On to FPEB... Unfortunately.

TAM2215

Registered Member
#1
Nearly 8 years AD Air Force as an Air Traffic Controller. Back in August I had rapid loss of vision in my right eye. After weeks of tests at various medical facilities they determined the varicella zostrov virus (chicken pox) had reactivated in my right eye. Thankfully they had that as a possibility and was on the correct medication from the start, but it progressed so rapidly that the damage was already done. Just days after it began my visual acuity in my right eye was worse than 20/800 and has not improved since.

During the C&P exams the VA had to contract out an ophthalmologist with QTC because the VA didn't have any in Alaska. I failed every test he administered miserably to include the Snellen chart, I can't see the giant E on top. He asked me to guess in which I replied "I can recite the alphabet if you want, but I can't see it". His report concluded that my vision in the right eye was somehow 20/100 and my left eye was 20/40... I passed every test with my left eye.

My flight doctor was irate with the vision report and wrote a rebuttal letter to discredit it considering its documented by 4 different medical facilities and over a dozen doctors that my vision has never been better than 20/800. Unfortunately it didn't work and my ratings came back yesterday, 10% Dod for retina scars and 30% VA.

So we've filed for a FPEB, scheduled another full eye exam to prove it's 20/800, and argue that my unfitting condition should be visual acuity 20/800 considering I couldn't retrain if I wanted to as retention standards for the air force is 20/400. My vision was as it is now before the scars even formed.

With all that being said I feel we have a very solid case to present, but I'm curious on how long everyone has waited recently for a FPEB? My PEBLO stated that the last few she's done they didn't even fly them down to Randolph and just adjusted their ratings within 30 days of filing, which would be great.
 

Chaps_Z

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#2
Across the board seems to run 4-8 weeks for an appearance at the board after filing the appeal.

My opinion is that board positively adjusting ratings without an appearance is not common. Expect a visit to the board unless there is a physical disability keeping you from traveling.
 

TAM2215

Registered Member
#3
Thanks for the response. Yeah I'm expecting to make an appearance, though the stack of evidence against the one C&P exam has me hoping they could just raise the ratings. I guess the other concern is hoping they deem visual acuity as the unfitting condition over retina scars.
 

TAM2215

Registered Member
#6
If able, I think I may pursue the VARR while we wait for the FPEB considering the DoD won't adjust their rating unless the VA adds or increases theirs... Hopefully I can get some answers from my PEBLO tomorrow. Thanks.
 

Jason Perry

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Site Founder
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#7
@TAM2215,

Do you agree that the vision issue is the only disabling/unfitting condition?

I have not. I found out about my ratings on Friday and we just submitted the request for a FPEB. Can you file a VARR while waiting for the FPEB?
You can file the VARR after the IPEB or the FPEB. (But, only once in the process.) My general position is to wait until all conditions contended for are adjudicated by the service before filing a VARR. As to the particular procedural question, though, if you elected the FPEB on your AF 1180, and did not submit a VARR already, the only way to do that now would be to request a change of election. See below.
If able, I think I may pursue the VARR while we wait for the FPEB considering the DoD won't adjust their rating unless the VA adds or increases theirs... Hopefully I can get some answers from my PEBLO tomorrow. Thanks.
What is the reason for the request for the FPEB? It is only to request an increase in rating, then this is not the correct course of action. For rating issues, you should file a VARR. However, as stated above, if you have additional conditions that you believe should be unfitting, then generally, the better course of action is to fight for the additional conditions, then file a VARR.

Jason
 

TAM2215

Registered Member
#8
@TAM2215,

Do you agree that the vision issue is the only disabling/unfitting condition?



You can file the VARR after the IPEB or the FPEB. (But, only once in the process.) My general position is to wait until all conditions contended for are adjudicated by the service before filing a VARR. As to the particular procedural question, though, if you elected the FPEB on your AF 1180, and did not submit a VARR already, the only way to do that now would be to request a change of election. See below.


What is the reason for the request for the FPEB? It is only to request an increase in rating, then this is not the correct course of action. For rating issues, you should file a VARR. However, as stated above, if you have additional conditions that you believe should be unfitting, then generally, the better course of action is to fight for the additional conditions, then file a VARR.

Jason
I agree that vision is the disabling/unfitting condition, however, I believe Central Visual Acuity 6065 should be used which would award a higher rating of 30%.

So it seems my PEBLO recommended the incorrect course of action for what we're trying to do... My fault in the end. So in my case where vision is still the unfitting condition and i'm trying to change the code from 6011 Retina Scars to 6065 Central Visual Acuity,that I should file the VARR?
 

Jason Perry

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Site Founder
Staff Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#9
I agree that vision is the disabling/unfitting condition, however, I believe Central Visual Acuity 6065 should be used which would award a higher rating of 30%.

So it seems my PEBLO recommended the incorrect course of action for what we're trying to do... My fault in the end. So in my case where vision is still the unfitting condition and i'm trying to change the code from 6011 Retina Scars to 6065 Central Visual Acuity,that I should file the VARR?
Without knowing more and only based on what you have stated, seems like the VARR is the way to address your concern with the ratings. I caveat that with the fact that there might be additional unfitting conditions that you aren't taking into account.

Hope all goes well for you and you get your desired outcome! Best of luck!
 

chaplaincharlie

PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
#10
My rationale for filing a VARR IS:
You have evidence your vision was not correctly measured.
If you vision were documented as worse than originally reported, the FPEB might see that the vision issue should be unfitting.

All that said, my expertise is not legal. I would defer to @Jason Perry above.

That said, given what the contract opthamologist provided, confounded the decision made by the IPEB. Getting the right measurements may allow this situation to clear up.
 

TAM2215

Registered Member
#11
I had my initial contact with my attorney from OAC today and we have decided the best option is to waive the FPEB after we have compiled enough evidence to submit a VARR package. I already have documentation from several Ophthalmologists showing visual acuity being far worse than stated in the C&P exam and will be getting two more exams this week which should state the same.

We also discovered there's new changes coming 13 May to the Ratings of the Eye which could work in my favor. http://blog.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/2018/04/official-changes-to-rating-for-eyes.html

Incapacitating Episodes
Current:
An “incapacitating episode” is a period of severe symptoms that requires bed rest and treatment prescribed by a physician. If the physician did not prescribe bed rest, it is not considered an incapacitating episode.
If there were incapacitating episodes adding up to 6 weeks or more during the last 12 months, it is rated 60%. If the incapacitating episodes over the last 12 months add up to 4 to 6 weeks, it is rated 40%. Two to 4 weeks is rated 20%, and 1 to 2 weeks is rated 10%.
New:
An “incapacitating episode” is a period of severe symptoms that requires a visit to a physician for treatment. A treatment must actually be given in order for the visit to count as an incapacitating episode. “Treatments” include laser treatments, surgeries, injections into the eye area, immunosuppressant medications, etc. These visits and the treatments and progress of the condition must be thoroughly documented in medical records.
A 60% rating is given if there are incapacitating episodes requiring 7 or more treatment visits in the past 12 months. A 40% rating is given if there are incapacitating episodes requiring 5 or 6 treatment visits in the past 12 months. A 20% rating is given if there are incapacitating episodes requiring 3 or 4 treatment visits in the past 12 months. A 10% rating is given if there are incapacitating episodes requiring 1 or 2 treatment visits in the past 12 months.

I have documentation of five Taps/Injections into the eye which technically could warrant a 40% rating. I doubt this could be used on the DoD unfitting rating, but it should be combined for the VA rating.

Code 6011: Any retina condition(scars, atrophy, etc.) not rated in the Diseases of the Eye section is rated under this code. If the condition causes irregular vision with double images, extra large images, extra small images or other irregularities, it is rated 10%. This 10% rating is given whether there is one eye or both eyes affected. The condition can be rated on the Visual Impairment Rating System if it would receive a higher rating.
-New- Code 6011: Any retina condition(scars, atrophy, etc.) not listed elsewhere is rated under this code. If the condition causes irregular vision with double images, extra large images, extra small images or other irregularities, it is rated 10%. This 10% rating is given whether there is one eye or both eyes affected. The condition can be rated on the Visual Impairment Rating System oron Incapacitating Episodes if it would receive a higher rating under one of those systems.

This is where they might be able to use the 40% DoD for Incapacitating Episodes or code 6065 Central Visual Acuity Rating System 30% as it states above "The condition can be rated on the Visual Impairment Rating System or on Incapacitating Episodes if it would receive a higher rating under one of those systems."

This could go many different ways, but I think we have a good shot here. Thanks for the responses.
 
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