I am new to this site but have had AS since 1984, but not diagnosed until after my retirement physical in 1998, due to uveitis.
I did not seek a disability rating until 2006. Initially denied as AS but 10% for lower back pain. This is when I learned that my rhuematologist is my best hope of getting this straight. He reviewed my entire medical record and identified everything symptom that I had as evidence of AS. These included urethritis, uveitis, tendonitis, plantar fascitis, and others.
I reopened my claim with this IMO (independent medical opinion), and currently have 20% for AS, 40% total. One thing that I noted on the VA exam is that they are only looking at the back, none of the other areas affected, such as obstructive sleep apnea, pain and mobility of the neck, shoulders, hips and knees. Also, my last bout of uveitis changed my glasses prescription.
I recently discussed this with my rhuematologist, who is an active duty air force doctor at BAMC. He told me that he sees this with many service members when they go to the VA. I told him that my research in other forums has shown that the IMO is extremely important, and he is currently working on a new one for me to file with my notice of disagreement, including all of my secondary conditions, quality of life, and employability. Truthfully, it has become nearly impossible for me to work, even though I am taking Humira and Clinoril.
Hopefully I will know how this turns out within the year.