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Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101767 02/21/06 06:34 PM
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Well, I am still waiting my MEB. Considering its almost March now, I'm getting ancy. I've been having off the wall dreams and not getting much sleep because of it. I went through the Transition Assisstance program a week ago, and have been using some of my leave up since then. I go back to work tonight, and tomorrow I'm gonna go ask my shirt if he knows anything yet.

During the TAP, the people were actually discouraging. They said my chances of getting 30% is almost 0%, since I have only 4 years of service so far. Now, if I only get 20%, and have to take the severance pay, what do I do from then? Do I hold on to the money and put it away so when the VA comes back with 70-90%, I can just give them the lump sum and get my VA checks? What about the taxes on it? I'm way confused on it still. Same goes if I somehow do get a retirement. Do I pay back the money I get in monthly pay PLUS the taxes I already paid on it? Or do I not pay them the tax witholdings?

My flat foot, with no improvement with orthotics rates me at 50% alone with the VA scale. I assume I could get 40% for the AS, 20% for my right snapping scapula syndrome, and a couple of 10% ratings for my wrists and other joint pains.
Might it be taking so long that they are trying to figure out a way to get it under 30%?

Also, I'll have this posted in the main section as well(this portion)
Did anyone gain alot of weight in the begining stages of AS? I gained nearly 70 lbs in the past 2 years, and I have struggled to get it down. I also fluctuate about 25 lbs each way, around 240-265. Any insight on this, or does anyone else have this problem?

My orthopedist said he can't do anything else for my feet. He believes that the AS is directly affecting the nerves to my feet which is causing the intense pain I feel. Any insight to that?

Thanks,
SrA Stephan, Dover AFB, Delaware


SAS
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101768 02/21/06 10:56 PM
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I am playing the waiting game too...but I have another physical the end of March.

Remember AS can inflame any of our joints. Depending on what joints are effected means dif. nerves are effected and that leads to pain,numbness, and tingling in our extremities at times.


Jay

NOTE: If you aint here to help row the boat then you are welcome to walk the plank.
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101769 02/22/06 01:30 PM
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By law and regulation, the fact that you only have four years of service has no bearing on what your disability percentage rating should be. Unfortunately, the stark reality is that is does. My guess (from recent experience) is that you will have to fight at many levels to get an appropriate rating. The military boards do not feel compelled to follow law and regulation as it saves money not to and there is no accountability for not doing so by DoD or Congress due to a lack of visibility and oversight. I am in contact with national DAV officials on this issue. The DAVís number one issue raised at a recent supervisors conference was that military disability boards were not following law and regulations at the expense of the service member losing benefits they are due. The DAV is pushing this issue hard and I am feeding them examples from this website as examples of the boards ignoring law and regulation. They are engaging Congress with the intent of getting hearings into the issue.

Remember, the military will not rate a condition unless they first find it unfitting for military service. They are not motivated to find more than one condition unfitting as that would lead to higher costs. One is enough to give you the boot if that is their intent.

The way the law is written, severance pay is in effect, an advance on VA compensation for the unfitting condition. Assuming AS is the only condition the AF finds unfitting, when you get a VA rating, the VA will withhold the AS portion of the VA compensation (minus taxes) until that amount is recouped. You will immediately receive compensation for the other service rated conditions once your rating VA rating is established. There would be no financial benefit in paying back you severance pay right away if that is even an option. Put it in the bank and draw the amount you would have received from the VA for the AS. This way you keep the interest and have a pot of money at the ready to go should you have a financial emergency arise.

I have not gained weight on Enbrel (3 years plus). I did gain weight on prednisone but lost it once I discontinued it.

Make sure you get you doctorís opinions of AS affected other areas of your body documented in your medical records, as this will aid arguments for higher AS ratings from both the AF and the VA.

Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101770 02/22/06 08:26 PM
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Stephan,

I have experienced horrendous foot pain related to AS. It was achilles tendinitis and plantar fascitis. I was using a walker to shuffle around. Finally, night splints finally let it heal. Podorthists deal with these and a podiatrist would know what I am talking about. The weight gain could just be from decreased activity and over eating related to depression and anxiety of a dealing with a chronic disease. I gained from prednisone and antidepressants.


Kristen
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Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101771 02/28/06 07:03 PM
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As far as weight goes I jumped from 185 to 225 because of lack of activity. I am not alot more active but with a diet change and walking, ( I want to run again someday)I have been able to get my weight back down. Get some asian cookbooks or look up recipes on the net and you wont have to give up alot of taste and still be able to lose the weight. Right now Beer is my enemy as fas as weight goes.

I dont think the waiting will ever end though. From the people who brought us "hurry up and wait", they seem to have forgotten the hurry up part.


"We did more before 18 than most people do in their whole lives."
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101772 03/07/06 04:52 PM
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I'll never be able to run again. Not with my feet. Anyways, How long do informal MEBs usually take. I have been waiting 10 months since this whole process started, and its been "officially sent" at the end of December. Whats the deal here?


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Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101773 03/07/06 09:59 PM
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Do you have a PEBLO?? That's what we call them in the Army and they are suppose to keep track on the status.

Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101774 03/07/06 11:09 PM
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I called the PEBLO and she had no clue. She said my doctor still had the package and was waiting on something.....In other words, The MEB still hasn't sent in. I'm PISSED right now. Question, is there an instruction where I can make an IG complaint about this issue. I've been waiting since last May for this MEB to get sent in, and if it doesn't get done here soon, I want to persue this at a higher level. I tell you, Dover AFBs MTF is so jacked up. And their excuse? Oh, they say they have 1200 people to take care of....Uh hello, if you can't handle that, then go somewhere else! There has to be time limits on MEB packages. AFPC requested it in September, now its March. I gotta get a new profile now, because my current one expires at the end of the month. In the meantime, I have half my house packed because I thought I'd been discharged NLT April, and I've already been through Transition Assistance in getting out. Not to mention burning up leave that way I don't have to sell it back.

They have a PEBLO, but they don't know what they are doing. Again, she said that my PCM is the only one that deals with it.


SAS
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101775 03/08/06 12:03 AM
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Navistar, I found this Air Force publication on MEBs that may be of help. It does seem that you are getting the run around and unless the doctors/PEBLO can give you a straight answer on why things are not properly progressing, I would definitely look into an IG complaint.

http://usmilitary.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.e%2Dpublishing.af.mil/pubfiles/af/44/afi44%2D157/afi44%2D157.pdf

Check out the last two pages!!

Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101776 03/21/06 02:24 AM
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There are time requirements for each step. Even the PEB has to get results back to PEBLO within a certain time. 45 days I think. The hold up is probably having the narrative summary signed off by the hospital Colonel or ranking CO of the joint. That's what took the most time with mine. After that it got back to me within 2 weeks. No joke.


adapt and overcome
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101777 04/19/06 08:19 AM
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I am still waiting to this day for a response from the PEBLO on the MEB package. I am going to speak with my First Sergeant tomorrow and discuss possibly starting an IG complaint on the medical treatment facility for not doing the process in a timely matter. I have been waiting a year now for them to send the MEB to Lackland.

I finally started Enbrel. I took my first shot on Friday. I haven't seen any improvement yet though. I figured It'd take a little while to get into my system. Right before I started Enbrel, I felt pretty good, but I think it was because I got off the sulfasalazine and it was nice weather out. I did feel like crap on Sunday(Easter), but got a little better Monday and Tues. Hopefully after my 2nd or 3rd injections, I'll feel a little better. I saw the post about the SSgt that got medically retired. Looks like it was a pain to get the retirement, but at least now I know it can be done. With myself having bilateral flat feet, Snapping scapula syndrome in my right scapula, and AS, I would think the informal board would rate me at least 30%, but then again, it is a medical board, and they know I want out of the AF. I only want out though cause I can't do my job. Although, quite frankly, I'm glad I wasn't working on 4059 that night before it crashed on April 3rd.

Any feedback?


SAS
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101778 04/19/06 12:20 PM
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Yes, something is wrong when it takes this long. I am guessing they will not find all your conditions unfitting and thus won't rate them. This will keep the rating below the retirement level. The AF refused to find SSgt Hartley's osteporosis unfitting although his bones were much less dense than that of the average 80 year old woman. Do not assume anything when it comes to these boards. You must be on the offensive.

Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101779 04/20/06 07:08 AM
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Yeah, I know I need to be on the offensive. What sucks is my base is so poorly managed, that no one seems to want to do thier darn job, or help anyone out. Everyone is about themselves here. The problem seems to be that the MTF just sticks the PEBLO job on some random person without training them or anything. So the PEBLO doesn't know anything, and states that my PCM is responsible for my MEB. She (my PCM) has submitted my MEB package several times, and it has been rejected for missing items or information(so they say) at the base informal board, which it goes through prior to being sent to AFPC. Once it goes to AFPC, it the ball should roll down the hill pretty quickly. Responses of the informal board are about 4 weeks, and then I have 3 days to appeal if necessary. I am praying for the best and that they give me at least a 30 % rating in the informal board, because I don't know if I can take waiting anymore to get to the formal board and have to deal with this craphole anymore. If they treated personnel with diseases that hurt the entire body with respect instead of trying to make them break thier profiles by mopping floors, or taking out garbage all day, maybe I'd be more willing.

My question is though, if I do not get medically retired, will the VA re rate me higher, like 70%, and then pay me from my DOS? Does the VA medical benefits cover the cost of Enbrel? I only ask for a just in case scenario, because even if I appeal and I lose the battle, which seems to have happened to me from day one of being in the military, I want some assurance that I will have some money coming in, and that my medical expenses would be covered. The severance pay I'd get is only like 12K, which would get taxed, and wouldn't even begin to help in the process of re-locating and getting my civillian life in order.

Can you tell I'm pissed and scared at the same time?

I really wish the IG would drop in and do a suprise inspection of this place.


SAS
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101780 04/20/06 01:58 PM
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My question is though, if I do not get medically retired, will the VA re rate me higher, like 70%, and then pay me from my DOS?

That is very possible. The Army rated me at 20%. I was rated 30% by the VA right after I got out, and at 40% a year after I got out.
Does the VA medical benefits cover the cost of Enbrel? I only ask for a just in case scenario, because even if I appeal and I lose the battle, which seems to have happened to me from day one of being in the military, I want some assurance that I will have some money coming in, and that my medical expenses would be covered.

Yes! The VA will cover your meds for your Service Connected Disability.

The severance pay I'd get is only like 12K, which would get taxed, and wouldn't even begin to help in the process of re-locating and getting my civillian life in order.

There is little doubt on my part that you will receive a disability rating of 30-40% from the VA the first time you apply. This could be higher as I don't know what is in your medical records. As soon as you know what the Military is going to do with you, contact the DAV. Do not listen to any active duty person tell you that it would be a waist of time. They can help.


AS/PsA DX in 1988

Retired on disability
in 2005 at age 44
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101781 04/20/06 02:28 PM
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How you are rated by the military has no bearing on how the VA will rate you. The common thread is that they are supposed to use the VASRD for determining the rating. However, the VA will rate all service-connected conditions and will change ratings over time as the condition improves or worsens or if the evaluation criteria changes. The military rating remains fixed for life regardless if it gets worse or gets better but they only rate the condition(s) they find unfitting. Any VA disability compensation will be affected by military disability compensation.

VA will pay you from your date of separation if you file within one year of separation. I recommend you file as soon as you can. You can amend your filing at anytime for the rest of your life. By filing early, using military records, you can derive an apples to apples comparison of how the VA and military rated you for the condition(s) the military found unfitting, based on how bad you were while you were still on active duty. They should be the same. This may aid in an AFBCMR appeal that the military rating was too low.

Any VA compensation you receive will off-set military disability compensation.

If you receive military separation pay, the VA will recover the non-taxed amount before the pay compensation for the condition(s) the military found unfitting.

If you receive a military disability retirement, every VA disability dollar you receive, regardless if it for unfitting or other service connected conditions, will off-set a military disability retirement dollar. If the VA amount is greater than the retirement amount, you will get the VA amount as all military dollars will be off-set. If the military disability retirement amount is greater, you will receive the VA benefit plus any military retirement dollars that exceed the VA compensation amount.

Bear in mind that congress may eventually change the law so that disabled retired dollars are not off-set by VA disability dollars. Currently, you have to have twenty years and a Total VA rating of 50% or higher for the off-set not to apply if you are a medical retiree.

VA will take care of your service connected medical conditions. They will cover Enbrel or other drugs they feel are necessary. There lies the risk; they may determine aspirin is good enough. It seems that Enbrel is being prescribed for AS by the VA as some on this site have stated.

Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101782 04/20/06 02:34 PM
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I know I was seen by the VA clinic here a couple of times and they filled my enbrel prescription for $7 for a month. That has since gone up to $14 but keep in mind I still have not received a rating and they promptly ended seeing me because of that and my wife makes too much money. Once I am rated and get on a higher priority classification (or whatever they call it) then I can get seen again for my AS.


Jay

NOTE: If you aint here to help row the boat then you are welcome to walk the plank.
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101783 04/21/06 08:40 AM
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I would assume my chances are slimmer on getting medically retired as an E-4 with 4 and a half years in on my first enlistment.

I still haven't talked to my first shirt. As soon as I get that meeting out of the way, I'm going to initiate an IG complaint against the MTF, since I have been waiting so long.


SAS
Re: Waiting, waiting and more waiting
#101784 04/24/06 03:13 PM
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Well, as I said before, the amount of time you have in service has no bearing on being medically retired, unless the condition is deemed to have existed prior to service. However, there is certainly an element of truth in your concern as regs are laws are often ignored. Your best defense is no know the in's and out's of these laws and regs so you can call them on it if your rating does not match what laws and regs state you should get. We have lots of troops being retired with a year or less.

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