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RI Veterans: Did you know? 7 March 22 – John A. Cianci

by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer, Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Understanding when a Veteran should file for increased Veterans Administration compensation 

To understand when a veteran should file for an increase the veteran needs to understand the original decision awarding the veteran the compensation from the Veterans Administration original decision for the claim. 

An example would be a veteran who was awarded 30% compensation for migraine headaches 15 years ago. He is currently collecting an estimated $460 a month in VA compensation. 

The veteran is 58 years-old, and his migraine headaches have worsened over the years since the original decision. 

The veteran believes he or she is entitled to a higher rating for the migraines and wants to file for an increase.

First, the veteran should gather a copy of the original claim, decision, and statement in the case that awarded him or her the 30% compensation 15 year ago. If the veteran does not have, recommend the following:

Step 1

The veteran should submit a Freedom Of Information Act Request, VA Form 20-10206, https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-20-10206-ARE.pdf requesting a copy of the original claim, decision, statement of case, C & P exam, and all documents related to the current VA compensation you are receiving. 

Mail to:

Department of Veterans Affairs
P.O. Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
Fax: 844-531-7818
DID: 608-373-6690

Given the information is controlled and managed separately from the veteran’s medical file, the veteran must submit FOIA to If you seek other benefits records maintained by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). 

Step 2

After completing step 1, the veteran should complete Notice of Intent VA Form 21-0966, https://www.va.gov/find-forms/about-form-21-0966/

VA Form 21-0966 if you’re still gathering information to support your claim and want to start the filing process. Submitting an intent to file can secure the earliest possible effective date for any retroactive payments you may be eligible to receive.

Filing the Notice of Intent gives the veteran one year to complete, and when the veteran is awarded the increase, the veteran will receive back compensation to the date of the notice of intent. 

VETTIP – Keep copies of the FOIA, Notice of Intent, and all paperwork related to the request for increase of compensation. 

Why should the veteran request the information aforementioned for the current compensation?

The veteran needs to understand requesting an increase on a current claim the VA will reopen the claim and review the entire claim. Simply put, the VA could decrease the current level of compensation, especially if the veteran has not been seeking medical attention for the medical diagnosis that awarded the veteran the compensation.

VETTIP – An example is a veteran who is receiving compensation for PTSD for several years. However, since the veteran’s diagnosis and award compensation for several years, the veteran has not sought any medical assistanceSadly, I have been privy to a veteran’s decision to reduce the veteran compensation AFTER the veteran filed for an increase because the veteran was told to do so by a friend or VSO.

The veteran having all the documents to review will ensure the veteran has a better understanding why he or she is receiving VA compensation. 

The VA assigns a disability rating based on the frequency, duration, and severity of symptoms it uses to characterize a certain condition. 

The aforementioned veteran believes he is receiving 30% for migraines. The VA decision, also referred to as statement of case, will detail the award of compensation resulting in the 30% compensation. 

Upon receipt of the documents and after review, the veteran understands he or she is compensated for diagnosis code 8100 under 38 CFR § 4.124a diagnostic code 8100:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/4.124a

The chart above for migraines does provide maximum rating for migraines at 50%. If the veteran is currently rated at 50% for migraines, the veteran has obtained the highest rating allowed by law for migraines. Moreover, the chart appears to show an examiner 15 years ago diagnosed the veteran for migraines with attacks on an average once a month over the last several months before the exam 15 years ago. 

After reviewing the documents, the veteran believes his or her current frequency of headaches is completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe inadaptability as detailed in table, which would entitle the veteran to a 50% rating, which is estimated $960 a month compensation.

VETTIP – Recommend the veteran maintain a log for frequency of the migraines, how long they last, and how the headaches impact his daily life. For example, if the migraine is so severe, the veteran was non-functionable; had to call in sick, etc. 

Step 3

After the veteran reviews and understands his or her compensation and believes they meet the requirements for increased compensation, he or she should file for the increase to the VA. The veteran completes VA Form 21-526EZ. https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/vba-21-526ez-are.pdf

Tips for filing for an increase (using migraines as an example):

1.    Submit a Statement in Support of a Claim for Migraines 

In the absence of service treatment records or current symptoms of migraine headaches, a Statement in Support of Claim, VA Form 21-4138, https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/vba-21-4138-are.pdf can be extremely helpful documentation to strengthen your claim. 

Attach a log to the statement showing the frequency and impact of the migraines have on your daily living. 

A well-done Statement in Support of Claim can help to complete what is known as a fully-developed claim, which is a well-supported, complete presentation of your case that has a higher likelihood of winning and tends to be approved faster. 

2.    Medical Evidence Requirements for Migraines

If you have medical evidence submit as evidence with your request for increase compensation.  

If you think you deserve a higher VA rating for migraines, you need to have evidence that discusses the severity of your headaches, whether they are prostrating in nature, and if these headaches affect your work.

Other factors you should consider before filing for an increase in disability :

·      If you’ve had your VA disability for more than five years, the VA has to prove that your illness or disease has gotten better and will stay better before reducing or terminating your rating.

·      If you’ve had your disability for 10 years or more, the VA can very rarely terminate your benefits unless it proves that you’ve been fraudulent in your claim. It can, however, reduce your benefits.

·      If you’ve had your disability for 20 years, the VA won’t reduce your rating below the lowest one you’ve received in those 20 years.

Ultimately, the decision is the veterans to file for increased compensation. Understanding the process will ensure the veteran has the knowledge and understanding to maximum VA compensation he or she is entitled to.  

In conclusion, when you request an increase in your VA disability rating, you are in effect opening up your claim for re-evaluation. The VA can actually lower or terminate your existing rating, so you need to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you file.

EVENTS

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 , 900-1100am, Northern Rhode Island Veterans Coffee House, American Legion Berard-Desjarlais Post 88, 111 Chapel Street,  Harrisville, RI. 

RESOURCES

AARP offers a free career center for veterans, http://campaigns-aarp-org-stage.targetclose.com/veteran-job-center. The center offers a free course, Veterans Career Advantage,  job search tool for companies seeking veteran employees, link to access what a good resume looks like, and other tips for veterans seeking employment. 

DISCOUNTS

Restaurants

Applebee’s – Military Discount … With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2028

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty . Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain.  Last verified 07/31/2028 (PS I had breakfast there on Saturday).

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID

Retailers

Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops –  Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items.

Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, ID.me.

ID.me is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through ID.me

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY!

We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI

Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI

Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get –

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.

Editor’s Note: We have heard recently that some retailers, Lowe’s and Home Depot, specifically, may be changing their military discount policy – let us know if you have this experience and we will attempt to look into it for you – always double check a company’s website for the most up to date info on discount programs.

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Veterans Administration News

Greetings GI Bill Beneficiary,  

A friendly reminder that Veterans Benefit Administration’s Education Service (EDU) will be hosting the first ever GI Bill® Summit on April 14, 2022, and you are invited to attend!  

This is YOUR opportunity to hear from EDU leaders to get your education benefits questions answered and get the latest updates on how we are modernizing your GI Bill experience.  

When: Thursday, April 14, 2022, from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. EDT 

Where: Virtually via Facebook Live on VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill Facebook page 

What: An hour-long event to get your GI Bill questions answered and learn more about: 

  • GI Bill modernization and what it means to you 
  • Monthly Enrollment Verification requirement 
  • How the expiration of COVID-19 benefit protections will affect you 
  • And much more 

For more information, see the GI Bill Summit flyer and RSVP for the 2022 GI Bill Summit HERE: https://2022gibillsummit.splashthat.com/   

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If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward , itamri4vets@gmail.com:  the business’s name , location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, itamri4vets@gmail.com, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)

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To read all columns in this series go to: https://rinewstoday.com/john-a-cianci/

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.