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I have been approved for compensation under agent orange for my heart condition. Just recently, I had a heart attack and my cardiologist said I am no longer fit to work. Besides my heart condition, I also have slip disc and spinal stenosis (which VA denied) which is making it so difficult for me to walk even with a cane. Per doctor, operation is a last option (when my legs are already numb, and urination and bowel movement occurs. Other doctors however advised me never to go for an operation specially for the spinal stenosis for I could either get out of the operating room healed or paralyzed. Rather for me to take extra precaution since a bad slip or fall could render me paralyzed. Can I qualify for individual unemployability?



A1:  I have spinal stenosis and had to have 2 operations for vertebrae breaking apart. You must be employable for unemployment. I had to apply for Social Security Disability. It took 1 1/2 years to get it though. The doctors are right surgery is last attempt at repair. I have nerve damage affecting both legs. I have other friends dealing with this to. Mine occurred at 39 and had 2 back injuries in Navy. Still trying to get my records to prove it. Take care.  (KD)  11/30/16

A2:  You have at least one service-connected disability rated at least at 60%, or two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one of which has a 40% or more disability rating, and a combined rating of 70% or more.
You are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities. Marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantially gainful employment for VA purposes.  (AP)  12/2/16

A3:  The way you describe your disabilities the VA will not approve IU because they will say that the Unemployability is caused by a service connected disability and a non-service connected disability. What I would do is to file a notice of disagreement on the finding for the spinal stenosis and slipped disc based upon the condition being secondary to the IHD/CAD. A non-service connected disability that is aggravated by the service connected disability is a secondary condition. Especially if the other condition prevents it from being alleviated. I have used this argument for other conditions and they were service connected, but with your doctor stating that you cannot be operated on because of the IHD that is a good start. I would also file for IU at the same time as the effective date would go back to the date that you applied when they service connect the secondary conditions.  (CP)  12/19/16

A4:  Contact your closest Disabled American Veterans, D.A.V. and turn it over to them to work it for you.   (BB)  3/21/17

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