Advice on appearing before Board of Veterans' Appeals
I filed a disability claim. I was a company armour in the US Army in 1961. I was exposed to benzene as part of my job. In 2014 I was diagnosed with Myelodyaplastic Syndrome reactive anemia with excess blasts II (MDS). I claim that benzene exposure is at least as likely than not the cause of my MDS. I have 2 nexus letters from doctors who agree.
The Army is short on records. Their toxic exposure program was in need of an overhaul. The only thing that attempts to refute the denial is the two nexus letters that the VA already has. I received the denial in 2016. I filed a NOD. I am on the VA BVA docket in a couple of months. Other than the nexus letters I have noting to refute the VA denial.
I am undecided on a lawyer or the VSO representative. I think my case is weak, what do you think? What do you think my odds of the BVA reversing in my case? What can I do to ensure a favorable outcome?
myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) (due to benzene exposure)
Service connection for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) (due to benzene exposure) is denied since this condition neither occurred in nor was caused by service.
The evidence does not show an event, disease or injury in service. Your service treatment records do not contain complaints, treatment, or diagnosis for this condition. There was no continuity of symptoms from service to the present. Myelodysplastic syndrome is not considered a presumptive condition at this time, therefore we are unable to service connect it using the evidence available in your claims.
I know that I have seen this come up in the past but was tied to agent orange, and the facts that were used that since the military acknowledged the role of benzene in causing MDS, and Agent Orange had benzene rings in it, then Agent Orange exposure should be considered an event.
I think that you have even odds of getting it approved due to your benzene exposure during service. I am wondering if the VFW might have some resources that you can use to connect you with cases that have been won over the years at your specific location. I am not sure about the cost/benefit and risk/reward components to hiring an attorney, but you might find somebody that specializes in these claims that can work for a reasonable fee, and generally i think your odds increase when consulting with an attorney.
Good luck at the review.
Hi Ray. I also live in Denver and I am treated by CBCI at PSL. I am not a veteran, but I read extensively in respect to bone marrow failure diseases. From what I can tell there is research showing an increased risk of MDS due to benzene exposure. As you know, there is an increased risk of MDS due to age and being treated for other malignancies. In respect to PNH, Dr Ilene Weitz at USC told me at a medical conf/ patient meet-up that her research has shown a higher incidence of PNH in places such as Texas near oil and gas drilling/ production. You are also aware that MDS, PNH, and AA are rare diseases, so I am guessing that the VA has somewhat limited experience in claims related to these diseases. (Just a guess) Please let us know your outcome.
I had my hearing today. The judge in Washington and I never left my bedroom. The hearing lasted 12 minutes. I have strong nexus letters and showed that 2 of the bases I served on were EPA super fund sites The VSO thought I would probably win. It will take a month or so to hear the results. I am not as optimistic as the VSO.
I think I received a decision from the VA "remanded (leuikema service connection)
I claim that while in service I was exposed to toxic chemicals that altered my genes many years after exposure. Hence there is no records while I was in service. VA maintains there is no proof of service connection. I can not produce what does not exist.
Meanwhile my GVHD gets worse. Last appointment oncologist told me that my immune suppression meds side effects may be part of the problem. I am tappering them. His last option is jakafi, but not hopeful of success. He has no ideas past that. I am getting a second opinion.
Suggestions and prayers welcome.
Ray, you have my prayers.
I heard that Jakafi is good for cgvhd. Hope it works on you.
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