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I found your website. I have never posted anything asking anyone about this but I’m finally doing something about it and desperately need some advice.
The question specifically has to do with my physical exam at MEPS and the presumption of soundness attached to it. If I am found 100% physically fit and did not have to sign any waivers, how can I have a disability existing prior to entry discharge for a physical disability not previously noted at MEPS or in any previous records? Am I correct that unless otherwise noted at my MEPS examination, any physical injuries thereafter besides something congenital had to have occurred in service? As in nothing was noted for me other than I was in 100% perfect physical shape. Secondary question will be about how to connect the dots with my disability and future appointments and what I should be looking for in responses from doctors which I will go into further below.
I am sorry if this gets lengthy or the wrong Forum to put it at but I really don’t know who else to ask and have never told my story or asked any advice from anyone about this.
My entire life I knew I was going to be a marine and that’s all I wanted to be as my grandfather was a World War II Marine veteran my father an army veteran so I knew and trained for very young to be a Marine it was my hopes and dream. I was a high school sport standout in every sport, won the state championship football perfect physical health ( I am 6 foot 4 inches 180 lbs) the plan was to go to college then be a Marine Corps officer. This was 1988 when I graduated high school, by 1989 I was in college not enjoying it and watching the Middle East get very hot. After discussing it with my father I had his blessing to drop out of college at Eastern Michigan University and enlist in the Marine Corps. I did the Delayed Enlistment program and they actually called me up early and reported in November 1990 to Camp Pendleton California. I will mention that I got a perfect score on the ASVAB by the recruiter and offered any job and I chose and signed a contract for intelligence with a Meritorious Promotion to private first class after graduating boot camp and Lance corporal after graduating my MOS School and upon graduating my MOS school and also a $10,000 bonus. Again just establishing my sincerity and fortitude that this was my dream and purpose I had trained for my entire life And I wouldn’t be signing a contract adding time to my enlistment if I truly wasn’t planning on making a career of the Marine Corps.
Boot camp In the Marine Corps is very stressful and it was during the very beginning of the Gulf War. Needless to say to drill instructors were hyper-vigilant in one of them even got busted from our platoon for striking some of the recruits. I am only mentioning these boot camp incidents to establish a fact. Anyone knows in boot camp unless you are on your deathbed you do not report to sickbay. I was the same way but then again I was always healthy in my entire life. In second phase my feet started hurting when we would go on marches and humps and by the time we went back for third phase in San Diego I did report to sick call. I did miss the final March because my feet and lower legs hurt too bad pins and needles numbness pain Etc and it is in the boot camp medical records that this did happen and I did go to sick call. If I recall while in bootcamp I just was on light duty for a few days and we were so close to graduating I only missed a few days and graduated with my platoon. Throughout my entire boot camp I went to Sick Bay sick call the one time for my feet they put me on light duty I missed a few days of training and that was it and I graduated February 1st 1991 with my original platoon I started with. I also had a final physical fitness test score of 299 out of 300. I was perfect in Pull-Ups, sit ups and the 3 Mile Run was 10 seconds short. I had one point subtracted because I was 10 seconds over the 18-minute mark, I’m saying this to establish I was in perfect physical health otherwise besides my feet and legs being so sore and painful.
Went home for boot camp leave reported back to Camp Pendleton for Marine combat training (MCT). I was told that we had to pull guard or KP duty until space was available in the class. While in this holding platoon, doing guard Duty, the same problems occurred with my feet as they were tingly numb painful and this was after just standing post. And so I went to sick call for the second time in my life praying and hoping they would just give me some pills or something to alleviate the pain so I can go back to being a Marine. They took some X-rays put me on light duty and told me they will be back with me to see me again. 2 Days Later I am pulled into the office and told point blank that I am being discharged because I have mild bilateral pes planus or the common name flat feet and that this disability existed prior to entry into the service. And that was it! I can’t even explain in words how my whole life I had been training and wanting to do this one thing and it was taken away so quickly in the blink of an eye and I had no recourse or way to get my Marine Corps career back. I was devastated.
At that moment I had no clue what to do as I have said my entire life I want to be Marine and by simply reporting to sick call and having some feet pain and leg pain I am all the sudden being discharged and my whole world ended. I must include this side note below.
At Camp Pendleton that day being told the horrific news there was a Vietnam veteran nurse who was assisting me. She could tell how I couldn’t believe this was happening I told her I never been sick or have flat feet or problems my entire life, in bootcamp I went to sick call one time and now one time here and now I’m being discharged I was beyond upset and couldn’t figure out what to do she said there was nothing I can do, the medical board is already underway. Then she did something I don’t know if it was legal or not but she could tell I was upset pissed off I just was so mad I told her I didn’t care what anyone did at this point she said I’m going to do something I’ve never done and handed me all my x-rays (she handed me everything in the original color coordinated huge folders, mine are orange, with all the Navy markings on it) The Originals as well as the original radiologic consultation request report and prognosis for all those x-rays. She told me I know you don’t care about any of this right now and you’re very upset and have just seen your whole life flash before you (because I did tell her I had intended to retire a Marine), but twenty or thirty years down the road maybe even sooner you are going to need medical help because I’ve seen your records and you had no waiver entering service stating that you had these medical problems previously and this was caused while in service and they are claiming you had it before you enlisted so you do not get any VA benefits, but I did not see it on any of your records. I’m giving you your original X-rays and the consultative reports and please hold onto them until you’re ready to file for disability some time in the future, these will be your key, if you don’t have these you will never see them again and it will make your claim almost impossible, the VA will contend it did not pre-exist, but these will prove it for you, she reiterated in the most passionate way that I must not lose those that I will need them to file a disability claim in the future.
So fast forward until present day. I did save the original X-rays and the consultation report and have them in a safe place. It has taken me until a few months back to actually pull them out, look at them along with my discharge papers and realize that this is all wrong and I have a claim here! The evidence that I have is that the radiological report says as follows
“left foot, 3 views: mild pes planus.
right foot, three views: mild Pes planus. ”
Second consultation report from the radiologic consultation is
“right lower leg, two views: possible stress fracture proximal tibia
left lower leg: possible stress fracture left proximal tibia
right foot, three views: hallux valgus deformity, otherwise within normal limits.
left foot, three views: degenerative changes in the MP joints.
What does this all mean to me and my ability for a VA claim?
So move forward to current day unfortunately since I left the Marine corps I never have had any health insurance had a plethora of problems. In 2017 after years and years of back pain lower back pain ( as well as my feet and lower legs the entire time since I left the Marine corps) I finally went to a doctor and complained I was in so much pain something had to be done and he ordered an MRI. I do have an MRI establishing my s1 – l5 lower back an S5 through s1 does have sacral nerve damage bulging and deteriorating disc etc enough to meet the classification for social security disability. The MRI was in 2017 and my lower back pain has been with me since I was in the Marines. I may have had three or four emergency visits and some urgent Care but there has not been any paper trail or evidence that a normal person would have 20 to 30 years of it I have almost nothing because I never went to the doctor or hospital.
The catalyst that started this was in August 2019 I had a bicycle accident I broke my scapula in five places. I had no insurance I went to the emergency room they x-rayed it said yes it’s a terrible break and gave me the number of a doctor who sees patients without insurance or money. As it turns out the man retired and no one replaced him. I called every resource clinic site et cetera… they had no one to look at my shoulder for without having insurance. I never had any follow up. After being out of work 9 months and realizing it’s going to be a full year I will meet the requirement for SSI disability then upon seeing the one piece of medical evidence I possessed my MRI and its prognosis I asked a doctor and yes, it appears I do meet the listing for that with my 2017 MRI, not even taking into account the new injury and the further damage it has done. The point is that it is now 2020 and I have never had a follow-up appointment for the shoulder and obviously the shoulder is horrible but the back is even much worse now after the accident than before my 2017 MRI. With this knowledge and the fact that I do not have barely any evidence I knew if I filed for SSI disability they will send me to a local doctor to verify my injury and give me a NEW MRI which should show that is is even worse now than in 2017, which was physically bad enough to qualify then, it should be more than bad enough in nature to qualify for disability now. My research into SSI disability I kept seeing about veterans and that is how I return to my discharge papers and looked at them, and am planning and filing for VA disability.
I have read about obviously I need documentation to prove any of this, VA especially and I have almost none, that is my main concern.
I have read a little about pyramiding and primary injury secondary at cetera.
My end result of filing for VA disability in this case will be to try and achieve 100% disability. In my research it may be possible but I will put down what I am thinking now.
Because of the presumption of soundness and I had no waivers they cannot deny that the mild pes planus and bunions and the other damage listed in the X-rays I had for my medical board could not have existed previous to my service in the Marine corps or else it would have to have been noted at m e p s or I would have had to have had a waiver.
My VA Claim thought process?
The rating for mild pes planus is 0%, after review, mine is pronounced bilateral pes planus a 50% rating (my feet have gotten terribly worse over the years, my feet truly are flat as a pancake now pronating inward and very painful, has changed my gate, this is not official as I’ve never been to a doctor, but this is my honest opinion). Since this had to have happened in service this will be a primary injury I believe as well as the bunions or hallux valgus deformity. They are noted in my 1991 medical x-rays so as a primary I can safely say they have gotten much worse and both toes are affected now not just the right. The rating for bilateral hallux valgus is 10% each foot or a total of 20%. Bringing the total to 70% rating. Of course that is if I am awarded the maximum for the bilateral pes planus and both feet hallux valgus.
Now this is where I have some more questions?
I also have all the symptoms and am very positive I have peripheral neuropathy which I’m very familiar with as my mother has it but, but the rating for that looks like it can be deemed secondary cause from my pes planus. If correct shouldn’t I receive x% for bilateral peripheral neuropathy as a secondary result from my primary injury?
Next,is tying in the primary pes planus to my SSI disability case that my lower back secondary (sacral nerve, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease) is aggravated and hurt from my primary bilateral pes planus as well as my bilateral neuropathy affects it as well. The listing for lower back pain is x percent up to a 100%
And lastly the whole affair has caused me PTSD and that rating is 0% to 100% rating. I don’t want to go into how I have it or not but I have read all the symptoms and can present a very strong case that I definitely have had PTSD since the day I was told I was being discharged. And with no insurance I have never gotten it treated but I have definite evidence of it in my life.
I filed the SSI disability last week and am awaiting them to call me and set up a doctors appointment. I also called the veterans administration about filing disability. I called my local VA and ask about a veteran’s service officer who could help me with filing questions.
I started to go over some basics in my case and when PTSD was brought up he inquired how I could have it without being in combat and only in the service six months and I immediately shut down and felt that it was horrible a veteran service officer would make me feel as though I don’t have valid reason to have PTSD. So that is why I searched the internet and found this forum.
So another question since how do I establish PTSD?
With no insurance can’t really get a counseling thing even as a veteran I tried and since I was not in 2 years I did not qualify for any health benefits. I guess should I call the veterans hotline PTSD number and tell them I am suicidal just in order to get this documented and at least someone would have a file then from the VA about whatever I tell them my story?
Also should I be trying to find my own doctors who would be favorable to my situation, and to further explore the tibia stress fractures and if I can associate that injury to another rating?
I don’t have insurance but I might be able to find a clinic, and my thought process is a podiatrist who will substantiate my pes planus condition. Should I be actively looking for a civilian doctor who will know the whole story I just recited and work with me to try to get my VA disability?
Or should I just file my claim with just the limited information (presumption of soundness) the x-rays that I have from 1991 and prognosis and hopefully my SSI disability case once I see the doctor who will also have some more evidence, hopefully providing more evidence of my infirmaries?
Also is a question that would I be getting any kind of back pay disability for all these past 30 years if the decision is in my favor?
Another question is that should I contact a lawyer? Also a veteran service officer should I contact someone like the American legion or which one would someone recommend I use because I truly do not know what I’m doing and I feel if I had the right direction I’m someone who knows all the intricacies and workings of the VA if I filed this correctly the first time and knew what type of evidence to gather it would make my claim so much more positive in my favor. if I have to, I will get the money somehow,a loan from family to see the right doctor but should I be going to a doctor, a veteran Dr who will be in my corner and spend money on it before I file this claim?
Thank you everyone, I’m sorry if I’m rambling, I have many questions but I’ve already asked too many. I am grateful for finding this forum and I really hope someone has some real answers for me that can assist me. Thank you.
Marine from MI living in central FL now.
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I found your website. I have never posted anything asking anyone about this but Im finally doing something about it and desperately need some advice. The question specifically has to do with my physical exam at MEPS and the presumption of soundness attached to it. If I am found 100% physically fi...