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MEB on the horizon LONG Story, need help please

FootPain4Life

New Member
Registered Member
Hello all,

Ill give y'all the rundown on my situation, and if y'all could provide me with any info it would be greatly appreciated. I'm getting very anxious and its becoming too much to deal with so I just needed to get this out there..... I'm sorry for how long this post is about to be.

I've been on active duty since 2012, over 8 years. I have a wife and two daughters and I'm currently a TSgt in Air Traffic Control and we are considered to be on flying status. (Ground based controlling). Being in this classification, we are unable to take certain medications and have to adhere to more strict medical rules and criteria to maintain our controlling status.

I have had chronic foot/heel pain for 6 years now. I have had 3 tarsal tunnel surgeries and two plantar facia releases on my left foot. For my right foot I have had 2 plantar facia releases as well, all of these surgeries have done nothing to make my feet better, and if anything they have made it worse. I have pain in my heels/lower leg's/knees/lower back and my neck all in relation to my surgeries and foot pain.

On top of my feet (Main problem) I have: tinnitus in both ears, hearing loss in my left ear, worsened vision, sleep apnea, insomnia, nightmares, uncontrollable Blatter at times (mostly at night when I'm sleeping) and arthritis in my feet. Ya i get it.....looks like I'm milking the system, but they are all real problems and its made it nearly impossible to work. It makes it really hard for me to get up each day, the amount of pain I'm in every second of the day is unbearable at times and its really taken a told on my mental health.

I'm considered to be a pretty good NCO to my peers and subordinates, and I've always tried to make sure everyone else was good and taken care of, and as a result I have failed to take care of myself during my time in the service. I have always wanted to be in the military and I intended to do 20+ years, but it now looks like this will not be in my cards for the future.

In Air Traffic Control, you have to be on Flying status to be able to work and perform your duties that you were trained for. There is a stigma in our career field, no matter how good of a controller you are, and no matter how good of an NCO you are; if you are not on status (cleared to work) then you are a piece of S*** or useless. This is viewed among your peers/management/subordinates. Maybe not intentional or malicious in any way, but its just the fact of reality. With the amount of times I have been in and out of surgeries, off of status due to medications and pain that I have, it has become very hard to be at work. I spend all of my time at a desk in a back room, pretty much doing nothing but EPRs and Decs along with the 5 Additional duties that I have. Sure that's a lot, but I'm still not on flying status and it makes me feel like crap because I have to try to fit in with my people at work, but I have this weight of uselessness at work that has really put me in a depressed state.

Ya I told you this was a long post.....
I guess I skip the fell bad for me part and get to the nitty-gritty.

I wanted to know if anyone believes that I would be in the realm of 100% VA Disability rating (with the ability to still get a job).
On top of that, if I were to get separated from the AF for medical reasons, how would that effect my monthly disability.
And if I were to get medically retired from the AF, what would that do with monthly disability?

Any and all comments are welcome, and again I'm sorry for writing a short novel, but after reading several of y'all's post, I felt like this might be a place I can just let it all out and finally tell my story.

To top it off, my service commitment is until July 2024, and I did receive an SRB, last payment was received in 2019.

Thanks in advance.
 

RonG

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Lifetime Supporter
Registered Member
Hello @FootPain4Life ,

Re: "I wanted to know if anyone believes that I would be in the realm of 100% VA Disability rating (with the ability to still get a job).
On top of that, if I were to get separated from the AF for medical reasons, how would that effect my monthly disability.
And if I were to get medically retired from the AF, what would that do with monthly disability?"

I cannot help with the potential rating as I have no expertise or experience in that area.

Based on your narrative, you potentially will be eligible for two types of disability ratings: DoD disability and VA Compensation/Disability

If you receive a DoD rating of 30% or more, you will be eligible for DoD disability retirement pay. You will also be eligible for TRICARE (family too).

Your DoD retired pay will be reduced by the amount of your VA compensation. If there is residual retired pay, you get to keep it. Often the medical retiree is left with zero retired pay. Regardless of whether your DoD is a higher percentage or not, recommend you choose to receive VA comp since if the DoD amount is higher, there will be residual retired pay (left over) you keep. Your DoD rating will not impact your VA rating.

If you are not retired with a 30% or higher percentage (example: DoD is 20%) you will not be retired; you will be medically separated. Under this circumstance, you and your family will not qualify for TRICARE. You would be entitled to DoD disability severance pay which might involve a certain amount of recoupment through your VA compensation each month.

Ron
 

TallTree

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
Thanks for posting. I am also beginning this process from a similar point (11 years, rated pilot) and based on everything I've seen on this forum and everywhere else, it seems to be critical to be completely open and honest with your doc about what you're doing to cope with the pain. For instance, I told my flight doc that I no longer trust myself in the airplane, and he referred me to a clinical psychologist, with whom I just had my first meeting today. One of the things I told her was that I frequently go and hide in our back office because I seem to have this aversion to seeing other folks in my squadron. This is a key data point (isolation from colleagues) that you seem to share, and it seems to be important.

Also, I would do a google search like this:

site:va.gov "citation" plantar facia

and read through the case files that show up for people who have appealed their VA disability rating for plantar facia (replace that with any other disability of your choice). You will see what people get denied for and what people get approved for. Most importantly, you are doing this NOW and not later, so the more you educate yourself on what others are doing to get compensation, the better off you'll be now since you're still active duty. Above all, it seems that documenting everything you experience is the best thing you can do to help yourself get the compensation you deserve.
 

Jason Perry

Benevolent Leader
Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
FootPain4Life,

Welcome to the PEBFORUM! I am sorry to hear of your problems. I will try to answer your questions. Remember, each case is "fact-specific" and I may not not know all of the facts of your case.
Ill give y'all the rundown on my situation, and if y'all could provide me with any info it would be greatly appreciated. I'm getting very anxious and its becoming too much to deal with so I just needed to get this out there..... I'm sorry for how long this post is about to be.
No worries on the length of your post. More info is usually better to try to help.
I've been on active duty since 2012, over 8 years. I have a wife and two daughters and I'm currently a TSgt in Air Traffic Control and we are considered to be on flying status. (Ground based controlling). Being in this classification, we are unable to take certain medications and have to adhere to more strict medical rules and criteria to maintain our controlling status.
The more than 8 years on active duty is good because it means you fall under the 8-year rule, meaning that even if your disabilities were pre-existing, they are still compensable. Not sure how relevant this is to your case, but all other things being equal, it is a net positive.
I have had chronic foot/heel pain for 6 years now. I have had 3 tarsal tunnel surgeries and two plantar facia releases on my left foot. For my right foot I have had 2 plantar facia releases as well, all of these surgeries have done nothing to make my feet better, and if anything they have made it worse. I have pain in my heels/lower leg's/knees/lower back and my neck all in relation to my surgeries and foot pain.
My only comment here is that I would ensure that it is clear to providers and your chain what your limitations are and how they impact your ability to perform your duties.
On top of my feet (Main problem) I have: tinnitus in both ears, hearing loss in my left ear, worsened vision, sleep apnea, insomnia, nightmares, uncontrollable Blatter at times (mostly at night when I'm sleeping) and arthritis in my feet. Ya i get it.....looks like I'm milking the system, but they are all real problems and its made it nearly impossible to work. It makes it really hard for me to get up each day, the amount of pain I'm in every second of the day is unbearable at times and its really taken a told on my mental health.
Again, my comment here is that you ensure your medical providers and your chain of command/supervisors know your problems. Only caveat here, don't just go to either of these and say something like, "I am telling you, I need these issues documented because of an MEB and PEB." While technically fine, I have seen cases where people realize what the regulations and the law calls for and they present with a list of demands or statements that the medical folks or command address these issues. In some cases, this comes off as you seeking benefits and not having real problems. The way to address these issues is to answer honestly when you have appointments or interactions with your supervisors. Don't answer the question of "How are you doing today," with "I am great," or "I am doing well," if that is not the case. A better answer would be, "Thanks for asking. I am having these problems....". Similarly, when you have meetings or counseling with your supervisors, be honest and tell them what problems you are having based on your conditions. Don't show up and just unload on them with a list of previously undiscussed issues, just be frank and discuss any duty related limitations and try to present it as addressing your issues, and not as your trying to document your issues for disability compensation purposes.
I'm considered to be a pretty good NCO to my peers and subordinates, and I've always tried to make sure everyone else was good and taken care of, and as a result I have failed to take care of myself during my time in the service. I have always wanted to be in the military and I intended to do 20+ years, but it now looks like this will not be in my cards for the future.
This is not uncommon and trying to "suck it up and drive on" despite having issues is one of the greatest impediments to getting an accurate evaluation of your conditions. Take care of yourself, seek the care you need, and get your conditions documented by both your medical providers and your chain (but, again, in a manner that does not stink of trying to get benefits).
In Air Traffic Control, you have to be on Flying status to be able to work and perform your duties that you were trained for. There is a stigma in our career field, no matter how good of a controller you are, and no matter how good of an NCO you are; if you are not on status (cleared to work) then you are a piece of S*** or useless. This is viewed among your peers/management/subordinates. Maybe not intentional or malicious in any way, but its just the fact of reality. With the amount of times I have been in and out of surgeries, off of status due to medications and pain that I have, it has become very hard to be at work. I spend all of my time at a desk in a back room, pretty much doing nothing but EPRs and Decs along with the 5 Additional duties that I have. Sure that's a lot, but I'm still not on flying status and it makes me feel like crap because I have to try to fit in with my people at work, but I have this weight of uselessness at work that has really put me in a depressed state.
I understand this tough position you are in. Sounds to me, based on what you have written, you have served well, have the respect of your peers and subordinates, but now you are broke. This is hard to deal with. But, that does not lessen the value of your service. It is just the reality. Sooner or later, you will have to come to grips with this. You have been a great member of the team and are now disabled as a result of your service. Be proud of what you have done so far and know that either way, you are still a valuable person. Might be in a different role, but, still valuable.
Ya I told you this was a long post.....
I guess I skip the fell bad for me part and get to the nitty-gritty.
Understood. I have hung in so far!
I wanted to know if anyone believes that I would be in the realm of 100% VA Disability rating (with the ability to still get a job).
On top of that, if I were to get separated from the AF for medical reasons, how would that effect my monthly disability.
And if I were to get medically retired from the AF, what would that do with monthly disability?
Hard to say without knowing more about your disabilities. RonG, above, addressed many of these issues.
Any and all comments are welcome, and again I'm sorry for writing a short novel, but after reading several of y'all's post, I felt like this might be a place I can just let it all out and finally tell my story.
Hope this helped!
To top it off, my service commitment is until July 2024, and I did receive an SRB, last payment was received in 2019.
Just as to the last point, normally, if you are separated or retired due to disability, there is no recoupment of bonuses. Your pay calculation can be impacted, though,
Best of luck!
 
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