I do read just about all of your articles and am aware of what you say about someone who is 100% for TDIU and less for service connected disability applying for additional service connected disability to achieve 100%. I do believe that is good advice. I would like to outline my situation and ask for your opinion.
I am currently rated at 70% for General Anxiety and 100% for TDIU. I did serve in country in Vietnam with an Air Force Combat Security Police Squadron. I know that you need a 10 year time period from the date of awarded disability in order for your wife to be eligible for DIC in case of my death. I have a suggested diagnosis of Pick's disease (also known as frontal temporal dementia) based on a PET scan. In actuality the only way this disease can be proven is by an autopsy, so I may or may not have Pick's. If I do it is a slowly progressive disease and is always terminal. The time frame varies from person to person.
My latest disability percentage was awarded in Sept 2006. So I need to "stick around" until 2016 for her to be eligible for DIC unless I pass away from General Anxiety. I think that would be hard to prove. I am military retired, however I did not sign up for SBP
As my wife at the time had just notified me she was filing for divorce and at that time you were not allowed to change beneficiaries. Should I die before 2016 she would lose my military retirement and my VA allowance which is roughly $4500 per month.
I do not know what type of heart diseases fall under ischemic. I do have a heart valve in my aorta which will need replacing in 3 or 4 years, aortic regurgitation - Grade 2, aortic root, mild aortic stenosis, non obstructive coronary disease, needing medicinal therapy medium sized area of moderate ischemia in the anterolateral wall, left ventricular systolic function abnormal with wall motion abnormalities with LVEF = 62%. I am anemic, have stage 3 kidney failure and a hearing loss.
The only thing I was seen for while in the military was a noise like a generator in my ear. It was bothering me so badly that when the ENT doctor told me there was nothing he could do, I lost my cool and said he had to do something as it was driving me crazy. He verbally told me to get out of his office and to never come back. As you are a medical professional, you may find this hard to believe but the problem was accidently cured by my eating some shrimp cocktail. The noise simply disappeared. I do think the hearing loss is service connected as I spent considerable years on the flight line subjected to jet airplane noises with only plastic earplugs for protection. Also have hypertension and hypothyroid neither treated while in service.
Now the big question -- do I roll the dice and apply for ischemic heart problems and hearing loss to try for a 100% service connected disability or leave well enough alone and hope I am still around in 2016. I currently am 74 years of age. It is thanks to you for referring me to a law firm that I have what I am currently receiving from the VA and I do appreciate what you have done for me and what you do for all vets. I know I have laid a "biggy" on you and realize in the end I must make my own decision but I would greatly appreciate your input.
You have Ischemic Heart Disease. There is no question of that.
You are correct in your analysis of the situation.
Were I you, I'd apply for the IHD benefit today, right now...don't wait. If you apply today and die of a heart attack tomorrow, she will be able to carry your claim forward as if you were still alive. The laws changed a while back allowing a surviving spouse to do that.
It's a lot easier on her if you begin the claim now though...she could start it after your demise but it's much more difficult.
Filing is simple. Write a letter to your regional office and just say "I want to file a claim for IHD. I'm a Vietnam veteran with heart disease." Send it using certified mail and you're off to the races.
Good planning on your part. I'm impressed. Tell her again how lucky she is to have you.
(Follow-Up from the veteran: “Thank you for your answer. Anything I have learned about the VA system has just about 100% come from reading your articles, advice to others, etc. I will send a certified letter as you have suggested.”)