Jim's Mailbag

Browse Jim's Mailbag


Jim's Mailbag
April 29, 2013
Jim, I've been TDIU for about on year, I know I can't use VOC rehab and I'm terrified to apply for my GI bill because I believe they will cut off my pension. I was thinking of Barber School. Reply: Well, I don't know that you should be terrified. That seems to be just a bit of an overreaction. And, you don't have a pension. You're rating of TDIU is a disability compensation award.v Let's say that you were approved to attend a barber school. If you did well and graduated, you'd want to find a job or maybe open your own shop. You'd have an opportunity to work and learn if you could tolerate the activity and while you did that, your TDIU money would continue to come in so you could pay your bills and so on Then let's say that within 4 months, you discovered that you couldn't tolerate the work because of your service connected disabling conditions. Your TDIU would still be in place and you'd know more about the limitations of your physical condition. On the other hand, you might discover that you could do the required work and that you enjoyed it. Not only that, you may learn that you're making more money than you would receive through TDIU.
Jim's Mailbag
April 23, 2013
Jim, Thank you for what you do. I am sure that anyone who reads your emails is more than greatful for your advice and support. I do have a question though. I have a friend who was rated 20% S.C. for Bilateral hearing loss. He filed for an increase and was awarded 50% just about a year ago. Recently he has received a letter from the VA stating that his hearing has improved and therefore they are reducing him to 20%. This person is 86 years old, I cannot see how his hearing has gotten that much better that they can decrease his benefits by that much? Thank you for whatever advice or input that you may have.
Jim's Mailbag
April 23, 2013
Hi Jim, I have a question for you. I know you're a busy man, but I want to ask; what is going on with the telephones at these VAMC's and CBOC's? Why is it that nobody answers their phones there anymore? I can't get primary care, or any of the specialty clinics now. The patient advocate won't answer either. Nobody receives messages there anymore either. Are they being instructed not to answer their phones now? Reply: I don't know of anything new about this. VA telephones have never been answered that I'm aware of. If an employee answers a phone, they may have to talk with a veteran. Talking to veterans to resolve problems is one of the lowest priorities for most VA employees. They avoid it like it was a plague. Most employees ignore their phone until their voice mailbox is too full to accept messages. Bingo, their problem is solved.
Jim's Mailbag
April 22, 2013
Hey Jim, I was just informed that after my last Compensation and Pension Examination done on September 11, 2012 that the Department of Veterans Affairs has no idea where my claim file is and in effect they have lost it. I have not been told if the entire 5 volumes is lost but they stated they needed to rebuild the entire claim folder, getting records from national archives and asking me for copies of anything i may have in my possession. I am worried this will effect the numerous claims i currently have pending. I am an 80 percent disabled veterans (84%) and am working towards a 100 percent rating when my claim file went missing. Now i have the extra worry of all my personal information, social security number, name, address and medical information that was in the claims folders is floating around and have no idea who has it or what they may do with the information. Is there any legal recourse's available to me for the VA losing my personal information?
Jim's Mailbag
April 22, 2013
Hi Jim, First I want to thank you for bringing it to us on your website. Thank you for not sugar coating crap and being upfront. So what's your opinion about ebenefits accuracy and do you think that ebenefits is current with your claim status? Reply: Not a day goes by that I don't advise veterans to avoid the eBenefits site. It's rarely accurate and often so full of error that it causes a veteran a lot of stress. I see no benefit to signing into a site that provides no worthwhile information. If VA could accurately track a claim, there wouldn't be so many lost folders and papers.
Jim's Mailbag
April 22, 2013
Jim, Thank you for your most appreciated help and support to all of us vets. My ? Is this. Was rated at 40% years ago for gunshot/shrapnel Paid at 30%. Was recently rated oct of 2012 for 50 % ptsd and 50% for allergic rhinitis. So 100% but paid at 90% rate. applied for I.U. only 6 months ago .Just received letter c&p for both in next 2 months. Pretty quick i must say. Is this S.O.P. for an I.U. Claim ?. Can it actually work against me and i may be reduced on one or both ?. Also want to tell you my DAV rep requested an increase in ptsd from 50% could that be why they want another c&p for ptsd ? Or are both required to make determination for I.U. Really Jim thanks for any light you can shed on this for and other vets. I am really experiencing HIGH anxiety over this. Guess i have heard too many tales of reduction in ratings etc. should i even worry about this at all.
Jim's Mailbag
April 22, 2013
Hi Jim, Thank You for all that you do. I have been trying to find information on Parkinson's disease in the 38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Rating Disabilities. I am doing some research for an Agent Orange related claim and have not been able to find any break-downs for ratings. My friend is currently receiving a 20% disability rating for this disease. He is in the advanced stages and I am trying to assist in increasing his rating. Is there someplace else I should be looking?
Jim's Mailbag
April 21, 2013
Dear Jim, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had the Brachy implant surgery performed. My Dr.who was not a Va Dr. that performed the operation said it would be 2 yrs. before I could be determined as cancer free but in your Va watchdog article about prostate cancer it says that my disability will end after the procedure. How can that be? Reply: That's how VA works. VA relies on the PSA blood test as the standard to determine whether your cancer is "cured". Once you're treated, your PSA should fall pretty quickly. There isn't any reliable way to declare you as "cancer free" so VA uses the PSA test. It isn't very good but it's all we have. The alternative would be more invasive biopsies but that isn't a good alternative...
Jim's Mailbag
April 21, 2013
Jim, I suffered a back injury while in a field training excersise. --may 2000. Reported the incident and was given pain killers by brigade medic. Months after that my supervisor informs me my unit could not locate my medical records. Supervisor wrote this down on two different counseling statements--that my "unit had lost (my)medical records" and that my "medical records could not be located". That was then. Now I'm trying to establish service connection but va denied claim arguing there is no medical records to support claim. How do I appeal to that position?? With the counseling statements mentioning my records were lost? Any input is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Jim's Mailbag
April 17, 2013
Jim, I was just reading your article about using Medicare with your VA benefits. I do have VA benefits, but have 0% rating. I have AARP suppliment. In all your dealings with this, what do you recommend as the best Medicare insurance supplement? Reply: My expertise, such as it is, is focused on VA benefits. I also have Medicare Part A & Part B. I don't understand nor do I use Medicare supplemental policies. I can't recommend any particular supplemental policy. But I can tell you what I do myself.
Jim's Mailbag
April 15, 2013
Friend Jim, In our previous communications, I told you that I am currently rated at 90% SC and was applying for TDIU due to a worsening back condition. On your site you've shown that 70% of all disability applications are initially denied at the VARO. Well I guess I'm part of the lucky 30%. I received my notice of TDIU permanent and total today, and I have to say I believe it was successful because I followed your advice and did it myself. I filed the initial application, made all C&P appointments on time, and submitted all supporting documentation via certified mail with return receipt requested. To all your other readers I can strongly advise that you follow Jim's suggestions and remember that no one knows your case as well as you do. Learn the VA procedures and requirements, keep good track of all documents, and have patience. And then more patience.
Jim's Mailbag
April 15, 2013
Jim, For reasons unknown my SSD attorney withdrew representing me for reasons that the case is no longer feasible. I still do a hearing with a ssd judge, but that date is yet to be determined. I am TDIU (P&T) and I've read that DOLE/SHALALA REPORT somewhat states that is a vet is deemed unemployable thru the VA, then SSA is to streamline an approval?? Any suggestions? I've called several other attorneys and they won't represent me due to the nature of my prior attorneys withdrawing from my case.... Should I get a senator to help t go to the hear alone??
Jim's Mailbag
April 15, 2013
Hello Mr. Strickland, I would like to know what to do when it comes to fighting with the VA for my benefits. I have been fighting for 12 years for disabilities which they have rated me and some of only service connected. I need to speak you with telephonically so we can further discuss at your earliest please. I have enclosed my information for you to contact me.
Jim's Mailbag
April 15, 2013
Hi Jim, My father in law is at the VA in Texas. He came here to get a diagnoses about his cancer, he was being treated in New Orleans the doctors there told him had had stage four cancer under his arm and at the base of his skull . We finally got him I'm to the VA here ( my husband and I live here) and we were hoping to start some kind of treatment . He has been there over a week and we still have no answer as to what type of cancer he has, his care has been horrible from nurses not bringing him his meds to dr not talking to my husband ( who does have a medical power of attorney )we have repeatedly asked dr to call him if he is not in the room because his father can not remember any thing they say. The room he is in is so dirty! How do we get him help when it seems like every one there really does not care. The doctors have been rude as well as the nurses. We just want him to get help they have told us they can not really do much to save his life but they can try to prolong it, but we still don't know what kind of cancer he has. He has had three biopsy's no one can tell us anything.
Jim's Mailbag
April 15, 2013

 Hey Jim,

I have sleep APNEA. Am I entitled for military compensation? I am a veteran of the KOREAN war.I am 84 years old.

Reply,

You must connect the sleep apnea to your military service to be eligible for VA disability compensation.

If you were asked the question, "How did your service cause the sleep apnea?", how would you answer that? If you can't reasonably make the connection, you don't have a well grounded claim.

Jim's Mailbag
April 15, 2013
Jim, goodness and felt you should hear it. You guided me for years and finally told me about Kaz and kaz . http://ultimatedisabilityguide.blogspot.com/
 Just got off phone with Tina there and I have gotten my increase. I am now 70%. I was at 40%. They are retro back to 2007 on original claim. Kaz is con earned about the iu. It appears they completely blew it off. Nothing in the soc even mentioned. They felt I should have been awarded that as well. Again thank you for all your help and guidence.
Jim's Mailbag
April 15, 2013
Dear Jim, I found you on the internet. I served in the US Navy for 4 years active duty and two years in the reserves. I was an Aviation Hydraulic Mechanic. Back in 1983 my squadron returned from a lengthy 9 month cruise. During that cruise I worked on the flight deck in the line division. I was responsible for recovering and launching my squadrons aircraft as well as servicing them. I escaped near death on three occassions because of aircraft crashes and one instance where an arresting cable snapped killing many right next to me. All of these episodes have affected me over the years, nightmares, restlessness, constant memories and guilt for being the survivor. When we returned to our air base a Hurricane came in. They mustered the duty section and had us hurriedly gather the aircraft into the hangar.
Jim's Mailbag
April 10, 2013
Jim, While reviewing policies about VA appointed fiduciaries I came across an interesting paragraph on the VA site. Due to The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, anyone deemed unfit to manage their benefits loses the right to purchase or carry a gun and are added to FBI NICS background check database. The paragraph mentions a way to appeal this but doesn’t give any detail. Would an appeal be in the form of a NOD? Here’s the full text from the VA site: The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act prohibits you from purchasing, possessing, receiving or transporting a firearm or ammunition if you have “been adjudicated as a mental defective or been committed to a mental institution.” In compliance with this act, VA reports the names of incompetent beneficiaries to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which then adds the names to a database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Jim's Mailbag
April 10, 2013
Hey Jim, I would like to know if you know why the va does not pay mileage to the new clinic I go to? Reply, VA explains travel pay here http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/resources/BeneTravelFAQ.asp#eligible In a nutshell, it isn't consistent anywhere. Each facility is pretty much allowed to use any sort of map they want to when they determine what your mileage is. The guidelines aren't well thought out and in the end, the veteran is usually shorted on travel pay.
Jim's Mailbag
April 10, 2013
Hello Jim, I want to thank you first for the tips and help you described at your site. It gave me the words and answers I need for my initial c and p exam. I was at first awarded 76% due to asthma depression and eczema. Those came with a no future exam needed. But a few months later on they gave me a 100% total for asthma because they found I was a gulf veteran and though this time, I have future exam needed and that is coming this next three weeks. My question is... as I have 100% total only, I would really like to have permanent for my asthma disablity. What should I say or imply when I do the reexam so they could justify my case as permanent? Because as all medical professional also know that asthma and eczema are chronic which could be controlled but would stay forever. Currently I control my asthma and eczema via medications but havent gone to any life emergencies yet due to the fact that I do not do my past military work as a civilian anymore. I currently go to school now and use the money they gave me to pay some of my expenses at school and home. And so far I am currently employed too but as easy job as a store clerk. I dont know if my work or school would be helpful on my case but my main concern is how should I have them give me the permanent 100 without losing my benefits? Please i hope you could help me out. Thank you very much