Advice on pursuing a VA Disability Claim for Prostate Cancer

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Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 24259
   Posted 10/29/2009 11:46 AM (GMT -6)   
Just got home after spending 3 1/2 hours at my county VA office.  The advice I got on the phone a month or so ago was dead on, you do not want to try to initiate the claim yourself on line, despite the fact that the VA makes it possible.  It was such a complex mess of forms and counter-forms, and little "I got you catches" in the verbage.  I would strongly advise any one else here to go to your Vet office if you want to file a claim.
 
I have to go back Monday and bring a few more documents, thought I had thought of everything.  My claim is officially recorded now and on its way to the regional office for my area in Columbia SC.
 
As I get replies from the VA, the county rep wants to see every word so they can keep pushing.  She said best case example was about six months for approval, worse case was three years.  But she promised she would fight every inch of the way.
 
While I was there in the waiting room  (and there were no young vets today, just old farts like me), someone made the mistake of asking me why I was there.  And that led to an in depth discussion and education to the other men about prostate cancer in general.  I love those natural opportunities to push our cause.  One man was just dx a day ago, Gleason 7, PSA 6, low % cores, and of course, his dr is already pushing immediate surgery.  We talked about 2nd opinions and options.  Two other men promised to get PSA tests in the near future.
 
I don't care if we have to reach men, one by one by one, we all have to try our best to get the word out.
 
Home resting before I go for radiation treatment
 
David in SC
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out  38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - began IMRT SRT - 39 sessions/72 gys.


John T
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 3732
   Posted 10/29/2009 3:29 PM (GMT -6)   
David,
I did it myself on line. Every month they would ask me for something I had already sent them. They even denied the claim because they said the phone number for my doctor was wrong; it wasn't and they had his name and address so they could have looked it up. I just hate govenment bureaucrats; they go out of their way to make it hard for everyone. I copied all of my correspondance to General Shiniski, head of the VA; that finally got things moving.
When I was in the San Diego Navel hospital they kept delaying my operation; I called my congressman and 30 min later an Admiral was in my room; he fired my Doc on the spot and I was in an ambulance headed for the VA in LA; this was on a Friday and I had my operation on Monday. Sometimes you need to prod the system.
I hope you take that job as a VA rep so you can help others that are afraid to push back.
JT

64 years old.

PSA rising for 10 years to 40, free psa 10-15. Had 5 urologists, 12 biopsies and MRIS all neg. Doctors DXed BPH and continue to get biopsies yearly. 13th biopsy positive in 10-08, 2 cores of 25, G6 less than 5%. Scheduled for surgery as recommended by Urological Oncologist.

2nd Opinion from Dr Sholtz, a Prostate Oncologist, said DX wrong, pathology shows indolant cancer, but psa history indicates large cancer or metastasis. Futher tests and Color Doppler confirmed large transition zone tumor that 13 biopsies and MRIS missed. G7, 4+3, approx 16mmX18mm.

Combidex MRI in Holland eliminated lymphnode mets. Casodex and Proscar reduced psa to 0.6 and prostate from 60mm to 32mm. Changed diet, no meat and dairy. All staging tests indicate that tumor is local and non agressive. (PAP, PCA3, MRIS, Color Doppler, Combidex, tumor reaction to diet and Casodex, and tumor location in transition zone). Surgery a poor option because tumor is located next to the urethea and positive margin is very likely; permanent incontenance is also high probability with surgery.

Seed implants on 5-19-09, 3 hours door to door, no pain, minor side affects are frequency and urgency; very controlable with Flowmax and lasted 4 weeks. Daily activities resumed day after implants with no restrictions. Gold markers implanted with seeds to guide IMRT.

25 treatments of IMRT 6 weeks after seed implants. No side affects at all.

PSA at end of treatment 0.02 mostly the result of Casodex. When I stop Casodex next week expect PSA to rise. Next PSA in November. Treatments and side affects have greatly exceeded my expectations. Glad to have this 11 year journey finally conclude.

JohnT


Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 24259
   Posted 10/29/2009 4:20 PM (GMT -6)   
John, for the very reasons you state, i.e. the hassles ,glad I got a sharp va rep at my local office, as long as I bring her every correspondence, she wil enter them in my electronic case and keep track.

I have nothing to lose by trying this, certainly as qualifed based on the program elegibility requirements.

David
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out  38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - began IMRT SRT - 39 sessions/72 gys.


Sonny3
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 2154
   Posted 10/29/2009 4:33 PM (GMT -6)   
Well the timing could not be more perfect. I myself just left the VA office not more than a hour ago and was going online to update on my experience filing for disability.

My rep was most helpful. A 30 year retired Navy man and also on disability.

I guess being a personnel-man in the Navy and my other organizational traits paid off for me.

He said that the Army and Marines were pretty much easy because if they were over there, they were known to be in-country. Navy and Airforce have to supply documentation proving it.

I took the necessary discharge and other forms along with the original document from my files that listed each of my duty assignment and their dates.

Gave him the official diagnosis document, the post surgery pathology report and the latest PSA test.

He filed the temporary "Intent to File for Claim" forms for me so that today's date was locked in as the applicable retroactive date.

I just need to fill out the official forms and attach a copy of my marriage certificate and bring them back.

He said that in-country service and PCa were a slam dunk and automatic approval. The approval process make take a few months because of the back-log of new claims. Seems the economy is bringing out more first time claims.

At this time the only thing he was making sure to file was the diagnosis of PCa. Said I didn't need to worry about having surgery or the PSA follow-up at this time. The diagnosis of PCa was an automatic 13 months Full Disability claim at the rate of about $3000.00 per month.

At the end of 13 months the VA would file for a reduction and then I could talk about the surgery, radiation or whatever else was going on. If I was still experiencing IC or ED or both, but no PCa, I could expect the benefit to drop to about 50-60% of the $3000.00. I could still live with that.

So let's all keep each other updated on how the process goes. It should be interesting as we all live in different states.

Also, by keeping this updated we make the information available to all who finds HW in the future and didn't know that they have access to the VA.

Personally, I told him I thought the VA benefits were for guys who had served and then retired after 20 or more years. He asked what I did after I got out of the Navy. Told him I went to work for Southern Bell and AT&T. He said that is why I didn't know it was there for me. I had good healthcare insurance and didn't need the VA. He said what would you have done if you lost your job, told him I would have found another. He smiled and said "Thanks", but that is not the answer they hear most often. More times than not they meet with folks who don't have the documentation, want to work around the system and just have their hand out the minute they walk in.

Made me feel kinda good,

Sonny
61 years old
PSA 11/07 3.0
PSA 5/09 6.4
Diagnosis confirmed July 9, 2009
12 Needle Biopsy = 9 clear , 3 postive
<5%, 90%, 40%
Gleason Score (3+4) 7 in all positive cores
CT Organ Scan - negative
Nuclear Bone Scan - Negative

da Vinci 9/17/09 Dr. Mani Menon Henry Ford Medical Institute

Post Surgery Pathology:
Gleason: Changed to (4+3) = 7
Stage: T3a
Tumor Volume 12.5%
ALL NERVES SPARED
Margins: focally positive right posterior mid level
Perineural Invasion: present
Seminal Invasion: absent
Venous Invasion: absent
Angiolymphatic Invasion: absent
Left Internal iliac lymph node: reveals zero
Right Internal lymph node: reveals zero


Sonny3
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 2154
   Posted 10/29/2009 4:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Oh BTW, my wife just asked about taxes on disability benefits, so I looked it up real quick.

IRS publication 907 states;

VA disability benefits. Do not include disability benefits you receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in your gross income. If you are a military retiree and do not receive your disability benefits from the VA, see Publication 525 for more information.

Do not include in your income any veterans' benefits paid under any law, regulation, or administrative practice administered by the VA. These include:

*Education, training, and subsistence allowances,

*Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid either to veterans or their families,

*Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living,

*Grants for motor vehicles for veterans who lost their sight or the use of their limbs,

*Veterans' insurance proceeds and dividends paid either to veterans or their beneficiaries, including the proceeds of a veteran's endowment policy paid before death,

*Interest on insurance dividends left on deposit with the VA,

*Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program, or

*The death gratuity paid to a survivor of a member of the Armed Forces who died after September 10, 2001.

So it's not taxable either. Hoo Ray for the good guys,

Sonny
61 years old
PSA 11/07 3.0
PSA 5/09 6.4
Diagnosis confirmed July 9, 2009
12 Needle Biopsy = 9 clear , 3 postive
<5%, 90%, 40%
Gleason Score (3+4) 7 in all positive cores
CT Organ Scan - negative
Nuclear Bone Scan - Negative

da Vinci 9/17/09 Dr. Mani Menon Henry Ford Medical Institute

Post Surgery Pathology:
Gleason: Changed to (4+3) = 7
Stage: T3a
Tumor Volume 12.5%
ALL NERVES SPARED
Margins: focally positive right posterior mid level
Perineural Invasion: present
Seminal Invasion: absent
Venous Invasion: absent
Angiolymphatic Invasion: absent
Left Internal iliac lymph node: reveals zero
Right Internal lymph node: reveals zero


Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 24259
   Posted 10/29/2009 6:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Sonny, as a professional accountant, already knew it was tax free. I too, have to bring my marriage cert on Monday. My claim was filed today, she took statements, sent my biopsy report, pathology report, and i had my rad. oncologist draft a letter stating that i have reoccurance and undergoing Salvage radiation.

The rep said the same thing about us Navy guys, but she said when the records showed that my squadron, VP17 operating out of Sangley Point NAS, RPI and flew "Market TIme"missions in South China sea, and refueled and sometimes spent overnight at Cam Ram Bay, shouldn't be an issue. In our sqadron, everyone had to fly, even as observation duty as I did. Are you saying you were a PN? I was too, amazing.
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out  38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - began IMRT SRT - 39 sessions/72 gys.


LittleIsMuch
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 11/3/2009 7:29 PM (GMT -6)   
Men, it's a long process. I have been worrying with the VA since 2003. They will try and try to discourage you but don't let it happen. They are suppose to go back and pay you from the time your claim was filed or in my case I disagreed with their decision based on what a doctor said that tried to do me in. Hang in there. It will be worth the hassel. Your local VA rep can save you a lot of headache as they will, as you said, do the paper work for you. Wish you the best.
Hisson
Biopsy 2003
Surgery: 2003 Radical prostatectomy in which glans on each side removed.
No nerve sparing. No nerve splicing. I would not recommend the urologist to anyone who wants to continue to be sexually active.
PSA once a year and always .0 something which means undetectable


Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 24259
   Posted 11/3/2009 7:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Yep, best advice I got so far on my claim, was taking it to my county VA rep office, they were well versed in this procedure, took care of all the paperwork, my claim is in process. I need to still supply a couple of minor paperwork details for them, but all the big stuff is already out there and being processed. I was told, 6 months if everything works perfect, 15-18 months if complications arise.
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out  38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - began IMRT SRT - 39 sess/72 gys cath #8 33 days, 11/2- SP Cath #9 in place

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