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To Voc Rehab Or Not?

30 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

Hello All,

History: My husband was awarded 50% PTSD back in July 2011. Part of the VA reasoning for not awarding a higher percentage was because he hadn't applied for SSDI or Voc Rehab. (BTW: I thought a veteran could only apply for Voc Rehab after they were rated, so using that reason for a lower percentage is ridiculous.)

As a result, my husband filed for an increase (we were advised that an appeal would take forever) which included a strong medical opinion for 100%. The claim is in development, and the VA has added many of the previous claim documents to the file such as the application for TDIU, personal statements etc. At the same time as filing the claim for increase, my husband also applied for SSDI.

My question is: should he also apply for Voc Rehab? We feel, as well as his doctor, that Voc Rehab will not be able to offer him any education or employment services due to the PTSD. (If that's their ruling, then it can only help his 100% plight).

I don't know where to turn in this application. The instructions say to turn into any VA office. Does that mean medical? I can't figure out how to apply online through E-benefits.

As a side note, when my husband received his initial rating letter, I put together a NOD. When we took it to the DAV, he said that a NOD would take years to resolve and advised my husband to file the increase instead. I haven't sent the NOD, however, I was thinking about changing the wording and submitting it as a Statement in Support of Claim because I feel like it has some good points. My husband also has a claim in for Dependents, both claims since August, and he hasn't received a VCAA notice for either to date.

Just looking for some suggestions from others that are more experienced with the VA than me.

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Posted · Report post

If the Voc Rehab feel that your husband is unemployable he will have that on his record which helps a lot of Veterans get 100% and he would also be eligible for Independent Living Program where VA assesses what would help Veteran most and than pay for it.

Most Veterans used to get computers but it will pay for a lot of other things. I have a plan right now for Voc Rehab to buy a tempurpedic bed and possibly a new AC system for our house.

I got 100% after getting SSD but nothing about Voc Rehab. Good Luck

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You were given some very bad advice about not appealing the 50% rating. I would ditch whoever is advising you. If you don't file the NOD you will lose your effective date. You can file the NOD and ask for a DRO Hearing. By the time you get the hearing all your other things like SSDI and Voc Rehab could be resolved. What you really need is medical evidence that your husband cannot work.

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I would not file a NOD just yet. You just got the award in July 2011. You have a strong IMO since then that would award 100%. I would withdraw my request for increase and ask for a reconsideration on the original award based on the new evidence. Then if something doesn't happen by next July you can then file a NOD to preserve you Effective Date.

I personnaly hand carry all documents to the local RO and submit them and have them make a copy after they have stamped them as received. They don't like to do it but they will if you press them.

Good Luck and thanks for your(and your husbands) service.

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Reconsideration would be a good idea. Just remember the NOD clock is running. Don't wait until one week before time runs out to file the NOD. As I understand it you must have new evidence for a reconsideration. I have done reconsiderations and regular NOD appeals. I don't know if one is any better than the other. If you want a face-to-face you need to file a NOD and ask for a DRO Hearing. Reconsiderations can be faster than NOD/Appeal route.

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The DAV rep told us that the Nevada RO does not recognize Reconsideration Requests. It's either a NOD or a request for increase.

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"Part of the VA reasoning for not awarding a higher percentage was because he hadn't applied for SSDI or Voc Rehab. (BTW: I thought a veteran could only apply for Voc Rehab after they were rated, so using that reason for a lower percentage is ridiculous.)"

I have never seen that kind of statement from the VA in over 20 years.

Can you scan and attach the denial here? (Cover the personal stuff.)so we can see the rest of the 'part of'?

"As a side note, when my husband received his initial rating letter, I put together a NOD. When we took it to the DAV, he said that a NOD would take years to resolve and advised my husband to file the increase instead. I haven't sent the NOD, however, I was thinking about changing the wording and submitting it as a Statement in Support of Claim because I feel like it has some good points. My husband also has a claim in for Dependents, both claims since August, and he hasn't received a VCAA notice for either to date."

I dont understand any of this.

Did he receive a VCAA letter for this claim:

"My husband was awarded 50% PTSD back in July 2011"

By "both" claims do you mean the TDIU claim too?

There is extensive info here as to how to support a TDIU claim.

"My question is: should he also apply for Voc Rehab? We feel, as well as his doctor, that Voc Rehab will not be able to offer him any education or employment services due to the PTSD. (If that's their ruling, then it can only help his 100% plight)."

That is correct.

Did the doctor document anywhere (or be willing to do that for him) that his SC disabilities render Voc Rehab as unfeasible?

If one is unvocrehabable due to SC ,one is also unemployable due to SC and therefore entitled to TDIU.

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I reads this so fast I didnt know anyone had responded !

"The DAV rep told us that the Nevada RO does not recognize Reconsideration Requests. It's either a NOD or a request for increase. "

This is Bull S--T!!!!

John 999 is right- a reconsideration request should be made.

Recon Requests can make things move faster if someone who gets the request at the VA can read.

I waited until the last week of the time frame for filing my NOD on a CUE claim because VA had acted like they were working on the Recon request by their responses (which were often bizarre)

but I concluded they just wanted to piss away my NOD deadline time frame making me think I didnt have to file a formal NOD.

I have been represented by the DAV as well as by the state Division of Vets affairs.

None of them above had a clue.

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Posted · Report post

Reconsideration is done at the BVA level not RO. take some law classes on VA law. Do as some others has said and file the NOD. The rater was WRONG stating you had to file for SSDI or Voc for the higher rating. that is not a part of the regulations and you have a good case. He is adding to the regulation something not allowed. There are many court cases on this fact.

Reconsideration would be a good idea. Just remember the NOD clock is running. Don't wait until one week before time runs out to file the NOD. As I understand it you must have new evidence for a reconsideration. I have done reconsiderations and regular NOD appeals. I don't know if one is any better than the other. If you want a face-to-face you need to file a NOD and ask for a DRO Hearing. Reconsiderations can be faster than NOD/Appeal route.

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@Berta:

In the rating decision letter, under section 5 Entitlement to individual unemployability, it states: 'The record does not indicate you have applied for VA Vocational Rehabilitation services nor Social Security disability benefits.' This statement is included as one of the reasons to deny TDIU. The ratings are 50% PTSD, 10% Tinnitus and 10% Elbow.

So the initial claim is as rated above. Now there are 2 new claims, 1 for dependents and one for increase (at the advice of DAV). I prepared a NOD, but again, the DAV told us it would take years to resolve, so just file an increase instead. The 2 current claims are the ones that we haven't received a VCAA notice on yet (submitted in August 2011), and the 800# said they hadn't sent them.

After the initial rating, we went to see a VA Psychologist in August 2011, he again assigned a GAF of 45 (just like the original C&P). In the letter he wrote, he commented on 2 errors in the initial rating. Another statement says, "After reviewing the current medical records, it is my professional opinion that Mr. XX's current condition is 'more likely than not' related to the in-service condition. Due to the nature, severity and chronicity of Mr. XX's PTSD, it is my professional opinion that he can no longer maintain full-time gainful employment, nor can he sustain effective social relationships. Mr. XX's progonis for improvement remains poor, therefore his disabilities should be considered permanent."

Another statement the Dr made in the letter is, "Mr. XX has not been able to work since 2008 due to the nature, severity and chronicity of his SC'd PTSD. He has also been unable to go to school due to the nature, severity and chronicity of his PTSD. This also correlates with the 100% SC disability rating of the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders."

We of course submitted this letter with the increase claim. Applied for SSDI in August 2011, included the Dr letter as part of the medical evidence. Now we don't know what to do about Voc Rehab. And, I am concerned about the NOD vs Increase. I wanted to submit the NOD, however, the DAV rep said it would take years and my husband didn't want to wait years.

Can I submit the NOD as a Statement in Support of Claim, and ask for an EED, or should I file a CUE, or file a formal NOD, or just leave it as is (increase). I don't want my husband to lose any benefits, only to get what he deserves.

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Posted · Report post

Reconsideration or DRO Review may be the same thing. They are supposed to review without asking but y'all know the VA you pretty much have to ask them to do their job.

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Gulfvet45 said

"Reconsideration is done at the BVA level not RO."

That is incorrect. Read some VA case law ,take some courses from NVLSP on VA case law , and read the VBM.

And read some of the cases at the BVA that derived from reconsideration requests AT THE VARO LEVEL.

Also the VA certainly did not tell me I could not file a reconsideration request at the RO level so I did.That claim is presently under Nehmer and has been ready to rate since April.

Westcoast- in my opinion you should ask for reconsideration and make sure they consider those powerful medical statements.

But watch out that the NOD one year time frame does NOT pass without filing the formal NOD.

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forgot to ask:

"This statement is included as one of the reasons to deny TDIU"

Can you tell us the other reasons?

In my opinion he certainly has a good chance at TDIU.

"We of course submitted this letter with the increase claim" if you mean the last decision-

did they list it as evidence and then consider it in the narrative? If not do you have proof of mailing it to them?

"In the rating decision letter, under section 5 Entitlement to individual unemployability, it states: 'The record does not indicate you have applied for VA Vocational Rehabilitation s...."

What is the date of that decision?

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This might help you-

We have a member RAkkwarrior who is a DAV NSO and has filed Requests for Reconsideration at the VARO level.

He hasn't been here for a while but his email addy (if you click on his name in the Member list here) might still be open.

Tell him I sent you because of his expertise with Recon Requests.if he asks.

Or go to Military.com and join the site, then go to Communities, then to Discussions, then to Veterans Issues, then to Disability Comp forum and try to reach him in your header and he or Dave Barker will respond to you.

I forget if Mil.com might have an email contact area for him too.

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Also

M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart ii, Chapter 2, Section E contains info as to how the ROs are to handle reconsideration requests.

My downloads of M21 1MR are too extensive to post or attach here.

If you Google M21-1MR Reconsideration, then that entire Section above should pop up and help you.

M21-1MR is the Manual that all VAROs use in order to comply with basic VA regs and case law.

I have used parts of M21-1MR many times as evoidence for my claims to show them how to properly handle and award the claim.

I also used 1 or 2 excerpts from M21-1MR for my pending CUE claims.

It is a legal error for the VA to misconstrue, avoid, or misuse applications of M21-1MR regarding claims.

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@ Berta,

Thank you so much for the direction. I have already reached out to Rakkwarrior, just awaiting a resonse. I am currently trying to remove all of the personal information from the NOD, decision letter and Dr's letter. When I'm done, I would really like to send it to you to look over so you can get a clearer idea of what we're trying to do here. If that's ok.

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If you can scan it and post here as attachment I and others can read it all to give advise on how to proceed.

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Ok, I have finally managed to combined all of the relevant information. My husband was adamently against me posting his actual documents (even with personal info removed) so I have compiled a hybrid of theNOD letter, the Decision Letter, the VA Nurse Memo, last employer statement and Dr.'s opinion letter (done after claim rated at 50%). Oh, I hope all of this makes sense.

We are in a quandry as to whether or not to file a NOD (already filed for an increase).

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Thanks for the quote in the attachment as to exactly what VA stated as to Voc rehab and SSA.

We are not being newsy when we ask to see the actual decisions.

Last week, after replying to a vet's posts here from time to time over the last 3-4 years on a problem he had with his claim-

I had based my opinions on 2 specific statements he said the BVA had said in their decision.

He had said he didn't know how to attach documents here.

My time helping him was wasted and worse yet- so was his- as the BVA distinctly stated something completely different when I finally -last week- learned of the actual wording in his decision.

He has apparently lost any chance to appeal those BVA decisions.

We could have helped more if we had seen the actual documents he had from the VA.

That happened to me many times here and even with local vets and widows I used to help-

because what one says the VA stated might be quite different when you get used to VA lingo.

It can be overwhelming at times to comprehend VA lingo but it is their words that often can be used against them.Which I sure have done many times.

I suggest this-

find a better vet rep-one who would be willing to send a 21-4138 themselves in support of this:

'This is a Request for Reconsideration on your decision dated XXXX regarding my disability of XXXXXX.

If this request and the enclosed evidence does not garner a proper award of TDIU, please consider it instead as a timely filed NOD.'

And then state the statements you made in the NOD.You did a very good job there.

I only briefly read the attachment but it did seem to make your points well.

I suggest to list the enclosed evidence at the bottom of the NOD/Recon Request.

Maybe this will help-

I am preparing a legal matter for a number of disabled veterans and me- regarding something that is a non claim matter.

We are seeking a class action resolve.

At each point in my complaint I put Exhibit A,B,C, D etc to correspond to each point.

At the end of the complaint I will have an Exhibit list and brief description of each of the Exhibits, how many pages each exhibit entails, and my name and address on each page.

For the Exhibits themselves I have used colored labels to Mark each one as Ex. A, B. and C etc.

Today I need to review the entire complaint to edit for any extemporaneous information as it is 5 pages long and

I might be able to peal it down a little.

I had to disregard dozens of emails from these veterans, using only 2 as Evidence , and condense somehow, how my personal evidence supports their position too as we are a class of similiar situated individuals.

This format is exactly how I prepared all of my past VA claims and all of them succeeded except for an old one rendered moot by a different award.Which is now part of my pending Nehmer case.

Put the veteran's name and address on every single page as well as his C file number for the enclosures.

Total the enclosures at the bottom of the NOD/Recon request at end of the Exhibit list.

Mail everything with a proof of mailing.

I always use USPS and pay for tracking slip and then a few days later I print off the USPS tracking slip proof at the USPS web site of receipt by the VA.

The VARO Buffalo had the audacity to remove my most critical evidence from my C file on numerous occasions years ago when I FTCAed them for wrongful death.

They removed ,or destroyed evidence I had proof they had, and withheld it from the VA Office of General COunsel and from the Strategic Health Team in VA Central Office,DC, and even kept this evidence from a VA C & P doctor.(who was stunned to find that out)

I have no faith or belief whatsoever that my VARO can handle anything I send to them properly.

Fortunately all of above worked out OK when I stopped believing the VA would actually consider my evidence or even put it into my C file without tampering with it.

I actually obtained all of my ancillary awards for my 2010 award by bypassing my VARO and contacting other VA entities for those benefits and it worked.My VARO stated to me in the award letter that those benefits were not due me.

They totaled close to $100,000 when I got them.

Good thing I don't buy what they are selling most of the time.

And this is why I feel your husband should seek a good vet rep.

To make sure that VA does receive all of your evidence and also considers it properly.

The reps I had (who I also did volunteer work for) worked behind my back to support numerous erroneous decisions from the VARO.Long story and they (the reps) paid for that)

In spite of my problems however -I know there are many good ones out there to help you.And they will keep a documented record of your dealings with the VA.as a back up if you need it.

In MOST cases however evidence is properly handled by ROs.

If they fail to list any evidence as Evidence,in the decision,and it directly bears on the claim, it can be resubmitted for them to consider.

My husband was 30% and went to 100% P & T for PTSD (posthumous award) so regardless of your husband's present rating, as long as he has formally applied for TDIU, they should consider him for it with all the evidence they have.

He should definitely apply for SSA disability benefits and if the SSA awards solely for his SC disability- this is excellent evidence of TDIU.

My husbands first SSA award took 4 months,(for a Sec 1151 disability)

but we filed for reconsideration and then 4 months after that they gave him PTSD SSDI benefits and rendered the other award moot.(also it is now an AO disability)

Oddly enough they (VA) ignored the SSA findings but based their award primarily on his VA psyche records and a letter from his psychiatrist.

And the testing results I submitted to them myself (that were for some reason not in his med rec file) ?. His Psyche doc gave to me all test results for to me to submit.

You might need to check to see if your husband's med recs from VA contain all the info they should contain.

I have seen the DAV and the AL use this type of 21- 4138 in BVA decisions that the RO challenged saying the NOD was not filed on time when a Reconsideration Request had been made.The reps had, at time of the request, filed the 21-4138 they prepared in order to preserve the NOD filing period of one year.

The Voc Rehab and SSA statements ,as yuou quoted them in the attachment, are not reasons they denied as much as reasons they could not award.

Seeing their actual words in the attachment helped me understand what they actually said.

He should definitely apply for SSDI.He might get SSDI award sooner than TDIU and he can use that SSA award -if solely for his SC disabilities- as evidence for TDIU.

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@Berta,

Thank you for reviewing my attachment. The actual 'package' is 38 pages long. On each page I list the exact info from the award letter, name, ssn and the reference number from the VA, along with his address, and page of page #. I didn't want to include all of the attachements, however, they are listed on the last page of the 'NOD' so they know what is included.

As for SSDI, the application was made on 8/9/11, not decided yet. If it is awarded, I will then foward that decision to VARO. Also, I was going to apply for Voc Rehad, and give them a copy of the recent Dr.s statements showing that he is unable to work or attend school (which my husband got after the decision).

In my previous career, I was a contracts manager and had to prepare documents for legal review, so I clearly understand the importance of keeping my ducks in a row.

My husband and I have lived and breathed this claim for over a year now. It seems so clear to me that he should have received a higher rating, but its great to get feedback from those that are much more experienced than I.

I will fashion this as a 21-4138 Statement in Support of Claim using the wording you suggested. On every attachment, I have highlighted specifically what I've referenced in the NOD letter. Most everything I've cited is from the original claim, with the exception of the Dr. Letter on 08/09/11.

When we submit the Reconsideration Request / NOD, how will that affect the claim for increase? We haven't even received a VCAA notice for the increase claim yet, and the 800# says they haven't sent it.

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"When we submit the Reconsideration Request / NOD, how will that affect the claim for increase? We haven't even received a VCAA notice for the increase claim yet, and the 800# says they haven't sent it. "

If you mean the TDIU claim as a claim for increase, I think the Recon Request/NOD could resolve the claim for increase.

My satelite dish company just popped up saying that due to severe weather we might have satelite outages today.

I already had one or two brief losses of internet (the weather is beautiful here but it is affecting their sattelite elsewhere so I better get off the PC.

Your vet rep or NSO could better advise you as to the affect of this NOD recon request to any pending claims.

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I lost sight of my original question: How do I apply for Voc Rehab? We have the application completed, I just don't know where to send it.

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This link has lots of info on Voc Rehab:

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/index.htm

There are additional links at the top right hand side.

I am not sure where to send the app-hope that info is in this link.

Or that others here will chime in-

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I lost sight of my original question: How do I apply for Voc Rehab? We have the application completed, I just don't know where to send it.

I sent mine to Regional Office by certified-return receipt at USPS. Use address provided on their correspondence. I had an appointment set up by voc-rehab in about 2 weeks.

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That is correct- I found my husband's old Voc Rehap stuff and he sent the app to his RO, then got the appt at VA in Rochester with someone in Voc Rehab ( that appointment only took about 10 minutes but getting to Rochester was a day trip for us.)

and once he enrolled at Corning College he was helped by a Gulf War vet-she was their VA Voc Rehab coordinator, and it went smoothly from that point on.

On Line colleges all have a VA counselor as part of their Financial Aid offices, as long as the school is VA approved.

I had very few problems under Chap 35 (a little different from Voc Rehab)by using my email contact to VA Edu Dept and email to the AMU VA counselor.

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