Hill & Ponton, P.A.

Video Blog – Individual Unemployability – When to File

Matthew Hill: Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Matthew Hill.
Carol Ponton: I’m Carol Ponton.
Matthew Hill: Today we want to talk to you about individual unemployability and a big mistake we see, and that is the timing of the filing of the paperwork for that. A lot of times what we’ll see is somebody is not working and they’re filing for service connected compensation for their back or their headaches or their allergies, and they’re not service connected yet.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: It’s those disabilities that are keeping them from working.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: Even though they’re not service connected, once they get service connected they’re really going for 100%. What do you see mistake-wise on this?
Carol Ponton: Well, unfortunately, what happens is if you haven’t … First of all, it takes forever to get your claims evaluated and approved through the VA. Then if you wait until then to file a claim for unemployability, you have to start all over. Plus, the VA seems to think that you only became disabled the day you filed that form. You have a catch 22. You have to wait years more and then they will only go back to when you filed the form, and that’s not the law. We appeal all that, but that’s what you’re going to get from the VA. I feel whenever a veteran has what they think should be a service connected claim that keeps them from working, they should also file for unemployability.
Matthew Hill: One of the catches here is that they’ll get flack from veteran service officers or people at the VA saying, “Well, you’re not even service connected. You can’t file this yet.” The whole point is you don’t want just to be service connected, you want to be compensated at the correct rate. This is part of that. You want to get all your paperwork in there, because unfortunately if you don’t and you get fighting, that’s where people need us. They come in and we see all this paperwork is all over the place, and they need us to come in and basically force the VA to recognize the law that even though the form for unemployability wasn’t filed till three years, four years after the actual claim, it should go all the way back.
This is big money.
Carol Ponton: This is big money.
Matthew Hill: I mean, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars that they want you to leave on the table by not appealing. Our hope is that if you do it all at once, that goes away, that they finally service connect you and they say, “Oh, wow. This is 100% rating.”
Carol Ponton: It’s really sad when I have a veteran who has been fighting for five or six years to get service connection. Now they get the service connection where they’re back in the radiculopathy and I hear from the decision review officer, but I can’t consider unemployability because the veteran didn’t file a claim, or he just filed it when he came to you and it’s still at the initial phase, it’s not an appeal.
Matthew Hill: Right. This is, unfortunately, one of those tricks, I’d call, to make there be a longer delay, or as I was saying earlier, tricks for the veteran not to grab all the retroactive compensation they’re entitled to. Again, you will hear people tell you that you can’t do this or you’re just clogging up the system if you file the unemployability form, and that’s the 218940 is the name of the form, if you file that form they’ll say, “Well, you’re not even service connected yet. What are you doing?” If you are filing for the disabilities that are keeping you from working, that should be your end goal.
Carol Ponton: That’s your answer. “My back keeps me from working and this form needs to be filed so that I can prove my case.”
Matthew Hill: Thank you for joining us today on the Hill and Ponton Veteran’s video blog. We look forward to seeing you on this space again soon.