AF - New Evidence/Condition During IPEB

thoughtfulechidna

Registered Member
My IPEB concluded in September and found me unfit for service with permanent retirement. This was my first appeal - my OAC lawyer recommended I ask for the "one-time reconsideration" of my service disqualifying condition back in early August. It was obvious that submitted evidence had been missed the first time around and he was right.

Anyway, the decision for the reconsideration came the third week of September. They increased the percentage for my service disqualifying condition from 30% to 50% with permanent retirement.

As a result of my conditions, I have been attending multiple therapy groups in and outside of the Air Force and have been involved with the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program. During my last visit with AFW2, which ran through the beginning of September, I was given the courage to come clean about current and past suicidal ideation, with an attempt I made last year. I attended this event while waiting for the reconsideration to come through.

I never thought to bring up the suicidal ideations in the past because I was ashamed of them and at the time things were so bad I was worried about being forced into in-patient treatment. Quite honestly, I feared that if my wife had found out and I ended up in the hospital - she would leave me. That was the anxiety and depression talking, obviously, but it was a fear. During the AFW2 event we connected with multiple other military couples going through the same issues we were having so I finally got it off my chest. I went over this with mental health and they also suspect I am suffering from combat related PTSD (survivor's guilt) that I was too shy and proud to share previously.

After speaking with my mental health care team and MSC, they're telling me that had I been open and honest about the suicide attempt, to include current and past ideation, that I would be entitled to 70% of my base pay versus the 50% I was awarded. I'm a prior-E commissioned officer, so that's a significant jump in pay well beyond the 100% the VA is offering me. CRSC would also come into play, but again - pride made me bottle it up. I was told that my records corroborate the suicidal ideation as my mental health team had suspected it for nearly two years, but every time they would question me I would deny it - again, fearful of going in-patient, losing my clearance, marriage, etc.

Now it's mid-October and I've been issued orders to retire at the end of November. I have multiple agencies telling me that I'm getting out without everything I am due or the care I need. My psychologist has just started delving into everything I brought to light last month and while he doesn't feel I am an immediate danger to myself he wishes I had come out with everything sooner.

I'm not sure what other options I have to stay in past November. I've been advised to kick and scream and do everything I can to get this handled while I'm active duty and still collecting a paycheck. I currently have an application pending for SSDI which likely won't be approved for at least three more months. My mental health team does not feel I am in a position to work, but I'm not sure how I'll get my family through the holidays and into next year. I'm losing out on what would be a considerable increase in my post-AF retirement benefits and care.

I was told that I don't have the option to appeal to the SECAF because I already had the IPEB appeal, but that doesn't sound correct. I think the BCMR is also an option, but they'll simply tell me I can file with the BCMR even if I'm out of service. I've considered filing for a hardship extension, but my commander isn't sure the financial aspect alone is enough to file for a hardship and even joked about "having to wear more sweaters this winter" to save money on heating bills. He's honestly been great to me up until this point, and I was shocked to hear him say that - I think it was a poorly timed jab at humor. I actually drafted an MFR for said extension earlier this week, but he said he wasn't sure if he'd sign off on it or not.

I don't know what to do. I'm scared, exhausted and seem to be getting conflicting information from everywhere I go. I'm kicking myself big time for not bringing everything to the table, but I was ashamed, plain and simple. I was already going through enough, and I didn't want to admit that I've had thoughts of ending my life from events that happened over 10 years ago when I was enlisted. If I had been open and honest sooner, I'm sure everything would've been captured in my MEB - but I didn't come out with everything until my first appeal was already submitted. It's just the timing of it all.

Ultimately, I'm glad I finally said something. It feels great to get it off my chest, even though it did scare a few people, but it also explained a lot of my behavior that mental health and others hadn't quite been able to put their finger on.

Please, someone make sense of my nonsense and help me.
 

oddpedestrian

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Your commander was right to chastise you its time to transition your time is up you signed your ratings and I doubt the BCMR will increase from 50-70% later down the road either. You have somewhat hinted that it's not all about the ratings but about finances, you don't know how you are going to get your family through the holidays? Does your spouse know about the future finances of the family? I'm an annual donor to AER and I'm surprised how many officers struggle after retirement mainly because of the downsizing it requires. Bottom line you are bringing in about 3400 from the VA and maybe 1200 or so from SSDI if that gets approved down the road you will have to find out how to make it work, same with CRSC. You also stated your family doesn't know the extent of your disabilities as it may cause future family troubles are they okay with you being home every day?

You should have been on top of this money change from day one of knowing you were facing a MEB what are you doing? If you haven't dropped the bomb on the spouse on the big budget changes coming very quickly do it right now. All transitions cause angst and anxiety it will take time to find your footing again, I wish you the best these next couple of months the transition can be hard at first for maybe a year or so.
 

chaplaincharlie

Staff Member
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PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
An IPEB appeal does not preclude additional appeals. Lawyer up!

The military's press on attitude contributes to people not being totally honest about MH symptoms. The system needs a little chastisement of its own.
 

gsfowler

Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
I concur with @chapliancharlie

If I am reading correctly, you have recently found the courage to discuss your suicidal ideation? Is this in the treatment notes with your mental health professionals?

Discuss this with your counsel and see if they are willing to request a formal board to introduce the evidence.

This statement does concern me however...

"I'm losing out on what would be a considerable increase in my post-AF retirement benefits and care."

Focus on getting treatment, the financial gain from the illness is only temporary. Nobody wants to live on a fixed income for the remainder of their days.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
I am going to start taking a heavy hand with comments and folks who post things that are not helpful and do not address the issues raised in posts. Often, the comments are not helpful, are stated without support or experience of what actually happens in cases and do not comport with the goals of this site.
Be helpful and share your actual knowledge and input. Do not invent stuff about what you think might be true or what you feel about things. Barracks lawyers are everywhere and are often wrong.


Not only are some of the comments dead wrong, but they also are not helpful and are uninformed.



My IPEB concluded in September and found me unfit for service with permanent retirement. This was my first appeal - my OAC lawyer recommended I ask for the "one-time reconsideration" of my service disqualifying condition back in early August. It was obvious that submitted evidence had been missed the first time around and he was right.

Anyway, the decision for the reconsideration came the third week of September. They increased the percentage for my service disqualifying condition from 30% to 50% with permanent retirement.
From what you have stated, I am thinking that you accepted the IPEB's findings as to unfitness and submitted a VARR. If I understand correctly, you were found unfit at 50% and accepted those findings. If I am wrong on any of these points, please let me know.

As a result of my conditions, I have been attending multiple therapy groups in and outside of the Air Force and have been involved with the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program. During my last visit with AFW2, which ran through the beginning of September, I was given the courage to come clean about current and past suicidal ideation, with an attempt I made last year. I attended this event while waiting for the reconsideration to come through.

I never thought to bring up the suicidal ideations in the past because I was ashamed of them and at the time things were so bad I was worried about being forced into in-patient treatment. Quite honestly, I feared that if my wife had found out and I ended up in the hospital - she would leave me. That was the anxiety and depression talking, obviously, but it was a fear. During the AFW2 event we connected with multiple other military couples going through the same issues we were having so I finally got it off my chest. I went over this with mental health and they also suspect I am suffering from combat related PTSD (survivor's guilt) that I was too shy and proud to share previously.
Just looking at the timing of what you have posted, you have only recently disclcosed to providers suicidal ideation. This may well have been after your orders being cut.



After speaking with my mental health care team and MSC, they're telling me that had I been open and honest about the suicide attempt, to include current and past ideation, that I would be entitled to 70% of my base pay versus the 50% I was awarded. I'm a prior-E commissioned officer, so that's a significant jump in pay well beyond the 100% the VA is offering me. CRSC would also come into play, but again - pride made me bottle it up. I was told that my records corroborate the suicidal ideation as my mental health team had suspected it for nearly two years, but every time they would question me I would deny it - again, fearful of going in-patient, losing my clearance, marriage, etc.
First, I am not sure if your providers were just affirming your concerns or if they were offering an opinion about your disability percentages. The latter seems strange to me. The vast majority of providers have little to none experience or knowledge about the VASRD or the bases for ratings.


Now it's mid-October and I've been issued orders to retire at the end of November. I have multiple agencies telling me that I'm getting out without everything I am due or the care I need. My psychologist has just started delving into everything I brought to light last month and while he doesn't feel I am an immediate danger to myself he wishes I had come out with everything sooner.
I am not completely clear about what happened prior to your having orders issued. But, if I am right, you had an IPEB, you agreed with the conditions being unfitting, but you requested a VARR, which came back favorable inasmuch as you moved from 30% to 50% , with PDRL.

Now, this seems to indicate to me that PTSD was not your unfitting condition. Otherwise, near certainly, you would have been placed on TDRL with a 50% minimum rating under 38 CFR 4.129.


I'm not sure what other options I have to stay in past November. I've been advised to kick and scream and do everything I can to get this handled while I'm active duty and still collecting a paycheck. I currently have an application pending for SSDI which likely won't be approved for at least three more months. My mental health team does not feel I am in a position to work, but I'm not sure how I'll get my family through the holidays and into next year. I'm losing out on what would be a considerable increase in my post-AF retirement benefits and care.
Based on what you have described, you likely have few to none options to stay in past November.

Not sure why this is a goal, though? What about staying in, aside from receiving continued active duty pay and allowances, is the better choice. Would need to know much more about your case, including your total ratings on the VA side and your retired base pay, but, I am not sure why you want to stay longer in service as a standalone goal.

Is your SSDI claim being processed as a Wounded Warrior?

Have you looked into SCAADL application? Not sure if that is appropriate, but, if you are severely disabled, that might be something to look into.

I was told that I don't have the option to appeal to the SECAF because I already had the IPEB appeal, but that doesn't sound correct. I think the BCMR is also an option, but they'll simply tell me I can file with the BCMR even if I'm out of service. I've considered filing for a hardship extension, but my commander isn't sure the financial aspect alone is enough to file for a hardship and even joked about "having to wear more sweaters this winter" to save money on heating bills. He's honestly been great to me up until this point, and I was shocked to hear him say that - I think it was a poorly timed jab at humor. I actually drafted an MFR for said extension earlier this week, but he said he wasn't sure if he'd sign off on it or not.
This is a very frustrating aspect of people's post- that they do not state what step they are in the process and do not accurately describe what happened in their case and what elections they made along the way. This includes a "global picture" of all of their situation. I (and every other reader) am left to guess about the situation.

Much of what you wrote makes no sense. I don't hold that against you....the process can be confusing, as can the terms used.
You stated that you requested a "one time rating reconsideration," after your IPEB. So, if that is right and you did not appeal the IPEBs findings, then you did not disagree with the IPEB's findings. If you did not disagree, then, no, you can't agree with the findings and then disagree by requesting SAFPC appeal. The two actions are mutually exclusive.

Yes, BCMR is an option.

Not sure on what possible basis a "hardship extension" would be possible. I can't even think of a possible basis for this- staying in because of "hardship." There are hardship discharges. There are no hardship "retention" applications. Unless you are referencing something I have never heard of, I see no chance of this being a viable option.

As for your commander's "bedside manner," or not being helpful, well, that is unfortunate, but, also not that unusual. Still, if there is some avenue being offered you that you want to pursue, by all means, get after it.


I come across cases all the time where people do better on leaving service. They actually get more money then they earned in service once VA compensation (and the tax free nature of these benefits) is taken into account. Unfortunately, I have no idea what your VA service connected findings were. But, based on your discussion of SSDI benefits, I have to assume you had a relatively high VA rating.

I don't know what to do. I'm scared, exhausted and seem to be getting conflicting information from everywhere I go. I'm kicking myself big time for not bringing everything to the table, but I was ashamed, plain and simple. I was already going through enough, and I didn't want to admit that I've had thoughts of ending my life from events that happened over 10 years ago when I was enlisted. If I had been open and honest sooner, I'm sure everything would've been captured in my MEB - but I didn't come out with everything until my first appeal was already submitted. It's just the timing of it all.
It is not rare to see folks not have disclosed or discussed issues during their PEB process.

I am sorry to hear about your anxiety and your worries. Not sure of the complete picture of your case, so it is hard to help. Like I wrote above, I am not clear that you might not be fine or even better financially once you are retired. You didn't share enough about your case to really tell what is going on in the big picture.


Ultimately, I'm glad I finally said something. It feels great to get it off my chest, even though it did scare a few people, but it also explained a lot of my behavior that mental health and others hadn't quite been able to put their finger on.
This is important. It might be important for your compensation; more importantly, it helps you to get appropriate treatment and for folks to look out for your health and to keep you safe. Please take your safety seriously and SEEK IMMEDIATE HELP if you have suicidal thoughts.

Your commander was right to chastise you its time to transition your time is up you signed your ratings and I doubt the BCMR will increase from 50-70% later down the road either.
Wrong answer. On all counts. His commander apparently had no idea about the underlying facts, and it is not his job or place to chastise him. Poor answer.
Also, most commanders are wholly ignorant of the process.

Also, wrong on BCMR. Maybe you know more than I do, but, nothing about the facts written suggests a basis to doubt a BCMR fix if suicidal ideation is shown (especially given the direction in DODM 1332.18 v2 (Appendix 1 to Enclosure 4):

"7. Upon separation from military service for medical disability and consistent with BCMR procedures of the Military Department concerned, the former Service member (or a designated representative) may request correction of his or her military records if new information arises regarding his or her service or condition that may result in a different disposition.
a. For example, a veteran who was separated or retired through the IDES and who locates a portion of their service treatment record that was missing during the IDES process may request that VA adjust the disability rating of an unfitting condition.
b. If VA changes the proposed disability rating for the unfitting condition based on the new information, and the change would have resulted in a different DoD disability disposition, then the Service member may request correction of the military records through his or her respective Military Department BCMR....,"

And Enclosure 2:

3. SECRETARIES OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS. The Secretaries of the Military Departments, for their respective Departments:
a. Establish procedures to:...

(17) Correct the records, upon application by former Service members who successfully appeal disability ratings received in the IDES to VA and the respective Military Department Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). This includes the records of Service members who are veterans temporarily retired through the IDES who appeal ratings that affect unfitting conditions for which the retiree was placed on TDRL."

Please share any basis for your opinion about the BCMR's actions.

You have somewhat hinted that it's not all about the ratings but about finances, you don't know how you are going to get your family through the holidays?

What is the difference in ratings vice finances? Ratings are the entire point that drives finances.

I see this all the time. People discuss military issues with some sort of extra level of scrutiny that would not or could not be applied in the civilian world. If you worked for Amazon, or FedEX, or Apple, and you were hurt on the job, you get the benefits defined in the contract and in Workman's Compensation (as applicable). No one says, well you just want a higher rating because it will get you more money. OF COURSE YOU WANT THE HIGHEST RATING YOU ARE DUE.

Being a Servicemember or a Veterans does not mean you have to disclaim what you are due.

I do not understand your quoted post at all.

Does your spouse know about the future finances of the family?
Can't think why this is relevant to what compensation this person is due. Only reason to raise this would seem to be to address familial issues and keeping everyone's expectations on the same level. Still, not sure why this question was asked. What would the answer change?


I'm an annual donor to AER and I'm surprised how many officers struggle after retirement mainly because of the downsizing it requires. Bottom line you are bringing in about 3400 from the VA and maybe 1200 or so from SSDI if that gets approved down the road you will have to find out how to make it work, same with CRSC. You also stated your family doesn't know the extent of your disabilities as it may cause future family troubles are they okay with you being home every day?
I don't know the answer to this question you posed, but, I know I am not okay with you asking the question here. What possible help would that question resolve for this Airman? Who was found 50% disabled and placed on the PDRL. Are you sayihg he gets enough in your opinion, so he should not get his actual due?

I rely on folks like you to answer questions, provide guidance and share experiences. I don't need or want judgment or sharpshooting that is not focused on helping. People can just go to the plethora folks who will tell them to suck it up in their units or from bad DES personnel. We are not about that here.

You should have been on top of this money change from day one of knowing you were facing a MEB what are you doing? If you haven't dropped the bomb on the spouse on the big budget changes coming very quickly do it right now. All transitions cause angst and anxiety it will take time to find your footing again
This is generally good input as to suggesting talking with the family. It makes sense to share with the family and prepare your spouse for what is going on. But, it is also not unusual for people to have anxiety, shame or other issues that make this hard or not an event that will happen.

We are not here to interrogate or shame folks.
I wish you the best these next couple of months the transition can be hard at first for maybe a year or so.
This is true. But, I have seen all types. Some folks do great immediately after leaving services. Some never recover.
Should we be upset with folks who get their due and do great?
An IPEB appeal does not preclude additional appeals. Lawyer up!
This is a good point, but, from reading between the lines, I think he accepted his findings and waived appeals. I think (absent clarification) his next stop is either with the BCMR or in Federal Court.

The military's press on attitude contributes to people not being totally honest about MH symptoms. The system needs a little chastisement of its own.
You are 100% right here.
No, don't lawyer up... Accept what you have earned and move on
Why? Why did you write this? What possible basis do you have for this opinion?

Don't answer. I am shutting off your ability to post. If you want to take it up with me, send an email with justification to the complaint department. The complaint department will answer in due course.

How long were you in?
Did you not read the post before you answered?

There is actually a point to the answer of your question. It has to do with compensation from the VA and the DoD.

But, I doubt you were asking for those reasons. I suspect you feel you have some basis to question others service and believe yourself to be a salty veteran who has some reason to think that you have some valued input about what folks are due.

I will alleviate you from that responsibility. Here on out, you can read posts, you can't post any longer.

I concur with @chapliancharlie

If I am reading correctly, you have recently found the courage to discuss your suicidal ideation? Is this in the treatment notes with your mental health professionals?

Discuss this with your counsel and see if they are willing to request a formal board to introduce the evidence.
Good insight and comment. However, unless clarification is provided, I think this member has already waived disagreement and it would be very unlikely to get any relief prior to retirement.

This statement does concern me however...

"I'm losing out on what would be a considerable increase in my post-AF retirement benefits and care."

Focus on getting treatment, the financial gain from the illness is only temporary. Nobody wants to live on a fixed income for the remainder of their days.
Sometimes, the financial benefits are absolutely needed. Sometimes the disabilities are permanent and there is no recovery. Sometimes, it is a gray area and folks would do better working to the extent they can.

My bigger concern with the post and your comment is that I am not sure that being retired and getting the additional compensation (be it SSDI, SCAADL, or other sources) would not be the same or more than he is earning on active duty. We don't have enough details to understand the financials. His worries may be misplaced. This is a fault of his PEBLO and his attorney in not counseling him properly (or, it may be that his disabilities impact his appreciation of the issues). I am not at all sure that he understands the results of the outcomes. However, that is part of our resason for being here- to discuss these issues and provide support.

(My harsh words below and in this post were not directed towards you or @chaplaincharlie ....you both have done great things in helping folks on this forum).

BREAK

So, I have been hot and salty towards several folks on this post.

I see a trend in some threads recently of folks (often who have little or no basis for their opinion) offering unhelpful or critical comments to folks asking questions. Maybe the questions are not clear. Maybe they are misguided. And, yes, maybe some people who post on this forum are looking to get "easy money."

It is not your job to police up those folks. For every negative comment or comment that suggests folks have no right or should not complain or whatever, there are potentially several other folks who are due more but out of shame don't seek what they have earned. Nasty or ignorant comments only serve to convince folks not to seek what they are due.

I rely on contributors here- to an extent. You all can be very helpful. Don't get me wrong, though. I will completely change this forum, basically turn it into a blog, and will halt allowing comments if I feel it is better. Or, will only allow a trusted few to comment. I will not tolerate folks being nasty or unhelpful. You want to spew your opinions that are not helpful, go do it somewhere else. This place is to help not to have folks relive glory days of proving how hard they are.


Think about whether you want to help here. If so, then you are in the right place. If you want to pass judgment and replace your opinion with the facts and support that I have established as the standard and the goals for this site, then you are not in the right place.
 
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chaplaincharlie

Staff Member
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@Jason Perry

Good morning, Sir. Thank you for your overdue comments. I have withheld similar thoughts because this is your house and I'm your guest.

As a non lawyer, I used the term appeal in its lay meaning, "to make a serious or urgent request." How an "appeal" occurs in the legal circle is certainly your expertise. I hope @thoughtfulechidna lawyers up soon. Yet, I concur with @gsfowler about priorities; sometimes we need to regroup before we can best contribute to our own legal interest. I believe a good therapeutic relationship will help @thoughtfulechidna feel better AND be a better client in pursuit of legal recourse.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
@chaplaincharlie ,

Thanks for your comment, and, more importantly, for your efforts and posts that help people here on the PEBFORUM.

Good morning, Sir. Thank you for your overdue comments. I have withheld similar thoughts because this is your house and I'm your guest.
Much of my comments were driven by reading the posts and seeing that folks were not responding with fact based opinions, were giving incomplete or wrong input, or were missing the point of the forum. (A big issue that folks seem to continually miss is that while we strive to inform and help individuals who post, the bigger aid is for those who may be facing similar issues or have questions related to what others post. The "force multiplier" is in sharing information that others can read and gain insight from. It is not all about any individual post in the bigger picture).

I appreciate your thought or comment that this is "my house." Now, as my recent posts have made clear, at the end of the day, that is true. I set the rules, enforce them, and if I want to change things, I will. But, the counterpoint is that folks like you and gsfowler who spend time, care and offer your input are really important to the success of the site.

If any comments go off in ways that aren't helpful, I will reel them in. But, I trust your instincts, your posts, and I am inclined to hope you would weigh in when you see things going sideways. Anyone who pushes back or comes off with anything like, "well, who are you to say this," should understand that your tenure here and support has earned my trust.

As a non lawyer, I used the term appeal in its lay meaning, "to make a serious or urgent request." How an "appeal" occurs in the legal circle is certainly your expertise. I hope @thoughtfulechidna lawyers up soon. Yet, I concur with @gsfowler about priorities; sometimes we need to regroup before we can best contribute to our own legal interest. I believe a good therapeutic relationship will help @thoughtfulechidna feel better AND be a better client in pursuit of legal recourse.
As everyone here should know, we don't provide legal advice on this site.

Whether the original poster should seek legal counsel or not, that is his choice. I just want to make the further point that getting a lawyer is not always the right answer. (Probably, if in doubt, at least consult with an attorney.). Just to be clear, I would probably say that in my own practice, I end up advising folks who contact about 40% of the time (some weeks more some less), that they will have a very hard time prevailing, that they have to weigh the costs and the benefits, but, it may not be worth spending money on legal representation. This is even in cases that I know that a lot of other attorneys could readily convince folks that they have a great case and should hire them immediately. The worst thing is that I see lots of cases after initial representation by attorneys that should never have been pursued. (I also see the other situation- folks truly needed and would have benefited from quality representation). It is hard to know for non-attorneys whether they should get an attorney. (I think the same holds true for a lot of isssues....not to be glib or make light of it....in my own personal experiences, it is hard to know whether I should get a plumber to come out or whether I should try to fix things myself. Car issues- these are huge. I don't know if I need a new flux capacitor, or just a new fuse or a new engine. The list of ways that it is hard for non-professionals to judge things is epic).



Again, I appreciate your steady and even headed input on this site and think that you help a lot of folks. That makes you a very valued member here and if folks don't say it enough, let me- Thank you!
 
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