Disability question

listen this page Listen the this Page
Posted on: Monday, November 01, 2010
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Jim,

I’m an ex-veteran (U.S Army 1995-1998) receiving 30% disability since 1999: 1) left shoulder dislocation, sternoclavicular joint 20% and 2) right knee ligamentous laxity 10%. That said I am currently in the process of making a new c&p exam to increase my disability.

I have a couple of questions 1) my left shoulder is very painful (note...my shoulder injury took place in the military) and in the process of taking new MRI scan to get an evaluation with orthopedics for possible surgery. However should I… A) WAIT TILL MY C&P EXAM IS DONE BEFORE I GET SURGERY, B) IF I DO HAVE SURGERY BEFORE MY C&P EXAM CAN THEY TAKE MY left shoulder dislocation, sternoclavicular joint 20% AWAY CONSIDERING THAT SURGERY CAN INCREASE THE PROBABILITY OF MY SHOULDER GETTING REHABILITATED.

Also my right knee ligamentous laxity 10% was due to disabling residual, meaning I tore my right anterior cruciate ligament in highschool and due to the rigorous stress placed on my right knee in the military it got worse ...I am also in the process of taking new MRI scans for my right knee. That said can... A) the military take away this rating of 10%... B) can I get an increase of more than 10% if I show that the knee has gotten worse. Moreover, after rummaging through my old military medical records, I forgot that I permanently disfigured my right middle finger (note...this is proven from military records). Meaning, my middle right knuckle is constantly swollen, and in constant pain along with my middle finger. I just took X-RAYS but have not gotten the results; I also put that in my new C&P exam claim (note...also provided military records proving that this claim happened in the military).

Considering my right middle finger...A) I did not claim this on my original C&P exam and have not previously been to the VA Hospital concerning my pain until now...after 12 years of being out of the military is their a possibility that I could get a rating on my right middle finger / right knuckle. Lastly I have a current rating of 0% on periodic tinnitus, I just got a hearing test done which was negative but my tinnitus is getting severely worse. That said, I am trying to get a doctors letter through the VA proving that my tinnitus happened in the military. Should I...A) go to A Doctor that is not working for the VA... B) the Audiologist department specifically told me that the VA C&P examiners do not accept letters from a Audiologist proving tinnitus happened in the military...only A Doctors is justifiable. Is this factual and what is your advice concerning my tinnitus claim. Moreover I would rely appreciate any advice given concerning the above statements…and thankyou for taking the time and effort for every veteran that is in need for sound advice.

Reply:

Most of your questions are already answered in my A to Z Guide. Click
http://www.jimstrickland912.com

Briefly...

A "condition", the VA term for an injury or illness that occurred during military service, or if pre-existing, was aggravated by military service, is measured for the disabling effects of the
condition in real time.

If you have a broken bone, it may be rated as a broken bone. When it heals it can no longer be rated as broken. That concept applies to everything from cancerous diseases to a shoulder joint.

Once it is fixed, why should they pay you for something that no longer exists?

Just having a condition does not mean an instant path to compensation. The compensation is after all "Disability Compensation". If a veteran has a service connected condition, let's say high blood pressure, and that condition is easily controlled by medication and causes no loss of any time from earning a living, there is no disability.

Most veterans who receive disability compensation would give up those benefits in a minute if they could trade their condition for normalcy. I'd much rather be back in the workplace doing the job I loved for over 35 years. I'd give up my 100% rating in a heartbeat to be rid of my chronic pain.

C & P examiners do not make disability decisions. They only contribute statements to the "rater" who is at the Regional Office and that is where the decision is made. If you have outside data from a civilian audiologist or any civilian doctor, that evidence is perfectly acceptable as a part of your record...at the RO. You mail it to them.

If you already have a rating of 0% service connected for tinnitus, you do not have to prove that it happened in service. VA has already ceded that point by the rating. Now you must prove that it is
disabling...that it is worse and no longer intermittent. A statement from a civilian caregiver will help.

Read my guide to learn how the system works for you and the things you should do to be successful.
 

Complete Mailbag