Preparation for FPEB

mitch84

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#1
Initially put on LIMDU June 10, 2016 for “Paresthesia”. IDES initiated December 2016 when my Neurologist determined a second LIMDU period would not benefit me. Referred conditions by my Neurologist include Small Fiber Neuropathy, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Migraines W/Aura. Completed VA C&P exams in January 2017. Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after C&P exams were completed and was told by my PEBLO that I could not add conditions that were not claimed when I filled out my VA forms, even though I claimed bilateral leg and arm pain/weakness and joint pain in every joint. Along with the Fibromyalgia diagnoses I was required to have a mental health evaluation. I was diagnosed with Anxiety/Depression by the MH provider and she submitted an addendum. On 23 May 2017, I was found “FIT” by the IPEB. The IDES attorney at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth didn’t have an appointment until two weeks later (only had ten days to submit) so I personally drafted an appeal and received a new NMA from my command that was sent on 02 June 2017.

The appeal basically states that I haven’t been working in my rate for over two years, I will never be able to work in my rate in the future and that the board stated they sent correspondence requesting diagnoses clarification on the POTS and Small Fiber Neuropathy but didn’t receive anything back. I asked my PEBLO and both Neurologists that diagnosed me with these conditions about the request and none of them ever received any such correspondence from the board. Also the board said there wasn’t enough treatment by a MH provider for the A/D claim so I addressed it in my appeal by using the addendum from the Rheumatologist with the date of the Fibromyalgia diagnoses. My PEBLO had a meltdown. Oh well.

Still haven’t gotten any official word about the FPEB. My eBenefits claim status has said “Pending Decision Approval/Development Letter Sent” since May and I spoke with one of the PEBLOs last week about the status of my case in which she informed me it (unofficially) said “Formal Board Ready” in their system.

At this point in time I only have one answer to a plethora of questions…

Q: How the hell did they find me “FIT”?

A: Glowing NMA from my command that literally said I am an “outstanding Sailor”. My periodic evaluations say I walk on water. Board didn’t even look at anything else.

Other questions…

Does this mean FPEB granted?

What do I need to do right now to prepare for the FPEB?

Do I need more witness/impact statements? I already included seven in my appeal.

Should I have my spouse and/or people in my COC come with me to the FPEB?

I think it is best if I prepare a written statement that I can read to the board (I have speech problems from TBI). What should this statement include?

Can Fibromyalgia be added at the FPEB?

Since I haven’t spoken with a lawyer about my case, should I? Who can I talk to without coming out of pocket? I understand I will be assigned a JAG if I go to the FPEB


Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer some of these questions.
 

mitch84

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#2
One more question, anyone have a recent timeline for people waiting for formal board?
 

USMCJAG

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#3
Initially put on LIMDU June 10, 2016 for “Paresthesia”. IDES initiated December 2016 when my Neurologist determined a second LIMDU period would not benefit me. Referred conditions by my Neurologist include Small Fiber Neuropathy, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Migraines W/Aura. Completed VA C&P exams in January 2017. Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after C&P exams were completed and was told by my PEBLO that I could not add conditions that were not claimed when I filled out my VA forms, even though I claimed bilateral leg and arm pain/weakness and joint pain in every joint. Along with the Fibromyalgia diagnoses I was required to have a mental health evaluation. I was diagnosed with Anxiety/Depression by the MH provider and she submitted an addendum. On 23 May 2017, I was found “FIT” by the IPEB. The IDES attorney at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth didn’t have an appointment until two weeks later (only had ten days to submit) so I personally drafted an appeal and received a new NMA from my command that was sent on 02 June 2017.

The appeal basically states that I haven’t been working in my rate for over two years, I will never be able to work in my rate in the future and that the board stated they sent correspondence requesting diagnoses clarification on the POTS and Small Fiber Neuropathy but didn’t receive anything back. I asked my PEBLO and both Neurologists that diagnosed me with these conditions about the request and none of them ever received any such correspondence from the board. Also the board said there wasn’t enough treatment by a MH provider for the A/D claim so I addressed it in my appeal by using the addendum from the Rheumatologist with the date of the Fibromyalgia diagnoses. My PEBLO had a meltdown. Oh well.

Still haven’t gotten any official word about the FPEB. My eBenefits claim status has said “Pending Decision Approval/Development Letter Sent” since May and I spoke with one of the PEBLOs last week about the status of my case in which she informed me it (unofficially) said “Formal Board Ready” in their system.

At this point in time I only have one answer to a plethora of questions…

Q: How the hell did they find me “FIT”?

A: Glowing NMA from my command that literally said I am an “outstanding Sailor”. My periodic evaluations say I walk on water. Board didn’t even look at anything else.

Other questions…

Does this mean FPEB granted?

What do I need to do right now to prepare for the FPEB?

Do I need more witness/impact statements? I already included seven in my appeal.

Should I have my spouse and/or people in my COC come with me to the FPEB?

I think it is best if I prepare a written statement that I can read to the board (I have speech problems from TBI). What should this statement include?

Can Fibromyalgia be added at the FPEB?

Since I haven’t spoken with a lawyer about my case, should I? Who can I talk to without coming out of pocket? I understand I will be assigned a JAG if I go to the FPEB


Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer some of these questions.



How the hell did they find me “FIT”?

It's cheaper to find you fit, that's how.

Other questions…

Does this mean FPEB granted?

You have the right to 1 FPEB before leaving active duty. Your PEBLO should be advising you when and where it is. You also have right to government counsel. You also have right to hire your own attorney. Do NOT go to FPEB without counsel.

What do I need to do right now to prepare for the FPEB?

Get ALL of your medical records. Write a personal statement as detailed as you possibly can. Review the VASRD for your conditions and tell the FPEB that you have those symptoms and explain how/why it prevents you from doing your job.

Do I need more witness/impact statements? I already included seven in my appeal.

Yes. Get as many witness statements as possible. Have your witnesses write their statements in the context of the VASRD symptoms. You gotta spoon-feed the PEB. Symptoms = I can't do my job.

Should I have my spouse and/or people in my COC come with me to the FPEB?

Absolutely. Your counsel MUST do witness prep before the FPEB. This is not the time for your spouse or CoC to be nice to you. They need to say horrible things about you in relation to your symptoms and your job. It may burn a little, but suck it up for the longer benefit.

I think it is best if I prepare a written statement that I can read to the board (I have speech problems from TBI). What should this statement include?

Everything. Job issues. Quality of life issues. Relationship issues. Marital problems. Pain issues. Range of motion problems. Mental problems. Social problems. Sleep issues. Financial problems. Problems with your kids. Sexual problems. Professional problems. EVERYTHING! Symptoms = I can't do my job.

Can Fibromyalgia be added at the FPEB?

Yes. The FPEB is a de novo hearing, which means the government starts with nothing, and you start with nothing. You have to build your entire case from scratch at the FPEB, which means you can add conditions. Your counsel will have you sign a "petition" for the FPEB. MAKE SURE every single condition you want to be unfitting is listed on that petition. Your counsel may even try to dissuade you, that's because DES attorneys largely work for the PEB. If your counsel doesn't list what you want, DON'T SIGN IT. If it's not on the petition, the FPEB will NOT consider it. If it is on the petition, the FPEB has to do something with it. It helps if you already have a VA rating for each condition, but if you can prove a condition is unfitting, you'll get a VA rating later, which the PEB is supposed to apply.

Since I haven’t spoken with a lawyer about my case, should I? Who can I talk to without coming out of pocket? I understand I will be assigned a JAG if I go to the FPEB.

Yes, you have the right to government counsel at no cost to you. You may get a good one, or you may get one that has sold their soul to the devil and are working for the PEB. If you get that one, fire them immediately and get a different one. Yes, you can fire your government counsel. The sooner you talk to counsel the better.

Best of luck.
 

mitch84

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#4
Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to respond. You have answered pretty much all of my questions. Much appreciated.
 

zero-cool

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2 days left to prep for the FPEB, lawyer simply says, "do whatever you think will help your case" ... (great advice) ... but how do I really prepare? All I have as evidence for my conditions is the 10 years of xrays and medical records showing how many times I've been seen at my MTF stuck in an endless cycle of a single treatment plan that comes full circle without resolve. No diagnosis... will the board be convinced with so little??
 

mitch84

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#8
@zero-cool I don't know what to tell you. I appealed to the FPEB and was just told my packet was sent to the VA for ratings. Didn't even have to go to DC for the formal board. Guess all the information they needed to make a decision was included in my appeal. I would suggest writing a statement to read at the formal board and following the advice that USMCJAG wrote above. Best of luck!
 

SirEnder

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#10
I had the same issue. I have combat ptsd and major depressive disorder. My findings came back: Although the service memebr has sever cases of these two conditions, he is technically proficient since he received an mp eval. A "glowing nma" is a curse. You need your NMA to say how useless u are. That you cannot perform consistently with your mos or rating at sea or ashore. If your nma says you were good, then you are not broken enough. Same thing happened to me.
 

SirEnder

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#11
Since then I filed my appeal and my CO wrote about how useless I am to him considering my symptoms. Commanding officers seem to make this mistake often. They try to hold back on your inadequacies cause they dont want you to get wrecked by the board. However, this very act is what causes them to find you fit.