I frequently see claimants on Hadit.com’s forum mention they cannot decipher their grants and that the decision doesn’t specifically identify the rating by Diagnostic Code or DC. Duh. VA really would prefer to keep you in the dark on that one. We don’t need a bunch of VSO lawyer wannabe’s dissecting the grant and trying to find out why you only got 10% when you should rightfully have been awarded 20 or 40%. This requires some sleuthing on your part.
The trick to this is to look in the diagnostic codes pertinent to your rating. Find the phrase they copied and pasted into your decision and the assigned rating. From there, you can easily see the rating requirements for the degrees of disability higher and determine if yours merit an increase. Most times they do because VA is fond of using information from 20 years ago to rate on. They myopically try to ignore that C&P several months ago unless and until you point out the more recent findings. This gives them a 16-25 month breather to work on another Veteran’s stuff and then get back to you with a favorable DRO decision you should have gotten at the outset.
On the other hand, an SOC will go into great detail as to why you are not going to get the higher rating. They will parse every ‘if…then’, ‘and’ and ‘or’ in a convoluted argument that stands reason on its head. At this time, you will discover the DC that you were rated under.
Allow me to use some of my own more recent decisions to illustrate this point. First, a rating decision granting fibromyalgia/cryoglobulinemia (below). I filed for these in 2008 after I won the big one for Hep C. The Seattle rater, Victor Morales, either purposefully or in ignorance of SMC S, informed me there was no higher rating than 100% and that any claims above that were pointless. I withdrew them to allow other Vets a stab at justice. About six months later I discovered the world of Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) and had a few unkind words to say about Victor. Live and learn. The decision below doesn’t contain one diagnostic code and is ambiguous as to what is for application other than what the rater deigns to inform you of.
Note the language.
“Widespread musculoskeletal pain and tender points with symptoms of headache, paresthesias, sleep disturbance, Raynaud’s -like symptoms, stiffness and irritable bowel symptoms that are constant, near constant and refractory to therapy.”
Turn to 38 CFR https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/4.71a and look up Diagnostic code 5025 (fibromyalgia) and lo and behold there it is in VA English. They do not make it easy to find but then it can’t be said they are obscuring it.
5025———Fibromyalgia (fibrositis, primary fibromyalgia syndrome)
Widespread musculoskeletal pain and tender points with symptoms of headache, paresthesias, sleep disturbance, Raynaud’s -like symptoms, stiffness and irritable bowel symptoms that are constant, near constant and refractory to therapy—————- 40%
Whereas when you are denied and have filed a long-winded Notice of Disagreement objecting strenuously to your injustice, the VA is required to inform you in no uncertain terms as to why you lost. They will send you a Statement of the Case (SOC) that goes into great detail about why and gives you sixty (60) days in which to complain and complete your appeal with a Form 9. 38 CFR 19.29 states:
§ 19.29 Statement of the Case.
The Statement of the Case must be complete enough to allow the appellant to present written and/or oral arguments before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. It must contain:
a) A summary of the evidence in the case relating to the issue or issues with which the appellant or representative has expressed disagreement;
(b) A summary of the applicable laws and regulations, with appropriate citations, and a discussion of how such laws and regulations affect the determination; and
(c) The determination of the agency of original jurisdiction on each issue and the reasons for each such determination with respect to which disagreement has been expressed.
Here’s a classic SOC I received that was a Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE) filing.
After I filed my Extraordinary Writ at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) several months later in January 2015, the Seattle VA surreptitiously “reaccomplished” that horrible DRO review with a SSOC that “corrected” their defective logic.
Unfortunately, it still did not grant the 100% for Porphyria I sought . I was forced to go to the BVA on appeal and win it there this September 4th.
VA is fond of camouflaging their artwork to make it difficult to follow. That’s why they invented VSOs to mislead you into thinking it’s way over your head and requires a Sherpa to decipher it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Any Veteran with half a brain could excavate this information. Even if you didn’t know the Diagnostic Code (DC) for Fibromyalgia, or Cryoglobulinemia for that matter, a simple Google™ search would turn it up in a second.
Enter “How does Vet Admin rate Fibromyalgia” and you get this:
Open the Hadit article and scroll down to the fourth comment by Pete 992 and there it is. DC 5025. Pretty cool beans, huh?
For hundreds of years, VA has made this anathema to Vets such that they felt it necessary to seek professional help. Unfortunately, VSOs are anything but that. That isn’t a blanket rule but it’s substantially the case for the most part. With Al Gore’s handy new invention called the Internet, we can find all these things out without resorting to legal channels…or VSOs.
Do not expect VA to “give” you anything. Most often, when you win, it is just the beginning of a long struggle to obtain the ultimate rating you set out for. The more clear and concise you make your claim, the sooner you will realize it.