (right knee condition, heart condition, IBS, Hemorrhoids & Ovarian Cyst) are also documented in my records, some were surgery and I’m still being seen for my private doctors. Why are they picking and choosing?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Judy,

      Sometimes the VA will send you for more than one exam. This physician may only be examining for the conditions listed. If they deny the other conditions, indicate your appeal that you never had an exam on those conditions.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • Alexander

    Filed 15/02/14. Was contacted October 14 for med appointments. Went to all 3,med,ptsd and hearing. Just got a letter saying they don’t have my records! I am located in Seattle. PLEASE HELP!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Alexander,

      Please clarify the information you gave. Has the VA lost your claim file or are they saying they need your medical records from somewhere other than VA medical providers?

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

      • Alexander

        They said they can’t find my service medical records. I just talked with American legion and they told me that they can see my records in the va system.. Should I just wait and see what the outcome will be?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Alexander,

          Go to the VA and request your “C” file. This should get them looking for all of your records. It will take four to six months for them to send it to you.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  • Terry Mross

    On my ebenefits page it has the following stages of the process. It appears mine is at the “complete” stage.

    Claim Received

    Under Review

    Gathering of Evidence

    Review of Evidence

    Preparation for Decision

    Pending Decision Approval

    Preparation for Notification

    Complete

    It appears mine is at the “Complete” stage and
    under the “Complete” tab it says:

    “The VA is sending a decision packet to you via U.S. Mail. The packet contains detailed information explaining your decision or award. Please allow standard mailing time before contacting the VA Call Center.”

    Does this mean my claim was approved? Could it mean either approved or rejected? At what stage is a claim denied? It appears mine went through every stage all the way to “complete”.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Terry,

      Your claim was probably approved but you do not know for how much as yet. You still have to wait for the decision to know if an appeal has to be filed.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

      • CC

        Would the VA call center know the update on claims immediately after they make their decision? Could you they tell what is currently showing?

        Thank you!

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear CC,

          I do not know the answer to your question. I suggest that you call the call center and ask them how long an update takes. Also, this site provides general VA information and I do not have access to any veteran’s records.

          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • mike

    I recently filed for compensation and was approved for 30 percent with ptsd. I left a lot of information out because I was told I could not get employment with a high ptsd rating. After learning that you can work, I’d like to resubmit my case and explain everything in detail. Should I hire a lawyer for this? I have proof of my deployments, and everything that transpired in each. Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mike,

      Have you been denied yet? If not you cannot hire a lawyer. If you have been denied hire an attorney quickly.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown Esq

  • chuckledI was recently denied Aug 9th due to “not service connected disabilities” and everything on my claim is service connected. Major issues include PTSD, major depressive disorder w/psychotic features, sleep apnea, bilateral plantar faciitis, perforated ear drums, to name a few. Im currently residing in Mexico due to an illness with a family member, all my exams were done in Mexico.The Dr’s were a joke… the psychiatrist wanted to sell me on herbal medicine rather than attempt to treat me for the above mentioned, the Dr. who did my physical said “I dknow nothing of podiatry, good luck”and then chuckled… to make matters worse, (keep in mind my claim is closed) i get called by the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara stating i have a sleep study on Oct 28th! i need help… im broke, and cant get a job i was hoping the VA would’ve come through with something.thanks. Sgt Jomarron USMC 2002-2013

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Andy,

      A VA attorney from Disability Advisor has contacted you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Michael Lotspaih

    I lost my last appeal for hearing loss. The VA stated I must prove it happened in the service.(The VA did help me with the hearing aids but no VA check) I was a Marine serving with 105mm and 155mm and 8 inch guns.
    Several articles I have read state that hearing loss can start in your youth and show up later in life. I have had several strokes and that makes it hard for me to remember a lot. I can’t find the paperwork. How do I prove my hearing was damaged in 1969 to 1971?

    PS: I might add that I feel like a paper plate–Use and discard.

    Mike

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Michael,

      The amount of loss is what decides if you get paid although you must also prove that it is service connected. Does your doctor say the hearing loss comes from the artillery you were involved with? If so, get a statement saying so to attach to your appeal. Did you serve in Viet Nam? Regarding your strokes, have they been recognized as service connected? If you served in Nam and they are not yet recognized file immediately to get them included.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

  • Scott

    I’m pretty sure it has been over a year since I got my denial letter, due to my C&P exam getting cancelled then call after call never getting another appointment. Forgetting about it, fed up, pissed off and over it the denial letter comes to remind me.

    I went to the VA hospital where I live and the man there said I would need new evidence to appeal my claim. Which in his words was go to my private doctor and have him write a letter saying I still suffer from the problems I have.

    Can I just file a new claim, since in am over the one year and file this new evidence, including other issues I didn’t file for in the first claim.

    Ie.

    I didn’t file for chronic migraines and an inner ear barotrauma I suffered while making a navy dive. As well as many other muscular skeletal issues that are now resurfacing.

    I just filed for tinnitus and some muscular skeletal issues, rotor cuffs and the things I was having frequent issues with at the time.

    Do I need to find a way to appeal or just file a new claim and cross my fingers.

    Thanks!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Scott,

      I don’t know what the first claim was for, so that makes it difficult to say what to do on appealing it. File a new claim for the new conditions and say that the what you are presenting is new information and should be considered as new information. You could also ask for a waiver to appeal the first denial.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

  • Keith Taylor

    I recently received a denial letter stating that the military did not give me the condition that I filled the claim for. However it clearly states that the new condition is secondary to the current condition I already have and I have been diagnosed with the secondary condition by the VA and my primary care physician. What are my options now.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Keith,

      I suggest that you file an appeal, but you need the medical proof to support it. The doctor has to specifically state that your first condition is service connected and the second condition was caused by the first.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown ESQ

  • Trish Walker

    My husband received his VA denial letter today 10/9/2014…it states he was denied because he did not file before 12/31/2010…what needs to happen now…how can a Disability Advisor contact us to help with the next step? My husband has diabetes, arthritis in both knee, hip aches, heart blockages, shoulder injury…most from Airborne duties, just to name a few….he is very upset about this…help….

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Trish,

      A Disability Advisor attorney has sent you an email to arrange a consultation.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Enzo

    I have had a claim in process for 17 months now. I have already completed 2 C&P exams..one for hearing loss/tinnitus and one for PTSD. Yesterday I received a packet which included VA form 21-0781. two questions, should i be brief and to the point or should i attach a letter fully describing my traumatic events? second, the events that occured were not awarded with any combat related awards..ex CAR or Combat Aircrew Wings, how will my events be verified? thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Enzo,

      Enzo,

      Fully and completely describe your traumatic events! Also describe completely the events that resulted in your medals. If there are any witnesses to the events list their names.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

  • jimmy cargile

    how can i tell if i was denied or approved for my compensation for ptsd if im not able to see it on the ebenefits page.it says appeal is possible,decsion and developmental letter sent

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jimmy,

      Call or go into the VA and ask. They are supposed to send you a written notice.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

  • Sarah

    I was denied my disability after my regional VA sent my appointment letter for PTSD to the wrong address and I missed the appointment. Now I’m being told it could be another 3-5 years for my appeal process to go through.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sarah,

      Do you have a question that you would like answered?

      Kay

  • Robert Lakey

    Received a denial for hearing loss and tinnitus claim yesterday. Spent 28 years in Army, active and reserve, serving in field artillery and aviation (pilot). Sent VA copies of all my medical records including hearing test results taken by military flight surgeons and statements on those exams by the military doctors stating acute hearing loss due to artillery and aviation service. Also was required to have a civilian audio test done just to file the claim which I did. It showed a significant hearing loss. VA also required yet another civilian hearing test. Same result. Seems like everyone of us Vietnam vets are denied. Don’t know what else they could possibly want. Denial letter states that my hearing loss and tinnitus was not service connected. Really? Even tho my official military medical records state that the hearing loss is due to military service related activities. What’s with these people at the VA?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robert,

      I would have to see the denial and the records to give you a good answer about the next step to take. Of course you need to appeal but certain proof in support of the appeal will make it successful. Without seeing the records, I wouldn’t know what that is. If you are interested in representation, let me know and I will email you privately.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • John

    I am filing a NOD that I was denied a disability claim in 2007. The VA took 7 years to deny my claim from 2000-2007. I never received a letter from the Board, who made the denial, after I sent in a letter for reconsideration on grounds of clear and unmistakable error on the part of the VA. Any thoughts?

    Fidd

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Carmen,

      I suggest that you make your application as complete as possible. Do include emails and letters from that time, and get statements from as many friends and medical professionals as possible, including psychologists, as well as from the chaplain.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

      • Nick

        Could a diabilty advisor get in touch with me

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Nick,

          An VA attorney from Disability Advisor has contacted you via email.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear John,

      I need more info. When did you get the notice of denial? What conditions are alleged? What proof? CUE (clear and unmistakable error) means there is evidence they ignored. What is it?

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

  • Neal Vetrano

    I filed two claims in July of 2013 one of which the VA has admitted the use of Herbicides at my base in Thailand and asked for further information which was supplied. It was denied today saying that I was not in Vietnam for the exposure. The second was for a right hand that was broken in 1972, was mis-diagnosed at that time and have had multiple documented problems in my records and continue to have problems with the hand. They denied that claim as well saying that while they admit it was broken and not treated appropriately while in the service they do not believe it deserves a disability rating. I have tried using my State and Federal representatives to very little avail. Is there anyone who can help me with these problems?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Neal,

      A Disability Advisor attorney has sent you an email to set up a consultation.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • donald slone

    18495 alphonse cir. I was denied for agent orange august 13 2013. My Doctor suggested I appeal but I have waited too long. What are my options. Can I file a new claim?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Donald,
      Go to VA and explain your reason for not appealing and see if they will let you file appeal now. If not, hire an experienced attorney and see if they can get the appeal processed.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • Michael Henry

    My claim just came back today as denied. Mainly because I didn’t see the “Motrin Division” or medical is they like to call themselves. I broke my hand, tore my calf and was involved in an auto accident with two other vehicles. Each time motrin was handed out or I was sent away. After getting screwed three times, why would I go see them for anything? I wasn’t presented with any other options for treatment. Everything I claimed happpened while I was in. I have full detailed statements explaining everything. They still denied me. No surprise this was the Phoenix VA.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Michael,

      If you were disabled from working for twelve months or longer, then it could be appropriate to appeal, but you will need some proof of your condition to be successful. I suggest that you talk with a Social Security lawyer to find out whether there is a way to improve the presentation of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Tim

    I was denied VA disability and I have documentation that 2 different VA Doctors and my C&P Doctor all say I have chronic PTSD. I’m on medication for nightmares and mental problems associated with PTSD. They gave me service connected hearing but 0% rating. It is a joke. I need someone to fight for me. I have all documentation.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tim,

      By now an attorney has contacted you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • orcan

    Today I received my VA ratings 50 percent permanent on the army side and 91.4 on the VA side. However VA mistakenly rated my migraines 0 percent instead of 30, and right and leg knee conditions 0 percent instead of at least 10 each against VA medical exam findings. Today I talked with the legal aid on base and was told that they only look at the army side and I have to appeal VA ratings once I medically retire. Is that correct. And if that is the case can I start preparing my appeal now so I don’t loose time when I retire.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Orcan,

      The information you were given is correct. You can prepare your appeal now just to have it ready. Check with the VA regarding the earliest date it can be submitted.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • Ron

    I filed a claim in 2012 for hearing loss but was denied due to a faulty hearing test at VA, another hearing test and again same audioligist again said she could not read the results because I would not cooperate with her. July 2012 another hearing exam scheduled by VA ENT doctor by another audioligist which proved a hearing loss that backed up my private ENT’s reports. I appealed the claim for the 2nd time and submitted the new evidence, again denied. In July 2013 another letter denied claim, appealed this again in July 2014 complete with new audioligy reports from both VA & private sector audioligist received a letter 8/1/2014 (with wrong address on it had to be forwarded) which stated: you filed a notice of disagreement on March 16, 2012, a statement of cas was issued to you on July 23, 2013, therefore you had until September 23, 2013 to submit your substantive appeal. The 2013 letter stated you have one year from date of letter to appeal. Any suggestions?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ron,

      Submit a long very detailed explanation of the case with the evidence, including that you did not get the misaddressed letter, and then hope that someone reasonable reviews it. Also ask your representative and senator to sent letters in support of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • Ronnie

    My claim was denied Aug. 25 2014, I was scheduled for an appointment with my primary, last Sunday I get a random call stating they didn’t have a doctor at that location. Now they are saying my claim is service connected. In my denial they forgot to send me my Rating Narrative copy which states they are requesting a C&P exam or Va exam. My question is do I need a lawyer or a representative from the va, VSO.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ronnie,

      A VA attorney from Disability Advisor will contact you via email to arrange a consultation about whether or not you need a lawyer to help with your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ronnie,

      I was mistaken, the VA attorney would like your phone number and geographic location. He will then call you. Please provide your phone number (which I will not publish).

      Thank you,
      Kay

      • walt

        please help me with a attorney that is good with VA disability. they have denied my claim for 4 years now and I have a dx in service for IBS and one through the VAMC 9 yrs later and they refuse to approve my claim

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Walt,

          Hire an experienced Accredited VA attorney. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • liz

    I was denied my disability and I responded too late to appeal. I do not know what steps to take now. I missed the VA medical exam because they scheduled it in a different state from where I reside but they did not take that into consideration when I reaponded. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Liz,

      I suggest that you file an appeal giving the explanation you gave me in your post.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown

  • Frank

    My claim was just complete, is says the folowing on the website “Apeal process is possible, development letter sent” does this mean i didnt get my disability?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Frank,

      I do not know the meaning of “Appeal process is possible, development letter sent.” I suggest that you call Social Security to find out. The call center number is 1-800-772-1213. If your claim is at the hearing level, call the hearing office instead.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

    • Bill

      I assume this was a VA claim and not SS? The VA claim status web site stated the same thing on me 17 months after I submitted my claim. A couple of weeks later a large US Treasury deposit showed up in my bank account. I checked the web site again and it stated my claim was complete and a decision letter had been mailed. I did not receive the letter so I tried calling customer service but got no relief. Finally I went to the area of ebenifits that allows you to print letters. There I was able to print a letter stating that that I had been awarded combined 70% service connected. I finally received the letter a month later and after my first monthly payment showed up.

      Maybe this will help, good luck.

      • Olvin

        I have the same message, I submitted my claim June 2014, hope I get the same results. I talked to some people and I was told this is very common for the VA to denied any claim the first time, thanks for the information.

  • Jesus Mesa

    My VA claim was recently denied, due to that they could not locate my service medical records. I was contacted by a VA rep, and informed that my package was about to be sent in, but the medical records were not available. I stated that I assumed the claim would then be denied , due to lack of evidence, but they simply stated that there was nothing else they could do. Today I received the deniel package. What else can I do now besides appealing, since I assume it would again be denied due to lack of the records??

    Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jesus,

      File your appeal and request your “C” file. The records may appear in that. If not, ask for statements from people you served with about your injuries and the problems you have had since then. Files these as proof of your disability.

      Sincerely,

      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

      • Donnie Owens

        My PTSD Claim has been denied twice and they are saying there is nothing in Army’s criminal records at Quantico, Virgina as well as personell and medical file that supports my claim.
        I was beaten by an MP and arrested and detained at the MP station.
        My Platoon Sgt. Signed me out of the MP station and spoke with my CO. The Co was going hit me with an Article 15 before he found out the MP beat me with his stick for no reason.
        Rather than pursue an investigation against the MP, he dropped the Article 15 proceedings.
        They covered up Arrest records to keep from having proof that the MP was wrong!!!

        Platoon Sgt. And one other member signed notarized statements under penalty of purjury that this incident happed 35 yrs ago. Life went down hill, inpatient for Alcholisim at VA 25 yrs ago, the VA says they can’t find medical records, and to top it off, after 35 yrs of nightmares and other symptons, funaly am told by a VA shrink, that I suffer with PTSD at the chronic and moderate levels with Combat Related Symptons.

        Was inpatient at VA in their homeless program, after being diagnosed by the doctor mentioned eariler, I requested help at the VA’s other PTSD
        Programs for non combat PTSD, but was denied treatment because I was homeless and had nowhere to go after treatment!!!

        Could go on and on…Appealed the devission, being told there is a 5 yr backlog,..requested DRO hearing, but there is no gaurantee the ruling will change along with the waiting game…the VA is basicly telling me to get lost!!! I served this country for 20 yrs…been out for 20…nothing to show for it…incident happened over 35 yrs ago!!!! Va has some real jerks making decissions!!!

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Donnie,

          I am unable to offer any helpful advice in your situation. Getting benefits requires proving with some proof other than your own statements that the injury from the MP occurred. Unless you can find the witnesses who signed the statements, I do not see how you can prove that the incident occurred.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

          • Donnie Owens

            To Kay Derochie and Atty James…the statements were signed last year by Platoon Sgt. and another member that knew first hand about the incident!

            I read that the VA changed the rules about corrobarating the stressor, along with having to prove the incident…the statment was signed by my supervisor who dealt with MP desk Sgt…signed me out of the Brig and told the Company Commander that if they were going to charge me then he had to invistigate and charge the MP that beat me. Co declined to do so and the MP’s covered up the arrest to protect the MP that beat me!!!
            We’re publishing a regulation Monday in the Federal Register that simplifies the process for claiming service connection for PTSD by reducing the documentation needed for veterans to validate the specifics of place, type and circumstance of incident. From this point forward, VA will not require corroboration of a PTSD stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity, if a VA doctor confirms a diagnosis of PTSD and the stressful experience recalled by the veteran adequately supports that diagnosis.

            • Kay Derochie

              Dear Donnie,

              It would be best if you seek out professional counsel from a VA accredited representative in the hopes of reviewing your claim.

              Sincerely,
              Craig L. Ames
              Accredited VA Attorney

  • EDWARD HEDERMAN

    I was denied my disability claim. Before I could file my appeal, I was incarcerated for felony DUI. Upon my release, the one year appeal filing limit had expired. I was subsequently told I could not appeal. Please Help!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Edward,

      Currently your option is to file a new claim.

      Sincerely,

      James Mitchell Brown

      • Pablo Jasso

        In June 1984 I was awarded “0” percent service-connected for lacerations to the head from a head injury and denied my claim for migraine headaches due to that same injury. My discharge physical states that I suffer from headaches secondary to head trauma. Wouldn’t it make sense that they should have awarded me service-connection for headaches due to that head injury? That was 31 years ago and I just noticed this. Can anything be retroactively overturned if I do have current (new documentation) that I have headaches due to that injury?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Pablo,

          A zero percentage rating means that the VA has found that you incurred an in-service medical condition which causes a current medical problem, but the rating was not sufficient to result in a benefit award. If you believe your medical condition is worse, you can file a new VA claim for an increase from 0% to a possible higher rating. Such a claim is not retroactive.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

    • Lincoln Wright

      Doesn’t a felony automatically decline your claim anyway?

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Lincoln,

        Incarceration only affects benefits while the veteran is actually incarcerated or in a halfway house. In those conditions, you get a maximum of 10% of your benefit if your rating is above 10% and 5% of your benefit if you are at 10%. When out of custody, you get the regular rate and there is no difference in benefits when compared to a non-felon.

        Sincerely,
        James Mitchell Brown

    • Laura

      I received my VA rating and got 100% but for my one unfitting condition I received 0% from the VA and therefor received 0% from the DOD. So this means I will not get retired or get tri care for me and my girls. I signed a waiver declining my hearing with the AF since they have no control over the actual rating and decided to do a one time reconsideration/re-opened the claim with the VA. I have an attorney and sent my package back to the VA. Has anyone had experience with this? Is there a chance they will actually increase my rating? How long does this typically take?

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Laura,

        I recommend that you address your questions to your attorney.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames

Read It To Me
Listen to the article with our text to speech feature
Ask the Adivsor
Click for the BBB Business Review of this Online Publications in Orlando FL

Send this to a friend