MEB / PEB concerns

I am Zachary I was active duty in the USMC from 11-16, mos 6326. MV-22 avionics technician. Once I separated I joined the AF reserve in March of 17.

I do have a VA rating of 30% I did not file until I put on the no pay no points status - I had no intention of filing since I was HMX my time in the Corps.

however, January 2019 I was diagnosed with ocular melanoma, February 2019 was my last UTA. I was promptly placed on the MEB / PEB and could not participate in UTA. Now I know covid will makes worse but this process has been confusing and every time I reach out I get the run around.
My previous CO seemed to really care and would keep in contact the new one has told me to only use the POC from medical - which is very hard to get a hold of.
I filed my VA in March 2019 - cancer claim was denied.

i am posting in here today because it’s 2021 and I have not been told what’s going to happen just the possible outcomes. I would like to stay in the reserve however I don’t see that as very likely at all.

the response I got was:
“A provider is working your NARSUM.”I’m not sure what this means.



my main concern is losing tricare.... my wife and just had our third kid and I have used Tricare for much of my cancer treatment i dont know how I would’ve managed without it. Is there any possible way i get cleared to return to duty?
 
I am Zachary I was active duty in the USMC from 11-16, mos 6326. MV-22 avionics technician. Once I separated I joined the AF reserve in March of 17.

I do have a VA rating of 30% I did not file until I put on the no pay no points status - I had no intention of filing since I was HMX my time in the Corps.

however, January 2019 I was diagnosed with ocular melanoma, February 2019 was my last UTA. I was promptly placed on the MEB / PEB and could not participate in UTA. Now I know covid will makes worse but this process has been confusing and every time I reach out I get the run around.
My previous CO seemed to really care and would keep in contact the new one has told me to only use the POC from medical - which is very hard to get a hold of.
I filed my VA in March 2019 - cancer claim was denied.

i am posting in here today because it’s 2021 and I have not been told what’s going to happen just the possible outcomes. I would like to stay in the reserve however I don’t see that as very likely at all.

the response I got was:
“A provider is working your NARSUM.”I’m not sure what this means.



my main concern is losing tricare.... my wife and just had our third kid and I have used Tricare for much of my cancer treatment i dont know how I would’ve managed without it. Is there any possible way i get cleared to return to duty?
Hi Zachary, I see your post was a few years ago. It doesn't look like anyone replied. Are you still in this forum? I am curious to learn how your recovery is going and what happened with your PEB? I was diagnosed with ocular melanoma almost a year ago now. It's so rare - I think you have the only post about it in this forum. I am a Navy Reservist but just so happened to be on ADT > 30 days when diagnosed, so I've been on MEDHOLD ever since and my case is likley headed to a PEB soon. I was treated with brachytherapy and currently no sign of mets. Vision is each eye by itself is decent enough. With both eyes open I still have some double vision. Also I'm still missing part of the visual field in my left eye due to a partically detached retina from where the tumor is. But overall I'm functioning almost normally. Anyway - visual field impairment and double vision don't seem to be rated too highly. I honestly have no idea whether a PEB would determine unfit (>30%), unfit (<20%), or fit. What was your experience in regards to your OM?
 
SMILLER1315:
I hope the best for you and Zach. Did you deploy to the Gulf? Have you reviewed 38 CFR Part 4 and applied your recent visual field measurements?
 
SMILLER1315:
I hope the best for you and Zach. Did you deploy to the Gulf? Have you reviewed 38 CFR Part 4 and applied your recent visual field measurements?
Yes I deployed to Kuwait/Iraq twice and Bahrain once. I don't have any visual field measurements. Just general questions from the doc like at what point I can see their hand or count their fingers. Maybe I can ask for an official visual field test at my next appointment.
 
In the Reserves and National Guard, always file your claim for a potential service connection before you go through an LOD and IDES process. Do not wait on the results. As you are aware, Reservists and the Guardsmen receive VA disability while attending monthly drills and AT. Get paid or get an effective date established before the IDES and completion of LOD. Also, all melanoma cancers are presumptive to service in the Middle East.
 
In the Reserves and National Guard, always file your claim for a potential service connection before you go through an LOD and IDES process. Do not wait on the results. As you are aware, Reservists and the Guardsmen receive VA disability while attending monthly drills and AT. Get paid or get an effective date established before the IDES and completion of LOD. Also, all melanoma cancers are presumptive to service in the Middle East.
I don't think I have to prove a service connection since this happened while I was on active duty orders > 30 days. They did a line of duty determination and that's what allowed for me to be put on MEDHOLD orders. I have a letter saying "disease was incurred in the line of duty and not as a result of the member's misconduct." I didn't know about the presumptive to service in the middle east part - but again, I guess it doesn't matter since I already have the line of duty determination.
 
These comments were not entirely to your case. We want service members to maximize benefits. Whatever the case may be, try to get a head start on benefits. Every month of pay counts!
 
These comments were not entirely to your case. We want service members to maximize benefits. Whatever the case may be, try to get a head start on benefits. Every month of pay counts!
Hello,

Yes, good point. Obviously, every approved disability has/had a determination of service-connected.

Some of those determinations were “pre-presumptive “.

Example: In 1984 my heart rate dropped to below 40 and it was shown (proved) in my medical records. Ten years later when it dropped to 20 BPM, the VA rated me for a certain heart condition. The proof of service connection was in my medical records.

Later, the same heart problem became an Agent Orange presumptive, but I was already rated for it since it occurred while I was AD.

Not a perfect example but somewhat related to the theme of this thread.

Ron
p.s. I am on my 4th cardiac pacemaker and the 5th might be needed next year.
 
Thanks for explaining the significance in more detail. I wasn't clear with potential outcomes for SMILLER1315 and others with presumptive conditions. Presumption can lead to tax free disability severance pay, tax free disability retirement, and CRSC. Do PEBs normally recognize rare presumptive cancers as combat related or is it something that has to be addressed during the CRSC application process? Should service members inform their medical team and PEBLO that a disability could be presumptive?
 
Thanks for explaining the significance in more detail. I wasn't clear with potential outcomes for SMILLER1315 and others with presumptive conditions. Presumption can lead to tax free disability severance pay, tax free disability retirement, and CRSC. Do PEBs normally recognize rare presumptive cancers as combat related or is it something that has to be addressed during the CRSC application process? Should service members inform their medical team and PEBLO that a disability could be presumptive?
So presumptive conditions pertain to service connection and CRSC claims. The PEB is bound by different laws and regulations so you can't assume a presumptive condition will be found combat related by the PEB.
 
Thanks for explaining the significance in more detail. I wasn't clear with potential outcomes for SMILLER1315 and others with presumptive conditions. Presumption can lead to tax free disability severance pay, tax free disability retirement, and CRSC. Do PEBs normally recognize rare presumptive cancers as combat related or is it something that has to be addressed during the CRSC application process? Should service members inform their medical team and PEBLO that a disability could be presumptive?
A follow on comment from a personal experience... My wife argued for combat related designation for chronic sinusitis before the FPEB and did not prevail. They changed some wording stating it was due to being in country but did not change the designation from non combat related to combat related. When she applied for CRSC for that same condition it was approved. So know trying to get a presumptive condition designated by the PEB is an uphill battle at best.
 
A follow on comment from a personal experience... My wife argued for combat related designation for chronic sinusitis before the FPEB and did not prevail. They changed some wording stating it was due to being in country but did not change the designation from non combat related to combat related. When she applied for CRSC for that same condition it was approved. So know trying to get a presumptive condition designated by the PEB is an uphill battle at best.
really...interesting. so the designation on the dd214 is useless. Getting CRSC is the key. Good to know.
 
@Provis is correct. Below is a quote directly from the DoD regarding CRSC:

With respect to VA awards of service-connection based on presumptive conditions under the provisions of sections 1112(b)-(c), 1116, 1117, and 1118 of title 38, United States Code, and of 38 CFR 3.316, CRSC determinations will presume such disability to also be combat-related if the VA Initial Rating Form (or other substantiating documentary information) indicates that the VA rating for the disability is based on such presumption. Thus, disabilities rated by the VA on the basis of POW status, exposure to radiation, mustard gas or lewisite, Agent Orange, and those disabilities associated with Persian Gulf service that are presumed by the VA to be service-connected shall be presumed by the Military Department to be combat-related absent documentary information that the disability was incurred under circumstances that were not combat-related.​

Of course, keeping with the topic of this thread, this is NOT the view of the PEB adjudicators in any of the Military Departments. However, I've successfully argued to implement the DoD's CRSC logic during FPEB hearings on behalf of clients. It can be done, but simply quoting the DoD's guidance and trusting the PEB to follow suit is a poor strategy.

I hope this helps.

S/f,

Joel

Disclosure: I was a Marine JAG, Active Duty and Reserve IPEB & FPEB attorney, federal government civilian FPEB & TDRL-focused attorney at the Navy PEB, and now a private attorney focused solely on IDES cases. This post is meant as procedural insight only and should not be construed as legal advice related to a specific case or a legal analysis of facts thereof.
 
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@Provis is correct. Below is a quote directly from the DoD regarding CRSC:

With respect to VA awards of service-connection based on presumptive conditions under the provisions of sections 1112(b)-(c), 1116, 1117, and 1118 of title 38, United States Code, and of 38 CFR 3.316, CRSC determinations will presume such disability to also be combat-related if the VA Initial Rating Form (or other substantiating documentary information) indicates that the VA rating for the disability is based on such presumption. Thus, disabilities rated by the VA on the basis of POW status, exposure to radiation, mustard gas or lewisite, Agent Orange, and those disabilities associated with Persian Gulf service that are presumed by the VA to be service-connected shall be presumed by the Military Department to be combat-related absent documentary information that the disability was incurred under circumstances that were not combat-related.​

Of course, keeping with the topic of this thread, this is NOT the view of the PEB adjudicators in any of the Military Departments. However, I've successfully argued to implement the DoD's CRSC logic during FPEB hearings on behalf of clients. It can be done, but simply quoting the DoD's guidance and trusting the PEB to follow suit is a poor strategy.

I hope this helps.

S/f,

Joel

Disclosure: I was a Marine JAG, Active Duty and Reserve IPEB & FPEB attorney, federal government civilian FPEB & TDRL-focused attorney at the Navy PEB, and now a private attorney focused solely on IDES cases. This post is meant as procedural insight only and should not be construed as legal advice related to a specific case or a legal analysis of facts thereof.
Just a follow up fact. The PEB did award her combat related designation for a different condition so she reached her goal. Just not in the way she thought she would. So challenging it was worth it.
 
It is important to fight for combat related status at the PEB level especially if you qualify for CRDP. Getting approve for combat related disabilities after applying for CRSC may not be enough to get retirement pay tax free. CRDP could be a better choice.
 
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