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

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).

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. 

Subscribe to the Rightardia feed: 

  Creative Commons License

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

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

No comments: