The VA Disability Claim Process
*** Full disclosure here – I do not use the VA for medical either. I don’t know how to do that ***
I have been trying for years to figure out the process and to be honest, there isn’t anything out there that tells you what to do, and I feel that is by design. The whole design of the VA system seems to be a total clusterfuck.
I served in the Marine Corps for just under 10.5 years (10 years, 3 months, and 20 days), and let me tell you, getting out (I got out in 1998), I can tell you that at least in the ’90s the SEPS program was very inadequate, to say the least, but more on that on a later post. This post is about the VA Disability Process.
The military, especially the Marine Corps is not easy on the body. Now I understand that the military is changing that, but in the 80s and ’90s that wasn’t the case for sure. On the exit physical I was told that I would get 10% for each of my knees (I had knee problems throughout my career) and 10% for my shoulder (I damaged my scapula and now have what they call a winged scapula). Alright, so Math for Marines taught me (LOL) that 10×2 is 20 and 20 plus 10 is 30, so that is 30%, great, not sure what the freaking means, but alright, thanks for the gouge.
No, some 23 years later, and I have no clue what any of that means.
I tried several times to start the VA Disability process throughout the years. The first time was probably some 15 years ago and I had a good friend talking about it, he told me to go to the VFW and they will help me. Well, hell, I can’t go to the VFW, I don’t rate joining them. Their requirements to join are “You must be a veteran who has honorably served overseas in an area of foreign conflict in order to join the VFW“. I never served in an area of conflict, I was stationed overseas, but only in Japan and Korea. The problem with my MOS is that most of us don’t get stationed in an area of conflict, and well I was one of those Marines. It is actually a source of internal conflict with me, but more on that later. So I just assumed that since I don’t rate access to the VFW, I must not rate VA Disability, so I moved on. Then about 5 years later down the road, I ran into a former Army dog, who said he was working the process and it is painfully slow. We talked and he promised me that he would send me the POC he used, but he never did. About two years ago, I was on Facebook on a Marine Corps page of some sort (I belong to a half dozen or so) and the question was how to file a disability claim. Basically, everyone stated that you go to the VFW, AmVets, or American Legion and find the Veterans Service Officer (VSO) and they will help you out. Then came COVID-19 (wait for it, I’m sure Facebook will toss a warning banner on this post and it isn’t even a Facebook post, lol) and that resource dried up, damn it.
I remembered that on that post someone from the VA posted their business card and said that we can contact them directly if we have questions. I drafted an email to him and crickets, but he never replied, not shocking this seems to be a trend. It was about six months ago when a co-worker of mine said that he has been helping everyone in his office with their VA claims and gave me a POC to email for help. Alright, I might finally be able to get this going. I emailed her and nothing, crickets, and then a month later, she replied stating that due to COVID (insert obligatory Facebook COVID-19 banner here), her office is closed so things are slow. She told me what I need to do and told me to email her back if I have further questions.
Basically, I need to start off by collecting my medical records. Now I have no idea what I’m doing here, so I spent the next three months, contacting all my doctors since I got out and collecting records from them. Then scanning those records into my computer and making sure that I have a PDF for each record. I sorted them as follows
Medical > Practice Name > Doctor Name > Date of Visit
Dental > Practice Name > Dentist Name > Date of Visit
Optical > Practice Name > Doctor Name > Date of Visit
I just assumed that this is what they wanted. Once I got it all done and filled out the forms that she sent me, I sent her an email and told her it was ready. Once again Crickets, nothing for nearly a month, then I get a reply telling me that I can contact a different person for assistance. Alright, no worries, I reach out to him and he replied a few days later. I uploaded the files to the location he told me to do and I sent him the username and password and the completed forms, and it has been a month now, and still nothing at all from him.
So, now I have submitted everything and I’m waiting for further direction on what to do next and how to do it.