Matt Hill: Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton video blog, I’m Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton. Today we’d like to talk to you about what it means to be a nationwide firm and when we say that what it means. Our base is in Florida, we have several offices there. We have offices all over the U.S. where we can and do meet with clients when necessary. It’s important to understand that in this system of VA you don’t really ever have to go to court. You can ask for a hearing, a lot of times that’s not necessary. The way you win cases isn’t showing up for a hearing, the way you win cases is developing the right evidence. If it’s say, going out and actually getting service records, or if it’s getting a proper medical exam, those are the ways you win. At Hill and Ponton we have developed, we have military storings we work with when it comes to getting records, we have doctors all over the U.S. who help us get competent and quality exams. Even though you know, we get asked, “Hey I live in California, or even Hawaii, how are you going to be able to help me here when your office is in Florida?”
Frankly it doesn’t matter, especially if you have an internet connection, we can email back and forth, we can check online with the VA. Location has been taken out.
Carol Ponton: Right, we have clients, I have clients in Hawaii, California, Wyoming, all over the U.S. It makes no difference because the law is the same, it’s a federal law, it’s not the state law. We know what you need to win, and basically that’s what wins your case, getting the evidence into the file. The hearings, I don’t think hearings are important. They’re not going to base their decisions on evidence, things that you talk about. They’re going to base it on the evidence from the doctors, from the medical records, from the service medical records. They’re going to base it on that, and that you put into the file. For years we represented people all over the country with no problem.
Matt Hill: To add to that chances are there is a local attorney in your area, your city, who does do VA law. I would stress getting someone who is competent versus close. What I mean by that is you want to look at the persons resume, you want to look online and see what their bio says, and you want to see, excuse me, how involved in VA law they are. By that I mean are they going to seminars, are they getting seminars, have they written books, have they written articles, what is it they know about the law and how are they showing it?
Carol Ponton: How long have they been involved in it, how much of their practice is VA law? I’ve been doing this twenty years and that’s all we do. We go to seminars, or give seminars twice a year. This is something that we are consumed with.
Matt Hill: That’s great as far as part of practice, I mean if it’s one of four different areas the person does I’d worry about that. The biggest red flag I see when choosing an attorney is an attorney who says, “I’m accredited by the VA.” All that means is they signed a piece of paper with the VA promising that they would take three hours of a video class within the next year. The VA says, “Okay, you can practice for us.” Three hours isn’t enough to fully understand what it means to get your benefits and to get you through the system. I would just look at for that general, I mean if you find somebody close and they have good credentials then that probably works. Don’t take close over competence.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matt Hill: Thank you so much and check out our blog if you want more information on this and other issues.