Posted on Jul 26, 2022
SSG Wayne Wood
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I won't bore you with the details, but in 2009 I was classified as rated 80% disabled but granted 100% disabled due to inability to work due to service-connected disabilities. I've never been "happy" with the way the VA has handled my situation as there is no true classification for my condition because when I was diagnosed it was extremely rare. It's never been an issue for me - I was tired of fighting the VA and writing Congressmen trying to get them to look into the matter. My thing was I suspected the condition was more common than folks realized (post-concussion damage to the hypothalamus) - particularly with all the concussions our guys were getting from IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there comes a point where you've done all you can reasonably do, take your "win" however it was achieved and call it a day.

The thing is, last year I was diagnosed with lymphoma and after chemotherapy I am now in remission and on the mend; but it got me realizing I needed to put my house in order, so to speak. I never gave much thought about VA benefits for my wife being much of an issue as I knew if I passed due to a service-connected condition she was eligible for at least part of my VA benefits.

Then late last year an old Army buddy of mine, who'd lost both his legs in Grenada and was definitely 100% disabled died and his wife had some trouble at first getting her widow's benefits. It got me to thinking about my own wife and whether there was anything I could do or am I fretting over nothing? I'm gathering a packet of my DD214s and VA Letter and other relevant documents she might need. As I said, I'm not happy with the way my letter reads, but I don't know if there's anything at this point I can do to make it read better. Do I need to go for 100%? Is that necessary? It took 23 years to get them to do what they did and do I risk screwing it up for no reason by filing an appeal (and Lord knows I'm tired of that)? Is it even necessary? I turn 66 next week.

How important is the "letter" in the process anyway. My TBI isn't listed, just the residuals from it. Just wondering.

I intend to visit my Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs Office within the next week or two, but wanted some input from fellow veterans - I don't even know if I know all the right questions to ask and hoped some input would help - and maybe even help other veterans in the same boat.
Edited 2 y ago
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Responses: 6
SrA John Monette
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I would suggest working with an accredited rep, if you aren't already. The states have their own Departments of Veterans Affairs which might be helpful too.
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SSG Wayne Wood
SSG Wayne Wood
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Thanks, I intend to. The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs were instrumental in everything I was able to accomplish. I haven't been by since I got upped to 100% back in 2009. I thought I'd ask before I went (dealing with COVID right now) for a feel of what I'm facing. Thanks for responding so quickly.
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SSgt Jim Gilmore
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Your passing must be caused by a service connected condition or a service connected condition contributes to your passing, your spouse may be eligible for DIC which currently is $1437.66 per month. She may also be eligible for your social security. Filing a new claim at this point would require new and material evidence of a worsening of a condition or clear and unmistakable error on part of the VA. Unless your most recent award is less than a year old, an appeal is out of the question.

I recommend you start with your county VSO and scrutinize them in the same manner as you would buy a car...shop around.
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SSG Wayne Wood
SSG Wayne Wood
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Thanks. I figured the ship of appeal has sailed and they have always seemed reluctant to rephrase my classifications anyway - as I said, there is no rating for my condition so they use an "equivalent" rating. That muddies the water, but it's been 35 years since I was discharged with no joy so...
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SSgt Jim Gilmore
SSgt Jim Gilmore
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SSG Wayne Wood I would be happy to speak with you further if you wish.

I am an Accredited Claims Agent through the VA and would be happy to give you some guidance.
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SSG Wayne Wood
SSG Wayne Wood
2 y
Thanks, I may take you up on that.
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SP5 Peter Keane
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Do not file an appeal. You are for the purposes of your wife getting DIC, 100%. At 80 schedular, you would need an additional 80% to get to 10 schedular. You likely now have a 70 and a 20 or 30. There is a snowballs chance to get to 100. Let it be. An appeal would open up the possibility of them reducing you.
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SSG Wayne Wood
SSG Wayne Wood
2 y
Thanks; that's my thoughts on the subject, too. And you answered my ultimate question about where my wife stands. Thank you so much.
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