My best friend has filed a claim with the VA for disability due to Sarcoidosis. Twice he has been declined because they say he can't show it was diagnosed within a year of his discharge and it isn't a presumptive disease recognized by either his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam or his time served in the Persian Gulf War. He retired from the reserves several years ago as a Master Sergeant.
Currently, he is hospitalized and has been told he will need a double lung transplant. However, because he has been put on the ventilator twice, he can't walk or talk for himself. He has been in the hospital for 64 consecutive days in ICU. He got a letter of denial from the VA on 12/8/10. I know he has 60 days to respond but can that be extended? His VA representative is from the DAV, but he isn't able to call them to discuss appealing the VA's decision. His wife has Power of Attorney, but she isn't familiar with what to ask or how to go about proving that her husband's disease is, in fact, related to his exposure in one of the foreign arenas he served. There is no family history of sarcoidosis and his regular job was in the mailroom for the Corps of Engineers.
I am at a loss as to where to begin this process and have been told that my friend may need to get an attorney to prove his case. I did some online research and found where the VA was sued by another vet who had the same condition and he ended up winning his case. My friend submitted this to the VA because he had the same MOS and the same duties were performed by himself as the other vet performed, i.e. spraying agent orange around the perimeter of the camp where he was located. But they said it didn't change the evidence they have in his file. His known medical condition, sarcoidosis, is getting worse and will never get better. He never went to the VA Dr. and got a diagnosis for this disease. Isn't there something about "undiagnosed presumptive diseases" that might apply to him, since it is a respiratory disease?
Would someone please give me a course of direction to pursue for him? I would truly appreciate it!