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Gregory Rada

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Greg served in the Air Force as a C-17 loadmaster in both Operations Enduring

Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.  Greg's practice includes VA disability compensation

appeals, Individual Unemployability (TDIU) claims, MST, PTSD and other mental health disability claims and appeals and other veterans disability claims processes. Attorney

Rada offers free telephone case evaluations as well as nationwide representation.

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Jim Strickland is a Vietnam era Army veteran and nationally recognized expert on VA

disability benefits. Jim writes extensively about VA and Social Security disability benefits. 
Jim's Mailbag is a regular column featured at  Stateside Legal  where veterans, servicemembers,

and family members can  ask Jim their questions  about VA and Social Security disability benefits. 

Department of Veterans Affairs

Permanent and Total (P & T) Disability Ratings

Permanent and Total   P & T

Question: I am 60 yrs old and just received comp for PTSD @ 50%. Someone said they will not re-exam you to reduce the benefit after age 55. Is this true?
Reply: No, that's not true. VA may reexamine a veteran at any time for any reason. The "Permanent" rating isn't ever permanent at VA. This is particularly true of mental health issues like PTSD .
Having said that, the 50% rating is rarely on the VA radar. The focus of the VA is the 100% rating because that's where the money is. While VA can reexamine you, it's very unlikely that they will. Enjoy your benefit, seek as much treatment as you can get and don't worry about it.
Question: Jim. I am 100% PTSD and 70% lower back fusion all service connected and I'm Perm & Total. I took up leather craft for therapy and can sell the items online and make around $10k-15k year. I live in house of (5). 2019 poverty is $25,750 for (4) of us and $4,420 for (1) more. The leathercraft doubles as therapy and I can work 100% at my own pace and can attend therapy of any kind if needed and it would be my own small business. Would I be ok? If so what process should i go through to make sure? Thanks.
Reply: If you are 100% schedular, and it sounds as if you are, you don't have any work restrictions. If you are 100% TDIU (unemployability) then you're restricted to work that earns you less than the poverty level in your region. Either way you're good to go and you shouldn't run into any trouble with VA. You should incorporate as an LLC in your state if you plan to run your therapy hobby as a business and keep your business tax records handy in case VA should ever ask. There isn't any process to ensure this is all OK at the VA. While the SSA has a formal return to work program, VA depends on us to stay within the rules and you're doing that so...I wish you success!

Question: I was awarded 100 percent for a mental health issue 4 years ago. About a month after my last C&P exam, I got a letter in the mail stating my status was permanent with no pending appointments scheduled. It came notarized and signed by the president of the VA. I have built my life around that thinking it was permanent (tax exempt on property taxes exe.) Now I find out they may have made a mistake even though I verified several times. I have a c&p exam coming up. Can I fight the exam? Do I have a leg to stand on?

​Reply: There is nothing to fight about. First up...the VA doesn't send out letters notarized and there is no "president of the VA". Your credibility is your most valuable asset and when you stretch the truth it doesn't help. Like any other business entity, VA may make errors and then VA has the right to correct those errors. When we're scheduled for a C & P exam, we must attend. if we don't attend the VA will default the decision and it won't be in your favor. Go to the exam and be courteous and polite. Explain to the examiner why you believe your condition has not and is not likely to improve. You have a great chance to make your case to continue P & T...don't blow it with anger.

​Question: Hi Jim, I am 39 years old and served 4 years in the Marine Corp. I am currently rated at 80%. I am 70% for PTSD from MST (military sexual trauma), 30 % for right leg injury and 10 % for Tinitus. I was just notified by the VA that my Individual Unemployability was granted but like most people it is not considered Permanent and Total. I was curious to know how hard it's going to be to attempt to get it changed to a Permanent and Total status. I have been receiving treatment and Therapy for my PST for a little over a year and and I was at a residential facility for 6 moths getting intense therapy for my MST .
Hopefully you can give me some insight into what i should expect when going through the process. Any help will be greatly appreciated

Reply: As you've read above, I don't recommend that you pursue a permanent rating. 

The term P & T is sometimes a little confusing.  The T is for Total and simply indicates a rating of at least 100%. The P is, of course, for Permanent and in VA lingo, that doesn't really mean permanent, it means that additional benefits are opened up for the permanently rated veteran and family.

A permanent 100% rating brings with it  Chapter 35 Education benefits  and  CHAMPVA. To receive the permanent label isn't always easy, many vets have a 100% rating but it's temporary.

Those vets should wait for a future C & P exam and ask the examiner to note that the conditions are stable with little or no chance of improvement and the rater is likely to then make your 100% benefit permanent.

Ratings lower than 100% are generally considered as permanent so only a 100% rating can be "P & T".

​Whether a given rating is permanent and/or total can get really complex really quickly. It's usually worth the time spent to study your own rating situation to be sure you're maximizing your benefits.

M21-1, Part IX, Subpart ii, Chapter 2 - Ratings for Special Purposes

M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, Chapter 8, Section C - Protected Ratings 

M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, Chapter 6, Section B - Determining the Issues

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 Code of Federal Regulations

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The Department of Veterans Affairs

​White House Hotline

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< Denis.McDonough@va.gov >

Yes, this really works. No, it doesn't ring in the White House. The email address and phone number are staffed by a seemingly serious group of players, many who are veterans, and if you have a legit issue, telling these folks is like bringing in the artillery. Let's prepare  for your call or email. Make some notes before you proceed so you don't forget anything. I prefer email since there's no waiting for someone to answer and I can take my time to prepare the story in just the right detail. Be sure to include your DOB, your last 4, contact info...a couple of numbers, your preferred email and such. Describe the problem as briefly as you can.  Less is more.  Include the necessary components but don't tell your life story.  Don't rant.  Be polite...military courtesy will get you places that hollering  IN ALL CAPS  won't.  Respect!  Don't waste their time with bogus complaints about your feelings being hurt. If you appropriately utilize this service, I'll vouch that this works like a champ. Tell them you read about this at The VAWatchdog Dot Org...they know who we are.

Veteran Disability Claims 

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Veterans Law Attorney Drew Early
Graduate of the US Military Academy West Point
20 years of active Army service, multiple deployments, tours with 2 Infantry

Division, 10th Mountain Division , XVIII Airborne Corps, and Third Army,

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