VARO–FROM SMC L TO R2 AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT


 

FROM THE CORREGIDOR MEMORIAL VARO IN MANILA PHILIPPINES

Aerial view of the ruins and a memorial to American defenders of the island during World War II.

Aerial view of the ruins and a memorial to American defenders of the island during World War II.

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.

Kevin argument for (r-2) redacted

downloadEach 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.

Redacted DRO for R2 for Kevin

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.

Asknod's  VA Logo

About asknod

VA claims blogger
This entry was posted in Aid and Attendance, C&P exams, KP Veterans, SMC and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to VARO–FROM SMC L TO R2 AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT

  1. Kiedove says:

    For vets needing in-home care, the VA is supposed to have social workers to arrange caregivers and telemedicine as well. Any information on these programs is welcome.
    http://www.caregiver.va.gov/connection/connection_wanda.asp

  2. Kiedove says:

    Wow, I am so happy for this win but what suffering was endured prior to it. A remarkable case. The argument was clearly written Alex and team. Impressive job.

    To Bigmuny, some states will pay family/friend caregivers to help keep disabled folk in their homes which is a cost-savings compared to other alternatives. So perhaps you can contact a senior agency near you to see what’s available in your locality.

  3. bigmuny says:

    I also am trying to get R-2 or rather what is called a higher level of Aid and Attendance. I initially filed for this back in 2008 and still am waiting on them to give me a decision. A few things have come down the pipe but not an answer to the R-2 question. Along with filing for a higher level of Aid and Attendance I also filed for a housing grant and on Jan 16, 2015 they gave me the housing grant through the BVA but remanded back to the RO my request for an R-2. They said they wanted any new information that may help me on my R-2. To me it seems if they give me the housing grant the criteria is the same as it is for the R-2. Anyway I had another C&P in September 17, 2015 but still no answer back as of yet.
    The RO out of New Orleans at the time denied my R-2 and housing grant request in 2010 and I appealed obviously and in 2012 they denied me again via DRO then in an amazing turn around said there was a CUE and granted me the L 1/2 rate, then corrected that to the M rate because of my 100% rate plus another 100% rate and a whole bunch of other rates, so I now stand at the M rate with an appeal. I am just wondering whether or not an incident I had with a C&P doctor in 2012 might have something to do with the foot dragging and what happened there was when I went to see the C&P doctor I was in my electric wheelchair and she asked me to get up on the table so she could examine me and I told her I could not do that and prior to coming had requested a couple of orderlies be there to help me if I needed them. Well in her wisdom she stated “Now we know that you can get up on the table by yourself and again I replied no I can not, so she asked me to grab hold of her fingers and when I reached for her hands she grabbed me by the wrist and jerked so hard it popped my back like in a whiplash, immediate pain so intense it felt like fire burning in my back and I commenced calling her all sorts of bad names. I filed with the VA Police an assault charge along with the Arkansas Board of Medical Examiners but they cleansed the report in her favor, so I left it at that and got back to my claim but I am wondering if being slowed played that my filing against her is the reason.
    I see a lot of my claim and Kevin’s claim the same in that my is based on my back, except mine is the result of a helicopter crash from Vietnam that has progressively gotten worse over the years to where it is now that I am unable to stand, or walk and a lot of that is due to peripheal neuropathy in that I have no feeling in my feet. I guess that is why everytime I go to the Doctor they constantly try to get me to stand or get up on the table, so now by reading Kevin’s claim I can see where if I did the Appeal Board would say See, he can walk and stand, no matter if I fell flat on my face but I don’t because I can’t. I have already fallen brusing myself, fracturing my ribs, etc., etc. , all the usual hub of bs.
    I have been on Chronic Pain medicine for the past 15 plus years if not more and in the past few years the VA has come out with a memorandum stating Veterans on Pain meds would be weaned down to an ineffective dose. They kept asking me if I wanted to go down to Florida for treatment or a facility in Little Rock, Arkansas to which I replied who is going to help take care of me, who will change my catheter or my underwear?? No One obviously so why do you people keep asking me, So I am left to my own vices, I don’t change my catheter one because I can’t and two it hurts so much anymore it is raw, so I just leave it there. I need injections and can’t give myself those and no I don’t have anyone to do it for me, I can’t get anyone from the VA to come to my home because they have a policy that if a Veteran is getting pain meds they are not allowed to come to their home, and I don’t have the money it takes to hire an outside source hence the request for a higher level of AA to R-2 where I can pay for the service. It is very expensive and I don’t want to go to a residential facility, I want to stay in my own home.
    Kevin’s plight is similiar to mine only mine is taking longer and I probably won’t win the Appeal. I have had two of my doctors state that if I did not receive a higher level of aid and attendance then I should be entered into a residential care facility and I hereby state absolutely negativo to that…any ideas that could possibly help me???

    • asknod says:

      Yep. You need a VA attorney. You never got the briefing on the secret password and the handshake. My email is asknod@gmail.com

    • Hi Bigmuny,

      After reading your reply I see that your disabilities are very similar to my own especially with the neuropathy. I had the exact same thing(s) happen to my legs and feet and kept telling my VA and private doctors that my conditions kept worsening. The only major difference I see from your disabilities to my own is that I suffer from the worst sort of seizures imaginable and spend more time in the hospital because of them then I do at home due to a service-connected (TBI) from falling off a building and landing on my head.

      The first thing I would do “AGAIN” is file another A&A form updated of course with your current set of disabilities. I would also request SMC-R1 for the moment and see if they will approve you for this level of A&A because you have a need for assistance daily with your activities of daily living or (ADL’s), and also due to your loss of use of your lower extremities, being catheterized, and I assume bowel-incontinence? I don’t believe you currently qualify for R2 give because you do NOT already have a nurse or caregiver working for you:( Having said this though, I would encourage you sir to ask Alex as he again knows considerably more than I do. In my experience with my DRO and the VA I already had these two… Meaning I have a full-time caregiver 24 hours per day, and also an on-call nurse who comes in 2-3 times per week to change my catheter and to assist with my bedsores that may need her attention. She also trains/trained my caregiver in CPR, changing bandages, diapers, lifting me, bathing and a million other health related issues that have or could pop up. It was because I was already paying for these services out of my own pocket that I was awarded the R2 status I believe. Again, another pertinent question for Alex.

      I would in your case sir send an email to Alex asking for his assistance as he is truly the expert in these matters, and I was his novice/apprentice. But please ask me any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to answer them and assist you in any way I possibly can. With your current situation may I ask why you do not have someone helping you daily? Is there no family members or friends who can assist you sir? I am going to make an assumption here, and it might be the wrong one, but I could see where the DRO or VA is questioning the need for a higher level of care when you are not actually receiving the care already. Please forgive me for being up-front, and again sir, I may be wrong with my hypothesis, but it stands to reason that even if you cannot afford the care you need, then the DRO could say hey its not our problem you cannot afford the care you need, and because you currently are doing everything yourself, then maybe your well enough to continue to do so… I am sure some raters actually think this way!!! I would find a friend, relative or someone who could assist you daily with your activities of daily living (ADL’s) so that you can submit their statement(s) in support of your claim. On the other hand you could also tell them that the reason you have to do everything yourself is because you simply cannot afford the care you need with your current monetary deficiencies.

      With great respect, and humble advise,

      ~Kevin

      • Thank you for your comments on R-2. There is a lot of great advice you have given me Kevin but please clarify, do you want me to send in another form for AA?? Wouldn’t that prolong another round of C&P with all the filings in between. What is Alex’s email address, I don’t have it. I would be willing to do anything to try and get someone to come in and help me. My wife does what she can but I have had so much bad luck with things especially having people come in and they end up ripping me off for my pain meds and other valuables. I hired them off of Craigslist because they were affordable and I was desperate. I have had many issues with the VA trying to get help but they can’t seem to oblige because of my Pain medication. I asked for a bed that lifted up and down and raised the legs and head and they sent me a single bed one that my wife can’t sleep in with me in case something happens, it was a hospital bed, I don’t want a hospital bed I want a queen size bed like they advertise on TV that raises and lowers. Please send me Alex’s email so I can write him and I am so happy you prevailed. You take care and may God be with you and your’s.

        • Hi Robert,

          Please send me your email address and I will ask Alex in the mean time if I have his permission to give you his email address okay. Also, I did not know you were married!!! This makes things even better for your plight in my considered opinion. My email addresses are as follows: Dr.Kevin.Baltzley@Gmail.Com or Kevin.Baltzley@Icloud.Com

          I would prefer private email communications with you as opposed to sharing personal information over the internet.

          With warm regards,

          ~Dr. Kevin

          • asknod says:

            Seek and ye shall find. Anyone who asks needs to use some initiative. This is why widgets exist.See “Contact” above in the widgets section.

        • asknod says:

          Pay it forward, Kevin. You now have the power.

        • asknod says:

          Robert. Remember this is a self-help site. We “teach” others how to accomplish this. We cannot legally do it for you. If you click on the “Contact” widget above in the black area under the medal, it has my email. It certainly isn’t a secret. Seek, Learn. Research. Win.

  4. mark says:

    Kevin WIN va DIE, I LOVE IT, They Lose Again, Assholes

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for the vote of confidence!!! I appreciate the applaud and support… Btw, glad you and YuYu made it home safely… Please go and eat a steak for me:o)

      ~Kev

  5. Alex,

    Thank you truly for all that you do for the many. I play a small part in this adventure, but with your guidance and keen intelligence skills we were able to prevail. I will now pay it forward so that other veterans who are in need of guidance, and a friend will receive the lesson I learned and how together, it is possible to win if one is prepared.

    Thanks again my friend,

    ~Kevin

    • asknod says:

      Shoot, Kevin. This was more fun than a jar full of lightning bugs under the covers in bed. I should pay Vets for letting me hose the VA. To think, if they hadn’t told me I was never in Vietnam, I wouldn’t even be doing this.

      • Thank you Alex for the laugh… In fact, I am still smiling. It was/is an incredible moment to have won my final victory over the VA. If they had done this years ago it would have saved a lot of headache and heartache and money. This is where the government knows that with most veterans time is on their side. If the veteran dies before a decision is rendered then they don’t have to pay unless there is a family member to continue the fight for them I believe? Now, I would like to help (bigmuny) see if we can assist him with his plight as it would seem his condition(s) are very similar to my own:)

        Thank you again my friend for ALL of your support, and endearing wisdom over the past year to me…

        ~Kevin

        • asknod says:

          The highest honor a Veteran can be awarded is an opportunity to help another one, sir. I’m sure if the shoe was on the other foot, you would do the same.

          • I believe you know I would, and will continue to do… Leave no one behind, and care for those who need those with experience to assist and help them win their claims is my new motto:)

  6. david murphy says:

    One for the good guys

    • Thank you David for the support and vote of confidence. Alex is one of those rare veterans where I wish I could turn back the tables of time and make him 21 again knowing what he knows now. He is a walking, talking lexicon of advise that is right on target. I would NOT have won without his support and endearing convictions and knowledge.

      Enjoy your Saturday sir,

      ~Kevin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s