A1: In a word: "NO." You can't. However a Veteran Service Officer from any of the Veterans Organizations can access the VA Claims systems computers and can tell you were your claim is. If the VA did not tell you that they were rerrating your claim you may need to refile citing that letter. If you do the claim should be backdated ot your original filing. It is always best to work through a VSO as the have some clout with the VA. (WBC) 6/27/18
A2: Your best bet is to find the nearest DAV chapter. You do not have to join for them to help you, but membership does have its advantages. DAV has lawyers that know how to get through all the red tape. With their help, you could possibly receive other benefits you're not aware of. (HO) 6/27/18
A3: It is also possible that the VA did not feel the scars were worth compensating. In that case, you would have been given a 0 rating. In most instances, that is what scars are rated unless they are painful, or extremely long or unsightly. (AP) 6/27/18
A4: I found it helpful to have outside help with my disability claim. Apparently you have satisfied the VA regarding the Proof, and supporting documents necessary. Your concern being limited to just speeding up the process. There are agency's and non profits that can intercede for you. Some will require you to join their group (which will involve a membership fee). Such organizations offer lifetime or annual memberships. Annual memberships can get very expensive over time, so I chose up front to have life time membership. I found the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) to be very helpful. I was assigned a case worker who collected relevant paperwork and then moved everything forward. A friend whom I served with in Viet-Nam (now a retired Judge) advised me to do as I'm advising you now. I do not recommend one group over another as I have only experience with this one group. The decision of what group you seek assistance from is entirely your own, according to your circumstances.
From a bureaucratic perspective, the VA has a limited budget, and so many wounded servicemen & women making claims, that the analogy of the squeaking wheel, or barking dog probably has a bearing on how the VA advances a veterans application; thus the value of an advocate who understands the mechanisms of the VA and other Government Agencies.
If you join one of these groups as a lifetime member, you will probably find they publish a magazine which addresses many of the issues confronting the veteran, and what is happening politically in the area of the VA. Personally, I have found it very beneficial (The magazine in particular, as it allows me to be active to some degree in the process). While veterans issues never seem to change, the political process seems to always be in flux. Outside help is essential when time is of the essence. My VA experience has been better than I had hoped for, despite still being dogged by old war injuries, and now Obama Care meddling around in what medications the VA Doctors are allowed to use. Obama Care was the worst thing to happen to VA Medical for the Nations Veterans in my opinion. (BK) 7/17/18
A5: Have you checked to see if your claim is still open? There is a possibility that your claim was closed with a 0% rating. Scars or Disfigurement of the Head, Face, and Neck Code 7800: Any scars on or any disfigurement of the head, face, and neck are rated in one of two ways, either on the first set of conditions listed below or on the number of Characteristics of Disfigurement that are present. For rating purposes, the head, face and neck are considered ONE area, so each do not receive their own separate rating.
Note: If the scars cause other disabling conditions beyond disfigurement, like nerve damage, the inability to properly use the jaw, etc., then those conditions are rated separately. Search for the condition on this site, and then rate accordingly. Likewise, if the fleshy part of the ear is missing, then it is only rated under code 6207, loss of the auricle. If an eye is actually missing, then it is only rated under code 6063, loss of one eye. Both eyes is only rated under code 6061, loss of both eyes. A rating for these conditions can also be warranted under this code if there is scarring or disfigurement in addition to the missing ear or eye.
First rating option:
If there is obvious significant tissue loss with severe distortion of three or more of the following: the eyes (and eyelids), ears, nose, mouth (and lips), chin, forehead, or cheeks, it is rated 80%. Two of the above is rated 50%. One of the above is rated 30%.
Second rating option:
The Characteristics of Disfigurement are as follows:
- Loss of skin color (whitish) or darkening of the skin color or redness in an area more than 6 square inches (in2).
- The texture or feel of the skin is irregular?it could be tight and smooth, shiny, scaly, etc.?in an area more than 6 in2.
- The soft tissue under the surface of the scar is missing in an area more than 6 in2. These areas will often be sunken in and hard to the touch.
- The skin is hard and doesn?t move when touched or pulled in an area more than 6 in2.
- The skin of the scar is attached to the soft tissues underneath it. This would make that area hard to move since the skin would not be able to stretch or move in response to some movements.
- The surface of the scar rises up or sinks down when pushed on.
- The scar is 5 or more inches long.
- The scar is an inch or more at its widest point.
When measuring a scar, measure from side-to-side and then from top-to-bottom. If the side-to-side measurement is 5 inches, and the top to bottom measurement is 3 inches, then the overall area of the scar would equal 15 in2 (5 x 3 = 15).
Now, when rating scars or disfigurement of the head, face, and neck, only ONE rating can be given for this entire area regardless of how many scars there are. The measurements of each scar are added together to create a total scarred area. So, if there are two scars, one is 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, and another is 2 inches long and 1 inch wide, then the combined scarred area would be 8 in2 (3 x 2 = 6, 2 x 1 = 2, and 2 + 6 = 8), and the total length would be 5 inches (3 + 2 = 5). The width is the only measurement that cannot be added together. The requirement for width Characteristic is that is has to be an inch at the WIDEST point. The largest width is the only one that would qualify for this. So in this case, the largest width measurement is 2 inches, plenty wide to qualify, but if the largest width were only ? inch, then neither scar would qualify for this Characteristic. Got that?
After the math is done, you have to determine how many Characteristics these scars have. Let?s assume that both scars are shiny and red. These scars would then satisfy the requirements for 4 Characteristics: 1.) Scar 5 or more inches long 2.) Scar inch or more wide at the widest point 3.) Redness in an area 6 in2 or more 4.) Shiny texture in an area of 6 in2 or more.
Now let's assume that one of these scars (the one measuring 2 x 3 = 6 in2) also has missing soft tissue, but the other does not. Since the scar measures 6 in2 on its own, it does qualify for another Characteristic. The total number of Characteristics for these two scars in this case is now 5. If, however, the smaller scar (2 x 1 = 2 in2) is the one with missing soft tissue, it does not have a large enough area by itself to qualify for this Characteristic, even though the total area if you combine both areas is big enough. A Characteristic can only qualify if it covers an area 6 in2 or more.
Confused yet? I suggest you find a certified Veteran Service Officer to help you with this claim. (RJ) 7/26/18