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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 19686
Experience:  Licensed attorney and former Navy JAG serving ashore, afloat and at the OJAG
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I was injured in the Air Force in 1985. I had two left shoulder

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I was injured in the Air Force in 1985. I had two left shoulder surgeries which at the time repaired the damaged shoulder. After serving through the first gulf war and a total of 10 years service I was honorably discharged. After separation from the Air Force I became a Chiropractor and practiced for 17 years with constant problems with the shoulder but I was able to function until the surgically repaired shoulder became so painful that I had to quit. Sense that time I cannot work due to the intense pain and have lost everything. I cannot afford medical help and do not have medical insurance. I was wondering how I go about getting help medically from the VA and would there be any retroactive disability payments I would receive? Please respond.

Thank you for the information and your question and I am sorry to read about your situation. As long as your service medical record has the shoulder injuries documented, then you should have no trouble with gaining a service-connected disability rating and receive VA disability compensation. Unfortunately though the law is that the "effective date" of the award is the date that you file for compensation. So, the back pay would only be back to the date you apply. You can find out how to apply and more details by going to:

As for medical care, you would already qualify for that as an honorably discharge Veteran. However, until you receive your service-connected disability compensation award, you will have to fill out financial paperwork that determines if you must pay a copay. Also, your "priority" for appointments will be behind service-connected Veterans. That though might not make much difference, but all things being equal a service-connected Veteran would get limited appointments before a non-service-connected one. You can go to your nearest VA Medical Center and enroll in the medical care.

By the way, your enrollment in the VA system will exempt you from any health insurance requirements under the new Healthcare Reform Act.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How can I gain access to my medical records? Where do they store them and how does one go about obtaining copies of his records from the early 80's

Thank you for your reply. The VA will obtain your medical records from your active-duty time as long as you give them the information about where you were stationed and treated, etc. You can find out more about that at the link I provided you and also the link below.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Are my records from 1985 really kept for that long? We are dealing with the gov. Is the retrieval of my records from that long ago really possible or am I going to find this an impossible task? Are there services one can hire to do all the leg work in a case like mine? I am in a bad way right now dealing with pain levels that put me under heavy medication. If there helpful services one can hire I would do so. Thank you

I can't tell you what records the VA will or won't find, but I can tell you that medical records are supposed to be retained permanently. So, yes, it is actually possible, there a records much older than yours that have been recovered.

This application process is really not that taxing and you ultimately are going to have to submit to exams, etc. at the VA. So, you will have to do some of this yourself. Again, I strongly encourage you to go to the links I provided and read them completely. They are the number one good source for information about the process. If all else fails and you find the process too complicated, there are local Veterans' service organizations that can assist you with some of the process.
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