Military veterans VA ratings help

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Proudly Serving All Branches & All Eras Since 1999
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Thom Stoddert
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May I Request An
Increase
Hi Thom,
  I wanted to ask you a few questions for guidance.  I recently lost my job and I am 30% service connected disabled AF Vet.  I have an appointment tomorrow to establish a primary care doctor at my local VA since I don't have health insurance any longer.  A couple of concerns and questions have come to mind.

Here is my rating:
  Disability Rating Decision Related To Effective Date

Not Service Connected:
-Tendinitis right shoulder (major)
-Thoracic spine injury--Residuals of right ankle sprain-
Epididymitis
Service Connected Issues:
-Chronic renal calculi 10%
-Spondylolisthesis L5-S1 (prev. DC 5293) 10%
-Ingrown left toenail 0%
-Sinusitis 10%

1) I believe I have developed right Sciatica from my L5-S1 herniated disc. Will my doctor increase my rating if he finds that to be true or will I need to apply for an increase?
2) The VA originally rated me non-service related for the thoracic spinal injury, right ankle sprain and epididymitis. I developed them when I was in the service because of an exercise injury to the spine, hurting ankle playing intramural squadron basketball and getting hit in the testicles while playing squadron softball. Is it too late to appeal this and get it service connected?  Also, on the ingrown left great toenail, I don't have to go to the doctor to get the ingrown toenail removed but I have to remove about 2 or 3 a year myself. Would this be something to ask about? 
3) I know asking from an increase opens me up for a possible down-grade.  My chronic renal calculi (kidney stones) shouldn't be an issue since I pass 2 or 3 kidney stones annually and occasionally have to go to ER if out of pain meds when passing.
4) The sinusitis occurs 3 to 6 times annually so I am thinking that will not result in decrease either.
  Any advice you can provide on whether I should ask for an increase and how to go about doing it would be greatly appreciated. (representation is by local DAV but I have not spoken with them since the original ruling). I am not sure sciatica is even rate-able.    
  Thank you for your willingness to help disabled Vets. The veteransvoice website has been a great source of information. 

A lot of the recent concern is due to me losing my job. I haven't used the VA much because I had good health insurance and when I tried back when I got my first rated I was guilted into not using it by a doctor working at the VA because I had a high paying job and good health insurance.  Now that I am older and concerned my conditions will actually prohibit me from continuing in my career I just wanted to ask a few questions and see what you thought. Again, thank you. 
-Tracy
Reply:

  The best way to understand compensation claims is to remember a few items in making a claim for compensation to the VA. So here is the “quick – down- dirty intro into VA 101.
1)The medical issue must have evidence that it occurred in the service or was the result of something that occurred in the military.
2)The medical evidence must show that the condition is chronic. Pneumonia is not chronic, but if there is tissue damage so that it causes a decrease in lung inflation that is chronic. Very few infections are chronic.
3)The medical condition must be shown to be disabling, either socially or economically, before it can be compensated for. Evidence is everything.
4)Doctors do not determine what percentage a veteran is awarded, that is done by the Rating Board. Doctors only provide the evidence needed for the Rating Board.
5) Downgrades in the rating percentage are generally only when the issue is thought to be temporary such as cancer treatment or the VA found fraud on part of the veteran.
6)Lastly, if the veteran at any time feels that a service connected medical issue has gotten worse they are free to file a claim for an increase in benefits.
I hope this helps, wishing you the best.

Concurrent Pay?
  I'm a 76 year old retired Seabee (navy) recently 100% disability.  Am I entitled to concurrent pay?

Reply:
  Military retiree pay is no longer penalized when a vet is being compensated by the VA, now retiree is allowed to receive both.

  Now that military retirement pay is divided into one of two programs, combat related and compensated. The determination is essentially your choice. Each year your branch of service may offer you the choice of one of the programs. The choice is simple – take the non-taxed program.

  If your VA compensation is related to combat related issues, then chose the tax free program for your retirement income. However, if your VA compensation is related to non-combat related medical issues then you must receive the taxable form of military retirement.
Why they offer the choice is beyond me.
Question

I'll make this short as I can.
Stationed last year of my 4-year duty in Utapao Thailand B-52 base.  Bomb Navigation.  Contaminated with Agent Orange used at our base in Thailand 1972.  In Thailand had Rash-Hair fall out- Shakes. Later developed Prostate cancer.  (2006).   Air Force finally admitted that they did use this chemical at our base when I was present.  (no one in my family ever had prostate cancer)  Put a claim in 2007.  3 years was denied. Put in another to contest the results.  No answer.  Asked for hearing - August 2015 and was told I would have results no later than Jan. 2016.  Still no word.  In Aug. 2016 they asked me what unit I was in over in at Utapao.
They have had this info from the start.  How can I get this to move along and be resolved?  I'm tired of the run-around and delays.
 
Second, I never received my separation pay from the Air Force.  Last month should have included Flight Pay, Hzd. Pay Combat Pay, 38 days accrued leave and tax free (North Vietnam combat mission)
It took 44 years for Finance to admit that they did owe me the money. Mike Ashby in Indy confirmed this.  Now they say I do not qualify because it's been too long.  I have been after this every 6 months to 1 year each year since the end of 1972.  It's my money.  I dropped over 1,000,000 lbs of bombs.

My question is can you assist me or do I go public?   I have 2 national papers who will accept my documents and a national talk show host who wants to run with this.  Also I was for 15 years the Licensee for the
"Take a Bite Out of Crime" Program for the U.S. Justice Dept.    I did the promotional marketing for them.   )here's a tag line   McGruff Takes a Bite Out of the U.S. Air Force"

As you can tell, I'm fed up with all of their Denials Delays, Deferrals, and wait till you Die.
  Almost forgot,   Took me 44 years to have the Air Force acck. my Air Medal on my DD214 even tho I had the original paper work.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Thanks, Bruce Lewsadder
Reply:
Bruce, to follow-up to our phone call.
  The administrative issues with the USAF are out of my league, my focus is on helping vets be ethically successful with the VA. With that said.

  I do want to see the issue of Agent Orange handled better by the VA – “no evidence that an airman walked from the flight-line to the contaminated areas” resulting in a denial of service connection does not cut it. Just like in your case. Therefor I would like to get as much exposure to this problem as possible.

  For your case, I suggest you reply to their requests in a very simple bulleted response to each issue. I would go so far as to site their own literature (print and on-line) that concedes that Thailand was sprayed. Send a copy of a military document that cites your duty at the base. Have copies of medical documentation ready to submit showing diagnosis and degree of impairment caused by  Agent Orange.

  I would also explain the weather, human movement (people coming on and off base, the laundry services) The KISS method works well here, assume that the rating board (which it is) is comprised of college graduates who could not explain the difference between a battleship and a tank. Keep the evidence and supporting statements as brief as possible, but thorough. Even include pictures if possible.
  I hope this helps and good luck with the media.