Jerrel flashed the Bat Signal in the sky this PM and indicated a desire to discuss all matters VA at my soonest. Pursuant to us conversating, I allowed as how I was available for a Thursday night show two days hence. I’m sure we’ll find something to talk about. We always do. SMC being one of my pet peeves, I’ll dangle a piece of Thursday night here to predigest.
First the Radio show-Thursday 11/04/2021 at 1900 Hrs on the East, or, 1600 Hrs Antifa Savings Time. The link is here:
Or, should you desire, call in at
Dial one (1) to speak to the hosts; otherwise do not and keep the show quieter.
Imagine, if you will, being a 68Juliet20 D-8 Heavy Equipment operator keeping the road open between Long Binh and Quan Loi. You have welded plates around the cab with slits for sightlines to protect you against the gook snipers. A 7.62 by 39 will really ring your bell in there. Or two… or three… an hour. Earplugs and hearing protection was pretty skinny in fall ’68 after the big spring Tet Jam. So you tore the butts off Marb Reds and cranked them waaaay in and they kinda sorta cut down on the noise. Or so we all thought. Ain’t no cure for the acoustic trauma.
Moving along, the Donmeister gets a bodacious case of malaria and ends up at the Cam Ranh Bay USAF Hospital for an all-expenses-paid, 21-day vacation with the Round Eyes. He said he was pretty feverish and doesn’t remember. Don was really sick. So sick, in fact, that he still had active live virus when he arrived home in 70. They granted him 10% for a year and then demoted him to the VA Zeros for Heroes™ Program a year later.
Suddenly, in 2008, his right eye retina detached. He had it surgically reattached and everyone said it was really a weird thing, huh? Until 2017, when it re-detached. And then when it re-re-detatched yet again in 2018-this time with devastating consequences. Don’s my shirttail relative by marriage (my daughter). It goes without saying I stepped forward to rep him.
First thing was VA was saying a fasting glucose of 126 is not DM II-even with diabetic retinopathy, hypertension and PN in all four quadrants. Just a fluke, Don. You don’t have DM. Except his private doctor was saying Metoprolol and hold the McDonald’s. I got them to finally grant that as an agent orange presumptive. But, as I teach as loudly as possible, the big shit is where you go for the money. Don’s loss of sight from the retinal detachment was now total in the right eye. He could tell you whether it was day or night with it (<5/200). Then the left eye retina detached in 2019. That kind of put a fork in in it to say the very least. Don no longer drives.
Don had half-heartedly filed this as “residuals of malaria” based on an Internet article back in 3/2017. VA confirmed and continued the 0% for Malaria and that was that. I refiled o/a Halloween 2018-this time with a very specific claim. VA denied and we produced a killer IMO from Mednick Associates. The BVA remanded it and said what about the DM II as the cause, too?
The DROC could see the writing on the wall and ran up the White Flag… sort of. In this day and age, they just couldn’t bring themselves to throw in the TDIU and the SMC for being blind. I’m gonna have to work for it.
But, due to the magic of VBMS, I can “see” the above preliminary 10/29/2021 decision. They gave Don a 90% combo for field contraction of vision in OS and 5/200 daylight in the OD. It’s rated but is not cast in concrete YET because they have not closed out the EP 040 Duty to Assist BVA remand yet. They have to complete the bitchslap by officially announcing the decision and officially rolling up the AMA claims carpet. Having been taught no manners whatsoever in this adjudications business, I reacted like any seasoned combat Veteran would. Attack I did. Yesssss. On Saturday, the 30th of Glocktober, I filed an 8940 for TDIU and an ancillary SMC request for A&A due to blindness. So, now these ingredients have been introduced prior to the completion of the claim. This makes them inextricably intertwined and they must be considered today-not next June.
This is an art form. If Don had asked for TDIU back in 2018 when he was 30%, it would have been denied and dead in the water. But, by bringing it up during the pendency of a claim where his new combined is 94% (90+20+10), it puts down Don’s marker on a desire for the highest and best rating even if they would prefer to disremember the TDIU/A&A entitlement at the present time. Kinda like them trying to whistle past the SMC graveyard.
Let’s talk about the new CAR. The Claims Accuracy Review that has replaced the old 3-day review for accuracy we were always allowed to assert. There was a little box you could check off on in the VBMS Queue for the client saying you agreed. The disagreement button is the CMA (change management agent ).Many pro se Vets had heard of of this ploy and felt all Veterans should have the right to throw out the red flag and ask for this review. Technically, back in the day it was only available to VSOs. In 2007, when we VA attorneys and agents were allowed into the adjudications game, VA became annoyed at being called out on every decision because, well, they were flawed. The easy way to fix it was to stifle dissent. They merely did away with it in 2019. Enough Congressmen complained and the new CAR quickly replaced it. So, we have the red flag back. It’s a pocket “Motion for Reconsideration”. If it’s something minor, I complain. Mostly, if it’s complicated, I shrug and file the 10182. The reason is simple. Donbo didn’t get a TDIU because the local yokels in the DROCs are stupid. It’s because they have been told not to grant TDIUs below. Everything has to go to the Director of Comp. and Pen for their imprimatur. If you’re 70% and 43, you’re screwed. They’ll milk you and defer for a decade. In order to cut to the chase, when this TDIU denial comes out, it’s more logical to take it to the BVA and an independent do over once and for all. I got lucky this time and shoved it down their throat before they could close the claim out. You, Joe average Veteran, are not going to have these cards to play without real time access to your claims file. Using their track record so far on just the new Cerner© Electronic Health Records EHR computer, universal VBMS access should begin in 2035. I heard the new Tag Line for EHR is the old Mattel® Toys one: “You can tell it’s a smash ’cause it’s always crashed!”
Hepatitis C claims are universally coming back from BVA grants with 0% ratings. Why? Well, duh, pilgrim. You’re cured. You don’t have the C anymore so we cannot grant your claim for $. Don’t buy it. The regulation DC 7354 says “With serologic evidence of the Hep c virus…” Try changing those Zebra stripes. Folks. An HCV antibodies test is always going to show the antigens of a prior infection. So, what about all the secondaries? The trick is to file for everything up front-including the TDIU at the outset. Keep hammering them with new supplemental claims for all the DM II, the fibromyalgia, RA, etc. I recommend getting it all done up front with one IMO. Throw in each and every secondary and connect it to the Hep C. Document it with degree of disability.
Playing VA poker is getting to be an evolving game. As quickly as we counter their ploys, they spring new ones. Fortunately, it’s like playing hide-n-seek with your 4 year-old granddaughter. You always win.
Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name….