DDD/Spinal Fusion Timeline

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Brief rundown of overall timeline:
Injured - 2009 (Broken back - 4 vertebrae fractured, 2 discs ruptured, nerve damage)
Treated - 2009 - 2018 (laminectomy, discectomy, spinal fusion of S1-L3)
Reffered to Med Board by Ortho - Dec 19, 2018
Met with Peblo - Dec 20, 2018 (Claim developed and medical records requested) (20 items total on claim, though I only expected 7 going into the meeting)
Met with Med board Dr - Dec 21, 2018
Met VA Rep - Jan 3, 2019
CPE Exam (Mental Health) - Jan 15, 2019
CPE Exam (Optomology) - Jan 25, 2019
CPE Exam (Audiology) - Jan 28, 2019
CPE Exam (General) - Jan 29, 2019

Ebenefits status (gathering evidence)
Ebenefits estimated completion - 06/29/19 to 11/29/19

Told by PEBLO, VA, and Medical Reps total process will take a maximum of 230 days, but to expect to be completed within 180 days from Dec 20, 2018.
 

Warrior644

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Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Lifetime Supporter
Registered Member
Brief rundown of overall timeline:
Injured - 2009 (Broken back - 4 vertebrae fractured, 2 discs ruptured, nerve damage)
Treated - 2009 - 2018 (laminectomy, discectomy, spinal fusion of S1-L3)
Reffered to Med Board by Ortho - Dec 19, 2018
Met with Peblo - Dec 20, 2018 (Claim developed and medical records requested) (20 items total on claim, though I only expected 7 going into the meeting)
Met with Med board Dr - Dec 21, 2018
Met VA Rep - Jan 3, 2019
CPE Exam (Mental Health) - Jan 15, 2019
CPE Exam (Optomology) - Jan 25, 2019
CPE Exam (Audiology) - Jan 28, 2019
CPE Exam (General) - Jan 29, 2019

Ebenefits status (gathering evidence)
Ebenefits estimated completion - 06/29/19 to 11/29/19

Told by PEBLO, VA, and Medical Reps total process will take a maximum of 230 days, but to expect to be completed within 180 days from Dec 20, 2018.
Welcome to the PEB Forum! :)

Indeed, the DoD is under great pressure to implement the new DTM 18-004 with an issuance that puts the total processing revised timeliness goal for 80% of DoD IDES cases as 230 days. Take care!

Thus, I quite often comment that "possessing well-informed knowledge is truly a powerful equalizer!"

Best Wishes!
 

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Welcome to the PEB Forum! :)

Indeed, the DoD is under great pressure to implement the new DTM 18-004 with an issuance that puts the total processing revised timeliness goal for 80% of DoD IDES cases as 230 days. Take care!

Thus, I quite often comment that "possessing well-informed knowledge is truly a powerful equalizer!"

Best Wishes!
Thank you for the warm welcoming. You are absolutely correct that knowledge is power. Hope to be updating my timeline in the next few months as one of the lucky ones that are retired under the 180 day mark. Never wanted to end my career anything less than a LDCR, but at least I have future options as a veteran.
 

chaplaincharlie

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Met with Peblo - Dec 20, 2018 (Claim developed and medical records requested) (20 items total on claim, though I only expected 7 going into the meeting)

That is not uncommon, most people don't know what the VA will and will not compensate until they meet with the MSC.
 

Warrior644

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Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Lifetime Supporter
Registered Member
Thank you for the warm welcoming. You are absolutely correct that knowledge is power. Hope to be updating my timeline in the next few months as one of the lucky ones that are retired under the 180 day mark. Never wanted to end my career anything less than a LDCR, but at least I have future options as a veteran.
Indeed, you are welcome! Understood and cherish all future endeavors! Take care!

Thus, I quite often comment that "possessing well-informed knowledge is truly a powerful equalizer!"

Best Wishes!
 

OllieT

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
@NavalEagle welcome,
It seems we have very relatable injuries. It might be worth your while having a browse through this forum as it has become a reference for me in my IDES journey. Any injuries to the thourasic, lumbar or cervical spine are rated by ROM "range of motion" and like many on here, I found that my C&P exams didn't accuratlly reflect my true ROM so as stated by @Warrior644 Knowledge is power, I would suggest reading the DBQ's for the back. Search this forum for people with similar injuries and most of all, be prepared for every next stage. I have read every Naval and DOD instruction on the PEB so that along the process I am educated and one step ahead. This is a great place to start for information:
overview of MEB process
Common issues with the IDES process
Just wanted to tell you what I wish I was told from the very beginning. I realized that no one else is going to fight for what is best for me except for ME. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
All the best.
 

OllieT

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
@NavalEagle
I didn't realize you are already so far along in the process. I hope your C&P exams better reflected your actual injuries and ROM. I am looking to do a VARR. thanks to @chaplaincharlie guidance, I am looking into it as my forward flexion is about 15 degrees off where it actually is. I was dissapointed in the C&P examiner as he was retired Navy but hey, you live and you learn! Well, thanks for posting your timeline, hopefully you get some great ratings and can move on with your life. No more midrats.... that is always a good thing right :)
 

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
@NavalEagle
I didn't realize you are already so far along in the process. I hope your C&P exams better reflected your actual injuries and ROM. I am looking to do a VARR. thanks to @chaplaincharlie guidance, I am looking into it as my forward flexion is about 15 degrees off where it actually is. I was dissapointed in the C&P examiner as he was retired Navy but hey, you live and you learn! Well, thanks for posting your timeline, hopefully you get some great ratings and can move on with your life. No more midrats.... that is always a good thing right :)
@OllieT
I had a minor setback. Pain Management decided not to send and addendum, so I submitted a rebuttal. Pain management Dr was pretty irritated that i never followed up with him and that I was now asking for a diagnosis. He looked shocked when i explained that I did not follow up because i had an ALIF and was immediately sent to MEB. Had to work with several friends who are Doctors at NMC Portsmouth to help me out and convince him to submit the addendum. Now my last appt will be 19FEB. PEBLO and VA MSC have everything and are just waiting on the last doc to send his/her findings. Hopefully the process will be quick (relatively speaking) after the appointment on the 19th. Ready to get out of VA and move on with my life. Sitting on LIMDU orders at an underwater command for an Aegis FC who worked on BMD is wearing me down. Putting in a request chit to go TAD to another command where I can do something, hell anything, besides staring at the wall and checking IDs. Family is moving back to TX in April, so hopefully I wont be living on a buddies couch for too long after.

Interesting your ROM was not accurate during the exam. Its only the most defining factor with spinal injuries. Luckily my exam went great....took 4 hours, but the NP was very understanding on my limited ROM and explained that she was documenting everything thoroughly and accurately. Only fact that still gets me is the disconnect that seems to be reoccurring with regard to the timeline. Everybody but the PEBLO keeps saying 180 days from claim start, vice the 230 days. Drives me crazy that you cannot effectively prepare for anything beyond the Navy with such a disconnect. I'd rather the Navy move me home now and let me work at a local command until this is done.
 

ctsusmc

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
My C&P exam ROM said 65 degrees forward flexion (10%). I knew it was way off as soon as I got my informal board results (10% lumbar spondylosis, 10% cervical DDD with radiculopathy (20% total)). Decided to take it to a formal board and had a new ROM taken from my physical therapist... turns out it's 8 degrees which will give me at least 40%. Similar situation for my neck.. originally reported as 35 degrees ROM on C&P and even though "reversed lordosis" is clearly stated as the first line of my MRI, the VA ignored that and only gave me a 10% for "Cervical DDD with radiculopathy". Had the ROM remeasured as 10 degrees (min 20%). Both right and left upper radiculopathy were each rated at 20%, but even though the IPEB found my "Cervical DDD with Radiculopathy" permanently unfitting, they did not include the radiculopathy ratings in the total DOD rating. I took my case to a Formal Board this past Teusday (1/29/19) and am awaiting results. After I receive the FPEB results, my attorneys and I will be submitting a VA rating reconsideration appeal to increase the ratings based on the new ROMs.

My IDES started in April 2018
Informal PEB results ~5 Dec 2018
Formal PEB 29 Jan 2019
 

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
My C&P exam ROM said 65 degrees forward flexion (10%). I knew it was way off as soon as I got my informal board results (10% lumbar spondylosis, 10% cervical DDD with radiculopathy (20% total)). Decided to take it to a formal board and had a new ROM taken from my physical therapist... turns out it's 8 degrees which will give me at least 40%. Similar situation for my neck.. originally reported as 35 degrees ROM on C&P and even though "reversed lordosis" is clearly stated as the first line of my MRI, the VA ignored that and only gave me a 10% for "Cervical DDD with radiculopathy". Had the ROM remeasured as 10 degrees (min 20%). Both right and left upper radiculopathy were each rated at 20%, but even though the IPEB found my "Cervical DDD with Radiculopathy" permanently unfitting, they did not include the radiculopathy ratings in the total DOD rating. I took my case to a Formal Board this past Teusday (1/29/19) and am awaiting results. After I receive the FPEB results, my attorneys and I will be submitting a VA rating reconsideration appeal to increase the ratings based on the new ROMs.

My IDES started in April 2018
Informal PEB results ~5 Dec 2018
Formal PEB 29 Jan 2019
Wow, that is a serious difference. Hopefully you get the results you deserve and that your process is completed soon.
 

ctsusmc

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Wow, that is a serious difference. Hopefully you get the results you deserve and that your process is completed soon.
If all goes according to plan... this would be the ideal DOD rating results after the VA adjusts the ratings:

Lumbar Spondylosis 40%
Lower L radiculopathy 20%
Lower R radiculopathy 20%
Cervical DDD 30%
Upper L radiculopathy 30%
Upper R radiculopathy 40%

This is a total combined DoD of 89% but my DoD would max out at 75%. With my other previously rated VA conditions it would easily get me to 100% VA.
 

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Update: PEBLO sent my package off to the PEB for fit/unfit findings Mar 15th. I've been emailing and calling her since April 15th for an update. Finally, she told me that the PEB found me UNFIT on 4/10 and that my package was forwarded to the VA for rating. She told me the ratings may not come back for several months because the VA has a backlog of over 250 cases. Not sure if she is pulling these number from the sky or if she actually was told this. My PEBLO is very helpful when I can get ahold of her, but most of the time she can't remember who I am or where my package is in the process. I often have to remind her that I am waiting on her to call me with an update. Hopefully the rest of the process will provide her with more information, because up to this point I am updating her on my packages status because either the PEB or the VA reps call me and not her.
 

js820

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I don’t understand all the differences in time that people experience. My stuff just changed today on ebenefits and va.gov. I was found unfit on 3 April. Now my stuff is marked as decision made and mailed. Hopefully know in a week or two. For your PEBLO to be telling you a long time just seems crazy. Maybe I’m a lucky one. Idk.
 

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I don’t understand all the differences in time that people experience. My stuff just changed today on ebenefits and va.gov. I was found unfit on 3 April. Now my stuff is marked as decision made and mailed. Hopefully know in a week or two. For your PEBLO to be telling you a long time just seems crazy. Maybe I’m a lucky one. Idk.
Your confusion seems to be a common theme with this process. As someone who works heavily in project management, I do not understand why there is such a broad disconnect at all levels throughout this process. From day one, I was told the entire process could not take longer than 230 days, then every doctor and VA rep told me that if I made it past 180 days it would be a fluke. My PEBLO is clueless half the time, or at least she acts that way, and my MSC avoids conversations outside of developing my initial claim. The entire process is nothing more than a symbol of government work that is littered with red tape and lack of communication. On average, most service members who enter the workforce take 60-100 days to find a job according to the DOL. However, service members who go through this process are put in a holding pattern for 6-9 months and are often given less than 60 days notice of their retirement/detachment date. This is unsettling given that most going through this process are not financially stable enough to afford their move, acquire a new home, and pay their bills for 2-3 months. The VA and the DoD need to better communicate electronically with service members and create a standardized timeline that they are held to, not one they simply propose and fail to be accountable for. I know that there are initiatives and directives addressing this, but service members are being left in limbo too much and not given sufficient time to prepare for separation, especially for those of us that are suddenly injured and planned on retiring after 20 years.
 

ctsusmc

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Update: on April 9th I got the corrected informal PEB results, although the PEB continued to make clarical errors and listed it as the FORMAL PEB findings. Bottom line, they included the Cervical DDD (10%), Lumbar Spondylosis (10%), Upper Left Radiculopathy (20%), and Upper Right Radiculopathy (20%) as CAT I Unfitting conditions. The Bilateral Lower Radiculopathy they said is CAT III "Conditions that are not separately unfitting and do not contribute to the unfitting condition(s)." Although I'm not sure how it "doesn't contribute to the unfitting condition" at this point it's not necessarily worth it to keep fighting the PEB.

My attorneys submitted a VARR on the 24th and now I wait. I've spoken to the PEBLO, the PEB, and a few people at the VA, and no one can give me a decent timeline for the VARR to come back. I've gotten estimates from 1-8 months. In the meantime, my wife and kids are moving from Tampa to Charlotte because we have to be out of our rental by June 15th, and were having to put all of our stuff in storage because even though I know I'll be medically retired now, until I get retirement orders and a date, I don't rate the final PCS. On top of that, HQMC has told me that once the VARR comes back, they're only going to give me 30 days to get everything in order to retire and transition to civilain life.

... The entire process is nothing more than a symbol of government work that is littered with red tape and lack of communication. On average, most service members who enter the workforce take 60-100 days to find a job according to the DOL. However, service members who go through this process are put in a holding pattern for 6-9 months and are often given less than 60 days notice of their retirement/detachment date. This is unsettling given that most going through this process are not financially stable enough to afford their move, acquire a new home, and pay their bills for 2-3 months. The VA and the DoD need to better communicate electronically with service members and create a standardized timeline that they are held to, not one they simply propose and fail to be accountable for. I know that there are initiatives and directives addressing this, but service members are being left in limbo too much and not given sufficient time to prepare for separation, especially for those of us that are suddenly injured and planned on retiring after 20 years.
Absolutely agree with you @NavalEagle... for a service "USMC" or the DoD in general that "take care of their own" it seems the bueracracy is real quick to show you the door without much if any of a lifeline to set you up for success. How are we suppose to apply for a new career when we have no idea when we'll be able to start that job? I don't want to interview and be offered a position to start a month from now only to have to tell them I can't accept because the gov't can't get their shit together. This whole thing makes me want to go to law school or go get a management/GS position at the PEB or VA to start to clean all this up.

rant over... thanks
 

Kestrel45

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Brief rundown of overall timeline:
Injured - 2009 (Broken back - 4 vertebrae fractured, 2 discs ruptured, nerve damage)
Treated - 2009 - 2018 (laminectomy, discectomy, spinal fusion of S1-L3)
Reffered to Med Board by Ortho - Dec 19, 2018
Met with Peblo - Dec 20, 2018 (Claim developed and medical records requested) (20 items total on claim, though I only expected 7 going into the meeting)
Met with Med board Dr - Dec 21, 2018
Met VA Rep - Jan 3, 2019
CPE Exam (Mental Health) - Jan 15, 2019
CPE Exam (Optomology) - Jan 25, 2019
CPE Exam (Audiology) - Jan 28, 2019
CPE Exam (General) - Jan 29, 2019

Ebenefits status (gathering evidence)
Ebenefits estimated completion - 06/29/19 to 11/29/19

Told by PEBLO, VA, and Medical Reps total process will take a maximum of 230 days, but to expect to be completed within 180 days from Dec 20, 2018.
Afternoon NavalEagle! So we've got a lot in common as far as injuries during the service. The short list includes having arthroscopy on both knees, severed tendon on my right foot and two spinal fusions to with the degenerative disc disease, C5-C7 and L4-S1, both in the same year. Oh yeah, throw in a bit of arthritis for after effects LOL. I started my IDES April '18 and was officially retired 20181026. C&P exams were a bitch. Even though I questioned the provider to her face (with my wife in the room) that I was concerned about her motivations and perceived lack of impartiality (leaning towards the VA since they evaluated how often she was in favor of the SM - her actual words), I got hosed. My PEBLO would later tell me her husband had the same PA and it took four attempts to get things right. USE YOUR LAWYER. I filed a 42 page rebuttal against my migraine claim after C&P results and still was denied. Thankfully, someone at the PEB saw through the fog. Like some of the other guys have said, go over every single page they give you. I made several pages of notes when for my first visit with the IDES lawyer. I literally had a medical report, with my full info, saying that I was a 42-year old female on a return visit for my PAP smear results. If you get your results back and you don't agree, fight as hard as you can. I did have some really good people fighting for me but in the end, it's all about you and taking care of yourself - now and the road that lies in front of you.

I'm more than willing to go into specifics and answer / do whatever I can to help you out. Please feel free to send me a PM or email me @ [email protected]. Best of luck to you and we're in your corner on this one.
 

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I could not agree with you more. I am trying to wrap up grad school and search for jobs in the San Antonio region, but as you stated I cannot do that if I don't know when I can start. I moved my family back to Texas and used all my leave to get them set up because my wife is going to vet school and Texas A&M. They basically gave us an ultimatum that she had to start on the first with clinicals or risk being dropped from the program. Really enjoy the Navy dragging this out after so many people at the VA and the hospital told me repeatedly that I would be out by June 19th. Now they have changed their tunes and said it could be Jan 2020 if things keep backing up. I would have rather they didn't push me to prepare my life for being out on the 19th of next month. Now I get to bounce between friends couches because I cannot afford two places. I should have waited for orders to do anything, but they were adamant that I needed to do everything "now". I even completed my checkout at my command with the exception of the CO signature and security check out because the VA and the hospital kept telling the command to have me ready to be out by the 19th.
 

NavalEagle

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
@Kestrel45....that sounds horrible, but atleast you got out relatively quickly compared to most I have seen. I should have my results back here soon and my lawyer is on speed dial. I did not really have a major issue during the exam process except for mental health taking forever to see me and pain management deciding to not submit an addendum because I did not follow up with them. I sent a rebuttal because I had my 3rd spinal surgery instead of getting more injections and it seemed the pain management doc didn't want to submit anything because he did not agree that the ortho and neuro docs decided to do surgery instead of letting him do more injections. I even showed him where I had over 30 injections in 3 years with no positive results and he still said that if I didn't follow up, surgery or not, that it must not be a real problem...….First time in my career where I had to walk out of a room and tell an officer I was leaving so I didn't do anything that would send me to mast. I have several friends who are MDs at Portsmouth who tried talking to the Pain Management doc but they even said he has a major god complex and that they wanted to punch him too lol.
 

OllieT

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
@NavalEagle @Kestrel45 @ctsusmc Hey guys, sorry to hear that you are all still waiting for ratings, it is disappointing that the Navy tries to low ball sailors and marines when it comes to back injuries but if they do then take the fight to them and request a Formal board. My formal board went really well, they were super friendly and acknowledged that my Radiculopathy was much worse (nerve damage) than the first nerve conduction study found. All I can say is go to your doctors and ask for more tests, letters and statements that support your case. My neurology doctor actually wrote a letter saying that he was shocked the IPEB didn't rate the radiculopathy. So hang in there and continue to fight for what you deserve. It is time for them to take care of you. I am awaiting orders now with 50% DOD (TDRL) and 80% VA. I am going to do a VARR at my TDRL re-evaluation for the discrepancies in my ROM from my VA C&P exam.
 
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