VA Appeal Update


If you’re not familiar with our story, you can read it here.

He never claimed PTSD. His VA doctor diagnosed him with it and has been treating him for it over the last seven years, or so. I can’t remember the exact date, but that’s about right. It took him a while to decide to file for PTSD and when he finally did, the claim took 2 years and came back denied, with the caveat that there were some signs of depression. His VSO told him that if the VA found signs of depression that they had a legal obligation to open a claim for the veteran in his name. They never did.

So, in 2009 we appealed this decision. His VSO sited the official legal statute and sent off the Notice of Disagreement. We’ve been in the appeals process since.

We had a hearing in October 2012 which led to an immediate and undisputed raise in his migraine percentage. The only thing we had to go through was the PTSD interrogation, which was horrible…for both of us. It was my first time learning a lot of what he had been keeping inside. I’m sure I don’t know it all.

To sit there and watch my hero break down like that killed me inside. I didn’t realize just how deep. I am going to have to say that over that next year I must have buried it and let it simmer until it erupted through my subconscious. That’s the reason for this blog, really.  

So, after waiting over a year, calling for a status every 3 months, we finally got movement. A few weeks ago, TheHubs had another C&P Exam for his appeal. We had to drive an hour an a half. We both were a nervous wreck. But I was there for him, right by his side, giving him the support and love he needed. Unfortunately, they refused to allow me in his meeting. 

He was in there all of maybe seven minutes.

What? Seriously? Seven minutes? That was definitely not a good sign. And sure enough, when he returned to me, he was shaking, he was angry, and then he broke down. I held him and said everything’s going to be ok. But he told me she didn’t want to hear anything he had to say. When he finally calmed down, he told me all that happened.

  1. She asked him what medication he was taking. He rattled off the list. She said, “well, seems like your memory works.” Yeah, when you have been taking the medication for the last 7 years, you kinda remember. It’s the remembering to take the meds, how much he’s taken during the day that he has issues with. We have a white board we use that he ticks off the number of pills for each medication and when he reaches his max, he can’t take any more. I’m not there all the time to help, so this trick is what he uses. And even that doesn’t always help because he forgets to tick it off sometimes. There’s so much more to his memory issues than just remembering what medication he takes. If I had been in there, I could have offered so many more examples. She dismissed his memory issues right after her statement.
  2. She asked him about his nightmares. But wouldn’t allow him to go into detail. She immediately dismissed them as “Everyone has nightmares. It’s your brain’s way of dealing with all the gobbledygook.” And yes, she said gobbledygook. Like it was a medical term. WTF? Again, had I been in there, I could have explained to her what it’s like to wake up to your husband running in place in bed, flailing his arms, then when I reach over to touch him to wake him up, he gets up and runs out of bed smack into a wall, clawing the wall, cowering in the corner, trembling. Yeah, I’m sure that’s gobbledygook.
  3. She wouldn’t listen to anything he had to say about the “incident” and just brushed it off as “It’s in your records.”
  4. She told him something that should never have been told to a veteran about his past therapist – Why he left the service of the VA. I won’t go into detail here, but let’s just say it was horrible what happened to him. But we found out later that she was not authorized to say anything about it.
  5. She ushered him out in record time saying she has his records to review and she will read it all in there.

Seriously, WTFOver?! This was a complete waste of time, just like he said. Their typical blow off or you’re faking attitude we always seem to encounter with our VA. I guess if it’s an invisible wound, you don’t deserve anything. I hate the fighting we have to do. I hate seeing other people skate through the VA system, get 100% disability and then go out and work and have fun. How is that even possible?? But here we are, my husband cannot work because of the pain and the randomness of his migraine attacks, his inability to concentrate and remember anything, and so much more, yet we have to fight tooth and nail only to have people like this lady hold his future in her hands and crush any shred hope we have left.

And what is worse, a week later we get a phone call from his psychiatrist. He’s pissed. He had read the C&P lady’s report and it said he had “no record of treatment or medication for depression.” Um, hello… See #4 up there? She knew he was being seen by a therapist! But still she reported no evidence of such. His psychiatrist said he was in the process of writing a rebuttal to her report, pulling from his records specific dates seen by doctors as well as the medications prescribed. Oh was his psychiatrist angry. And come to find out, he said the lady who ran the C&P interview wasn’t even a licensed psychologist.

I don’t know what all this means. Do we have to wait for the VA’s decision letter to arrive, the denial AGAIN, before we can bring up his psychiatrist’s rebuttal? Or is that already sent in with the C&P report to the decision board? Oh the stress of all this is just killer. I don’t want another denial. I don’t want to have to go through all this heartache of seeing my love break down and have the VA berate him and essentially call him a liar. I don’t want to see that very thin thread of hope snap and vanish and have him just give up. We’ve been fighting tooth and nail with them for 11 years. Frustration, anger, hopelessness doesn’t even begin to cover the turmoil we suffer. If only we could catch a break.


LadyJai

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VA Appeal Update #5
VA Appeal Update #4
VA Appeal Update #3
VA Appeal Update #2
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5 thoughts on “VA Appeal Update

  1. mike pesuit

    Yes I am in a similar appeal. AFTER I SERVED TWO TOUR IN VIETNAM,THRU YET AND WITH A CONFIRMED AND ACCEPTED BY THE VA,”a stressor”. My C&P exam came back that I had A.MOOD.DISORDER at best. I can go on and.on with other indisputable fact but to no reasoning it is just a bunch of.Bull Shot.

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  2. strokesurvivoreva

    Geez, this is ridiculous. I went through similar circumstances when I filed for my disability. My hemorrhage, stroke, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, focus, memory, concentration, and gait issues weren’t enough for them the first time. I had to appeal before I was approved. At least it didn’t take eleven years! I’m so sorry you and Hubs are going through so much turmoil.
    Disabled vets should be treated with the honor and respect they deserve, not the way your Hubs is being treated. I apologize for the messed up system that is denying Hubs what he rightfully deserves.
    I hope they do the right thing, and soon. Your family will be in my thoughts while you try to resolve this. Hugs, Eva

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    1. LadyJai Post author

      We’ve been told to seek SSI as well. However, we’ve also been told by many people that it’s almost standard operating procedure that the SS office deny the first claim…much like that VA it seems. Like some unwritten rule: A way to weed out those who don’t want to go to bat for what they need, or don’t want to fight, so they don’t have to pay. Those who truly need it have to fight for it and you should NEVER give up what you deserve! I often say, fighting the VA is another career. My father has been out for 24 years and still fighting. So yeah. Shouldn’t be this way, but it is. That’s bureaucracy for you.

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      1. strokesurvivoreva

        I was denied SSI because I made too much money during my career. I understood that it was for very low income, so I didn’t appeal the decision. I did appeal the SSDI denial and had to go to a hearing.
        I don’t listen to many of the stories about how they ‘weed out’ those who don’t want to go to bat for what they need. I’ve seen people brag about how they got over the system by knowing what to say and do (remember I was an EMT and overheard many a conversation) were approved their first time applying. It sickens me that people like us, that have worked hard our whole lives have to jump through hoops to get assistance for disabilities incurred through no fault of our own. Yes, I’ve fought battles, and I still fight battles, though now they’re battles of a different kind. Email me sometime and we can talk. Hugs. Eva

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        1. LadyJai Post author

          I’ve heard, and seen, so many similar stories about those who know how to work the system. Makes me so angry that it happens in the VA especially. Those who truly need it have to fight tooth and nail for every penny. It shouldn’t be like that but it is. Grrrr! I will definitely send along my email so we can chat.

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