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Thread: Served Your Country; Surviving Multiple Sclerosis

  1. #1

    Served Your Country; Surviving Multiple Sclerosis

    Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system in young adults. So when one considers that an estimated 400,000 Americans live with MS, it should surprise no one that the military veteran population sees a great number of cases as well. While many of such veterans are fortunate enough to take advantage of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits soon after they are diagnosed, I still encounter too many eligible veterans with MS who have no idea that these benefits even exist. Before I discuss what those benefits are, let us first establish who is entitled to them.

    Presumptive service connection is granted to a veteran who suffers from certain chronic diseases if he or she can produce medical evidence of treatment within a presumptive period. A veteran who has served on active duty for at least 24 months and showed symptoms of MS either while in service or within 7 years after leaving service is likely to be entitled to service-connected, i.e. monetary and healthcare, benefits for the condition and its residuals. Why do I say likely? Because a statement from a physician is necessary to claim that a symptom that occurred before a definitive diagnosis was made was indeed an early manifestation of MS. In that instance, the veteran must support his or her claim with medical evidence that describes symptoms (abnormal sensations, weakness, vision changes, clumsiness, sudden loss of bladder control, chronic fatigue, etc.) that can retrospectively be deemed by a physician as more likely than not a precursor of MS. Consequently, the viability of the claim based on presumption is only as strong as the veteran’s ability to support it with medical evidence.

    If your claim is eventually granted, service connection for MS begins at a minimum of 30 percent disability. From there, your percentage rating is increased based on the disabling residuals of the disease. If your condition has rendered you with significant loss of use of your arms or legs, bowel and bladder function, eyesight, or erectile function (for males), there is another tier of special benefits, such as the automobile and specially adapted housing grants, to which you may be entitled.

    So what should you do if this applies to you? First, the VA must receive written notice of your intent to file a formal claim for presumptive service connection for MS. You can do this on your own, or you can contact the San Diego PVA Service Office to initiate a claim with the help of a service officer. As you begin this pursuit, you will want to consolidate any medical records from sources where you received treatment, including service medical records, as well as your DD-214, or service discharge, and notarized statements from your spouse or family about the extent of your condition. You will have a year from the date you initiate your claim to submit any supporting evidence; however, your claim will be adjudicated much faster if you do not wait.

    By virtue of your service, it is the VA’s burden to ensure that you receive the best in healthcare and entitlements. It is your burden to proactively enhance your quality of life while surviving MS. Call VA today to get started.

  2. #2

    How about Muscular Dystrophy ?

    This is a very interesting post.
    I have Muscular Dystrophy, served for almost 5 years and never passed a PT test.
    I am now disabled and on a ventilator.
    I wonder if I quality ?
    Drew

  3. #3
    I don't think Muscular Dystrophy (a genetically acquired disease) qualifies for SC disability, but if you are low income and catastrophically disabled, you may qualify as a Category IV NSC veteran. Have you applied through your DAV service officer or through the local VA Member Services Office?

    (KLD)

  4. #4
    I have ms for 20 years now and the service won't admit any fault, my problem is my mediical records were burned in a warehouse fire in st louis in the 80's sometime, so i got no medical evidence3 that i had symptoms within my honorable discharge in 1982. I was active duty in 1976 and i am under the montgomery gi bill but no one cares, i got a vaccine in basic for a flu pandemic in 1976 and they say alot of recruits sufffered many medical problems from that shot. Once again no records they burned, before computers nothing on record only in warehouse in st louis and i was told it burned. Can anyone help me i need help with a van just a used one is fine but ssi does not give enough for van payment. Help.

  5. #5
    Have you contacted a National Service Officer for the Paralyzed Veterans of America to help you with your claim? They can assist with all the paperwork, and also file appeals for you. You may need to find people who served with you to testify to what occurred to you during your time in the service. Are you in contact with any of them? Do you have Agent Orange exposure?

    (KLD)

  6. #6

    not service connected

    I AM AT THE END OF TRYING, EVEry were i try comesw up with some kind of excuse.

  7. #7
    Senior Member skippy13's Avatar
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    Even if you are not able to prove service connection and are living only on SSI (not SSDI, which may actually qualify you if the payment is low enough by VA standards) you still may qualify for an additional payment from the VA called the VA pension. It is for non service connected conditions that keep you from working. There are certain standards that must be met (such as service during wartime and so forth), and I really hope that you are not one of those who falls through the cracks that are certainly there.

    The VA may still be able to treat your MS as a former service member despite the lack of records. I believe they will treat and care for any service member who has MS, ALS and other assorted ailments.

    Are you working with a VSO, either state, county or through a service organization such as the DVA or PVA? If you are not you may consider doing so as it will only increase your chances of getting the care and financial support you are qualified for.

    If you are having trouble getting care at the VA, consider following up with an apointment with a counselor patient advocate or social worker who can point you in the direction you must take. If worse comes to worse, call your representative and they may help you. They have an advocate in most offices that can and will help yu find out what is going on.

    Whatever you do, do not give up. The VA is a huge and complicated system and it can take years for some people to navigate their way through the system. It took me years to understand the system and I am still learning every day with the help of a website that I told you about in another thread in which you posted about your missing records. Whatever you do though, I wish you only the best.
    Last edited by skippy13; 12-03-2010 at 07:21 PM.
    Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess

  8. #8

    combat pilot MS eligibilty

    Do U know of cases in which a combat pilot with MS (diagnosed during service and with in the 7 year limit) who was recognized by VA. Do you know of VA policy in such cases?
    Can U ps email a reply to mikeldar@netvision.net.il
    thanx
    mike

  9. #9
    Mike, have you worked with a PVA National Service Officer (NSO) on getting service connection for your MS? This would be the best route, as they know the regulations and can serve as your advocate with the VA eligibility and rating nightmare.

    (KLD)

  10. #10
    My good news may encourage others . . .

    I served in the USCG from JAN1978 to JAN1982 (+2 inactive reserve), so I am a Viet Nam Era Vet (never left stateside, though). MS hit me hard and heavy in AUG2007 (formally diagnosed in APR2009), with no prior recognizable symptoms, so my MS is obviously NSC. Because MS hit me hard (unemployable), SocSec granted me SSDI in 2008 (with 7-yr review), and I started on Medicare in FEB2010.

    In Jan2010 I applied for VA healthcare coverage, and was immediately (<month) accepted as Category 5 (PVA helped me). So I have both Medicare and VA. (I keep Medicare B payments current because my VA coverage is renewable annually based on my income.) As MSrs know, DMD's are very expensive; under Medicare I'd be in the donut hole in a couple months. VA provides me DMD for $8/mo plus free doctor visits and diagnostics for everything (not just MS - I was just treated for a knee injury). And the care is fabulous at the Omaha VA. My only concern now is that VA has saved me so much money on healthcare bills, I may not be eligible next year. We'll see

    I had no idea my short period of service so many years ago would turn out to be so valuable. Thank you, USA!!
    Chas
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