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Posted 30 July 2012 - 01:24 PM
I was VERY recently awarded 70% for PTSD. I have a previous 20% disability dating from about 1990 related to Agent Orange, so I'm 80% overall.
"Agent Orange" gives it away - I'm a Vietnam vet, 62 years old. My question is - how 'permanent' is this PTSD disability rating likely to be? Will I be reexamined every two years or so?
I have read quite a bit here on hadit about people being called in for re-examinations. My C&P for PTSD was no fun at all - it took me back through a lot of things that I try to avoid thinking about. I sure do not look forward to doing it again. In fact, that's why I had never filed a claim for the PTSD until recently. I just didn't want to go through that stuff.
I AM still working, if that's a factor. Like some others, the work schedule gives me organization in my life that helps. I won't be working forever.
Also, I have had a claim for diabetes bouncing around for over a year. My civilian doctor had recently submitted more info relative to that claim. Will resolution of that claim re-trigger looking at everything? It would not change the overall disability rating. Should I just let that proceed or withdraw it?
I'm just asking how does all of this stuff come together - does the general 'over 55 rule' on re-examinations apply to me?
Posted 31 July 2012 - 06:24 AM
Yours is the 64,000 dollar question that many of us ask. I will speculate an answer, tho remember its just that..speculation.
The "over 55" comes with a caveat..."except in unusual circumstances". Nobody seems to really know what those unusual circumstances are.
However, remember that the VA is backlogged and most employees dont going around looking for more work. And, it would certainly be work to do a reduction. There is the proposal letter...the appeals...and lots more stuff for them to do. These employees could also go around inspecting the floor..to see that it is properly swept, mopped, dusted, and waxed. But few of us would do this.
Also know that VA management is very much taking "heat" now...just look at all the scandals...shreddergate, fiduiciary scandals, backlog promises broken..medical center's dirty equipment..the list goes on and on. And doing an unjustified reduction certainly raises the possibility an angry Veteran who knows a congressmen will get mad and ask for an investigation. They dont need that.
Since you probably got your rating honestly, dont worry about it.
I look back at my life and I cant help but remember a number of people spending much of their life worrying. Worrying about bigger kids beating them up in school. Worrying about tests. Worrying about what they will do when they graduate. Worrying about losing their job. Worrying about their kids getting on drugs. Worrying about thier spouse taking off. Worrying about their retirement. Worrying about funeral costs. It never stops. There is always something to worry about if you look for it.
I dont know how many days or years I have left...5 years..10..30? Who knows. But I do not want to spend my last ones worrying. I dont have enough of them left to waste even a day on worry.
I read of a study on worry. About 80 to 90 percent of the stuff we worry about never materializes. Of the last 10 to 20%, my suggestion is to prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Get right with your God. Forgive everyone who you think wronged you. Then, give up that burden that is too heavy to carry to God. This includes the potential burden of a reexam and possibility of a reduction. Sure..these things can, and do happen. But at some point we need to let go of those worries. Dont fret about tommorrow as tommorrow will have enough troubles on its own.
Sorry for my soap box..but you asked. And thats the way I see it. The reason I see it, is because I have done so much worrying...that I can see that mistake in others but not in myself.
Im gonna go to my docs appointments about 4 times a year, and then not worry about it. It is what it is.
Posted 31 July 2012 - 06:29 PM
First of all at age 62 and just recently increased to 70% for PTSD, I seriously doubt you'll have any problems even if you are reexamined. Other than what broncovet said, which couldn't be anymore closer to the truth, you also have a mental health issue, combined with your age, a situation even the VA examiners and raters wouldn't want the satisfaction of bringing your nightmares back again. They wouldn't of rated you 70% just for a bad dream or maybe a few anxiety or panic attacks. You my friend have a serious disibility and the VA recognizes this. Also, they have a legal obligation to infer TDIU in your case, but they saw you were working and maybe dismissed it, who knows. The fact you are working could very well had made a big difference from 80 to a 100% rating if you were not working due to the PTSD. From what I've seen and heard, it's very hard to keep a job working for you at the 70% criteria. The big Q is, are you ready for retirement! If not, when? Where I'm going with this is, the time is now if your goals are set for retiring within the year or so. If not, then your looking at even a longer time phase.
Of course all this is JMO and others here may differ with me, but, since you already have the ball rolling, I myself would go with it. You always have the option to work if you end up with a 100% schedular rating anyway. So it's not the end of your working day's if you so wished. That's what is so nice about it. On the other hand, if you would get awarded TDIU then your perty much limited on the amount of money you can make. The whole thing is, whether it's 100% schedular or TDIU the VA might look at you working and think if you can work, then your not that disabled and maybe reduce your rating.
All and all, my opinion is go for it and don't let the worrying interfere with your decisions.
Here's the reg that talks about the reexaminations for 55 and older;
38 CFR 3.327>Reexaminations; Which states no future examinations for 55yrs or older except under unusual circumstances: So far, no-one has found the criteria for unusual circumstances, as broncovet mentioned. Thus I've never heard of anyone in a situation (underlined above) that has been denied because of this re: reexaminations. Again RVN, this post is just my opinion and only you can decide what's right for you.
Posted 31 July 2012 - 09:34 PM
I'm certainly not aware of any of those mysterious 'unusual circumstances' regarding my exam, diagnosis and so on. I was upfront and honest with the doctors questions, but I didn't sugarcoat my life, either. I believe that the rating was for very low social interaction. I go to work and often stay late because there's nothing going on at home to leave for. The work schedule provides structure for my day. At home, I live alone. I'm divorced and kids are off on their own about three hours away. I do have a lady-friend and we get together about once a week. In a couple of sentences - that's my life.
I have been going to a veterans group for many years and had tried some individual counseling, but no individual sessions recently. I suppose that I knew for a long time that I had PTSD. Two veteran counselors had told me that I had PTSD as an informal diagnosis. Recently I was talking to a Service Officer about claim for diabetes. She encouraged me to also submit a claim for PTSD. I did and it moved through the VA process very quickly.
Independent of the VA and disability stuff, I had been thinking that I would retire some time in the next two or three years. I'm sure that the financial side will work. My needs are not all that big and I have Social Security, a small pension and some savings. I had not planned on VA disability compensation in my retirement financial planning, beyond the 20% disability that I have had since about 1990. I'm still adjusting to the idea of this new rating.
As cooter suggested, it had also occurred to me that maybe this is the time. My thinking now is somewhere between seven and twenty months. Because of outside stuff and a situation at work, I wouldn't want to let people down by leaving before seven months. After that, I could go with a clear conscience. Beyond that, it's 20 months or LESS.
Just noting - RVN is Republic of Viet Nam.
Thanks to all for your input and suggestions.