Schmitt & Coletta, P.C.

Veteran Attorneys Fighting For Veterans and Their Families

My Blog


New Social Security Ruling on Interstitial Cystitis

Posted on March 22, 2015 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (50)
On March 18, the Social Security Administration published a ruling in the Federal Register for the evaluation of interstitial cystitis (IC) in adults and children. The new ruling, SSR 15-1p, rescinds and replaces prior SSR 02-2p for establishing IC as a medically determinable impairment (MDI) and determining disability. It takes into consideration descriptions of IC recently developed by the American Urological Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In the new SSR, the following evidence can establish the MDI of IC: a diagnosis of IC by an acceptable medical source who reviewed the claimant’s medical history and conducted a clinical examination; IC symptoms, as indicated in the AUA and NIDDK descriptions; and medical signs or laboratory findings.
The new SSR also provides guidance in the following areas of adjudication: obtaining medical and other evidence; arranging consultative examinations; resolving inconsistencies in the evidence; evaluating claimants’ statements about symptoms and functional limitations; and using the five-step sequential evaluation process for determining disability

Article from Stars and Srips re PTSD Lawsuit

Posted on December 3, 2012 at 4:34 PM Comments comments (18)
As a young soldier fighting in Vietnam in 1969, John Shepherd Jr. responded to an ambush by tossing a hand grenade into a bunker that killed several enemy soldiers. He was awarded a Bronze Star with a valor device.
A few weeks later, his platoon leader was killed by a sniper, Shepherd told The New York Times, as he was trying to help Shepherd out of a canal. Shepherd’s behavior became erratic, and soon he refused to go on patrol.
After a court-martial, the Army discharged Shepherd under other-than-honorable conditions, then known as an undesirable discharge, which, the Times reports, meant that veterans benefits were denied.
Shepherd is now part of a class-action lawsuit against the armed forces arguing that he and other Vietnam veterans had post-traumatic stress disorder when they were given other-than-honorable discharges, according to the Times. The suit, which was filed in Federal District Court and names as defendants the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy, demands that their discharges be upgraded.
The suit, the Times noted, raises two issues that could affect thousands of Vietnam vets: whether they can retroactively be given a diagnosis of PTSD though the disorder was not identified until 1980; if so, whether recent policies intended to protect troops with PTSD should be applied retroactively to their cases.
Shepherd’s legal team, students with the Yale Law School veterans legal clinic, argues yes on both counts, the Times reports. In court papers, they assert that it is reasonable to assume that Shepherd and other veterans who were later given PTSD diagnoses began exhibiting symptoms while they were in service, accoridng to the Times.
Under rules issued during the Iraq war, troops who say they have PTSD must be given medical examinations before they are forced out of the military, to ensure that problematic behavior is not linked to the disorder, the Times reports. Servicemembers given a PTSD diagnosis may still receive an honorable discharge.
“Vietnam War-era veterans, in contrast, have been denied this opportunity for appropriate consideration of the PTSD,” the Times quotes the students as saying in the complaint.
The suit could have a wide impact. The students told the Times that more than a quarter million Vietnam-era veterans were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions, and that thousands of them probably had PTSD.
A Department of Veterans Affairs doctor in 2004 gave Shepherd a diagnosis of service-connected PTSD, according to the Times. As a result, the department will provide health care for his PTSD, but not general medical care, unless he is found to have other health problems related to his service.
Veterans disability compensation also is a problem. Shepherd’s undesirable discharge was upgraded to a general discharge in the 1970s under a Carter administration program, and that should have made it easier for him to apply for disability compensation, the Times reports. But subsequent legislation said clemency upgrades like Shepherd’s did not automatically qualify veterans for benefits. His compensation claim was ultimately rejected, according to the Times.
Shepherd, 65, twice divorced, has battled with alcoholism and drug abuse, the Times reported. He lives in New Haven, Conn., getting by on Social Security and a Teamsters pension, the Times said. While he could use the extra money from disability compensation, equally important, he told the Times, is removing the taint of his discharge.
“I want that honorable,” he told the Times. “I did do my part, until I really felt it wasn’t worth getting killed for.”


Posted on November 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM Comments comments (11)
PLEASE SHARE - this is a very important message to our Service members exposed to Mefloquine!
Mefloquine was used by the military to prevent mala It was invented by the Army in the late 1960's as the result of research into 250,000 compounds of which it and one other drug were found to work. The other drug (Halfan) was later taken off the market after a few deaths from it. Mefloquine FDA approved for treating malaria in 1976.
 It was handed to the Swiss drug comapny Hoffman Laroche who marketed it under the name Lariam. LaraimFDA aproved as a weekly preventative for malaria in 1989. We know mefloquine was teste on prisoners at Joliet prior to 1976
Where was Mefloquine used?. Between 1976 and 1989, we know that is was used by the Military as an unapproved preventaive duirng Cobra Gold Operations in Thailand. After 1989, the first large scale use was in Somalia. After that it was used in Iraq, Kuwait, Liberia, Djabouti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Somalia, all of North Africa and sub Sahara Africa, South America, SE Asia, and the list goes on  The miltiary does not have any accounting of who got it or where it was issued. Army special forces still advocates its use, and since their global opeartions are classified, who knows where they are still giving it out?   
Some of the symptoms relate to PTSD. There are physical symptoms as well.
 I'll post more info when I get it