I have another thread at the link below. Two years ago I filed for an increase on my skin condition and requested a back date to May 2009 when I retired. I have been through a lot since then. For skin conditions rated the same as eczema, the condition is rated on area of coverage or on how often you have to be on systemic (oral or needle) medications. I was given 0% in 2009 when I retired and didn’t know that I was being low-balled because I did not know my condition was related analogous to eczema.
When I learned of this two years ago, I put in a claim requesting a higher rating and a back date to 2009. First, I had an inept examiner that left out my medications. I was denied and I reopened my claim for reconsideration saying the examiner had messed up. Then my claim was denied again because the VA said I did not attend a new exam; they later admitted the exam was never scheduled. Then I was scheduled for a new exam, but I noticed that someone had opened up a claim for increase on warts on my left hand, which was service connected at 0 when I retired. I was concerned this skin exam was for the wrong thing, but I was assured by IRIS, and the VA 1000 number, that it was a full skin exam. After travelling 1.5 hours to the exam, I learned the examiner could only look for warts on my left hand and could not discuss my other skin condition. I was denied again.
At this point, I asked my dermatologist to sign a DBQ I filled out for him although he had never treated this particular skin condition. However, I provided all the medical info and he signed the DBQ. I reopened my claim again, sent in the new DBQ, and was finally awarded 60% and became 100% P&T, but VA ignored my request for an earlier effective date. So I reopened the claim again. It only took 9 days for them to deny me saying my medication wasn’t considered systemic and that due to a policy change they were able to reward me 60% in 2017 but they could not award 60% in 2009. I quickly pointed out that CUE had to be based on law, not a “policy change”, and that the skin law in my case had not changed since 2002. There were also US Court of Veteran Appeal cases that supported my claim (see more at the link below). My claim was opened again.
This time VA sent me to another exam, which I felt was completely unnecessary since new evidence cannot be used in a CUE claim. According to my VSO, they wanted to know if my condition was as bad as had just been determined a couple of months prior. I felt like they were trying to prove fraud at this point, like I was only taking the medication I’ve been taking for 20 years to get a higher rating. The exam was on 9 May 2017 and went well. Despite being on suppressive medication, my skin disease made an appearance. I reviewed the exam with my VSO and it seems the examiner got all the facts necessary for a success.
I just got a copy of my decision from my VSO today. Once again, the letter completely ignored my request for a back date. Instead they acted as if I had requested an increase and denied that. I was already rated at the maximum for my skin condition.
So today, I filed a NOD and filed the Opt-in for RAMP. I have selected the Higher-Level Review with the “informal conference” which could increase the length of time for my RAMP decision. However, I don’t want any surprises. But as long as I was filing RAMP for the skin disease, I added a request for an earlier effective date for my upper peripheral neuropathy.
I am so glad that RAMP has been opened to everyone (unless you have a docket number). I wanted to jump on the RAMP wagon early before it becomes back-logged like everything else. My VSO was all for this too.
I will keep you posted on how this goes.