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Old 03-12-2017, 21:35 PM
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Chuck Chuck is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Union City, California
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Laugh VA Disabilities

For many years after my active duty service in the Marine Corps I had thought about putting in for the disabilities that I received or started while I was on active duty. I know that there are a lot of veterans out there that have disabilities but have not acted on them through the VA or tried to do it on your own. Let me assure you .. you will not get what you think you are entitled to if you do not use a Veterans Service Officer (VSO). They know the ins and outs of the VA system and how they work. Their services are free to you. Personally I think getting a attorney is a waste of time and money. They can not do anything that I have seen to date better then you VSO.

I had what I thought was active duty incurred disabilities but I went more then 40 years without putting in for my disabilities. I was told that it would be useless to put in for a VA disability because I would not get anything anyway.

I have a brother (Army) that had a 100% service connected disability because of agent orange and a few other things. He finally talked me into applying for a VA disability.

I applied thinking that the most I would get would be 10% or 20% total.

I contacted the local Office and was assigned a VSO. I was given his telephone number. I called him and set up a appoint. During that call asked me what kind of problems I was having and I explained to them. He set up a appointment for me to visit his office and he gave me a list of papers he wanted me to bring with me. Of course the main paper is a copy of a DD-214. They can not start anything without that.

One major thing on my side is that I have copies of every set of orders that was ever given to me while I was on active duty. They included times when I went to Naval hospitals for treatment and surgeries. It only saves a lot of time in processing your claim because they need to know where to look. Otherwise they have to request all of your medical and dental records for all the time you was on active duty. You will stories about a fire that took place in the Records Center is St Louis Missouri. Don't pay any attention to that. Every set of records that was damaged or destroyed during that fire has been replaced from copies stored at other locations or can be found through other records locations and the VA will take care of getting all those records for you. It will just take a little longer to get. Also expect going in that it will take anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half to get your claim taken care of one way or the other. The average is a little over a year.

When I visited my VSO for the 1st time we talked about my claim and what to expect. He took my records that I had taken to them and told me that it would take about a week to go through then. Once he had my records he had me sign releases for my military records and for all my civilian medical records. In my case he requested my civilian medical records going all the way back to 1976. The VA pays all the fees to get your civilian medical records. He said it would take about a week to put my claim together and that he would submit my claim to the VA the following Friday. If he could not get things ready by then it would be following Friday after that. He only submitted claims on Fridays. So, be patient.

It took about 3 months before I heard anything from the VA. When I want contacted they sent me formal requests to go to 2 of their contract doctors in my area to be checked and tested for two of my disabilities I have put in for. One for my hearing for riding in helicopters with hearing protection. I had records to show times and dates I was flying on helicopters as a passenger and gone to sick bay one time because I had ringing in my ears and once my ears were plugged. They did nothing for me that time I went to sick bay but the VA for a record of me going to sick bay. The Navy is actually very good at keeping medical records.

The second place they sent me to was a hearing eye doctor to have my eyes checked. While on active duty I started getting headaches. I knew why this was happening because I had been taken out of the field and put in a office. The office I was in was lighted by the old type florescent light bulbs that produced a yellow light. I went to sick bay because of the headaches and the corpsman gave me some APC's and told me that would take care of the headaches. The headaches continued and I was sent to a Naval hospital for a check up. I knew the problem was caused by the yellow lighting and reading documents on yellow paper. But the doctor I saw paid no attention to what I said and said that my problem was caused by my eyes be the opposite of cross eyed. My eyes went out instead going in. Without missing a second he told me I had to have surgery on my eyes. So he requested I be set up for surgery. My outfit sent me on 10 days TAD the first time to the Naval Hospital and surgery was done on my left eye. They only did 1 eye at a time in cause something went wrong and I was to go blind. 5 months later I went on TAD again for another surgery. This time on my right eye.

From that day on I had to wear glasses that I never had to wear before. I had always had better then 20-20 vision.

Now many years latter when I went to my assigned doctors for my VA disability claims I was told that I had a very bad hearing problem. I had already been wearing hearing aids for years that I purchased for more then $6,000 from my own money. I was lucky at the time because I was making a lot of money and could afford the $6,000. He told me that even with my hearing aids I had a speech deformation where I was only hearing part of the words when some one talked to me.

The second exam was for my eyes. Again I had a very bad eye problem where my eyes were now going out. This is exactly what I had my surgeries for. The Naval doctors caused the problem they told me they were correcting. Because of the prior surgeries and the time that had pasted since then my eyes can not be corrected without more eye surgery and I was told that the doctor felt this would not help now because of the time that had passed. So the problem is permanent. I was told that the Naval doctors should have done a follow up over years and they did surgeries that were not approved at that time. They did not inform me of this.

Another 3 months went by and I received a letter from the VA telling me that I had received 60% disability on my hearing and 10% on tinnitus (ringing in my ears). The claim for my eyes was deferred for development. This is something you normally want to hear because it means your claim could be tied up for years.

I was lucky because they send me a letter about 2 months later saying that they had set me up for another appointment with one of their eye doctors. I went to that appointment and had another eye exam. It was a lot different then the 1st eye exam I had for the VA because they were looking for something completely different. They would not tell me what they were looking for.

So again it was a waiting game but while waiting I was getting a little over $1,100 a month tax free income for my computed 60%. You would think it should be 70% but no they compute things different. They start from the highest disability and work down. In my case they started with 60% and deducted that from 100%. That left 40%. From the 40% they then take the 10% and that leaves 36%.

36% from 100% leaves 64% rounds off to 60% and that is my computed amount of disability (60%).

It took more then 6 months and I received a letter from the VA stating that I had been awarded 100% for my eyes. So my official awards are:

100% for eyes
60% for hearing
10% for tinnitus
or a total of 170% rounded off to 100% (maximum allowance) without special allowances.

This boosted my tax free VA allowance to over $3,000 per month and gave me extra benefits for things like dental, clothing allowance, and a few more things.

So what this all means is that no matter what. If for any reason you ever went to sickbay for any kind of problem or you complained to someone about a problem you was having while you was on active duty (you would have to be able to contact that person you talked to be able to get a notarized statement from that person) do it.

I am a old man now but when I was young on active duty I had minor problems. Over the years especially on my hearing. My problem became a really big problem. But because it started out small while on active duty and got worse over more then 40 years I was entitled to a disability and a large one at that because it become verified that it started while I was on active duty.

So please, If you think you have a problem go for it. I did and I was rewarded.

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