FROM THE CORREGIDOR MEMORIAL VARO IN MANILA PHILIPPINES
No, it wasn’t R2D2. No droids or hyperdrive motivators were involved. Some may recall Kevin contacted me back in February 2015 with a passel of ratings questions and an equal number of screwed up decisions. After digging into his particulars, I have to admit I’d never seen a more adversarial VA posture towards a Vet-ever. That his DRO was willing to ‘fess up and come clean after ‘we’ called them on it is no small feat, either. As usual, they’re trying to minimize the collateral financial damage by granting effective dates that are wildly off the mark. Ne problemo. That’s what a NOD is for.
We decided to set out to correct the fustercluck and get him what he’s owed. Sadly, VA began their defense by using the wrong DBQ and kept denying his “peripheral neuropathy”. Once we convinced them that he wasn’t going to saw off his legs to qualify for SMC O, I set out to find a way through the maze for him. Remember, up until 2015, they had been maintaining that if he could stand up to make the transfer from bed to wheelchair (assisted) then he had not exhibited loss of use of his lower extremities. According to the VA medical poohbahs in Manila, if you can pirouette in place like a ballerina and hit the wheelchair from the bed on the first try, you are ambulatory, dude.
When Kevin laid out the whole medical picture for me, including the loss of bowel/bladder control, I knew VA was blowing bubbles. The subset of disabilities he had documented, including Grand Mal seizures, could never be misconstrued by any rater or DRO who professes to do this for a living. The only way to right the wrong was to go afield and get real, independent assessments from unbiased doctors who were not in the employ of VA. The gomers promptly changed their tune when we let that cat out of the bag.
Kevin has more 100% ratings than I do. Way more. VA wasn’t even willing to concede more than SMC L solely on Aid and Attendance in spite of 38 CFR 3.350(f)(4). That, alone boosted him to SMC M. Being a lowly Veteran with no credentials, I had to hand Kevin the playbook and make him appear the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina Eagle or Ken Carpenter. He submitted this brief in a last-ditch effort to revamp the Fort Fumble assessment. It worked. They did about four more C&Ps in a desperate attempt to deny and finally were forced to use the right DBQ that applied. Once they did that, the denial rhetoric subsided and a long period of silence began. My guess is this turned into a frenzied flurry of emails to and fro from Manila to VACO begging for ammo to rebut the unrebuttable.
Each time it appeared a decision was close at hand, I suspect they uncovered yet another CUE. Never, since Arlo Guthrie’s storied 1966 AFEES induction physical, has anyone been subjected to so much medical inspection in a vain attempt to discount or downplay his ailments. Much like a cliff face with no purchase, they finally had to concede defeat. And I do mean utter defeat.
Here’s what they decided. You may get eyeball cramps after reading the same preface describing what a Clear and Unmistakable Error constitutes over and over again.
Some of you folks might not understand this. It’s not a fluke. It’s what VA does for a living. They deny. They make up reasons and purposefully use wrong DBQs to substantiate their findings. They hire doctors who will kowtow to their demands to be subservient and say what they are instructed to say. Kevin sat through several exams by the same doctor who came at the loss of use of the lower extremities from three different directions and each synopsis was that the Kevmeister still was ambulatory and fully mobile. Not until confronted with a real doctor’s IMO of his abilities were any of the Manila wunderraters willing to concede he was less than good to go.
Bringing up all the other disabilities that qualified him for R2 such as being bedridden, bladder/bowel incontinence and truly needing a full time caregiver merely provoked them to grant him the benefit of the doubt as to just how disabled he was. This is classic VA jurisprudence. I’m guessing this is the first time Manila has ever granted an R2 rating. In their book, it’s administered like Extreme Unction-when death is certain and can no longer be ignored.
Congratulations Kevin on a job well done- before you died waiting.