So I have been trying to "help" my husband with his re-appeal of his 40% disability he received from the VA. We are appealing for 100% based on several things, and the Disabled American Veterans are helping us with my husband's case. I hate to say it, but man oh man, what a major pain in the ass! I know that nothing in life is free, especially with the VA and the systematic way they keep turning down our Veterans with PTSD. I know we were pretty lucky he was awarded the 40% the first "go at it" rather than a big fat "Sorry, no can do soldier".
I have no idea what I am doing on this stuff. We re-appealed and the DAV we haven't heard much from since it all started. Now we are members of this organization, and still unsure how all this process works but we are leaving it in their hands. However, there are so many questions I have that no one seems to know the answers to! Trying to navigate the mysterious VA website is like trying to fish in a black hole in outer space. Although college educated, I feel like a major idiot when it comes to understanding any of this stuff! What I wouldn't give for a "How to Get Your VA Disability Benefits" Book for Dummies! The more info you come across, the more no one seems to know about it or have any experience with it. I ask questions, and people all of a sudden get the bad case of "Just give me a call next week" which is rather frustrating because that is their job they get paid for. I leave messages with many no return phone calls in the process and I feel my questions are pretty damn important. Ok Ok Ok, I know.......everyone's questions are pretty important and not pouting or throwing a hissy because no one answers my questions. It's just that if I can't figure it out, how the hell am I supposed to help my husband? If I can't find it, how does everyone else do it?
Following the world and all it's online fiascos, I do have a Facebook page. On there is a group called Veteran's Benefit Support in which I quickly joined in hopes for the answers to my impossible questions. No such luck as of yet and it's been over a week now. I had hoped that even a spouse or fellow soldier could have answered based on their experiences and nothing. I guess I get frustrated because I don't know what I am doing, I read that you are supposed to do all the leg work for the VA because even though they have the files in their system, they won't look at it. You as the Veteran must bring to light and show them why you are in need of disability. Ok....so here I sit with all this freaking paperwork and half of it I don't understand myself. So how do the soldiers do it on their own when such things as PTSD and TBI interfere with their thinking processes? It's like a conspiracy theory. Government makes it so hard to understand, you are forced into "do I keep fighting or do I give it up?"
My husband is constantly asking me questions in regards to the VA and the disability paperwork and I can't answer them. It would not be so bad, but this weekend is drill weekend. We have had about 12 soldiers who were deployed come home and guess who they asking questions about the VA and their disability? As the FRG leader, I am supposed to send them in the right direction and provide resources for my guys and so far all I can do is point and say "Good luck there buddy-cause I have absolutely no clue". So here I sit with one big ass question mark weighing me down and no where to find the answers. I think my questions are fairly simple and yet, so hard to get answers too.
Maybe a fellow Veteran or a spouse who has been there and done that can help answer my questions, so I am going to post them because just maybe...one of you knows the answers.
1. At what percentage of disability does the Veteran gain the ChampVA insurance which covers the whole family?
My biggest fear right now is that although my husband's Commanding Officer is not pushing for a medical board review, this is an expected route we are going to take. He is still a damn good soldier, but our fear is he is going to get kicked from the service and there goes our health insurance for which we pay 197.00 a month for. Right now, there is no way we could pay 500 a month for health insurance through his job.
2. I have two letters of doctor (psychiatrists) statement from the VA with "unemployable" written all over it. I read somewhere that the VA can grant up to 70-80% of disability but the rest of the 100% you will have to show that you are "unemployable". Aren't these two letters proof of that? Last appointments he went to, both doctors asked him why the VA didn't give him his 100% based on their recommendations. Beats the heck out of us!
3. At what percentage will they remove you from service from the military? This seems to be a question with many answers. Some say 70%, some say 50% and then some say you have to have so much of a percentage in one area...if its several things with different percentages, then it's ok. I don't think any of these are right.
4. Because we re-appealed, do they back pay you any like they do the first time you apply for disability? Another words, if they grant him a higher rate....do they go back and back pay from the time you first applied, the date you applied for the re-appeal or no back pay at all? My husband is under the impression that he will get back paid and I can't find the answers to that. Would be awesome, but not holding my breath!
5. He has recently learned that his hearing loss is so severe that they are now fitting him with hearing aids in both ears the end of this month. The audiologist says this is war related. Do they give a percentage for such severe hearing loss? I read that they do not, yet they give 10% for ringing in the ears.
6. For TBI, do they even count this as a service connected and rate it on your disability?
So as you can see...not entirely over the rainbow questions, just standard every day Joe questions. Yet, these have stumbled some of the VA experts and no one can answer them. It's as if I have questioned how humans got on this planet or how the Bermuda Triangle works! So simple, yet so tough. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it. Or if you have questions, go ahead and post them! Someone else might be able to help you in the process.
Hopelessly Lost in VA paperwork,
Uncle Sam's Mistress