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VA disability that doesn’t affect FAA/ civilian flying

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Hey guys. This has been a topic of late for some of the guys in the unit.

 

1.)What things can you get VA disability for that don’t hurt your FAA flying or medical?

 

2.) how do you know what you are eligible to get?

 

3.) some people have said that whatever you get from VA takes away from retirement pay. However that benefits divorced guys because for example if you are getting 1000 in retirement and 300 of it is considered VA then only 700 of it is able to be considered for divorce pay? I.E. if she gets 50%, she gets $350 instead of $500. So that’s more money in your pocket

 

4.) so I guess it’s all about maximizing VA without hurting your faa medical or airline ability to fly while reducing the amount of money you pay out to the ex.

 

Any help would be appreciated.

 

 

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1) Lots of things.  When you apply for VA benefits you get to choose what you claim.  I'd recommend looking at the FAA's Guide for AMEs prior to claiming anything.  The FAA can and does look at VA medical records and compare them to medical certificate applications. https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/ .  I'd stay away from getting a sleep test to try to claim sleep apnea, and from claiming PTSD or similar mental health conditions.  But if they're already in your record, there are special issuance processes (that can take forever, I filed in November and still haven't gotten my class 1). 

2) Your Airmen and Family Readiness Center should offer some sort of VA benefits class, but pretty much if it's in your active duty medical record you have a shot at receiving disability for it.  Even something like rolling an ankle while playing basketball while on active duty.  You can also go talk to your local Veterans Service Organization (e.g. DAV or AMVETS) -- they are experts at claiming disability.  Think a whole bunch of Vietnam vets that feel like they got screwed and now spend their retirement helping other people not get screwed. 

3) No clue, but there should be some sort of VA rep at your A&FRC that can help clear this up. 

4) Personal choice.  In reality, if it's in your medical record you should probably be disclosing it to the FAA. However, I don't think they have any way to check your medical history unless it is something that you claimed with the VA. 

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#3...offset dollar for dollar if you get LESS than 50%... if 50% or more then you get full retirement pay AND the VA disability payment

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3.)  Herk Driver has it correct.  Less than 50% rating you'll get it offset.  The advantage is that it's tax free; so in theory a portion of your retirement pay will now be tax-free.  Anything 50% or more will be added on your normal retirement, also tax-free.  Most of my stuff was joint, back and neck pain.  I was actually denied hearing loss despite 17 yrs in the cockpit.  I'm going to appeal that one.  

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21 minutes ago, pelexecute said:

  I was actually denied hearing loss despite 17 yrs in the cockpit.  I'm going to appeal that one.  

The dangers of "resetting your baseline."

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7 hours ago, pelexecute said:

3.)  Herk Driver has it correct.  Less than 50% rating you'll get it offset.  The advantage is that it's tax free; so in theory a portion of your retirement pay will now be tax-free.  Anything 50% or more will be added on your normal retirement, also tax-free.  Most of my stuff was joint, back and neck pain.  I was actually denied hearing loss despite 17 yrs in the cockpit.  I'm going to appeal that one.  

What?

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1.  Don't lie.  There are now unemployed looking guys at prison time for lying about VA disability to FAA.

 

2.  Just for PITA factor, I would stay away from mental health stuff.  But, take care of yourself, and refer to num 1 above.  There are plenty of pilots on SSRIs, getting counseling, etc.  After Germanwings there is a tad bit of hysteria about pilots lying about mental health.

 

3.  Sleep apnea is no longer as big a deal as it once was with FAA.  But you will have to travel with a CPAP, and it tells on you.  If you need it for rest, by all means go for it.  Just be aware of what you're signing up for.

 

4.  If you're able to fly in AF, you shouldn't have a problem maintaining an FAA physical.  Its kinda amazing what conditions that will still allow a class one.

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19 hours ago, pelexecute said:

3.)  Herk Driver has it correct.  Less than 50% rating you'll get it offset.  The advantage is that it's tax free; so in theory a portion of your retirement pay will now be tax-free.  Anything 50% or more will be added on your normal retirement, also tax-free.  Most of my stuff was joint, back and neck pain.  I was actually denied hearing loss despite 17 yrs in the cockpit.  I'm going to appeal that one.  

You can apply for Combat Related Special Compensation if you have a 10% rating or higher that is combat related or Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay if you have a 50% or higher rating. Neither is automatic. 

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5 hours ago, isshinwhat said:

You can apply for Combat Related Special Compensation if you have a 10% rating or higher that is combat related or Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay if you have a 50% or higher rating. Neither is automatic. 

Interesting.  CRDP may not be automatic but I never “applied” for it.  Maybe my VSO did that in the background for me.  YMMV. Combat related issues can be different but the general rule of thumb is 50% or greater gets concurrent receipt.

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Question for the peanut gallery.  Does any type of NVG time allot you any type of disability?  Rumor mill back in the day alluded to getting something if you accrued over X amt hours on NOGs.

 

 

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Popular rumor. Any injury must be substantiated. There’s no automatic anything as far as I know. There was another one being passed around a couple months ago that said if you were vaccinated with a certain lot of anthrax vaccine that you’d automatically get a VA disability. Hoodwinked a lot of people.


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3 hours ago, Herk Driver said:

Interesting.  CRDP may not be automatic but I never “applied” for it.  Maybe my VSO did that in the background for me.  YMMV. Combat related issues can be different but the general rule of thumb is 50% or greater gets concurrent receipt.

You are right, I was wrong about CRDP. CRSC you have to apply for, CRDP is automatic if you fit the bill. 

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The FAA has never cared about my disability for knee issues, even after one of them needed to be replaced.

 

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Here we go, best I can offer:

There was disability regarding Gen 1 possibly Gen 2 NVG’s usage/hrs, nothing related to the vastly improved equipment of today or even 20 years ago. So Gen 3, 4 and beyond do not qualify.

CPAP machines don’t tell on you per say. No direct link to the FAA is what one might have been led to believe. You submit your data to the FAA (Sleep Study, Titration Test and your Sleep Doc/Specialist written letter of compliance/effectiveness), they review it and stamp it with stipulations. They give your AME authority to review annual documentation for 5 years as a special issuance and then they do another record review. 

For insurance purposes (they pay) the requirements are an average usage rate of 4 hrs per night using the device 60-70% of the year depending on your insurance company. You don’t meet these standards and you may end up paying for it all.

For the FAA, (at least my documentation), I must have an average usage rate of 6 hrs per night using the device 75% of the time. Think of it as using it 3 out of every 4 days to be simple minded like me. 

It is a pain to carry all over the world, but for myself it works wonders and I actually dream after 20 years of disrupted sleep patterns. Otherwise try to lose weight which helps with a few of my friends, but it’s not all weight related.

Tinnitus is a real thing and it’s very annoying for myself. I fortunately do not have the endless ringing others may have thankfully. 

I have back problems, neck problems, knee, ankle, foot, etc... like many. While a desk jockey I had Flexoril at my disposal, but I had to change to an FAA accepted anti-inflammatory pill to be able to fly after their review. Know your substance, know your career! My AME was very helpful.

I was schooled by one of my Pentagon buds who assisted in the gathering of VA documentation for service members. Best said by him: “Understand this, you throw whatever ailments at the dart board, they (VA) determine what sticks, not you.”

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I’ll echo what others have said. Don’t lie or hide anything. Or at a minimum don’t be stupid and try to claim something with the VA and then turn around and fail to let your AME know about the same condition/ailment. I personally know a bud who got in deep legal sh*t with the FAA and wound up indicted. That stuff is no joke. If you aren’t willing to talk about it with your AME, don’t take it to the VA either. 

On the other hand, it’s pretty surprising how much stuff is acceptable to have and still hold a civilian medical certificate. Tons of info out there so do some research if you have specific concerns. 

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This seems to be the best place for this question (but not specific to the OP subject).

I am transitioning to the reserves after 17 years AD. I have chronic lower back pain (waiver), shoulder pain (waiver), a partially torn meniscus, and plantar fasciitis all in my record. I additionally have sleep issues and some hearing loss/ringing in my ears, not in my record. 

In TAP the VA rep persuaded me to delay applying for disability benefits until I separate from the reserves in order to ensure AFRC will in fact bring me on. Has anyone navigated these waters? Looking for some life advice here.

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I know a couple guys who did VA claims in your same position, no issues with AFRC. I have one friend who was in your position and got the break X from AFRC...as he was still actively flying fighters on AD. I say all this to highlight there is no guarantee either way. The “safest” bet WRT still being in AFRC is don’t do VA until retiring. But, this is not statistically relevant data, and you’ll probably get a few data points both ways when talking to pilots. 

Edited by brabus
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I know a couple guys who did VA claims in your same position, no issues with AFRC. I have one friend who was in your position and got the break X from AFRC...as he was still actively flying fighters on AD. I say all this to highlight there is no guarantee either way. The “safest” bet WRT still being in AFRC is don’t do VA until retiring. But, this is not statistically relevant data, and you’ll probably get a few data points both ways when talking to pilots. 


Thanks Brabus. That’s what I expected.

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Use caution with sleep issues. 
some say easy disability rating, but if a doctor says you require a CPAP the FAA will be interested (if you ever fly for $$). 
 

obviously get the help you need ... but sleep apnea isn’t panacea the rumors would suggest. 

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