Overcoming the VA’s New DBQ Policy

Sleep Apnea DBQ

Last week, the VA announced that it would discontinue the use of public-facing Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) – meaning that it would no longer make DBQs available to the general public on its website. DBQs are standardized forms completed by medical providers that outline the severity of a condition.With a completed DBQ, a veteran could provide essential medical evidence towards their increased rating claim and (more importantly) contradict an unfavorable Comp & Pen report.  

Prior to last week, the VA’s website hosted links to DBQs for various medical conditions. Without access to these DBQs, what options are still available in a veteran’s fight for a higher rating?

Get Creative

The VA says that its Comp & Pen examination system is now widely available, which minimizes the need for DBQs. But that process is often flawed and results in evidence damaging to a claim. For veterans with an unfavorable Comp & Pen report, some consider paying for an expensive Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) to support their case.

As another (more affordable) option, veterans can recreate the success of a DBQ with a letter, written by their own medical provider, describing the extent of their condition.

In any provider letter, the following information should be included:

  1. Identification of the provider’s credentials (e.g. “I am board-certified ______”)
  2. How long the provider has treated you, and the scope of treatment
  3. The symptoms associated with your medical condition, including:
    1. Frequency
    2. Severity
    3. Impact on daily activities (including work)
    4. Effect of medications
    5. Prognosis, if applicable

For authenticity, each letter should be on the provider’s office letterhead and include a signature and contact information.

Maximizing the Effectiveness of a Medical Provider Letter

To increase the value of any provider letter, you must tailor the above framework to the VA’s Diagnostic Code – the manual that VA personnel use to rate conditions. Many conditions have an specific Diagnostic Code containing criteria for ratings. For example, Migraines is listed as Diagnostic Code 8100, which looks like this:

For a veteran with a 0% rating seeking a higher rating for migraines, it is important that any provider’s letter mentions the frequency of the migraines and whether they are prostrating.

Working with your medical provider to tailor these letters to the VA Diagnostic Code is most effective because  it mirrors what DBQs are designed to do.

Your Fight For a Higher VA Disability Rating

With some proactive research and a helpful provider, disability letters can help win your VA claim for an increased rating. Even if the VA orders a Comp & Pen exam anyways, a well-written letter can help sway a Comp & Pen examiner whose opinion can make or break your case.

Don’t wait for the VA to obtain an unfavorable Comp & Pen report – take charge of your VA case with a provider letter today.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at kcraveiro@roblevine.com


Posted in C&P exams, Diagnostic Codes (DCs), Guest authors, Lawyering Up, NOVA Attorneys, Uncategorized, VA Attorneys, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments


Right. Once again I get the honor of the Golden Microphone from Jerrell and John. Mark your calendars and note the new telephone number. I’d like to discuss the new improved standard of rudeness from VA ratings adjudication personnel. The service was always chilly and the conversations full of pregnant pauses and note taking. However, with the advent of the new AMA, VA has descended even further into the Maelstrom of adversarial incompetence.

I got this glacial treatment at a DRO hearing in Jackson Mississippi in July 2018 where the “booth bitch” threatened to have my skinny no-account ass removed and escorted out of doors if I didn’t go sit in the back of the bus. I almost felt like I hadn’t earned my lunch money for that gig. It’s not that I was ill-prepared. I wasn’t. It was because the DRO refused to talk about SMC L for Loss of use of the lower extremities. They know this leads to R1 so it’s forbidden discussion. Next? Now, mind you, this behaviour was before the AMA when I was still writing jokes about it. 

The Houston Two-Step

Houston folks are rating reducer specialists. They use silky smooth sleight of hand and mirrors. First they increase your rating for a knee from 20% to 30% and toss in 10% for pain in your ankle. Surreptitiously,  with the other hand, they are reducing your 26-year protected rating for a painful harvested tendon  scar from 20% to zilch. The argument is it isn’t a reduction unless you end up with a net loss of rating. But they did just that. Watch below in the .pdf of the Code Rating sheet.  The 20% up to 30% increase and the new 10% for the hip started on September 9,2017. At that point, he was 90%. On 2/24/2019, they took away the protected scar to knock him back down to 80% and deny TDIU.  This was also where they denied TDIU. The inference is that you can’t get TDIU with 80%. You need 90%. This also shows some  behind the scenes card shuffling to get just the right amount of reduction to reduce it to 80%. Too bad they chose the protected rating. Worse. They had to fix it when someone noticed they’d accidentally given him 90% combined. This takes ratings to a whole new low.

Illegal reduction from 90 to 80%

Houston misfeasance

I don’t want to spoil the show. Say a prayer for Chase and Kate. He entered hospice on Sunday PM in Nashville and they’ve taken him off insulin, heart meds and anti-rejection meds for his liver transplant. It won’t be long. I wish I could be there with Kate. As usual, VA is being a hard ass and jacking her around. I made sure I let the Fort Little Brains poohbahs know he’s on hospice. That way they can’t do the “We’re soooooo sorry. We had no idea or we would have done this sooner.”

Anyway, here’s the Bat Signal we all know…

Which means two days hence, at 1600 Hrs on the Left Coast and 1900 Hrs on the (L)east cost, we will begin transmission.

Now make sure you note the new number.

(515) 605-9764

As usual, if you wish to ask a question, press the numero uno (#1) on you telecommunication device to let us know you wish to speak.

Is this the person to whom we wish to speak?

Posted in Appeals Modernization Act, Complaints Department, Humor, KP Veterans, Reductions in rating, SVR Radio on hadit.com, Tips and Tricks, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Pvt. Chase USMC 1969

As all of you Coronaphobiacs know, April Fool’s is my Birthday. And that being the case, life would not be worth a hoot if I didn’t gig some poor soul somewhere in the world. Somebody must pay for this crime. What was my mother thinking? I know what Cain felt like. I got the “mark” put on me for life, too. Which brings up an interesting story that provoked me to come out of a CAVC brief haze. God I hate writing those things. The Court is anally retentive. Every t is crossed and every cite is correctly cited or it’s non conforming and back to the drawing board to fix it. This story is about Kate and Chase. It seems all my very oldest Veterans are finally getting their ‘day in court’ and winning (fortunately). 

Chase and Kate came to me along about 2014-15. Chase had been hornswoggled into doing  the triple drug cocktail of Telepravir/Interferon/Ribavirin with a Stage 4.9 liver  with esophageal varices and a positive antinuclear antibodies test (ANA) in 3/2012. That’s medicalspeak for  don’t even think about Interferon. VA doctors talked him into it with wild tales of 80 % success rates. In your dreams, jellybeans. It was more like 37% in reality and 0% for guys as far down the Hepatitis C road as we are. His liver gave down on him a month later after the fourth dose. The sad thing was if he’d waited about 2 years (which was feasible) he could have done the Harvoni like the rest of us. He wouldn’t be signing up for hospice today if he had. I have another Vet (WGM) down in Texas with the same story. The triple drug poison cocktail. VA bought a trainload of it right before the advent of Sovaldi/Harvoni. They were pushing it like Junk down in Harlem on Friday night.

Chase was unique. VA had already run up the white flag and awarded him $100 K for a FTCA claim. I explained to them how you could file for both the FTCA as well as an §1151 medical malpractice claim. The VA comp. is the higher value benefit because in three years you’ll have $105 K in the bank but if you stay alive ten years, you’ve banked $370 K and so on. If you win a FTCA claim and then win a §1151 claim later, you have to pay back the FTCA bucks. Hey, I get that. You can’t collect twice on a life insurance policy, right? So Kate filed and we sat back and cut bait.

I ghosted their 2015 filing for a trainload of liver transplant problems as well as a basic hepatitis claim on top of it as a catchall. It’s inferred and informal. It’s required by law to look at all potential causes if you represent yourself. Here, all medical roads led to Rome. If it wasn’t medical malpractice that led to the need for the new liver, then it was due to getting the Hep C in the first place. Six of one and half a dozen of another.

We fought long and hard. I did about a 23-page brief on the NOD after the boiler plate blowoff job. Two VA doctors said it  was a really bad idea to do the triple cocktail but they weren’t “real” IMOs. Play four bars of the Jeopardy™ song and wait for the grant/SOC.

Now, mind you, VA forgot to do a signed consent form for Chase. VA does this by handing you a black electronic pad with a stylus and you sign. You don’t know anything more than that you are complying with 38 CFR §17.32(d)(1)(i) which demands VA get an electronic signature into the VistA VHA computer before they can legally inject any drug into a body cavity (i.e. abdomen). No consent = FTCA/§1151 win.

They spent about an extra month or two investigating if his HCV was service connected. I called up Fort Pea Gravel and talked with the DRO “Coach” Darla. She was polite as pie and said they were going to do me a speshull favor and get a c&p for Chase and see if just maybe they could grant HCV based on jetguns and sharing haircuts.

Right. You folks don’t see the Mayflower tied up to my front porch nor was I born last night. I told ol’ Darla that if the kind folks at Little Rock Puzzle Palace couldn’t find it in their hearts to actually grant, why I’d just step out and fetch me one of them fancy IMOs from some city slicker doctor. We laughed and laughed and laughed. They sent the SOC a week later on 1/13/2020. The SOC said “we tol’ you twice, son. You nodded your head okay. Sorry, Charlie. Won’t fly” Besides, we searched your (nonexistant) STRs and there’s no mention of you having Hep C.” Well shoot. That’s like looking for a front bumper for your 1965 Mustang in a junkyard in 1946. Duh?

Anyway, I did just what I said I’d do. I even bought it with my own money. I submitted on March 6th, 2020 on a 60-day SOC fuse with seven days to spare. Thank you Adam and Jessica at Mednick Associates. You folks rock! I then  saw a filing pop up in VBMS with a weird Form 9 discussion and realized they were not taking it as a Supplemental claim but keeping it in the Legacy system. And this is where our nonadversarial, Veteran friendly, Mother VA reared its ugly head like a pissed on pit bull.

I contacted the guy who left the note in VBMS down in Phoenix  via VA email and said “Negatory on the Legacy. I’m sending you a new 995 Supplemental with box 13 checked to opt-in from Legacy. It’ll pop up in the Queue today if you want to redo it properly”. The munchkin in Phoenix called me back 4 minutes later and accepted my change order  to fix it. They uploaded it the next day. Unfortunately, in the meantime, some brain dead Zombie Snowflake in Arkansas decided to a) cut the IMO off the .pdf leaving only the old 995 with no opt-in box checked and b) tossed it into the trashcan because… well, why now there was no new evidence attached. That was just the beginning. Two days later, I got it re-established by emailing the poohbahs in DC and explaining it to them. Not to be thwarted, the little people at Fort Little Brains got even more pissed and tossed it a second time by saying “No. This was once inferred as a VA 9 Legacy Appeal and we are not going accept it as a Supplemental. No. No. No. Our Coach agreed we don’t have to do it. We’re closing it. Neener, neener neener.”

I emailed the really super duper bigwigs ( including Hon. Robert Wilkie) again on March 24th and said “Help. I’m dealing with mental midgets replete with room temperature IQs in a backwards state called Arkansas. Can someone explain the new AMA to them? Boom shaka laka laka. Just like that, the music stopped. Everybody in Arkansas immediately became submissive said Sorry for the snafu, Buckwheat. It’s back in the claims queue. Some poohbah Coach back there even sent me an email and said”We’ve got this handled in Little Rock, sir. I’m personally monitoring it. You can count on me.  We’ll have a decision out for you in an Arkansas minute. Stand by”.

Literally 20 hours later Friday morning, I wake up and tune in to VBMS to get the “Oh. So you think you can just call up DC and sic the Secretary on us? Well, suck on this one Mr. Graham. We’re denying your stupid IMO. The IMO is so flaky, we gave up reading it. It looks like it was written by a third grader. Thank Chase for his service, hear? Ta Ta For Now. Signed Your friends in Little old Rock town ” Now, this is really sad because Chase is lying 8 hours away in the Nashville TN ICU on O2 w/nasogastric feeder and catheter and a 5-port PICC line in his arm trying to kill his double pneumonia and recent strokes (7) which have paralyzed him from the neck down. The jackbooted VA police won’t let his wife in to see him because she wasn’t on the approved “List”. They suspect the coronabug-if not now- soon. Does this man look like 30% for s/p liver txplant or 40% for HCV? So I hit the Bullshit button.


Well, I guess you know me. I won’t sit still for this silliness. Friends in Laos remember me as the guy who always had a spare HE or two for my thumper in one of my cargo pockets. I popped one first thing Monday morning. Cupcake made me rewrite it five times to make it less hostile and filled with rainbows and unicorns stuff. I don’t do unicorns but I did this time. If Chase passed before I got his service connection for this, I would be years at the BVA trying to get accrued bennies and DIC for Kate. Kate didn’t have years and they didn’t have a lot of money to hold out on for months of isolation. Chase wasn’t going to go far. His medical situation doesn’t lend itself to anywhere other than a hospital or upscale intensive care nursing home. VA isn’t accepting any new clients even though they are starting to get a lot of bed vacancies due to the virus. Kate doesn’t consider that anything more than consigning him to a horrible death. The only other choice is to isolate there on the palliative ward at Nashville and stay in the care of the one doctor who has been the loudest voice who spoke for Chase and wait for the obvious. It’s one of the saddest cases I’ve ever worked. It gets harder and harder to do the Last Rodeo. It’s like Vietnam all over again. We just did this with my good friend Sam Bailey this last last February.


Lo and behold my pleas landed on welcoming ears. I woke up this morning and found the DC honchos got out the bullwhips and went down to Little Rock yesterday morning. Faster than you could say Jack Robinson, Fort 3/8″ Minus discovered they had plumb stepped all over their neckties and overlooked certain regulations. They CUE’d themselves almost as many times as that time I called them out on R1 down in Phoenix back in ’17. I think that was 9 CUEs. Of course, they low-balled us and gave him a rotten effective date. I sent them another love letter this morning and thanked everybody but suggested they sharpen their pencils again and read the records. The effective date is 3/30/2015- not 3/06/2020.

Boy howdy when you just cheat all the time, it becomes an imbedded bad habit. When you finally get called out by the Corporate bosses, and you still can’t bring yourself to do the right thing, you’re certifiably defective. It must be hell being a VA rater or DRO. You’d have to hate Vets and probably the whole human race to do this. Madoff, Hitler and Stalin would have loved the job. Sometimes I think if DROs had been of draft age in 1942 Germany, they would have sought out jobs at Treblinka and Auschwitz. That’s how low my opinion has sunk over the last 10 years.

Kate and Chase in happier times.

Chase and Kate have finally prevailed. If he were to pass tomorrow, Kate will still get DIC. That was my biggest worry. Well, anyway, April Fool’s to all you jackwads in Little Rock. How does it feel to get bitchslapped? Remember me you should. Yessssssssss. I hope that stain ends up in the permanent record. Sadly, if history is any harbinger, at VA, it will portend a promotion and a bonus.

The good news is I got to meet Kate and Chase back in 2016 or 17. They drove out to Washington and left their shootin’ irons here for safe keeping while they went up to Canada for a week. I don’t always get to meet my Vets but this was a client I’ll always be glad I was given the honor of representing.

I’m attaching the actual documents and the email chains back and forth between the conspirators. If you didn’t see it with your own eyes, you wouldn’t believe me. Sometimes I feel like a fly on the wall. It isn’t the first time and won’t be the last. Jackson and Houston are famous for this, too.

redact email chain over EP 170-040

3-26-2020 denial redact

redact rebuttal email 3-30-2020

4-01-2020 CueRedact

See Virginia? There really is an April Fools faery. I’m living proof. Say a prayer for these two wonderful souls tonight if you would.

Christmas 2015


Posted in All about Veterans, ASKNOD BOOK, Complaints Department, Corona pandemic, Food for the soul, HCV Epidemiology, KP Veterans, Lawyering Up, Legacy Claims, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA FTCA Claims, VA Medical Mysteries Explained, VA Secretaries, VARO Misfeasance, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments


Golly doggies. I never thought I’d see the blame game rise to such a vociferous he said-she said level. I read this morning that an Arizona couple decided to self-medicate with chloroquine phosphate. He died and she’s sicker than a dog. Apparently, our discredited President told them to take it.  That dramatically moves the goalposts of the “it’s not my fault” theory of law. I wonder if she plans to sue?  It is decidedly different than a genuine prescription of  chloroquine which is what we ate in Vietnam to reduce our chances of coming down with malaria. Chloroquine phosphate is used to clean fish aquariums. I’m gonna go out on a limb and bet the container said it’s not for human consumption. Similar warnings abound on Erythromycin antibiotics and other medications used in fish aquariums. This looks more and more like a Darwin Award candidate from the dry lake bed end of the gene pool. 

Cupcake and I no longer have fish pets. My three-year old son turned up the aquarium heater back in 1990 and cooked a pair of breeding discus fish with offspring.  Fortunately, that insulates us against this very same medication mistake. An interesting aside here is that we innovative Vietnam airmen were reduced to crushing up hydroxychloroquine tablets and mixing them with soda water or Perrier to approximate tonic water for our Tanqueray and tonics during afternoon tea. You can’t drink gin straight unless it’s properly chilled to 32 degrees and you aim the vermouth bottle towards Paris. This incidentally might explain why we had a substantially lower rate of malaria infections than our Army and Marine counterparts. I disremember anybody dying from too many G&Ts.

Our Governor finally announced yesterday afternoon everyone has to tremble in place and refrain from going out in public for several weeks until this blows over. Frankly, I find this disturbing. Who’s delivering the food? Are they virus-free? What about the mail delivery associate? Hey, being isolated with Cupcake, Pickles and the rest of the tribe is not mentally excruciating. I’m not a gadabout anyway. I spend 99% of my time right here in the asknod cockpit hammering out legal briefs and these inane blogs. The Governor’s blurb includes a list of all the services which are considered essential and will continue to be open. The list runs to twenty pages. Hell, marijuana and booze were at the very top of his essential list. By the time I read the whole article, it was apparent they could have made a very short list of who were required by law to stay home and say everybody else was free to roam about the country on Southwest. Based on this, 77% are essential folks who are required to work. How is that going to prevent the spread? After two weeks, us 33% all come out of hibernation and get hit with the bug. Steer clear of the aquarium water.

America is resilient. We fought two wars-three if you count Korea. Vietnam doesn’t count according to the VFW because it was a lowly “conflict”. Okay. I concede they changed the rules and accept Veterans who are not “war” Veterans now. Of course they’re accepting just   about anyone now to help hold up the bar- including Stolen Valor types. In any event, the Corona ‘cough and die’ syndrome will go down in history books as particularly virulent… like SARS and MERS. Could be we’ll never shake hands again and continue to bump elbows. Could be a lot of old folks will punch out to a heavenly zip code from it. Endless conjecture will solve nothing. Ditto worrying until you’re reduced to tears. If you’re poor, quit eating and go on that diet guaranteed to make you lose 35 pounds in two weeks. Your friends will be pea green with envy when they see you again.

I looked in Facebook this morning before beginning this tome and was mortified to see all the caterwauling, ‘sackcloth as fashion’ and ashes being anointed on foreheads across our fruity plains. I remember a FNG who arrived in-country one monsoon day back in early September 1970. He talked endlessly about anything and everything around us. It plumb drove us crazy. “So what do you do on weekends around here?” “What was that noise?” “What days do the dinks usually hit us ?” “Do we have to get permission to shoot back?” “Do you prefer to call them dinks or gooks?” ” Why do you count to two before you throw your hand grenades?” And on and on… for a year. I’d hazard a guess he was still asking questions when he got on the 130 Klong flight to go back to the World 364 wakeups later. “What time do we arrive in Oakland? Are they serving dinner on this flight?”  I wouldn’t be surprised if he helped invent FacePlace® with ol’ Mark Whazzisbutt 25 years later. LORD, that man could lay down some word cable. And yes, we nicknamed him “Chatty Cathy doll” or Doll for short. That was probably the longest year of his life. I’d hate to be his wife for the next two weeks. That would be cruel and unusual punishment.

If you set March 1st as the beginning of corona ‘wokeness’, then we’re into this about 24 days. That’s a mighty short time to develop catastrophe dementia. World War Two gave us Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Stewart. Korea bequeathed Elvis Presley on us. The Cold War begat bomb shelters. Vietnam begat the Rolling Stones and the SACO Arms M 60 Pig. I used to sing ‘Satisfaction’ by Mick and the boys to keep the barrel cool-.i.e. only shooting during the guitar riffs.  I don’t remember sitting around crying or going into a deep funk. Sure you got depressed when your buddies didn’t come back to the airpatch and land at 1700. That’s why we got up the next day at O dark thirty and flew back over the PDJ and killed them right back. We’ll conquer this corona bug and move on the same way. You guys and gals sure don’t need a pep talk from me. I don’t do parades either. Relax. We’re Americans. We can win anything if the politicians get out of the way.

One thing we can be sure of is that when this fustercluckery abates, we’ll still be here. Well, most of us. Some of us will be forced to build detached garages or small outbuildings to house all that OCD toilet paper and hand sanitizer binge shopping. Maybe a new gun safe for all those new rifles and pistols. You’ll eventually use it. I stuck all mine up in the attic. Another trick I learned a long time ago out birdhunting with my dad (and later on in Vietnam). If one of our dogs hung on barbed wire, we’d have to carry them back to the car and sew them up. “Doctor” Henry would shave a forearm and hit them with Ace Promazine and surgically clean the wound area with Jack Daniels or Black and White scotch. Of course, the surgeon (Dr. Dad) performed a short obeisance ceremony towards Kentucky or Scotland before oral cleansing (as well as any assistants). I never got any because I was about 7. Nevertheless, the concept of liquor as an antiseptic was born in my mind. So relax. If you think you’re going Bingo on hand sanitizer, do an inventory of all that low rent booze left over from your Christmas party and repurpose it if necessary. The next several weeks are going to call for some of us to reinvent our lives. It may even require thinking inside the liquor cabinet. Boy howdy I don’t know what to say about the marijuana thing. Damned if you do- and frankly-quite possibly damned if you don’t. If you’re addicted and not very adventurous,  you’re in for a long drying out period. Conversely, if you choose to drive down to Crazy Patty’s Pot Shoppe, which will be open because it’s on the “essentials” list the Governor published, you run the risk of getting pulled over by Officer Friendly to ask just why in Sam Hill you think you should be out and about. I can spot the stoners around here now. They’re the ones sitting at stop signs waiting for them to turn green.

Pickles and I are now on album III of Babble© Spanish for dogs. Cupcake swears she thinks Princess can say Hola but it’s sketchy. It’s identical to that noise she makes when she looks you square in the eye and barfs after eating too much horse manure. As for that eeeeoww at the end of her yawn, I think every dog does that-so I’m thinking about asking for a refund.

Tengo que usar el baño.

Pickles is letting herself go on personal hygiene. She hasn’t shaved or taken a bath in weeks. More anon. Be safe.



Posted in All about Veterans, AO, Corona pandemic, FACE HUMOR, Humor, KP Veterans, Medical News, Pickles, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


Cupcake and I were self-isolating with good reason before the poop hit the fan. This began way back in early February. We got the ugly news about a month ago when the blood labs check engine light came on. Her CBC test for White Blood Cells (WBC) came back very low after radiation therapy. Seems every laboratory has a different spread of what constitutes high or low readings. Apparently 3,000 or less of them boogers on any scale is not good. It becomes a problem when you don’t have enough because your body needs them to fight off bugs like flu, colds and… coronavirus. I have to isolate with her to avoid dragging the dreaded bug in from the post office or from meeting with clients. If I absolutely have to leave, she makes me strip to the birthday suit in the laundry room when I return and take a shower. The clothes go straight to the washing machine.

This Corona dilemma isn’t so ominous or mentally depressing as it sounds. I imagine it would be if you lived in an apartment building and all you had was an iguana and a view of your parking lot. We don’t. We live on five acres and it’s not a viable solution to tell the horses they have to get their own hay, water and feed. My feral kitty Ambush lacks an opposing thumb and finds it difficult to reload her food dish. Pickles and Widget live indoors with us and my parrot Buddy so we all quiver in place except for poop patrols and the mailbox run.  I’m not so asinine as to deprive the dogs from hanging out with their buds in the neighborhood. Aly, Jakson and Gus still come over for playtime every day. I hear dogs can get this but I doubt they’re going to get it around here. We don’t live near any nursing homes.

Buddy- 51 years old

Pickles- 1 year old

Ambush-9 yrs old

Widget 10 yrs old.

I’ve been browbeating the old BVA hearings Coordinator in Seattle( Tammy S.) to crank out one of my widow’s BVA wins. She’s been camped out on it for almost a month. The National Work Queue nowadays kites rating decisions all over the country to be written. Tammy has to follow their lead. In this case, some gomer in Newark granted two A&As-one each for Bob’s IHD and his three cancer sites (brain, sinus and lungs). I wrote about this recently and here it pops up in my back yard.


Tammy is good at coordinating hearings. Unfortunately, her mathematical prowess is lacking. She did pick up on the two SMC Ls for A&A but blew it on the number of months due. She came up with six. I guess that’s the newfangled VA math, huh? When you first win, VA begins paying you the month following your win. When you die, your spouse or estate gets one last check the month following your demise. It’s called the Month of Death check or MOD. If you lived two minutes into a new day on a new month, you get paid for that whole month. Quy Nhon Bob made it all the way to noon on July 1st, 2018. Ergo, his widow was entitled to that month for his comp. check. VA had rated him on June 21st, 2018- ten days before he punched out- with a 100% schedular with an effective date of December 26th, 2017 for P&T at SMC S. Count with me, folks. All of December, January, February, March, April, May, June….and July. I come up with eight months. They gave him SMC S for that period but inexplicably, when we got the Rating decision back after the BVA win in February, they granted two A&As. For some reason, they revisited the 6/21/18 and gave him SMC L (A&A) for the IHD at 100%.

Tammy emailed me back and said SMC wasn’t her strong point and she had asked for a good mentor to walk her through this one. She started doing ratings back in 2007 when she went to work for VA. She went back to her old calling in 2019 after the inception of the AMA and the BVA honchos taking over her hearing board coordination duties. Tammy, or her super duper mentor Katrina, need to go back to SMC school. They tried to use the SMC calculator. Not. She did, to her credit, dial in on the dual A&As but only came up with six months instead of eight.

Here’s the problem. Tammy granted SMC “O” for two SMCs at the L rate- the two aid and attendance ratings which are separate and distinct. However, as most know, When you are granted SMC O, and one of the SMC Ls is for A&A, you get to do the chutes and ladders game and advance to R1. It makes no difference if you have more than one A&A. The metric is that you must have two ratings between SMC L and N-period- to qualify for SMC O. If one is for A&A, you yell Bingo! There’s another arduous path via SMC N 1/2 plus a SMC K which would get you there but that’s a mighty tall order. You’d dang near look like a 50-gallon barrel with your head sticking out. No legs,arms or a winky. SMC N is spartan in its requirements.

I’ve studied SMC for years and still call up my old former BVA Veterans Law Judge Brad for a “what if…” every once in a while. This is SMC 101 though…unless you’re trying purposefully to shortchange the Veteran. No one can tell me the M 21 suddenly gets vague and balky when it comes time to input the LOU/A&A parameters. Once you get to SMC O, the language in the regulation §3.350(e),(h) is explicit and easily decyphered.

(h) Special aid and attendance benefit; 38 U.S.C. 1114(r) – (1) Maximum compensation cases. A veteran receiving the maximum rate under 38 U.S.C. 1114 (o) or (p) who is in need of regular aid and attendance or a higher level of care is entitled to an additional allowance during periods he or she is not hospitalized at United States Government expense.

Looks like Tammy and her mentor Katrina V. only looked at §3.350(e). My quandary is whether to do a VAF 20-0996 Higher Level of Review (HLR) or go to the BVA on direct review and have someone who can count without using their fingers do it. Since there is no intelligent life at the 56 ROs across our fruited plains, my choice is limited. From what I’ve seen so far, a HLR would probably produce an identical result and a confirmation that Tammy and Katrina are spot on. In all my years of doing DRO formal reviews, all I ever encountered was a copy and paste of the original denial with essentially a “What part of ‘no’ did you overlook?” Here, the relative inability to understand SMC at all indicates the futility of a successful do over. I’m hearing from other Attorneys that some of these HLR litigators  er VA examiners are emailing or sending us letters saying they refuse to do a HLR informal telephone call because nothing we say would ever change their minds. Many of these attorneys have submitted legal briefs to explain the error. VA puts these in the circular file and claims we are not permitted to submit squat. Imagine. Due process? The right to face your denier? This is quite obviously not what Congress envisioned. I wonder how long it will be before someone at the corner of Delay and Deny Ave. notices this glitch. Until then, I won’t be going anywhere near a HLR filing.

Meanwhile back at the COVID 19 gig, the humor rolls in. I certainly don’t subscribe to the suffering of others but I learned a long time ago about the depravities of war. This is really no different. We’re all on the firing line. The Golden BB could find any one of us on a given day. That’s no reason to pout and have existential meltdowns. Life will eventually right itself. We’ll all look back on this like  9/11/2001 or the economic meltdown in 2008. Shit happens and then it goes away.

Try as I might, I try to avoid laughing about this corona business. I don’t buy 4 rolls of TP at a time. Costco only sells it in the “nuclear” packaging-like enough to last you ’til the Cesium 137 level outside gets below 4,000 ppm in 2021. The same applies to peanut butter and steaks. That’s why we have freezers, folks.

Within the next month to six weeks, we’ll all look back on this as a bad dream. The government, meanwhile, will have found a way to spend trillions on crap we’ll never use. Hotels will be converted into hospitals and then converted back into hotels. Everyone will be poorer except for those who were heavily invested in the stock market who got the ‘word’ ahead of time and bailed. Cupcake and I lucked out on that one. When I was cured of Hepatitis C by a Gilead Sciences product (Sovaldi), I decided to help them out and bought about $10 K worth of shares at $59. It never went anywhere…until last week. I see it hit $78 last Thursday. Rather than piss all of you off out there and dump it, I decided to hold on to it and let it go where it will.

Last on the Saturday report is a daisy from my good friend Ed the LURP. Keep your eye on the doughnut. A word of warning. Be safe. If you buy any veggies at the grocery store, scald them with hot water. Seems the teenage pukes are spitting and coughing all over them in hopes of decimating us old folks. Ditto toilets. I hear the new Corona challenge is to lick the rim. I hear a double dog dare involves taping Tide pods around the rim. Cool beans.

Posted in Agent Orange, All about Veterans, Appeals Modernization Act, Corona virus, FACE HUMOR, Humor, KP Veterans, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, Vietnam Disease Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments


Ne Habla Espanol.

Keeping in mind the fact that I am demented and starve without humor infusions, I do respect all you folks’ concerns over this nasty corona thing. It’s ugly. It’s dangerous to us old farts although I hear some dude in Colorado who was 45 ate it. I’d be asking for an autopsy to see what it was that could whack a guy that young. I got it in 2001 one early summer while we were up on San Juan Island in NW Washington and it dang near whupped me. I had a ripsnorting good fever and could look up at the cathedral wooden ceiling lying in the living room  and watch all the knot holes move around in between puking. It was a 12/12 pitch log cabin so it was waaaaay tall. Ibuprophen was about all that could cut down the fever. It took two weeks to shake it off. 

So I commiserate with what it feels to get these things. Strep throat is another good example. Been there. Done that. So… a contributor sent me this and insists it’s humor. If you’ve been self-isolating, by now you’re reading old Time magazines from the garage dated back to 2018. Good thing you saved them. That’s future toilet paper stock, bro. I’ve got the American Rifleman going all the way back to 1980 so I’m set, too. Another Vet wrote me to share that he scored about 6 months worth of antibiotics at the fish store for a song-like $38. Apparently they sprinkle it in to aquariums to cure fin rot. Well, shoot. There you go. No MRSA flesh-eating rot on that old boy. Seriously, PetzMart™ doesn’t have the mega antibiotics we use these days. We’re talking erythromycin and ampicillin in a cyclosporin world.

Anyway, here’s the missive from my Doomsday Prepper. It’s not encouraging as it may come true. Until then, it’s just humor-well, to me it is. I’m guessing there’s someone out there who will call me rude, crude, socially unattractive and insensitive-not to mention boorish- for making fun of a national disaster. I’m sorry. Worldwide, only 8,017 have died to date. Do you folks know how many people there are on earth? 7.53 Billion with a ‘B’. 8,017 souls, while regrettable, would be a drop in an olympic swimming pool of water. This is not a “pandemic”. The Plague, caused by rats in the Middle ages was a pandemic. It killed millions just in England alone and persisted for years. Folks abandoned cities and moved out to the ‘burbs and bought 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath ramblers. That’s probably how they fixed it. To this day they always build houses about 10 feet apart so you can self-isolate…you know…like when this happens. I’m guessing Doordash® is making a fortune.

But back to our erstwhile Prepper all  self-sequestered. Imagine…



If anyone is still out there, I’m still alive but struggling. Food is running low. I’m down to only 459 days left. I continually sanitize my hands every hour. My butt is clean thanks to a lifetime supply of Charmin™  pastel bear-tested, papier toilette. It’s not new. I suffer OCD.

I’m down to 1599 rounds of 5.56. I dropped one down the heating vent this morning while I was scoping the front yard from the bedroom window. I count them every day to make sure. The power, water and cable are still on but for how long? I don’t think I own a radio. But that’s okay. I’m on Facebook but I don’t really know anybody except for my mom. That’s funny. I haven’t heard from her in a week. Everybody’s wary of getting viruses so nobody will friend me.

I’m missing human interaction but I have my dogs. Just for now, I’m planning ahead.  I’m soaking their food in Sally’s Cajun BBQ sauce to sort of marinate them from the inside out in case I have to eat them. It kind of gave them the shits, too. I fear dark days ahead. News is all bad on CNN. Turns out it was America’s fault after all.

Nearby neighbors have attempted to leap from windows to their deaths. Well, not exactly. We all live in ramblers on my street so most just end up with really bad bruises on their faces and arms.  

The worst news is I’ve blown through all the Netflics© series even worth watching so I’m triaging them now to decide which ones I’m going to watch again. 

Basic survival is a definite challenge. I plan to persevere to the bitter end. I’m thinking about subscribing to the Pet Channel® and watching the series about teaching your dog Spanish. I’m guessing that’ll sure eat up a few weeks. 

Sequester we shall. Yesssssssssssssssssssss. Live long we will. Mmmmm.

Posted in FACE HUMOR, Humor, KP Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments


The Jaymeister

Man, don’t tell me our Governor here in Washington state is any slouch. Governor Jay Inslee is a former US House representative.  He’s been kicking around for a few years. Rumor has it he may be born hereabouts instead of a migrant from California. Whatever you say about him pro or con, you should know he’s the first to step up and tell all of us Washingtonians that he’s got our back.



Today Governor Inslee declared he is providing free novel Corona Virus 19 testing for all Washington’s citizens starting next Monday, the 23rd of March. There are no catches. No prepays or copays. This is the real McCoy. I called his press release folks and they swear this is on the up and up. No other Governor across the country has stepped forward with such a bold proposal to protect their constituents so we should set our political differences aside. We are no longer Blue or Red. We are now Washingtonians faced with an extreme pandemic situation that demands action. I’m personally proud to be a citizen of this state now.

Here’s how you get this deal. First, you’re going to have to have a fever or a reasonable fear of having the virus before you just abuse the system. If you feel your symptoms meet the criteria of Coronavirus’ parameters, you simply have to collect and enclose a stool sample in a sealable ziploc baggy.  Place in a leftover Amazon box or whatever you have and enclose a self-addressed and stamped envelope and send it to:

Gov. Jay Inslee

Capital Building Annex

P.O. Box 3022

Olympia, WA 96242


The USPS has Priority mailing  for $7.75 and even provides a free box exactly the right size. Just bring some good quality strapping tape to the Post Office with you because they do not provide it.  Test results can take up to 10 working days to get your results.

P.S. Of course this joke would work equally well if you were to adapt it to the VA and Secretary Wilkie. Unfortunately, now that I work within the system, I cannot “piss in the well” any more than I already do. It seems my fame precedes me when I deal with the hierarchy of the VA. It’s far easier to grovel to get my Vet his 100% or SMC. It probably wouldn’t incite the tinfoil hat crowd as much either as you see below in comments.

Posted in Corona virus, Humor, VA Agents | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments


Ever believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Faery? Shoot. Of course you did. Towards the end, you really struggled to believe even though everything pointed to a litany of lies. How come Santa’s signature looked just like Mommy’s? How come the Yoda doll had a ToysBUs® price sticker on the box? All these queshuns. My best friend Stephen Sheehy shared the mouse trap technique to catch the friggin’ Tooth Babe so I could drag her in and show her to my sisters to prove them wrong. Boy howdy did that one backfire. Mom didn’t speak to me for a week and a guaranteed source of income dried up. Poof. Just like that. Stephen’s a lawyer in Annandale, VA. now right near where we all grew up at Seven Corners. Pretty sketchy advice for a future lawdog.

Likewise, with the advent of the new Appeals Management Act, we all desperately wanted to rebelieve the VA and Congress were recommitted to helping Him who shall have borne the battle. One of these days, Trump or one of his ilk will declare henceforth that from __/__/____, any reference to a veteran shall be capitalized as ‘Veteran’ to distinguish Our club from veterans of 20 years at Bob’s Used Car Lot or veterans of the Multnomah Fire Dept. for over 10 years ad nauseum. Just remember I began capitalizing Us here in 2008.

False Alarm. VA didn’t get all warm and fuzzy. It didn’t get easier. It didn’t become less complicated judging by how many calls we get here at asknod. I was beginning to see the footprints all over some of my claims so I began to take them up a notch. I recently did the hat trick for A&A with a side of extreme fall risk from Parkinson’s. John arrived for the C&P with me pushing him in his wheeled chariot. The doctor did everything in his power not to test him to see if he could walk. They got him up to weigh him and again just to prove he could get up when pulled up by two nurses. I politely asked the asshat “Doctor” from EBF Malaysia if they were doing a Loss of Use exam that day. Negatory. But I can see it in the exam request. After they only coughed up A&A, I emailed  the Assistant Director Caesar Whatzizbutt (and VA Secretary Wilkie just for shits and grins) and politely asked them to reconsider their decision. John also just got a bummer from the VAMC with his new A&A. Seems they misdiagnosed him on the fatigue for the last 8 months. Turned out it was acute lymphoblastic Leukemia so they gave him another 100%. That gets him a bump up to SMC M. Whoopee. The leukemia needs a SMC L for Aid and Attendance all by itself. What? you never heard of two A&A awards? Well Pilgrim, take your protein pill and strap on the brain bucket. Read this gem.


I laid that one on Caesar and it went over like a deer in the headlights. It was about that time that I realized he probably doesn’t even know how to write in cursive let alone use legal reasoning. It’s also why the RVSRs all have to use the SMC calculator to do SMC math. I joke but they probably also require two signatures to go to the bathroom, too-if, mind you- the bathroom request was submitted on the correct form. If not, resubmit.

So, here’s how I know for certain sure the new AMA is merely a retread of the old Legacy.  It’s a new paint job but still the rusty Chevy underneath. It began back in 2017 when we submitted a §1151 malpractice claim for Chase. Just on a hunch, I threw in a claim for SC for his underlying Hepatitis C that caused the cirrhosis and the need for a new liver. Actually, they tried to hose a F4 barely compensated cirrhotic individual avec elevated ANA with the magic Triple Drug Cocktail of Interferon, Ribavirin and Telepravir. He lasted a month and went belly up.  VA had denied this before we got back from putting the flag up on the mailbox. I got really good records from the transplant doc and another Doctor in Little Rock saying they would never have done this with Sovaldi/Harvoni right around the corner and in trials. There was also the fact that VA didn’t get a signed signature to inject shit into his body cavity (Interferon). Yep. Can you believe it? They got two verbal okays if you believe in hearsay. But just  because you’re a nurse’s assistant, your word is not enough. VA demands a John Hancock on an electronic record stored in VistA. Check out §17.32(d)(v). I told the Coach there was none. She flogged the CAPRI folks three times from August to October and predictably, they finally conceded there was none.  The SOC says they informed him verbally twice and that was good enough. Not…

But the best part comes later. Just as they are getting ready to launch the SOC torpedo, some rocket ranger gasps and says hold the phone, Ramone. We forgot to adjudicate the Hep C. Another month goes by and they redig the punji pit a little larger to accommodate a longer SOC. This puppy was about 50-odd pages. §17.32(d)(v), of course, was AWOL. But you see the silver lining. When he wins the Hep C claim , the §1151 claim becomes moot.

I promptly called up Mednick and we beat the 60-day suspense date for rebuttal. But, drawing on a hunch, I decided to go the Supplemental Lane with a 20-995. They take about 25 days to realize you aren’t going away and know how to play VA poker. Bingo. They grant and you’re done after a few arguments about TDIU etc. But I screwed up. There’s a box in #13 you have to check saying you’re opting in to the AMA from an SOC or SSOC. I forgot to check it.  A week later I look in the file to see if they got it and this is what I see (below). They’ve gone into a huddle and their mutual decision is to let this expire as a legacy appeal due to lack of a filed Form 9. They then accept it as a supplemental the day after Bingo and grant and screw Chase out of 4 years of retro. They know they’re going to lose but they ‘re going to shaft him. Read this. It plumb rolled my socks down.

Chase sneak attack

Bingo day for the VA 9 would be 3/14/2020. I spotted this on the 3/07 and raced to the c box and checked the  opt-in from Legacy box. I redated everything in the .pdf and resubmitted  3/07. And then… I emailed the RVSR who was biding his time drinking his wine. I thanked him for reminding me of this box-checking error in VBMS and that the correctly “x”d 20-0995  had been timely refiled minutes before. Since the Secretary abhors squandering scarce judicial resources on these boondogles, it would be far more “nonadversarial” if he waited a few days and accept the timely filed correction as an AMA opt-in. The phone rang about a minute later and Jesus Arroyo from Houston VBA 362 started spluttering about how did I get his email and who in the Sam effing Hill am I. We chatted a piece and I allowed as how this wasn’t about me ‘n him. It was about ol’ Chase who had borne the Battle. It wasn’t a contest to see who could win. I tried to lay out Comer versus Peake but lost him about 20 words in. Jesus has some anger management issues he needs to work through.

In the VBMS notes, I can see where he assigned it to Appeals Team “Teaching Moment 4” and quality review to make sure they know Jesus was the one who discovered the missing X. Credit where credit is due. Disgusting. These people are lower than guttersnipes.

Jesus agreed to hold his water and wait for my “timely” box-checked 995  to arrive in Janesville. I told him he should also be able to find it in the Electronically transmitted Queue. He knows that but he was too pissed to admit it. It’s hard to play dumb when you realize the “enemy” can speak Pig Latin too. Can you imagine. There went his Christmas bonus for screwing a Vet out of $120 K in retro. Up in smoke, Cheech!

I’d put up his SOC but it would eat too many gagabites. The mail gal arrived with it on a forklift it was so heavy. No- just kidding. It was only 56 pages. I guess it takes a mite more fancy paper talking to try to dance around the difference between a written recorded signature and “we done tol’ him twice there gonna be risks”. The VA’s IMO was done by none other than Dr. Shirin DaSilva-the same idiot who discussed ingesting polyvinyl chloride (PVC pipe) at Camp Le Jeune, NC. I looked her up. She’s a cheap VA Judas for only $137 K a year. She’s getting ripped off. She could go to work for Jim Hill over at VetComp&Pen down in Jacksonville. Rumor has it they pay well .

The bottom line is this- nothing has changed. VA doesn’t play by the rules. They planned to just let this puppy time out and then call it a fait accompli. “Goooooooolleeeeeeee, doggies, Mistah Glaham.  If we’d caught it in time we coulda fixed it but now that time has come and gone. The good news is we’re gonna recognize that ol’ 995 you filed and grant. Yes sireee. Here’s your brand new rating with a  March 14th, 2020 effective date- the very earliest day we could upload it for you legally. Y’all come back now. Hear?” Nothing gives me greater pleasure than wiping shiteaten grins off these pukes’ faces.

I have about three or four more of those daisies up my sleeve but this was the best one.  Now, if you have a moment, please say a prayer for Chase. He went into the Nashville Vanderbilt ICU this morning with pneumonia and a fever. It’s looking ugly. He’s not responding to verbal commands as of 1800 local here. It could have been worse. He could have gone to Death Valley VAMC in Little Rock.

Cupcake and I won’t be at Spring Break in Atlanta (NOVA). They called it off on account of the Corona Beer virus.

AOC-approved Green toilet paper substitute

Posted in All about Veterans, Appeals Modernization Act, Electronic Filing of Evidence, Independent Medical Opinions, Interferon claims, Jetgun Claims evidence, KP Veterans, Legacy Claims, medical injections, NOVA Attorneys, SOCs and SSOCs, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA AMA appeals knowledge, VA Motions for Reconsideration, VBMS, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


The Donald

But if you try sometime you find…You get what you need. Great song by my favorite band. They were a solid Rock n’ Roll band once upon a time in a place around the world from here. They still are. You needed that back then. Here, the lyrics merely alert you to the sentiment many Vets must feel after a road long traveled (9 years) and an utterly anticlimatic finish- literally a whimper. VA hierarchy disgust me.  Years of endless denials and dissembling only to get it back from the BVA with “granted”. Doesn’t anyone at the local Fort Fumble  Quality Control Team review these mishaps and come up with a band aid? Shucks, bubba. You must be smokin’ some powerful gunsha. We’re talking VA here. They were the last govt. entity to go paperless- and only with a lot of bellowing and screaming.

I wrote about Donald and Janet ( John and Jane Vet) several years ago and his R1 fight.


After reviewing the CUE grant, I realized we still hadn’t reached Janet’s original goal of T or R2. So we decided to go for it. Miz Janet had originally asked for SMC T. Unbeknownst to her, the Vietnam Vets Of America VSO was was the very idiot who filed her for it. You must have served after 9/11/2001 in order to qualify for this. It pays at the R2 rate which is where Donald should be paid. SMC T is also only granted for extreme Holy S**t, Batman Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). I FOIA’d the VA in 2014 to give me the stat sheet for how many Vets were rated R1, R2 and T. I’m still waiting. Apparently I need a current TS/Crypto clearance. Mine expired 48 yrs. ago. Nevertheless, I’m guessing from the way VA fights each one of these, there are not very many Vets who collect R2. Worse, when you argue SMC with a DRO or VSCM, you suddenly discover they can’t comprehend it. It’s utter Greek to them. It has to be done by VA’s magic SMC Calculator. It’s worse than a cold one-armed bandit in an Indian casino. I have to take them up to the BVA to find intelligent life forms capable of reading 38 CFR-not gazing into an M 21 Magic 8 Ball.

As with any request for such a rating, I always schedule a hearing. In this case, with the advent of the new Appeals Improvement and Management Act (AMA), we “opted in” to the new system rather than go the VA 9 Legacy route. Unknown to us all, VA had changed the rules on hearings. We had two ugly choices now. If we desired a face-to-face, we had to pack Donald up and take a train cross country to 1425 I Street Washington DC. Our only local option was a videoconference. We accepted the lemons and made our lemonade out of it. I plunked Donald down front and center of the video camera. I’m sure Judge Michael Lane kept his eyes on him throughout the hearing. Donald said nary a word but was, hands down,  the best witness.

Janet and Donald -Fort Fumble, Arizona

The Squirrely SOC Denial

The SOC was an enigma. In the preliminary denial sentence they admit straight off he would have to be institutionalized but for Janet. They freely admitted he was under the constant care of lots and lots of medical folks with MDs, DOs, PA-Cs and ARNPs after their names. And then a polite “but he doesn’t receive R2 therapy-like… well… medical stuff- you know, like catheters and PICC lines. Like IVs…like someone on Hospice. In short, like someone knock knock knocking on Heaven’s door, dude. Using this metric, most of us who managed to qualify- and trust me there’s darn few that can- would essentially only qualify for it for a month or 6 weeks on hospice. I’m sorry. I don’t think Congress’ intent was to be so niggardly as to only give you a bump at the end like handing out Christmas bonuses at the “Holiday” Office Party. Read this hooey below. Yes, we feel he needs it (a&a) but he’s not getting any medical treatment near what he’d get if he were institutionalized. Whoops. Wrong legal standard of review. R2 includes “physical therapy” specifically. VA missed that part.

Donald SOC 2-19-2019

So Janet and I shook hands and we filed for the R2. Remember my adage about Win or Die. It’s a Me and Bobby McGee thing- nothing left to lose. What’s the worst that could happen? We’d strike out and I’d get to take it to the Court. Besides, I was taught you don’t leave your buddies behind. Donald and I were both Air Force so the bond is even tighter. Turns out we didn’t have to do that. Common sense prevailed and Judge Lane ruled in our favor. I’m glad it didn’t take any more than the time needed to transcribe the hearing. I guess I have to thank my lucky stars for this being 2020 and not 1980. Back then, Donald would never have won in front of a Triumvirate of the BVA.

Here was my legal argument:

Donald BVA Brief redacted


Janet has doggedly pursued this for nine long years. After her VA attorney won the easy money for A&A and the bump to M for an extra 100%,  she cut and ran when the subject of SMC R1/R2 came up. I’m not sure if she was simply unversed in SMC or felt she had plucked all the low-hanging fruit. Either way, it’s a little disconcerting to look over your shoulder and discover your legal beagle wingman has morphed into a VVA beagle flying a VSO doghouse.

I just pulled this one down hot off the press. Janet and Donald are some of my oldest clients. We began all this back in 2017 or so. “We got what we need” for Donald. VA, you will discover, hoards R1 and R2 ratings. You should be prepared for a knife fight in a dark alley. VA will lie, cheat, misrepresent and shade the truth. R2 pays $9.062.26 per month so now you know why.

Donald R2 3-6-2020 redacted

Here’s a shot of us after we had the hearing. The Judge probably would have granted right there on the spot but due process demands they make the the hearing transcript part of the record. Red power tie I was wearing. Yessssssssssssssssssssss.

Donald and author in front of the Den of Iniquity

All in all, an excellent week for everyone but those Phoenix VA Bozos. Too bad they don’t dun these chuckleheads for misadjudicating. I can’t wait for drive-thru windows at the VAROs soon with the Corona Beer Virus out of control…

P.S. Gary Larson is coming out of retirement. How cool is that?



Posted in Aid and Attendance, Appeals Modernization Act, KP Veterans, R1/R2, SMC, SOCs and SSOCs, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA AMA appeals knowledge, VA Attorneys, VBMS, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


Boy howdy, I sure hope I don’t have to do these types of claims every day. Tyler is my neighbor. By now everyone is probably thinking about moving up here and becoming my neighbor. One Vet already did! Tyler was a what we called a Mouthbreather in the Air Force-i.e. he was Navy. Like in a fish, right? You know-with gill slits right ahead of the ears?  We used to sit around after we landed drinking scotch up in a country that rhymes with mouse back during the war complaining about how rough life was like the Monkees song. Remember that “Mothers complain about how hard life is And the kids just don’t understand.”? We made fun of Army and Navy guys. I’ll keep my mouth shut about Marines.

The Flight surgeon would prescribe us speed and there was always an oxygen tank with a mask at the Air Operations Center (AOC) at 20 Alternate. It would banish a hangover in 3 minutes or less before wheels up. I disremember if they had one over at L 54 Luang Prabang. I do  remember the Air America Hostel over there was top drawer. They sometimes even had single malt and real Schweppes tonic water.  But generally it was rough. Friends would take off in the morning and didn’t come back. Ever.

My neighbor Tyler from Allyn Washington.

Meet Tyler. Helping Veterans is way to assuage that guilt you feel for having somehow lucked out and survived it. Tyler came to me from well, gee. I forget. I met him at Shari’s restaurant up in Port Orchard. He’d lost again on his PTSD claim and was wondering what  he needed to win. What do you do? Well, the short answer is you help him. I set him up with a psychologist who was trying to get my business. Baaaaaaad idea. I had no idea other than that the shrink talked a good streak about how he kicked ass and took names.  He even flew out from Colorado and bought Cupcake and me dinner. Long story short, Tyler got his clock cleaned by the VA examiner who wasn’t buying the $2,000 IMO. I don’t blame the VA jackwad. I don’t think I would have either. It was pathetic.

Feeling guilty after a long two-year delay and now a denial, I took advantage of my IMO wizards at Mednick Associates and got one of their top-notch subject matter experts in PTSD to write a new epic story of Tyler’s military adventures. Long story short. Tyler was in the Persian Gulf in ’97 aboard one of those flat top airplane cities.Tyler’s wife was giving birth prematurely back in Washington State. The Navy pukes wouldn’t let him go back to be with her. Then they changed their minds. Too late. By the time Tyler got back, his newborn daughter was in the meat locker. They refused to transfer her down to Madigan Army Hospital where they had  a good infant ICU to save her. It was a paltry 35 miles away.

To add insult to injury, his wife tried to take her own life afterwards. This creates a lot of negative activity in the brain box and Tyler snapped. I would have too.  Tyler finished up his tour but was marked for life. So, too, his wife. They soldiered on but it was hell’s bells for the next 16 years trying to win at VA poker. Then we met.

I explained my timeworn analogy to a cookie recipe and told him what we had to do to win. We had the setback with the lousy IMO but the new one went through like greased lightning in VA time. I filed it around 12/16/2019 and we got a full 70% back on Tuesday or so. Nothing like having a plan work out. I was  mortified about the screwup with the first IMO so I volunteered to split the second. Tyler is planning on paying me back but I still feel stupid trusting someone without references. I don’t have that problem with Mednick. They’re spot on regardless of whether its cancer or hepatitis c.

I wrote about this back in December here:


As for the cookie recipe, Cupcake has updated the analogy this year to include stirring the claim with a laser beam, flying it to Jupiter to put in the oven and lastly, flying it back and serving it to the Veteran piping hot.

This is Tyler ‘s day. Tyler won because for several decades, VA has refused to state Tyler had bent brain syndrome. They said it was ADHD, drug induced, passive aggresssive personality disorder and about ten other things- but by golly it sure as hell was not PTSD. All Mednick and I did was fix it. I like fixing things. I never figured I’d ever be helping to fix Tyler and his family but then I never thought I’d be cured of Hep C and still be alive today. Cool beans.

Tyler rating redacted

We won on March 2nd after four years. Hence my choice of taking the long way home song as the title to this adventure. I apologize, Tyler. I should have performed due diligence  on who I recommended. It won’t happen to any other Vet again, though. I promise.

Life is good. Helping Tyler makes it better. Even if he’s a mouthbreather.

Posted in All about Veterans, Appeals Modernization Act, KP Veterans, PTSD, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Attorneys, vARO Decisions, VBMS, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments