Questions about disability process


I wrote to you several months ago concerning my Hepatitis-C and wanted to follow up on that issue with you.

Went to see local VA rep and he advised me to seek a letter from my internist regarding the exposure factors. I received one lab result from the time I was active duty which is directly correlated with the time of exposure to the 74'-75' time frame. In addition to the service time working at Wilford Hall Medical Center with blood borne exposure daily. I hope to meet back with the rep this week and can then file to get this started.

Can you tell me please where does the benefit period begin on something like this? Is it the 1970's or the date of discovery? Since arguably they did not know about Hepatitis-C back then but, it was never again mentioned in my medical files and there was never any followup. The test showed elevated levels in my liver enzymes. I was never informed of it either. Thank you for listening.


You wrote to me on Mon, Jul 13, 2009 at 10:34.

If you are awarded a disability compensation benefit for the Hep C (or any other service connected condition) the benefit period begins the month that your application for that benefit arrived at your Regional Office.

If your "rep" didn't tell you that or encourage you to file for a disability benefit, he or she hasn't done you any favors.

When you first wrote to me 07/13/2009 I advised you then, "If I were you, I'd file for disability compensation per the routine. I'd say 'I have hep c and I could only have contracted it during the years of X to X while I cared for patients. I have no tattoos, I have not abused IV drugs or cocaine, and otherwise have no other risk factors that my military service years...' and so on."

If you haven't yet filed for the benefit, you've potentially lost over a year of benefits forever. I always wonder why anyone asks me for advice and then they go see the "local VA rep"? If you didn't trust my advice then and elected to ignore it, why come back to me now?

If you had followed my advice at that time you'd be a year ahead of the game by now.

No doubt you aren't seeing a "local VA rep", you're seeing a Veterans Service Officer from a National Service Organization. The VA itself isn't your friend. The VA doesn't provide "reps" to guide you.

Rarely does VA make any exceptions for that rule. The most common exception is for a benefit awarded to a date that is within one year of ETS. Then the benefit may extend retroactively to the ETS date.

M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart ii, Chapter 2, Section B
7. Policies Regarding Original Disability Claims
i. Claims Establishment
The date of claim for claims establishment is the earliest date a VA facility actually received the claim.

Too many veterans suffer "paralysis by analysis". They search for perfection and they want advice from everyone they can find. They seek out buddies who have done battles with VA, they go to any number of VSOs, they'll call the VA toll free number day after day asking questions and they write to me. During all this, they don't actually do anything and they lose out on thousands of dollars in benefits they earned during their honorable military service.

Reading my A to Z Guide would have told you to "seek a letter from my internist regarding the exposure factors". That's a basic part of providing good evidence. You could have done that in 2009.

You have some work to do.

Good luck.