Describing your claims to the VA
I go over how to best describe your claim, on the request for information paperwork, the VA is going to be sending you.
*We weren't lost, just practicing our survival skills.
As I have described in earlier posts, 38 CFR is your friend. It will help you identify what characteristics of your injury/ illness are important to the VA. That aside, the VA wants to know what you have or are dealing with. When you are filling out the paperwork, remember to describe your affliction with “Without the use of my (splint, brace, hearing aids etc...) I cannot…” or “Without my medication, my symptoms are…). The last thing you want to say is “I can hear just fine thanks to my hearing aids” when you are legally deaf without them or “This ailment causes me no stress or discomfort” when you need constant medication to not die from it.
In filling out the request for more information packet from the VA, describe every illness or injury you have as untreated. If you leave the military and do not have your ailments accurately portrayed in the VA system, you may end up in exactly that situation. The VA needs to know how you would be doing if you were not being treated at all.
There are places to describe your current and past medications and treatments for the ailment and you want to include every one! From the Motrin to the Percocet, the crutch to the wheel chair, include every dosage and medication/ treatment. Using the filing system I described in Getting what you deserve from the VA will help you in finding this information. This is what the VA is asking for and it helps them to see progression of the ailment over time.
The next section you need to consider is how your ailment occurred. This will help the VA classify it as combat or non-combat related and service-related or not. If you can’t remember where you got that bullet wound or when the first time you had dry eyes was, check out your medical files. Using the filing system from Getting what you deserve from the VA will help in this instance as well.
Once you fill out each informational sheet, read over them and make sure they make sense. Does your description sound like your ailment still or is it so far off it no longer sounds like you? The VA will send this document to a VA medical advisor, or you will deliver it the day of your evaluation. This is when the rubber meets the road and you will go over each claimed item with the medical advisor. If your ailment needs medical proof, you may be asked to complete additional medical tests like x-rays, stress tests, lung capacity tests, etc.
In the end, the additional information request sheet is your best chance at getting the rating you deserve. Take the time necessary to complete it and write legibly! I read over all of mine and completed them a day later after having thought about them. With 20+ years of service there were a lot of medical issues I had completely forgot how or where they first occurred. Take your time, be thorough, and good luck!