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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I've been away for a while

Hello invisible readers. I've been absent for a while. Did you miss me? Did you notice that I have been MIA? It doesn't matter. Not to be rude but I don't write this for you. I write this for me. Sometimes seeing things in writing helps me put together the pieces of the puzzle. Sometimes. Most times it helps me get rid of the anger that has built up inside me. It's been great for that. I can't tell you how glad I am that I started blogging. Having a place to release this pent up anger has been a real lifesaver.

Okay. So. I was approved for Social Security Disability. That's not to be confused with the other kind of help Social Security provides which is considered the "welfare" help. I didn't apply for that because I make too much money for that between my military retirement and my VA disability. The money I get from Social Security is actually money that I have paid into Social Security over the years from working. I'm getting my money back. This is no hand out, Invisible Reader. They are giving me back the money I have been paying into Social Security since my first paying job at the age of 15 years old. (I got a job at Dairy Queen with my best friend. Three weeks later, I came down with mono and spent the rest of the summer in bed. That was the end of that job.) I don't get medicare. I don't get medicaid. I get a check once a month around the day of my birth. In approximately three years I will be called in for another examination to see if my physical and mental conditions have improved enough for me to go back to work. If they have, that will be the end of my Social Security Disability payments.

In the meantime I am still flabbergasted over the fact that the VA disapproved my request for 100% based on Unemployability. Social Security made their decision based on the medical records they received from the Tampa VA Hospital and the letter I received from Social Security states that very clearly. But get this. The powers that be at the VA Regional Office in St Pete, FL, based their decision on the recommendation of the Physician's Assistant who did my comp and pension examination. The Chief Psychologist recommended approval but deferred to the medical decision.

How do I know this? I make it a habit to request complete copies of my medical records every couple of months. Even though it states that my C&P exam is not to be released to me, the clerk who copied my medical records in Release of Information was either too stupid to read that, or chose to ignore it, and I received a copy of it with the rest of my med records. Chalk one up to inept clerks at the Tampa VA Release of Information Office!

I just don't get how a PA's opinion can hold so much weight. He hardly examined me at all.


Now starts the appeals process. In my mind, it's a no brainer. The powers that be at Social Security say that I'm disabled. Shouldn't that be enough for the VA? My Primary Care Physician said that I can't work. My Vocational Rehab Counselor said that I can't work. A VA psychologist, Ph.D, type, said that I can't work. Like I said, in my mind, the appeal process should be a no brainer. All these "experts" and government officials say, in writing, that I cannot work. I thought, all I needed to do to appeal was write a response back to the VA and point out the obvious to them. The opinions of all these subject matter experts SHOULD outweigh the opinion of one friggin' Physicians Assistant who said that I am capable of "sedentary employment with frequent breaks and position changes." They have more experience, more training, more education and are certainly more qualified to decide if I am capable of working or not.

All you folks out there who have ever hired someone, let me ask you this: If you interviewed me and in the interview process I said to you, "I will need frequent breaks and position changes", would you hire me? I wouldn't hire me. I would send me a rejection letter stating that I found someone more qualified to fill the position because by law that's all I can legally do to reject someone like myself. I know this. I did it a million times when I was working and managing million dollar businesses.

My friend and advisor, Jim Strikland, knows that the VA doesn't listen to reason. Even though I have a reasonable argument, he has advised me to hire a lawyer to prepare my appeal. Of course, I will do as Jim suggests. I am his "Grasshopper." (Smile, Jim) What makes perfect sense to you and I, Invisible Reader, doesn't make sense to the VA. It doesn't matter that more qualified professionals than a "physicians assistant" have testified that I am too disabled to work. The PA made his decision and some low paid clerk at the VARO with no medical experience decided to take the path of least resistance. Maybe he even got a bonus for saving the VA money. By only bumping me up to 80% instead of 100% the back pay they owed me was minimal even though I waited almost one year for a decision. That's got to be it. I got 80% and he/she got a huge bonus for saving the VA a shitload of money.

It's all good though. I will do as a good "Grasshopper" should do. I will call the attorney as soon as I return from my vacation. In the meantime, I have a troll to play with. I like playing with trolls. Funky little creatures, those trolls.

Until the next time ....

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