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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Printing in Linux

If there is an Achilles heelin Linux, it would be printing. Linux gives you many options for installing a printer and that is part of the problem. In general, CUPS is the preferred way to install a local printer.





Network printers

If you are printing to a network printer, it gets more complex. You have options such as jet direct option, Samba, IPP and CUPS. I prefer to use a network printer because anyone on a home LAN has access to the printer on a 7 x 24 basis.

In most cases I have used jet direct and printed to port 9100.

Any printer can be set-up as a network printer with a home print server. Rightardia has used both the NetGear and the Airlink print servers. Have found the Airlink 101 to be very reliable and more resistant to power surges and brownouts.

Some print servers are wireless and others require and Ethernet wired connection. The particular print server in this article require a wired USB connection to your printer.


The wireless unit  looks about the same with the exception of an antenna it sports.

The configuration is fairly straight forward. by default, the unit gets an IP address by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). You can look up the DHCP address of the print server in your router's  or cable modem's DHCP host table. 


You will notice the two Rightardia print servers print servers have host names: PS-4BA44B and PS-495EA8. You can use the your browser to configure the print server by entering the IP address of the print server into the navigation toolbar. The default login is amps230 and the password is admin for the airlink 101 for Java based configuration tool.



What the print does is create a virtual IP address for the printer connected by USB that by default is 192.168.0.254. If your network has a different IP addressing scheme or you have multiple Airlink print servers, you should change the IP address of the subsequent ones. Use an IP address that is outside to the scope of the DHCP server. For example if you have two print servers on network 192.168.1.0, change the IP addresses respectively to 192.168.1.254 and 192.68.1.253.

Of interest, Windows networking will print to the Airlink print server name such as PS-4BA44B. This is probably the netbios name

However, Linux is more particular. After installing the printer using Jet Direct, print to printers IP addres and use a socket setting to port 9100.

The locations should be the IP address such as: 192.168.1.253

The device URL should follow this format:

socket://192.168.1.253:9100

In Linux, you print to the IP address of the printer rather than to the print server name.

Where is the Linux driver?

Linux printing can be a challenge because the print driver library is as not as robust as Windows. Canon printers are a  good example. The MFC 4570dn multi-function printer Rightardia uses didn't have a driver for a long time until Canon finally released one.

In addtion, the Debian Pixma IP6000dn inkjet printer driver doesn't work in curent vesions of Ubuntu and Linux Mint. However, the Fedora and Centos drivers do work.

If you cannot find a driver or one that works, one option is Turboprint.

It has many of the drivers that Linux rleases lack and has many options for Inkjet printers that are missing in Linux. However, the basic program costs € 29 and the family plan with two years of downloads is € 55.

Rightardia found Turbopirint to be an easier way to go with Linux printing. If you are printing to a Linux network printer, you will need to use the IP address of the printer rather than the print server.

You can use the command line: system-config printer, to revise the TurboPrinter options for the driver, onec installed, if necessary. The configuration using Turbo printer looks like this:

Network printer socket /jet direct (network printer connection)
192.168.1.253 (IP adress)
9100 (port)

Before you prucahse Tuboprint, check to make sure the driver you need is supported: see http://www.turboprint.info/


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Acheiving a national dream


Denmark didn't becoem one of the happiest nations on the planet by embracing conservative values. 

It didn't  create a monstrous national debt by fighting a series of stupid wars either.


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Rightardia by Rightard Whitey of Rightardia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bright House will now let you install your own cable modem

In the past you had to lease your cable modem from the cable company, but no more. Since I am now retired, I saw the advantage of eliminating a monthly $5-$7 lease charge. So I went to amazon.com and purchased an ARRIS / Motorola SURFboard Gateway SBG6580 DOCSIS 3.0 Wireless N Cable Modem.

Was a former WAN tech, so configuration was not difficult. I had most of the menu options that a Bright House tech would have.

I had called BH earlier to make sure I was purchasing  a cable modem on their approved lsit. Once I had physicaly installed the unit, I called BH again and gave them the model number and the HFC MAC adress. The BH tech had the unit working in about 5 minutes. Of course, you have to return the old cable modem to end the lease.

Speedwise, the unit is far faster the old UBEE Cable modem I had been using. This is the line speed over a Ethernet cable.

The wireless connection worked poorly, if at all. This is a documented on the Internet and for this reason alone, Rightardia does not recommend this cable modem. 

If you decide to purchase a cable modem, check with your cable company first and then do some research on the Internet. Watch out for users complaining about wireless conections. 

Since I had a wireless router, I simply connected (bridged) it to the cable modem and turned the wireless features on the router to get wireless working again. 

Also, installed a wireless extender to bring wireless to the far end of my home. Youc an purcases either a wireless extender ot a repeater.  
NetGear universal Wifi Range extender

An extender does not require an Ethernet cable connection to work. A repeater may require an Ethernet connection to operate. The simplest may to do this is with Ethernet over power line adapters. Netgear makes different Ethernet over powerline devices that Rightardia would recommend.

Configuring a cable modem. 

You should change both the user name and the password upon connecting. This makes is doubly hard for a hacker to get into you home network.

If you have a home network , turn on the Dynamic Host configuration Protocol (DHCP) server to provide IP addresses to devices on your home network like printers and multimedia devices such as a Roku appliance. Also, backup the cable modem configuration. it will save you a lot of time if you home ever takes strong surge or a lightening strike.


Pay close attention to firewall option. Set the firewall to high and turn on "block fragmented IP packed, port scan detection and IP flood detection. The firewall will log the IP address of anyone who is scanning your network.  

You also have parental control option. You can block the Internet from you children after certain hours. If you are using DHCP, you will have to reserve the MAC adress and IP address of your children's computers in the DHCP sever. Otherwise the IP address will change when the DHCP lease runs out. 

Your children can around this by using a static IP address, but most kids don't know how to do this. 

BTW, don't let you kids use a computer in you home without having their administrative password. Children do have a right to some privacy, but not on the Internet. 

Having such a policy in your home may keep your kids out of trouble, too, if they know mom or dad can check their computers from time to time. 

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Repblicans have lost the ACA batle

The recent Kaiser Foundation Family Poll had some interesting findings: 

A majority said ACA should be kept in place, including 48 percent who want Congress to work to improve it. Eight percent who say it should be kept as is.

Fewer say Congress should repeal the law or replace it with a Republican-sponsored alternative (12 percent) or repeal it and not replace it (19 percent).

Views about next steps are deeply divided by political party identification.

Most Democrats preferring to keep the law in place and a majority of Republicans wanting to see it repealed. Among independents, more than half want Congress to keep the law as is or work to improve it, while a third prefer to see it repealed.

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Filing a new VA claim

Many veterans get a letter from a doctor and go the a VA regional office (VARO)  and use a Veteran Service officer (VSO) from the AMVETS or DAV to file the claim. Chances are the initial claim will be rejected. In fact even after a second level review by the Board of Veterans Appeals, only bout 30 per cent of claims are approved. About 15 per cent of VA claims are fraudulent.  But what about the other 50 per cent that are rejected?

The VARO would probably say that most rejected but legitimate claims are not fully developed. The VARO wants fully developed claims (FDC). 

You can increase your chances by filing the claim pro se.  This means advocating on your own behalf before a court or board, rather than being represented by a lawyer or a VSO.

One big advantage of filing pro se is that the VA has to give your claim extra considerations because you did not have professional representation.

You do need some tools to file a claim. If you don't have these tools, you should probably work the claim through one of the service organizations or through the VA's Veteran Center. 

Rightardia recommends you have or can get access to the following:

1. The Internet. You can use the public library's if you don't have this at home.

2. A PC with any current operating system. You will need this to type letters, fill out the online VA claims (VONAPP) and respond to VA requests. 

3. MFC (multi-function) laser printer. Useful for printing, faxing and scanning. A color inkjet printer has limited use and prints far more slowly.

4. Software: You need a word processor like MS Word or Libre office aka Apache Open Office that is free. Both Libre and Open Office have both Windows and Linux versions. You can upgrade Libre office with the Language Tool plug-in that provides grammar checking. There is also a free medical dictionary for Libre/Open Office.

5. A file cabinet with both incoming and outgoing logs. All incoming and outgoing documents should be numbered and filed in chronological order. Use to the log to quickly locate documents you need to enhance or reference in your claim. 

A program such as Windows PDF Nitro that can edit DBQs and create portable document files (PDF). The PDF is a government standard and that is why most government forms are in PDF format. PDF Nitro will allow you to edit existing PDFs or save a DBQ is PDF format.

You cannot otherwise edit a PDF file such a Disability Benefit Questionnaire (DBQ). However, without a program like Adobe Acrobat, not the reader,  or PDF Nitro, you will not be able to edit existing PDFs or save them. You can also edit PDF files in Linux with graphics programs, but it is time consuming.

Before you file the claim, you should read two books. The ASKNOD  VA Claims by Gordon Graham and Claims Denied by John Roche. The latter will help you file the claim and the Asknod book will be very useful if you have to file an appeal.














Next try to define your claims in terms that the VA can understand. Check 38 CFR, Part C Subpart B to find the disability codes fit your condition (s). See http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp

For example if you have diabetes mellitus, DC 7913 applies: 

7913 Diabetes mellitus

Requiring more than one daily injection of insulin, restricted diet,
and regulation of activities (avoidance of strenuous occupational
and recreational activities) with episodes of ketoacidosis or
hypoglycemic reactions requiring at least three hospitalizations per
year or weekly visits to a diabetic care provider, plus either
progressive loss of weight and strength or complications that
would be compensable if separately evaluated 100

Requiring insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities with
episodes of ketoacidosis or hypoglycemic reactions requiring one
or two hospitalizations per year or twice a month visits to a diabetic
care provider, plus complications that would not be compensable
if separately evaluated 60 
 
Requiring insulin, restricted diet, and regulation of activities 40
Requiring insulin and restricted diet, or; oral hypoglycemic agent
and restricted diet 20 
 
Manageable by restricted diet only 10

Note (1): Evaluate compensable complications of diabetes separately unless they are part of the criteria used to support a 100 percent evaluation. Noncompensable complications are considered part of the diabetic process under diagnostic code 7913.

Note (2): When diabetes mellitus has been conclusively diagnosed, do not request a glucose tolerance test solely for rating purposes.

Pay close attention to the notes, too. Show the DC examples to your physician. Ask him or her what they think you should be rated for.

With the Affordable Care Act,  you should be able to get medial insurance and help from private practice physicians. In general, they will be the strongest advocates for you if you have a clear cut case. If a private practice doctor won't help you, fire him or her and find one who will.

You have the option of submitting a letter signed by your physician or asking the physicians to complete a DBQ. Rightardia strongly recommends the DBQ because it will provide more information to the VA than is often possible in a letter. A well written DBQ may also preclude a compensation and pension (C&P) exam.You can find the DBQs at http://benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_ListByDBQFormName.asp.

It is important that the physician indicate in the DBQ that he/she reviewed the claimant's service medical records (SMR). The physician can check a check box in some DBQs to show he performed a records review. The DBQ also needs to have a nexus statement added that connects the medical conditions to the claimant's time in service.

Here is the part of  DBQ for Diabetes Mellitus:


 Many vets make the mistake of submitting multiple claims that are unrelated to each with the typical vet submitting 20 different claims, hoping some will stick. It is far better to push the claims that have the most impact. For example, you might get 10 per cent for service-connected prostate condition and 50 per cent for sleep apnea. Clearly the latter condition is more important. Use the 38 CFR to help identify and prioritize medical conditions.

Are there any relationships between diabetes mellitus and other medical conditions you have? Are there secondary conditions such as neropathy, renal dysfunction and retinapathy? Diabetes can cause cardiac conditions such as hypertension, too.  Try to relate your medical conditions as primary and secondary conditions in your claim.

Have your spouse review the initial claim.  This can be important  if your spouse or other family member is a stronger writer. Make the claims process a family affair. A VA disability award and retroactive pay can greatly improve the economics in your family.

At this point you are ready to file pro se. You have read the two books, you have found DCs that correspond to you medical complaints and you have DBQs or letters from you physicians on your medical conditions. You have connected your primary and secondary medical conditions which are often referred to as residual conditions.

You have all the tools you need for further research and for the preparation of additional documentation.

You can file VA Form 21-526 (Veteran's Application for Compensation or Pension) in the VARO's Veterans Center or file a VONAPP online. See https://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Low cost sound for a flat screen screen TV

The new flat screen high definition TVs are great and most have many input an outputs on the back panel of the TV.

TV sound has always been marginal, but it can be improved inexpensively without buying a $200 sound bar.

If you want to upgrade your TVs audio, first make sure you have either red and white RCA output ports or Digital Audio Output.

 RCA ports

Rightardia will address the RCA setup. The digital setup isn't complicated but you will need a preamp that takes a digital fiber optic input. Digtial sound like Dolby or DTS may have to be disabled to get the digital preamp to work correctly which seems counter-intuitive.
Pyle PFA200 preamp
What you will need for this project:
1. TV audio preamp (Pyle PFA 200 Preamp)
2. 2-4" bookshelf speaker (Pyle 3" 100 Watt Mini Cube speaker pair)
3. RCA patch cable
4. speaker wire

First power down the TV and the PFA200 or similar preamp if you have already hooked up power. Use the red and white RCA cable to connect the TV to the preamp. The white RCA jack is for the left speaker and the red is for the right.

You will then need speaker wire to connect the preamp to your speakers. You can even use use PC speakers if the speakers have an 8 OHM impedance. You will probably. have to cut of the RCA cable on the PC speakers to do this. Rightardia purchased Pyle 3" 100 Watt bookshelf speakers that had high ratings on the Amazon web site. Note that the speaker wire clamps have red and black connectors for the left and right side speakers.

RCA patch cable
Never hook up the yellow video connector of the patch cable to the white or red ports. You will destroy the preamp of blow a speaker if you do.

Turn on the TV and the preamp on and enjoy the improved sound. The TV controller should be able to adjust the audio volume.

Try to match the audio.volume of the speakers to the output of the the TV. If you don't match the volumes, the TV controller may not be able to  mute the sound.

If you have a Roku or similar media player, you will be impressed by the sound quality for Pandora radio.

The overall cost of this project was under $50.00.


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Roku 3 rocks!

Recently signed up again for Roku streaming media after a six year hiatus.  Have on the original first and second generation appliances and both continued to work with the exception of Netflix and Amazon.

This is because the writer uses a VPN router that terminates in Canada. You might think I Live in the Great White North if you checked my IP address whereas I actually live in FL.

Have the ability to bring up another VPN that terminates in the US, but I was still running into "unable to retrieve activation code messages on my LCD TV. Oddly, I could watch Netflix and Amazon video on my laptop just fine. 

Would also mention if have subscribed to Amazon Prime. It provides free shipping for most of you Amazon orders.  You also will be able to watch a lot of free movies. You can expect a charge to your Amazon account if you watch the newer releases.

I checked the Internet and one person said updating the Roku would fix the activation  problem. Doesn't that almost always work.

So I purchased a Roku 3. The Roku 3 is nearly identical to  Roku 2 except it has an Ethernet port. The Roku 2 only supports wireless connections,.

The Roku  looks like an over-sized hockey puck, but it is powerful. After connecting an HDMI cable to your LCD, LED or HDTV, plug it in and configure the the appliance for either Ethernet or wireless.

You will need a Roku pin to register generic applications in the Channel Store like WSJ Live. To register apps like Netflix and Amazon, you will need an an activation code from the TV that you will have to enter on the Amazon or Netflix web site, for example.

You may be able to use you out of country VPN if you change your domain name servers in your router of cable modem. See https://unlocator.com/.

With the Roku 3, you may be able to opt out of cable service altogether because you can access news, movies and TV shows. It is even has a game player and comes free with Angry Birds. Other low cost games can be purchased, too. 

The Roku controller can also be used as a game controller.

The Roku 3 has a standard 3.5mm audio jack.  You can use the ear buds the Roku comes with or plug in standard head phones.

This is great if you are heard of hearing or hearing disabled because you have blue tooth audio connection with the Roku appliance that mutes the TV audio. You can listen to all of the audio content that Roku provides including the Pandora streaming music service.

A closing comment, the lags that were common the the older Roku appliances are now gone. Videos no longer time out and have to restart. Rightardia was quite impressed with the latest in Roku technology.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

What a vet needs to have before they start a pro se claim.




Rightardia recommends vets file a pro se claim because we think most service organizations like he DAV and AmVets offer little value added. The average Veteran Service Officer (VSO) supports 300 claimants

If you file pro se , you also get any extra benefit of the doubt. If you opt for pro se, the VARO has to give your claim an extra benefit of the doubt because you are not using a service organization. 

Before you file

1. The vet needs a PC. Older PCs of Pentium 4 vintage and later run find with Linux. You can get one of these older PCs from Goodwill for $50. You also have Libre office (Open Office) for word precessing and Draw which can edit Acrobat document with such as Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ). Use Libre Writer to paste text into the Draw document. All the major browsers except Internet Explorer work in Linux. See http://voices.yahoo.com/using-openoffice-edit-pdf-files-6153998.html

2. An Internet connection. Of course, claims can also be submitted using the Internet at the library.

3. A laser printer, multi-function printer (MFC) fax, copier and scanner. Laser printer are cheaper in the long run than dot matrix and also print a lot faster.
4. Read two books: Claim Denied!: How to Appeal a VA Denial of Benefits [Paperback]
John D. Roche and Veterans Administration Claims: What You Need to Know to Be Successful, hardcover by Asknod.

5. You will need your service medical records (SMR) and DD From 214, Statement of Service, to file a claim. You can order those on theEbenefits web site, but you need a premier DSLogin (ID and password) first.
6. Before you begin. Peruse 38 CFR, part C and try to find the disability codes that fit your conditions.

7. Take a close look at the policy in the 38 CR and the supplements. You need to understand VA concepts such as a bilateral rating and pyramiding.

8. How to organize the narrative of your claim. Peruse 38 CFR. Part c and try to determine what system(s) you disability falls into such as skeletal, respiratory, digestive and so forth. Is there any relationship between the conditions? For examples if you were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, you may have type II diabetes. You may also have some of these other secondary conditions.: Peripheral Artery Disease Ischemic Heart Disease, Carotid Artery Disease Stroke , Kidney Disease  Hypertension  and Diseases of the Eye. Can you relate your conditions in terms of primary and secondary conditions?

Another example if you contacted meningitis or encephalitis while in the service, you may have damage to the brain and brain stem and suffer from tinnitus, hearing loss, and sleep apnea. The latter conditions are secondary to encephalitis. Try to find pages in your SMRs that directly relate to your claim. Use those pages as attachments to submit a fully developed claim.

Develop a team of doctors who are you advocates. Minimally I would suggest one primary care doctor and one specialist. Make sure both are board certified and have reviewed your SMRs. They can also review your VA records you can get using Blue Dot downloads from MyHealthEvet. You need premium DS Login first to create a second login to My HealthEvet. Interview the doctor and ask them if they will help you with letters and disability benefit questionnaires. If he or she won't, find another doctor. 

Format for filing the claim

This is how I would recommend you structure the narrative in the VA Form 21-526

Note: VA Forms 21-526, 21-686c, and 21-4138 are no longer available for use and submission in the Veterans Online Application (VONAPP). The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is transitioning from VONAPP to a new online VA claim service known as VONAPP Direct Connect (VDC) for all Compensation claims, which is currently available for use in eBenefits. 

Purpose: Award claimant a 60 disability for PTSD. (Here ask for what is based on the tables in the 38 CFR, Part C. Make sure any letter or DBQs you have from your doctors are in agreement.

Facts: Describe how you medical condition is service connected and provide a time line of the events while you were in the service. Avoid any opinions or conjecture here.

Discussion: You can discuss how the primary and secondary conditions relate and how his condition has affected your life. Letters from service buddies and employers should be used as attachment if you lack SMRs. Try to link all of your attachments to statements and in the facts and the discussion, e.g., the claimant contacted Hepatitis C in Saigon and was hospitalized for 3 months for the condition (atch 4).

Conclusion:
1. The claim for meningitis is service connected.
2. The meningitis caused the secondary condition of sleep apnea, tinnitus and hearing loss. See the letters and DBQs at attach 7, 8 and 9.

Recommendation: Award the claimant a 100 per cent disability go the primary condition of cirrhosis and the residual secondary condition Hepatitis C.

You can use this same Format on a Form 9 for a VA appeal. It's a good idea to get additional doctor's letter, progress notes and DBQs for the BVA appeal. 

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

So you think you are entitled to a VA disability


You may have a service connected condition that should be compensated, but do you have the staff and writing skills to get the job done? 

You can submit doctor's letter, doctor's progress notes an Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) as documentation. Rightardia recommends using the DBQ whenever possible.

You may want to write a draft letter for the doctors consideration that uses VA terminology. For example, the VA wants to to see a medical conditions as more likely than not service connected.

Many vets make the mistake of trying to get compensated for every malady they have. Rightrdia has read the average vet files 20 claims. Now if you are filing for hearing loss, bursitis, diabetes melllitis, a back condition, flat feet, knee damage and other unrelated conditions, its like throwing mud balls against a wall and hoping some will stick.

The VA has a term for this: piling on. 

It's much better to file with primary conditions relating to secondary. For example, if you caught St. Louis encephalitis while in the service, you may be able relate that to the secondary conditions of high or low frequency hearing loss, tinnitus, and complex sleep apnea. In this case you are filing for one primary condition and three secondary related conditions.

Peruse the Disability Conditions (DC) in 38 CFR, Part 3 before you file. Don't waste time filing for three 10 per cent conditions when you may meet the 30 per cent criteria for sleep apnea. 

The trick is to tie your medical conditions to your service military records (SMR). Here you will need doctors opinions. You want board certified physicians on you team and you must indicate the doctors have reviewed your SMRs. You may have to go the the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA) to get some of your conditions service connected.

Her is a sample letter you can use as a template.


Tampa Bay Xxxxxx and Xxxxxx
address
City and zip code
Phone:
Fax:

To: Whom it May Concern:                                                                    date:

re:

I am Mr/Ms ___________'s primary care physician and he/she has been a patient here for several years. I have reviewed his military service records.

Mr/Ms ________ contacted _______________________________ on (date). A subsequent MRI indicated he had an _______________. After further testing he was diagnosed with ________________ with the related (secondary ) conditions of _____________________________.

The __________(primary condition)_________ was the likely causal factor in the related secondary conditions of _________, _______________ and ______________.

In addition, the ___(primary condition) ___ can lead to _______________. He also has chronic ______________ outbreaks and takes ________________ as required that I prescribe for him.

Mr/Ms ___________________ was hospitalized at _______________ in (date) for an ____________________ and he suffered a _______________ while he was in the hospital.

I receive correspondence from a team of doctors that care for Mr/Ms _________ on a recurring basis: an endocrinologist, a neurologist, a cardiologist, an otolaryngologist, an ENT and a urologist. He undergoes extensive blood lab work for his _________________ every 90-days.

Mr/Ms ___________________ has not worked for many years and his multiple medical disabilities are permanent and chronic. He/She is disabled, immuno-supressed, vulnerable to infection and to another ________________.

His condition had deteriorated after the last hospitalization that more likely than not caused his/her ___________. He has no prospects for improvement.

He is permanently and totally disabled. He has near constant debilitating symptoms from the ____________. In particular, the __________________ would preclude employment.

Sincerely,


(signed)

Nnnnnn Nnnnn, M.D.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Prologue to a Veteran Affairs Claim


After nearly six years,  a VA claim was resolved to the major's satisfaction. This was after a Decision Review Officer review, a reconsideration and two remands, working on the third.

What did the major learn along the way?

In the long run, you may be better off pro se than using a service organization like the DAV or AMVETS. However,you will have to read some books first, be computer literate and also have an Internet connection. If you are not inclined to do the preceding, use one of the service organizations.

If you opt for pros se, the VARO has to give your claim an extra benefit of the doubt because you are not using a service organization.  Before you file, read these two books:

1. Veterans Administration Claims: What You Need to Know to Be Successful by Asknod.

2, Claim Denied!: How to Appeal a VA Denial of Benefits [Paperback] John D. Roche

You can purchase both books together for $32.05 from Amazon.com. Asknod also has a great blog: https://asknod.wordpress.com/

There are also numerous articles on the disability claim process in the Rightardia blog.

If you decide to go pro se, you will also need above average writing skills. You might want to test your writing skills to see where you are at: see http://www.evc-cit.info/wst/

You can use either MS Word or Libre office (Open Office) to prepare claims documentation. If you use the latter, install the Language Tool add on which provides a grammar checker that is equivalent to the one in MS Word.

When you are ready, you can file the initial claim online, using VONAPP: http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp.

In most cases, would not recommend doing this until you have your service military records (SMR) on hand. See http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/

Why? Because the claim will be weak and unsubstantiated without documentation from you military service  records.

If you cannot document your condition with evidence that is in your military service records, you are not likely to be successful with your claim.

Ir should be clear by now why being computer literate with an Internet connection is essential for a pro se claim.

However, you should also have Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQ) prepared by your doctors.The DBQ is a new innovation that should expedite he claim. A mix of doctors letters and DBQs will help make the case. See http://benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_ListByDBQFormName.asp


The VA DBQs are Acrobat pdf files which can be filled out and printed, but not saved.

The major spent about $100 on a program called PDF Nitro. It allows a user to edit, save and even compile Acrobat documents. You can also convert the documents into Word and Excel docs. If you plan to submit DBQs, you will need a program like this.

Assembling your team of physicians

Many doctors are conservative and view the VA as an unnecessary welfare program. Interview a new doctor and feel them out on their willingness to help. If they won't,  find another doctor. You will need doctors who are your advocate.  You will need a primary care doctor and one or more specialists. You want all of them to be board certified.

You also wants the physicians to indicate they have reviewed your SMRs in any letters or DBQs.

The major's team included a primary care doctor, a cardiologist, a neurologist, a psychologist and an endocrinologist. During the claim, he replaced two endocrinologists and one neurologist.

You can mail in a DBQ and the doctor's letter to the VA. Another way is to take the documents to the nearest VARO Veteran Center. The vet center will add the submission to your claim file (c-file) and put a date time stamp on it. You can also talk to a VA counselor while you are there.
Watch out for Compensation and Pension clinicians. 

Once you have submitted the claim, you may be scheduled for a compensation and pension (C&P) exams. Many of the C&P examiners are not doctors, but Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners. Rightardia suggests you insist upon a doctor if C&P calls you.

Regardless of who performs the exam, you can expect to be damned with faint praise. Unfortunately, the Ratings Veterans Services Representative (RVSR) in the VARO will consider the C&P clinician's opinion above that of your physicians

The RVSR is a primary decision maker of the outcome of your claim for VA disability compensation benefits. However, if you have provided compelling evidence in a DBQ, it may preclude a C&P exam. Try to avoid a C&P exam if at all possible. These clinicians are not your friend.

Originally, the C&P doctors we authorized to assist people who lacked medical care. Now, the VA tires to use them to see all vets with claims The DAV indicates DBQ may preclude a C&P exam. This is another reason to use a DBQ.

If you get a bad C&P exam, you have some options. You can get the C&P progress notes after the exam from the FOIA office and write a rebuttal. Errors of commission are not common, but errors of omission are very likely. Write a rebuttal and submit it to the service center.

You can also Rizzo the physician and challenge his or her credentials if the C&P exam is really substandard . You can do this years before a BVA appeal and if the VARO forgets to defend the physician's credentials, his or her physical or progress notes cannot be used in the BVA decision.

The first time the major rizzoed a C&P physician, the VARO asked him if he wanted to be serviced at another hospital. This was baloney because the C&P doctors are not part of the local VA Medical Center. In addition the local VARO supported both hospitals so it would have been pointless to change hospitals.

See http://rightardia.blogspot.com/2010/07/precendent-setting-cavc-cases-that-may.html

Although the RVSRs give primary consideration to the C&P physicians, the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA) will be far more impressed with the opinion of your board certified physicians. especially if the doctors have reviewed your SMRs, 

Although the VA is now claiming that 70 per cent of its claims are approved, most of the data the major has seen suggests that even after an appeal to the BVA, about 30 per cent of the claims are approved, 

It is likely the initial claim will not be approved by the VARO. if you have a well grounded claim, appeal to the BVA for a review by an administrative law judge.

The law judge has very different perspective than RSVRS who use a VA directive. The law judges considers the VA law in USC 38. These judges are also aware of the US Court of Veteran Appeals (USCAVC) precedent rulings that the VAROs usually ignore


The BVA may declare a condition the VARO has denied as service connected. This will result in a remand that will force the VARO to rate a condition it previously denied.

You may want to engage an attorney to represent you during the BVA hearing. Be aware the attorney will receive 20 per cent of any subsequent award.

One of the favorite ploys of a VARO is to say a claimant has not provided new evidence. The major suggests you can get new evidence whenever you visit one of you doctors. Although you may want to give the VA access to your doctor's records in the initial stages of a claim, in the long run this is a bad idea because your c-file will get huge. You also want to filter any data first that goes to the VARO.

It's better to get the progress notes after a visit, review the notes and the carry the relevant notes to the vet center. When the major finally received a Statement of Case, he had references in it to three pages of his documentation.

So document, document and document! 

Is summary, consider going pros se on the claim because you will have a better chance of your claim succeeding. You will need to be computer literate with Internet access. if you are not, use one of the service organizations like the DAV.

Assemble a strong team of physicians who are your advocates. If a doctor won't help you, find one who will.

Use DBQs, doctor's letters and progress notes to document you condition.  Make sure you board certified physicians review your SMRs and document this in your DBQs or letters, 

Expect to have the claim denied by the VARO.  If the claim is well documented, appeal to the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA). Consider hiring an attorney to represent you in the BVA hearing. The judge is attorney and the VA also has an attorney consul at the hearing.

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