How to get your questions answered. A few observations, and requests of all members. All folks who come here are volunteers who do this on their own time and their own dime.To avoid burning out our best contributors please follow these guidelinesf you are reading a post and it reminds you of a question you want to ask, start a new topic, if you place your question in someone thread it will be difficult to distinguish your question from the original poster, you will get better results posting a new topic with your question. 1. Before Posting please do a search and see if your question has already been answered. If you find the answer print it out and put it in a file to use as a reference file, I find this helpful myself. 2. If you can not find the answer and you do post a question, please print out those answers and refer to them to avoid duplicate questions. 3. Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions4. Duplicate questions will come up from time to time but the keeping them to the minimum will lighten the load on the regular volunteers.5. Respect folks privacy do not request their personal phone numbers for claims help, it is inappropriate and not why they are here.6. Keep the topics focused on veterans issues, in closing Search first Search ... Ask second.it may save a lot of time or at the very least enlighten you.
Listen Live Every Wed 5:30 PM CST to SVR Radio, Veterans Issues are discussed with various guests. Please check the little home I am carving out for our SVR partners. http://www.hadit.com/svr.html
The following is on my About page, but some have been asking how this all happened. So here is my little story. Tbird US Navy 1983 – 1990 E-6 HadIt.com the website domain registered Jan 20, 1997 the domain is registered and paid for through Jan 21, 2023 at which time I plan to register it for another 15 years Lord willing and the creek don't rise. I guess the best place to start is Jan 1991; I had gotten out of the navy Dec 1990. At my separation seminar, there was a DAV rep Jim Milton he told us to bring our medical records in and he would look through them for us and let us know if we should file a claim with the VA. Well, bless his heart, he opened my medical file, reads the first insert, looks me straight in the eye, and says you will be 50% for the rest of your life and he would file the claim for me. 50% was for surgery I had in the service. True to his word he met with me and talked with me for a long time filled out my paper work and urged me to file for PTSD. I would not file the PTSD claim, nor even discuss it. By Feb 1991 I had moved to the San Francisco bay area and was staying at a friends apartment and pretty much I was just a puddle. In desperation one night I called suicide hot line, I had no job, no idea about going to the VA. They talked with me for a long time and explained to me that I could go to the local VA hospital even if I did not have insurance. Now, I know what you are thinking if I was 50% why didn't I just go to the VA in the first place, two reasons 1, this was Feb 1991 and the 50% didn't come till May and 2, even if it had come through it is unlikely that I would have had the mental acuity at the time to put the two together. I relate this here because it is where so many of our brothers and sisters are coming from, perhaps where you started. Fuzzy and unsure, in pain and sometimes homeless they come to the VA hospital for help. And that is where I ended up. Up to the pysch ward I went, blah, blah, blah, a few days later I was released with a promise of a call from the out patient program, which I would soon be entering. Blah, blah, blah, after many missed communications, and no call backs I was at the Day Hospital everyday M-F. And this brothers and sisters is where I began to learn and formulate my plan for HadIt.com. Veterans, veterans everywhere…I spent a year in the day hospital and about another year at a sheltered workshop before I got back on my feet. So I just talked to veterans everyday waiting for appointments, waiting for prescriptions, waiting for a vet rep and I started to learn the system. While in the navy I was data analyst and had to learn a 5 volume manual and just about anything you were suppose to do was in that manual. So I figured there must be a manual on how to do a VA claim or at the very least regulations. So I found out about the Code of Federal Regulations, United States Code, Veterans Affairs Manuals and so on and so forth. Of course this was 1991/1992 I was living in a tiny studio apartment in a particularly bad neighborhood, working in a sheltered workshop making a nickel per envelope I stuffed throw in PTSD and you will see that it was a difficult task for me to get somewhere where they had copies of these, let alone that they would let me look at. And there was so much knowledge around me, it was like the gold rush in those days, I could just sit on a bench a veteran would sit down next to me a little conversation later I had another nugget, I made copious notes. Phone numbers to call, ask for this guy or that guy he'll give you the straight scoop and they'd slip me a piece of paper with a number on it. You want to read this regulation or that one and another slip of paper into my hand. I spent a lot of time on those benches watching the squirrels they gathered their nuts and I gathered mine :) So I'm thinking I could put a little handbook together print it out and hand it out at the VA. Or perhaps fliers. Still formulating, time goes by, 1994/1995 I am being treated for PTSD regularly and doing and feeling much better and I go to work for a company as a marketing systems analyst and I discover the internet. Well let me tell you that was perhaps one of the most significant life changing events I have ever experienced. And I might add finally a positive one :) It seemed only natural to me that surely there must be a website that contained all the knowledge I wanted, well as it turned out not so much, lots of stuff but I wanted to get straight to the claims information and there was a lot of stuff to wade through to get to it. So taking my lesson from the squirrels earlier I started to gather, gather, gather…and learn HTML and work as a marketing systems analyst and work my claim. 1996/1997 major PTSD cork blows and unemployed. Working my claim, working the website. 20 Jan 1997 register HadIt.com domain name right after getting off the phone with the VA and saying I've had it with this. As fate would have it the old DAV board goes down just as mine opens up and folks start to wander in. So HadIt.com has two main components the website which supports the discussion board with links, articles, research resources etc. The website starts to grow, I can't tell you how many times I had to switch servers for space and features. I continue on a downward trend and in 1998 ended up back home in St Louis living in my sisters basement in therapy and working it, I swear I would have swung a dead chicken around my head at midnight naked if I thought it would have helped. The website continued to do great during this time, I just stayed in the basement bought new software, new books, and learned how to make things work and I continued to use this knowledge to make HadIt.com better. My 100% finally came through from the VA and I had a friend who is an advocate who helped me thru my SSDI claim, he was literally at my side thru the entire process and that came through for me. My therapist and sister continued to try and get me to leave the basement, but to no avail. At some point in 1998 or 1999 I put a counter on the website and was shocked to discover how many visitors we were getting. Time goes by my sister gets married and I move from the basement to the upstairs, there is much celebration that Aunt T is living in the light again. More time goes by and I settle into my life in St Louis and spend more time on the site trying new things, finding more information. 2003 I buy my own home VA loan. For years now I have just considered HadIt.com my job and I get up every morning go to the office and work for several hours, take an afternoon break and see where the rest of day takes me. I have a place in the office to use the computer and a comfortable to place to read journals and articles and take notes. Blah, blah, blah so that is my story and HadIt.com's intertwined.
Hi I've updated our HadIt.com Pass It On Cards. They are in a PDF format you can print them out cut them there are 12 to a page. If you have found HadIt.com helpful and would like to pass it on to other veterans this is an easy way to do it.I hope you find them helpful, feel free to leave a few anywhere veterans gather, veterans centers, veterans hospitals, public libraries, be creative. Please make sure though, that if you want to leave some at any business you ask permission first.Here you go http://www.hadit.com...it_on_cards.pdf
dav_marine72 added a post in a topic Take Caution Trying Subxone For Severe Chronic Pain
dav_marine72 added a topic in Medication – Prescription Drugs-Health IssuesTake Caution Trying Subxone For Severe Chronic PainHi Everyone,
Man I feel like an idiot missing all this information over the last few years on the VA's crackdown on opiates. I was going to an outside provider for pain care until January of this year. I have been on what I call a blind sided suboxone regiment since then. Suboxone actually seems to help some people with mild to moderate chronic pain and the side effects are minimal as far as sedation. Here is why I recommend not switching. They didn't tell me at first but they had to put me in as an opiate addict to get me the script. I was going through withdrawals at the time because they would not connect me back to the VA pain clinic I used to go to or I probably would have been able to deter this.
Now 8 months in for me my pain is worse than ever. Honestly it seemed to help a little better in the beginning. Now that it doesn't and I want to switch back to regular opiates no one will touch me in the VA. I never abused my opiates in the 7 years I used them. I never ran out early. Yet now I am deemed an opiate addict. I had to get off my benzo because they will not allow you to take any form when on subxone. My benzo used to help greatly with my severe pain and it's well documented in the medical community. I have to attend mandatory group meetings where I have not found one person yet who has chronic pain and didn't abuse their meds. It seems like a great drug if you do have an opiate problem so I'm told. Sad part is there are probably many people who could benefit from suboxone who have mild to moderate pain. I'm TDIU because of my back and leg pain and lived a much better quality of life on regular opiates. Now it seems I shot myself in the foot. I wouldn't recommend switching based on the stigma that comes with it and the fact that if it does not work for you, you may not be able to switch back.
I also found presentations during my research with the VA and pain clinics and it seems most of them now recommend subxone first for any non-cancer pain. Just my luck. Now I understand why I was sent to mental health and not a pain clinic.
Just my input.
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dav_marine72 added a topic in VA Medical Centers Navigating through itHelp With Va Or Non-Va Medical Care Options / Not Getting Listened To / Need AdviceHi Everyone,
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I am at the end of my line again with VA healthcare and I'm just wondering if I have any options. I don't know how I get myself into these messes but I seem to do a good job of it. Okay so I am 100% P&T. I'm 94% on the schedule and have had TDIU since 2009. My main SC disability is my back / leg issues / pain. I am currently rated 40% Ortho, 40% left leg nerve issue, and 20% right leg nerve issue. Not sure if it matters but I am 50% mental, 30% asthma and a bunch of 10%s.
I had two unsuccessful back surgeries L3-4 L4-5 disectomy (2000) and L3-4 L4-5 L5-S1 fusion with titanium cages (2009). I had a spinal stimulator implanted in 2010. I have been in pain management on high doses of opiates under the care of a non-VA provider 2006-2009 / VA pain clinic 2009-2011 / then back to non-VA provider 2011-2014. I probably should have just stayed with the VA pain clinic but I had access to insurance and quite frankly I don't have to beg or get judged when at my non-VA provider.
The problem started in Jan. 2014 when I lost access to insurance. For 2 months I paid $100 no insurance office visit fees and $500 a month for my medications all while seeking care from the VA for this mind you. I went to my PCP doctor at the VA and asked if she would re-write my prescriptions if I kept going to my outside provider. She declined saying she didn't feel comfortable and didn't like the fact I have a valid CT medical marijuana license for my spinal conditions. I explained my situation and told them I didn't have the money to keep paying out of pocket and I needed to re-connect with the pain clinic ASAP. She kept running me around, asking for a pee test, blood test, etc. She called my outside Dr. and got him mad at me. Finally I got an appointment to a pain management screening with 3 different VA providers which ended up being about 2 months after I sought treatment again for this. They recommended sending me to the ORC (Opiate Reassessment Clinic) and rotating my opiates and possibly trying methadone. I had no idea what the ORC was and was told my local VA clinic now had it's own pain clinic. The pain clinic I was with 2009-2011 was an hour drive away when my local VA clinic is 20 minutes. So I expected to be going to this new pain clinic when I got an appointment. When I arrived I realized I was going to Mental Health in a different area I had never been to and thought it was strange. I asked if this was the right place for the ORC and they said yes. I should have ran right then.
I sat down with two doctors and was told they wanted to put me on suboxone for my pain. Mind you I was in full blown withdrawals by this time as I did not have the $600 to pay out of pocket again and had run out of my meds. I asked them what suboxone was. They said it was a partial agonist Opiate. I was like what is that. They said it does not have any of the euphoria effects like Morphine or Fentanyl patches that I had been on. Honestly I hadn't felt euphoria from my meds since like 2007. My main goal is pain reduction and trying to have some quality of life. They told me only addiction doctors could write this script in the VA hence why I was there. Again being in withdrawals I wasn't thinking too clearly. So I end up starting subxone and they increased me to the max dose of 24mg a day which I have been on ever since.
I actually felt a little better for a while taking it. My body seems to get used to opiates quick and I tended to rotate them somewhat often with my outside provider to get the best pain relief. Then I saw the doctor again and he told me that he had to put down that I was an addict to prescribe this drug to me. I could have went through the roof. I was ready to blow my top. I told him I still had a good amount of pain by then and he thought maybe going to a subxone group meeting would help because some of the patients in there have chronic pain. He said maybe they could help me with coping skills. I said sure why not. Well once I started going I realized that 99% of the people in the group were heroin addicts. I don't have any problem with that per say but I never touched heroin, never ran out of my prescribed opiates, never asked for early refills, no abuse, etc. I suddenly realized I had really gone down a wrong turn and went through months of major depression and just went with the treatment program.
Talking to the counselors in the group they thought I should go on Methadone since my pain wasn't being addressed and felt suboxone wasn't for pain. After researching a ton I see that suboxone does help many people in chronic pain just not me. I spoke to the doctor who had prescribed it for me and he thought methadone was not an option. He asked what had worked in the past. I told him Morphine, Oxycodone, Fentyal, etc. Then he asked why I was sent to him? I said I had no idea I was just trying to re-connect with the pain clinic. He then asked if I was sent there by a court or because I was abusing opiates? I said no. He told me if my story checked out he would call a doctor in the pain clinic at the other VA location and see if they could put me back on regular opiates. Then when I saw him again I asked for a status. He said that doctor didn't call you? I said no. He said thats weird he should have by now. I asked him what his discussion was and he said the doctor didn't think it was a good idea but would call and discuss it with me.
So here I sit three weeks later without a response and after calling the patient advocate who said she would give that doctor a message to call me. I also found out through getting my records that the initial pain intake team labeled me with substance abuse because I was using medical marijuana legally in CT. I have since stopped using the medical marijuana because when on opiates I only needed it now and again. I don't like the feeling it gives me using it daily. I also found a presentation from the doctor that was supposed to call me where he believes in almost all situations suboxone should be used for non-cancer chronic pain. Hence probably why he doesn't want to re-visit. Sorry for the long story but there was no other way to tell this insanity.
I know I can get fee basis to see an outside pain clinic as they have agreed to before. The problem with that is paying for the medication. I know it says you can bring your scripts into your PCP and see if they will re-write them but they already said they would not do this for me. Unfortunately I am on SSDI and didn't know I could have gone on Medicare back in Feb. of this year. Now I would need to wait until January with it not kicking in until July 2015. I feel like I was sorta duped with no one at the VA explaining to me exactly what was going on. Now I seem to have no options. I also run the risk of being refused meds in the future because of the addict labeling. It just seems like being 100% P&T, never abusing my meds, having documentation up the you know what they would be willing to help me with my pain. The RO found my back and leg condition to be the main reason for my TDIU. I feel as I should have some option to complain to someone in authority (not patient advocate) that I'm not being treated for my pain.
I'm very depressed / disturbed over this whole thing. It's making my mental condition much worse. They also took away my benzo because they will not give suboxone with one yet they will give regular opiates. I feel like I'm back to early 2000's as I'm having daily panic attacks and stress because of the severe pain which is why I was put on a benzo in the first place. wish I could go in a time machine.
Thanks for listening to my book. Any advice / feedback is appreciated.
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dav_marine72 added a question in (VA Claims Research) Veterans Affairs Claims and Benefits ResearchClaim Closed Without A Decision Or Letter?I'm just wondering if anyone has opened a claim lately or ever and never received a response? I opened a claim in April 2014 for two secondary service connections. All the evidence was in my VA medical records including the doctors saying the conditions were from my SC back and neurological issues.
I submitted using the new fully developed claim method. As I read it if they decide it needs further evidence, etc. it just gets kicked to the regular claim process. I get an update on May 22 2014 saying a decision was made and there is a letter in the mail via ebenefits. So naturally I figured ebenefits was off it's rocker.
So I called the 800 number and they said yes they made a decision on those issues you should get a decision in the mail within a few weeks. Then he digs deeper into the claim and says hmmmm this is weird. There is no letter in the system showing the decision and their reasoning. So I said well did they award service connection? He says I can't comment on that until you get the letter. So I said well you said there was no letter. He says good point. Then he says it looks like they updated your remand on the same day. They also updated their case about a possible ratings reduction. He says all three cases were updated on the same day. Then he says I'm not sure what they are doing here. Sorry.
So I received a letter about them continuing my TDIU and P&T. Yet I never received a letter about my remand or the new service connections.
It's all tracked and documented so they can't say I didn't submit. I'm just wondering if I should submit a NOD or an inquiry as to where their decision letter is.
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dav_marine72 added a question in (VA Claims Research) Veterans Affairs Claims and Benefits ResearchVa Reducing Dependents If Form Not Returned?Hey Everyone,
Has anyone else received a form asking to verify your dependents or your allowance will be taken away in 60 days? Man first they try to reduce my benefits now this. If they are doing this to everyone how many Vets wont get this in the mail? Don't bother looking at my 14 year old remand. Seems a little retaliatory. I don't like to throw out the conspiracy theories but this is a little crazy. Anyone else get this?
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dav_marine72 added a topic in Appealing Your Claims NOD DRO BVA USCAVCRemand Dismissed By Letter Not Addressing It?Hey Folks,
I have been reading some posts about a new law that went into affect a couple of years ago where no mention of a decision is a decision? What is this law? The reason I bring it up is I have a joint remand from the USCAVC in 2009 for 4 issues going on 14 years now. I thought some movement was coming as I was told a new decision was being made on my case.
The RO had already made one decision in July 2013 bumping up a combined 10% for neurological symptoms of my back from 2002 to 40% for my left side and 20% for my right side. However, they said the examiner did not comment on my disability prior to the 2013 exam. The whole reason the remand was there was because they ignored evidence and most of their exams from 2000 - 2008 for my back were thrown out by the court lol. I'm sure I went from mild neurological symptoms to overnight severe when their exam was done :)
Anyway my lawyer at the time had appealed their July 2013 decision. We never heard back. Then they tried to take my TDIU away (I'm 94.4%) and my P&T in January 2014. They sent me a decision a few weeks ago calling it a special mandate in my case. They decided my TDIU and P&T were intact.
That was a relief but I since looked at the decision again. This is the part that now concerns me. They wrote at the end this is to be considered all claims inferred or raised from the special mandate. I'm working on a new appeal letter currently.
So is this their new way of saying we deny your claims back to 2000 again without saying it????
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dav_marine72 added a question in (VA Claims Research) Veterans Affairs Claims and Benefits ResearchLooking For A Weigh In On Bva DecisionHi Everyone,
As my case grows more complicated everyday I am reviewing my 7 + volumes of evidence. I'm trying to figure out if I have any weight to getting a decision for 10% to go back further than 2008. Here are the facts:
2002 - Submitted for service connection of hypertension secondary to chronic back pain. Denied initially.
2004 - Service connection granted for hypertension secondary to back pain and eczema and an increase for asthma to 30% awarded on August 10, 2004. Oddly enough I received a second letter which was a SOC. That letter explained why I was given 30% for asthma and denied higher ratings for my back, right foot, left foot, and chronic right testicle pain on appeal since 2000. It also denied service connection for a mental condition (Which later was service connected).
2005 - On April 20, 2005 I received a form from the RO asking if I agreed with their decision on the back, right and left foot, chronic testicular pain, hypertension, and eczema. I sent the form back in April 25, 2005 stating I did not agree with any of their decisions.
During the time in between I went into the RO and asked for a status on my case. I was told everything was at the BVA including the hypertension issue.
2008 - The BVA made a decision denying higher ratings for my back, right and left foot, and chronic testicular pain which I appealed to the USCAC.
At that point I went and asked where my eczema and hypertension decisions were. I was told I did not appeal them and they were final decisions. I told the RO I never received another SOC about the hypertension and eczema. They told me I didn't appeal.
So I raised the question of what happened and they put in for increases from 0% for both.
2012 - The BVA increases my hypertension rating to 10% and continues eczema at 0%. They specifically addressed the fact that I was wrong and never appealed the initially ratings. Here is the kicker. They used evidence in my record from 2001 and 2002 to award the 10%. I had been on medication since 1997.
So the question I have is if they used evidence available at the time of service connection to rate me 10% in 2012 is that an error on their part which could be re-opened? I'm not going to chase the eczema because thats not as strong. It just gets me mad I was sending letters to them while the case was at the BVA before their 2008 decision including statements about my hypertension and eczema. At the time I didn't realize they needed to make another decision at the RO before the issue could go to the BVA. Very confusing with all my service connections going on. My back, feet, and right testicle pain are still on appeal from 2000 so that 10% back to 2002 could mean something eventually.
Not sure if this is a true error worthy of bringing up or if I should just eat it and walk away from this one. Thanks in advance.
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