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  • VA Disability

    Hello there forum. I have been on this site for awhile and posted here and there, and have recently received my umpteenth denial from an agency. This last time it was a federal agency. I don't know for sure, but have a concern that my VA service connected disability rating ...all 10% of it has been the key factor in denials. Taking the advice of this forum and every background investigator's peptalk given to aspiring officers, I have fully disclosed it every time. With evaluations by medical professionals attesting to my ability to carry out the full duties of a law enforcement position.

    Sorry just setting the stage for my question, which is: can background investigators find out from the VA whether or not I have a VA disability rating?

    The reason I ask is because this forum does not exist in a vacuum. And out here in the world talking with people day to day, whether im talking to law enforcement officers, military veterans, veterans who are law enforcement, VA employees etc etc they all say the same thing to my face. "They can't and have no right to look at your VA rating. They will only find out if you tell them."

    Of course I have continuously gone against the aforementioned advice and told my BIs anyway. With the one exception of the federal job, where on the SF-86 it states that I am not to release certain medical information if it pertains specifically to combat. I have not seen this type of disclaimer on any municipal or state background forms. And this was a top secret clearance. And I passed the background by NOT disclosing as the document instructs.

    I have never passed a background with any other agency where I HAVE disclosed my 10% rating. And I have a very solid clean background.

    So again to reiterate, can background investigators access disability rating documents from the VA? Do they? Whk do they talk to, exactly to find out?

    Your PMs are welcome. Thank you

  • #2
    So again to reiterate, can background investigators access disability rating documents from the VA? Do they? Whk do they talk to, exactly to find out?
    HIPPA should prevent that until you have a conditional offer.

    I'm rated at 70%, with a spine fusion and Type I diabetes, and got hired.

    Admittedly I went with a department that pays a little less and is somewhat remote so it has trouble finding candidates sometimes, but if you want the job go whether the job is.

    However, I never discussed my specific rating or specific medical issues until the physical. All the department "knew" officially is that I had been medically retired from the Army. I discussed them with somebody in the department I knew and trusted off-line to find out whether I COULD pass the physical when the time came, but officially I kept that to myself during the hiring process.

    Until the medical exam your specific issues, ratings and the rest are nobody's business. They aren't doctors and can't make an informed decision about you anyway... and it might influence them.

    Unless you have to explain something during the interview, like why I left the Army with only 16 years in, or you need to submit paperwork for hiring preference keep it to yourself. There will be a time to disclose that, but it isn't to Joe Sergeant on the oral board or the BI. It's to a doctor who has the need to know and the training to make sense of your issues.

    ...and no, given the laws around medical privacy I wouldn't consider that withholding information or an integrity issue.
    Last edited by tanksoldier; 08-14-2014, 10:24 AM.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet


    • #3
      You must disclose that you are receiving disability payments from the VA. Just like if you were receiving a stipend from somewhere. It's income and must be reported. There is something else in your BG or VA issue that is flunking you out.10% is minimal and usually won't impact anyone.
      Now go home and get your shine box!


      • #4
        I knew of, currently know of several Officers who have VA disability, and who had no problem when disclosing that fact. They key factor will be your ability to perform the duties of a police officer. As has been noted to you HIPPA will prevent disclosure of your medical information, absent your consent. That consent to disclose would be required should you receive a Conditional Offer of Employment.

        My sense is that your "problem" if any, lies somewhere outside of any VA disability you reference.


        • #5
          Thanks everyone for your responses. If it lends more clarity to the scenario, my 10% rating is for PTSD.

          Like I said, I have evaluations from mental health licensed clinical workers attesting to my ability to fully perform the duties of an armed law enforcement position. BUT I understand the need for departments to use their own evaluations.

          My suspicion is that those 4 letters worry leadership who may fear some sort of event wherein they would have to justify hiring someone with "PTSD". Either way I think I learned what I need to know here. Thank you!


          • #6
            Good Morning,

            I have a 70% rating for Spinal fusions, a stab wound and one I will not disclose here, and it did not stop me from getting hired. Yes I disclosed them to the Doctor at the time of the physicals, and they seemed to have no problems with it as long as I could pass the physicals and the physical testing the department put on (O-course), which I did.

            Your issue is what your disability is for. PTSD holds a very serious misunderstood stigma. As soon as some people hear that they feel you are unable to handle anything. You are right, that is what is more than likely stopping you from getting hired, even though it shouldn't. PTSD being a mental issue is something that many departments are fearful of without knowing the full details of each case. I have had BI's I work with come right out and tell me that they will not hire anyone with a PTSD rating because they are afraid they "can't handle" the job stress. I work with BI's on a regular basis as they are trying to hire my recruits.

            The issue really is the fine line behind when not telling a department something is OK. Well people withhold all kinds of information on applications all the time (I see it first hand as I review them for my academy). And sometimes its information they know that would DQ them, and others are not sure, and others just plain forget some things. While I do not condone lying, if the do not ask, you do not have to "volunteer" the information. Medical issues are a touchy subject. Asking about someones medical history is a no no, unless they volunteer it, or they sign a waiver to allow you to look at it. But like you said and so have others here, how can a police officer/ investigator make an informed decision about a medical condition unless they are a medical doctor? Simple answer is they can't. And thats why you have medical exams prior to hire. Thats the time to disclose this and let the medical doctor decide.

            What state are you in? Have you thought of relocating to Florida? We take vets in our academy (yes even some with cases of PTSD) and also have hiring going on in all of our local agencies. Just an option, maybe a change of location will help, and we have THE best VA Hospital in the country here in Gainesville. I know I go there and was there Monday for a check up.

            Good luck in whatever you choose and be well. You are not alone.
            Police Academy Commander
            Lead Firearms Instructor
            35+ years as a cop
            Becoming a Police Officer
            So you think you can do this job?

            I accept all private messages requesting help or advice, why else bother to be here?


            • #7
              VA Disability


              If you click that link disclosing PTSD to anyone but a MD could be HR people interpreting that being an issue. I was USAF EOD and they wanted to hand me a PTSD diagnosis in the worst way but beyond it not being an issue I was worried about it impeding me in the future in many ways.

              Since its only 10%, is maintaining the rating really worth it for you? Sure it qualifies you for preference points and cost free VA medical, but if you can shed the diagnosis and rating it might be more beneficial. Of course if you access care in anyway for this than I would say to keep it of course.

              I have a 10% rating for tinnitus due to a training accident and a .50 blank at 5ft distance from the tool muzzle. If I needed to shed the rating to get a nice job I'd try it. A better job for me now is worth more than the care and beer money I get every month.

              Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
              Last edited by smokinghole; 08-28-2014, 08:40 AM. Reason: spelling on ipad


              • #8
                here are some facts. When you apply for federal employment there is no where on the application that asks what your rating is for, that's not allowed. The only time it might come up is in your BI in which you are asked to sign release of information forms. There are limits as to what mental health information you have to disclose in the OPM background information packets. The actual background application gives a list of what is not required to be disclosed. Do not ever give up your VA disability rating, in fact you should be trying to get an increase in the rating, not just for the money but there are other benefits to it also related employement, VA Home Loans and occupational retraining. I know you're trying to be honest in your BI, but there are some things that do not have to be disclosed as part of your BI, not required to disclosed is not lying or being dishonest, you're not volunterring the information that isn't required as part of your background.

                "For weapons training they told me to play DOOM"


                • #9
                  While your candor with your BIs is to be commended, there is a time and place for everything and you may be shooting yourself in the foot here.

                  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits an employer from inquiring about any medical conditions you may have except in connection with a bona fide offer of employment. However, if you start volunteering information about your medical history that is not asked, or try to be helpful by speculating about something you don't truly know the answer to, all bets are off, particularly if it's regarding a condition that could be of a disqualifying nature.

                  The only question close in nature an employer may ask prior to making you a job offer is whether you posses any condition that would prevent you from performing the duties of the position you are seeking. If you answer that you have PTSD and it might interfere with your performance, then you have volunteered that you are medically unqualified for the job and have become an instant DQ.

                  Think carefully before you answer such a broadly worded question. Do you believe it will it interfere or not? If you do and have told them so, that's why you are getting DQed.
                  Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


                  • #10
                    I waited to give any info out regarding VA disability till the physical. Even then, doc asked how I felt at the moment and if I can do certain types of activities.

                    Since you are dealing with a psych, you may have to withhold it till you speak to the shrink and let them know about it. They can give a thorough eval on it.3


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