The letter came in a plain manila 8x11 window envelope on Monday. The return address was a Veterans’ Affairs regional office in Nashville TN. I’ve been waiting for this envelope since 1 November 2011. Thursday, past, I was treated to an un-official glimpse of its most important contents. I was told that my VA claim for disability had been decided and that I was no longer rated as 10% disabled for chronic tinnitus and bilateral, service connected hearing loss.
That 10% rating, originally determined as 20% but re-imbursed at 10% is of critical importance to us. It provides a small monthly compensation payment. More importantly, it allows me to receive health care and medications from the VA system due to the service-connected nature of my injuries. Since 2003, I’ve had that “service connected” label on my file and my ID card. It has saved us the cost of endoscopies, cataract surgeries, and countless prescriptions dispensed and re-filled for only reasonable co-pay (Unlike Medicare, Congress allows VA to negotiate for low cost medications.)
PTSD carries greater weight in the rating and compensation schema. I have it; I’ve had it for quite some time. It is now compensable.
More astonishing to me, the higher rating has some increased benefits.
I no longer have to pay for medications from VA. Any meds dispensed since 1 November 2012 are reimbursable. I am now eligible for more travel compensation. That will help a great deal now that gasoline is skyrocketing upward at alarming velocities.
I suspect that there are other benefits that I have yet to discover. I’ll do some digging on my trips in for OT, immunizations, routine exams, etc.
The amazing thing, as of today, is that when I hear someone say, Thank you from a grateful nation.” It is almost possible to believe it. Certainly, the people who staff Veterans Affairs offices and hospitals mean it. And that’s a good enough place to begin with today.