90% rating despite Army saying I would never be entitled to benefits


Jim,  I’m looking for any insight possible to my dilemma. I am currently rated at 90% due to a service connected and documented MVA between two troop transport five tons during maneuvers while active duty Army. I was medevaced to Balboa Naval hospital where the Navy’s findings were two closed dislocations with one possible fracture of the cervical spine. Upon my return to post, I was in constant pain and severely depressed. The Army prescribed me Amitriptyline which now many years later I find out is notorious for suicidal side effects in teens and young adults. I was a a victim of these such side effects and unsuccessfully tried to off myself in an overdose or so alleged. I don’t recall ever being suicidal but I was definitely a miserable SOB.   So the Army slapped me with a now extinct JFX code, and honorable discharge but also told me I wouldn’t be entitled to benefits.......ever.

26 years of pain kept at bay with ibuprofen, chiropractors and cortisone injections my neck finally came apart. Fusion of C-4 thru 7. One vertebrae had splintered and sent shrapnel into my spinal cord. I recovered to about 80% and soldiered on in my career as an elevator mechanic. 4 years later the pain became unbearable and it was discovered that not only was I still plagued with foraminal stenosis at the previous fusion sight, I now had moderate to severe main canal stenosis. Out of desperation,  I filed a claim with the VA expecting to be turned away. I was told that they could not find any medical information on me all the way back to enlistment. So I requested info from the national archives. Before I could receive it I was contacted for a C&P exam. I won 40%. The examiner told me they had all my info. Shortly thereafter I received my info from the archives. It was eye opening to say the least. So now fueled by anger at blatantly being discarded by the Army as damaged goods,  I pursued two more additional claims. They were awarded in what my VSO claimed to be “unprecedented speediness”. I was now at 90%.

Inevitably I would go under the knife again. I am now convelescing from my 4th fusion and currently out of work for my 6th month. I filed for temp 100% and was awarded. One month. Then it reverted back to my 90. My union provided benefits and the disability income I receive are about to expire. The additional funds from my temp 100% were to cover insurance for my family until I could return to work. My next evaluation is in April. I provided the VA with documentation from my surgeon stating I was healing from this procedure from date of surgery until my next evaluation. Nothing has updated in ebenefits and each person I speak with at the VA sounds more so illiterate than the last. Ultimately, my surgeon doesn’t have a promising prognosis of me ever being able to go back on my tools in the trade and career I’ve worked so hard at for 23 years. So on top of “not” getting my rightful entitlement to temp 100% for the term of my convalescence, I also will be most likely up a creek for the pursuance of an “Individual Unemployabilty” claim. Forgive the doom and gloom outlook but with countless nights of waking up to hearing my wife crying in the dark over where all this is going, my positive outlook has hit rock bottom.

Jim's Reply:

There's a lot in your message I don't follow. You say you were told that you would have an, "honorable discharge but also told me I wouldn’t be entitled to benefits". But an honorable discharge entitles the veteran to the full array of benefits from the git-go. The JFX and similar JMB separation codes are still found on documents today although DoD doesn't allow definitions to be released to the public. 

I'm having a hard time thinking of why anyone would tell you that you weren't entitled to benefits? Amitriptyline is a commonly used tricyclic antidepressant prescribed to treat depression and although there are side effects, I can't find anything about it that makes it seem "notorious for suicidal side effects". You tell me you were turned away by the VA but that you had a C & P exam and you were awarded a disability benefit rating of 40%. A convalescent rating of 100% as a temporary award usually gets lowered at the future exam that comes with that rating. If your rating was awarded at 90% after convalescence, you're eligible to apply for the 100% TDIU rating if you're unable to work. Your story doesn't sound terribly unusual and I'd guess if you apply for TDIU, you'll prevail.