MEB process started for asthma

ImTired

Registered Member
I just had an MEB initiated for asthma. I am at over 15 years and feel like I am about to be completely railroaded as I think they will only bring me back at 10%, screwing me out of retirement and leaving me jobless at the upper end of my thirties.

Some background - My PCM thought I may have early signs of asthma (even sent me to off-base specialist who said the same thing) even though I only went to doc for chronic cough, at my prior duty location, but I was able to PCS without a diagnosis. I was moved to an extremely dry, thin-aired environment and I had my first full fledged attack during a PT test. This resulted in a failure and I declined emergency medical treatment at the time. A few days later, I came to my senses and realized that I should have gone to the doctor and could not risk another episode like I had without being looked at. Finally went to the doctor and they performed spirometry, an x-ray and determined that I had exercise induced bronchospasms. They gave me albuterol and a steroid, as well as anti-histamines. I went for a follow up a few months later and my condition while doing heavy cardio was unchanged, and, I let the doctor know that I hated the way the albuterol made me feel when I used it (racing/pounding heart) so he sent me to pulmonologist in area. I took spirometry and the metha-choline challenge while there and the tests did not indicate full blown asthma, and this doctor also concluded that my symptoms were attributable to the air quality in this area. My PCM prescribed another inhalant that is easier on my heart (Xopenex) but it does not work as well as the albuterol. So I was placed on a walk test (which I have done for over two years) on my profile and have been completing that for the last couple of years. I thought I would be considered "controlled" and my PCM assured me that the RILOs would be all I had to worry about. Well, I guess that isn't the case as I was notified of a full MEB a couple of weeks ago and my NARSUM has already been submitted. The doctor recommended continued duty at another location and my CC recommended retention.

So, here I sit now, awaiting my VA visits worried about my future. My understanding is that my form of asthma would only result in a 10% disability (I use the bronchodilators before every heavy cardio session, but not every day since it is sucking dry air that is causing the problems), and if I am not found fit for duty, will result in separation. This is the worst possible outcome I could think of given that I am almost at 16 years and have poured everything, to include my health, into my career, just to face being separated with essentially nothing at a stage in my life where starting another career with significant health issues would be just overwhelming. My other issues include sciatica, a bulging L5-S1, and shoulder pain (which I guess I should have whined about every time it hurt). So where I am going with all this, is how can I ensure the best outcome if I am found unfit at 10%? I have spent my whole career sucking up issues so that I could keep performing, and I now see this as a huge mistake.

Some specific questions:

I believe my respiratory issues could easily be linked to living within a kilometer of burn pits for my very first deployment (living, working, sleeping, eating with smoke virtually 24/7). Can this be factored in developing my ratings or give me cause for an appeal?

Additionally, I was in a major vehicle accident during this first time and developed chronic back problems soon after returning home (I was seen at the MTF after the accident with aches and pains, but cleared for work). I have continued to have constant sciatic pain since this time (2004) and have been to physical therapy three times with only mild to moderate relief of symptoms. I finally received an actual diagnosis of what may be causing all my sciatica when they did an MRI a couple years ago and found my lowest disc was bulging. I have continued to suck up the pain and do my PT since the procedures to "help" my condition are temporary at best (I read that fusion is terrible years after the surgery and causes all the upper discs to fail). Can I get this condition linked to this accident to hopefully result in a higher rating? To me, this is the biggest quality of life issue I have ever faced, and think the MEB should have been for this condition!

I have a sleep study coming up due to my inability to ever get a restful night of sleep (another thing I sucked up but shouldn't have) but this will not be counted in my initial claim with the VA or even acknowledged by the DoD. I htink I may very well have restless leg syndrome or something like that related to the sciatica. Is it ever possible to reverse an MEB and change the conditions being rated?

I apologize for my long rant. I am tired and completely overwhelmed right now (I feel like I need to pass the BAR exam in order to understand this process). I was not expecting this MEB and just wanted to finish my years honorably, but I am worried as I now face losing my retirement on what I consider the least of my issues. I welcome any help navigating this process and setting myself up for the best as possible. I want to stay in and finish my years, but if I am separated, obviously I would prefer a 30% rating. Do I have any options or things to try here? Is TERA a thing anymore?

Thank you everyone on this board for your service, and your continued service with helping other members.
 

ImTired

Registered Member
One other thing I wanted to ask. I have never been convinced I had asthma. I have had congestion for the majority of my career and have been on anti-histamines for the same amount of time (which usually help). While I was at my last location, they did an allergy test (the skin test) which had perfect results (I barely even reacted to the histamine control sample). I had a blood allergy test at my new location which also showed no allergies. So I have had allergy symptoms for many years, yet I have no known allergies. How can this be? I think there could be a strong possibility that my entire condition has been mis-diagnosed, so what can i do about this since this process is already started?
 

Perci75

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Hello. I was med-boarded out of the Air Force back in 2004 for Asthma. Initially I was rated at 10% gave a severance and sent packing. This year I received my results form the PDBR (Physical Disability Board of Review) and was found that I should ave been rated 30% and Permanently Disabled Retired. The main factor was that the DoD rating did not take into account the VASRD for Asthma. I was prescribed and took certain drugs for the Asthma that warranted the 30%.

This is the VASRD the Asthma ratings are based off of:

3565
 

chaplaincharlie

Staff Member
PEB Forum Lifetime Supporter
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
The post above points out something to be highly aware of when you complete the DBQ for asthma. The C&P examiner will order spirometry, but since you are being treated your numbers will be near normal. It is there important that you mark on the DBA all medicines you have taken for your asthma.
 

ImTired

Registered Member
I have my C&P next week. My main question is, if I am found unfit and returned with a 10% rating, I fully intend to appeal with the goal of either RTD or no less than 30%. Is there any thoughts on how I should go about this with my medical provider? I have already been told at least once that the only way I could fight this would be to have a full passing fitness assessment with a run on file. I am stationed in an environment that triggers my asthma, so to me this is a ridiculous recourse, so there has to be other ways (I have been taking the walk test for a couple of years now).
 

Nikolas671

Registered Member
I have my C&P next week. My main question is, if I am found unfit and returned with a 10% rating, I fully intend to appeal with the goal of either RTD or no less than 30%. Is there any thoughts on how I should go about this with my medical provider? I have already been told at least once that the only way I could fight this would be to have a full passing fitness assessment with a run on file. I am stationed in an environment that triggers my asthma, so to me this is a ridiculous recourse, so there has to be other ways (I have been taking the walk test for a couple of years now).
Hi, I'm going through a similar situation and I was wondering if we could get an update as to how the C&P exam went and all else you've done since your posting. Thank you!
 
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