|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today we want to talk to you about cancer. Specifically prostate cancer. We represent a lot of Vietnam veterans.|
|Carol Ponton:||A lot.|
|Matthew Hill:||The VA has conceded that one of the diseases that exposure to Agent Orange causes is prostate cancer. A lot of times when we see a case it’s when the veteran has been reduced by the VA. They had a hundred percent rating for prostate cancer and then the VA came in and said, “You no longer have prostate cancer and therefore we’re going to reduce you.”|
|Carol Ponton:||Or you’re no longer receiving treatment for prostate cancer.|
|Matthew Hill:||We have veterans come to us and say, “Well, we want our rating back.” Or “I want my rating back and how do I get it back?” Just in general when the VA is rating cancer cases it’s an all or nothing deal. Either you have an active disease process, or you don’t. If you have an active disease process you’re hundred percent, if you don’t, you’re zero for the cancer itself. What the VA is supposed to look to if you don’t have an active disease process is the residuals of your prostate.|
|Matthew Hill:||The residuals of prostate can be a touchy thing because they typically revolve around urinary frequency.|
|A lot of their veterans are missing out on significant benefits because they’re embarrassed about this. They don’t want to talk about it. Typically, we see veterans that because of the radiation, they’re incontinent.|
|Matthew Hill:||Which means?|
|Carol Ponton:||They can’t control their urine so they have leakage. They have accidents. It could be bowel, it could be just bladder. You need to realize this is where you get your rating back. It’s a significant rating but you have to be honest with the VA and with yourself. If this is going on, I have veterans who just don’t leave the bathroom, they don’t go anywhere, they stay right by the bathroom, they constantly have to change their underwear, throw it away. The VA has a way to rate this and if they realize you’re going to need pads, you’re going to need something that’s going to help you with this incontinence. They rate you according to how many pads you use a day. They give them to you free. This is a way not only to take care of this problem but also to get the rating that you’re entitled to. This can give you a hundred percent.|
|Anyone who … if you have to change pads more than four times a day, that’s a sixty percent rating just for that. How can you work if you are having to change pads, if you’re having accidents, if you’re having to change your clothes? This is how you build your claim. It’s going on. You’re living with this. You just need to make sure the VAs aware of that. When you go into see your VA doctor and you say, “I have terrible leakage. I have to change pads five or six times a day.” Ask the VA and they will mail you the pads free.|
|This is the way that you prove. That’s just one of the things you can do.|
|Matthew Hill:||You need to be honest with the VA and tell them. As far as getting back to the hundred percent, though, that is not going to happen overnight. You have to build the case. You have to get the rating first. As Carol said, a lot of clients we have, there’s no way they can work because they have to close to the bathroom, they’re constitutionally having accidents and frankly they’re constantly thinking about that. They’re not able to focus on their work.|
|Carol Ponton:||It’s depression. You should file a claim for depression. This changes people drastically. I’m not telling you anything if you have this. A lot of times there’s erectile dysfunction, there’s inability to have sex. Just the worry every time you go out of the house, am I going to have an accident, am I going to be embarrassed, causes a lot of depression. You need to make sure that you file a claim for depression if that’s what you’re having. File a claim for the incontinence and then unemployability. They all go together. It’s not an automatic hundred percent just like you got when you were diagnosed, but it’s a hundred percent nevertheless. You just have to make sure you’re asking for the right thing to get it.|
|Matthew Hill:||Thank you for joining us today and we look forward to seeing you on this space again soon.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill & Ponton VA Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today, we are going to talk to you about nexus and what it is and how it’s important to your claim or not important to your claim. A nexus is essentially a link to show that you are entitled service-connected disability benefits on the most basic level, direct compensation level. You have to show three things. You have to show something happened in service, that you have a current disability, and that there’s a nexus or a link between the two.|
|First of all, say that when you’re dealing with your case, if you’ve already shown that it’s service connected, the VA has admitted that it’s related to service, the issue in your case then is either the rating or the effective date. At that point, you no longer have to worry about nexus The nexus really only comes into play when you’re trying to show that your disability is related to service, and so what we see or what is necessary almost all the time for a nexus is a medical opinion, opinion from the doctor. He looks at what happened in service, what’s going on now, and gives a medical opinion as to if they are or not related.|
|Carol Ponton:||Right, and that’s key. You have to say why they’re related and give a reasoning for that. That’s one of the things that gets most opinions thrown out, whether it’s a compensation and pension exam or an independent medical exam. They have to give their reasoning if they have medical literature to back it up. They have to say why is it you think there’s a connection between the two.|
|Matthew Hill:||I would add that a lot of times we’ll have veterans come to us and they will have gotten a nexus opinion from their doctor even their VA doctor, and it can’t just be the doctor’s word as in “I said so. This is connected because I said so.” They have to actually have looked at relevant records from your file. They need to see evidence of that incident in service other than your word. They need to look at service medical records. They need to look at hospitalization from service, and they need to say that.|
|They can say something like, “I saw service clinical records showing that the veteran injured his knee in a football game. He has degenerative joint disease in this knee now, and I believe it’s as likely is not that this caused the current disability.” It’s something to where the doctor can’t just write one or two sentences saying I talked to my veteran and he said that this happened in service and therefore I think it’s service connected.|
|Thank you for joining us, and we hope to see you again on this space soon.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton Video Blog. I’m Mathew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today, we’d like to talk to you about Kidney Disease and Agent Orange. Before we get into that, I should probably back up and talk about the Agent Orange diseases. That … or the diseases that the VA recognizes, that’s being associated with Agent Orange.|
|The VA presumes, I believe it’s 15 now. Different diseases that are … they say that Agent Orange will cause. Essentially, can show exposure to Agent Orange, as in someone who stepped foot in Vietnam, and that they have one of these diseases. Common ones are Diabetes, Prostate Cancer.|
|Carol Ponton:||Lots of Cancers.|
|Matthew Hill:||Well, that’s why there’s a problem.|
|Carol Ponton:||Heart Disease.|
|Matthew Hill:||Heart Disease. The VA will just automatically say its related. The Veteran will receive compensation for it. Sometimes we see cases where the Veteran develops a disease, that is not on their list of presumptive diseases. When that’s the case, the VA will automatically deny it and they’ll say,”This was not on our presumptive disability list, and therefore you’re not entitled to the benefits for it.”|
|What they never do, is they never do the direct service connection process. Meaning, even if this isn’t on the presumptive list, the VA still has to say, “Okay, there was something that happened in service”, which is Agent Orange exposure, as a current disability now, and is there an nexus, or essentially is there a medical link between the two.|
|Matthew Hill:||We see some diseases that there actually is a link, that the VA ignores. One of the big ones I see, is Kidney Disease. That Agent Orange actually affects the Kidney. Now, it can affect the Kidney, secondarily through Diabetes.|
|Matthew Hill:||Which is pretty common. There are cases where its a … where there’s a direct connection. Those cases, if you are a Vietnam Veteran, and you were exposed, you need to keep on fighting. You need to find a doctor who will look at the medical research, specifically, the chemicals you were exposed to. Anything that happened after service. Like, environmental exposures, or anything that you had hereditary. Meaning, somebody in your family had something similar. If you can role those out, show that’s service connected. There’s actually a huge piece of evidence out there, provided by the VA.|
|Matthew Hill:||There was a study in Louisiana VA Medical Center, that showed that there’s a higher percentage of Vietnam Veterans that have Kidney Cancer versus non-Veterans.|
|Matthew Hill:||This is just something to think about if you have a disability that’s not on their list, you were exposed to Agent Orange, you need to continue to fight. Kidney Disease, in particular, go online and put in Louisiana VA Medical Center and Kidney Disease, and they will … you can get the papers that shows there’s connection. Then you want to have your doctor, use that to write a link for you, showing that’s related. You can service connected for this. You are going to have to fight all the way …|
|Carol Ponton:||To the Board of Veteran’s Appeals. Remember there are cases you’re just not going to win at the Regional Offices and this is one of them. You can win at the Board of Veteran’s Appeal if you have the evidence.|
|Matthew Hill:||Right. Thanks for joining us today. We will look for you, next time on this space.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton Veteran’s video blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today, we want to talk to you about paperwork. Paperwork can be so boring and and if you’ve been filing treatment claims at VA you also know it can also be important even though it is tedious.|
|We want to talk about two specific pieces of paperwork that one should file when they are still battling for service connection. What I mean by that is, they have not been granted VA benefits at all, but they are battling for it to get service connected and to get that compensation.|
|Carol Ponton:||There are two that we find that veterans don’t get around to filing and this sometimes looses them benefits or really delays them getting benefits. One is it’s a 686-C. That’s the form. It’s for dependent benefits.|
|If you have a rating that’s 30 percent or more, than your dependents are entitled- you’re entitled to additional income for them.|
|You are going to need a marriage certificate, a birth certificate. These are things that you need to go ahead and file the form and get it in. Okay.|
|A lot of times, I’ve found veterans that didn’t really realize that. They thought they were getting all the benefits they were entitled to and 20 years later, they had never gotten the dependent benefits because they just assumed it was part of it.|
|If you don’t file the 686-C, you’re not going to be getting them.|
|Another thing is, you’ve battled for years to get these benefits, these ratings. Maybe for your back, for your mental condition and then they give you your benefit and you have to wait forever to get the benefits for the dependents. If you already have those forms in there, it comes out right away.|
|Matthew Hill:||The difficult thing here is that if you’re working sometimes VSO’s or other individuals or even the VA, they will look at you and say, “Why are you filing this dependency form when you aren’t even getting benefits at all.” They look at you like you’re crazy saying, “This is putting the cart before the horse.”|
|It could be in a way, but what you’re doing is putting all your paperwork in order. When you get service connected, it should be streamlined. It should be a one stop deal and they give you the right benefits right away verses as Carol said, it’s…|
|Carol Ponton:||As you know, it’s taken years and years and years for them to get around to awarding the benefits. It’s taking time after that to pay the benefits. Then, if they have to go back and collect all this information about your dependents, you’re even farther behind in getting paid.|
|The other form I wanted talk about is the 8940. If a person is not working, if they are unemployed due to a what they think should be a service connected problem, they should file an 8940.|
|An 8940 is a form that says I’m unemployable. Why should you file it? There are million reasons. First of all, if the VA finds that a person has one rating of 60 percent or more or combined ratings of 70 percent or more and the person is not working, they should consider whether they are not entitled to 100 percent under unemployability. You don’t have that form in there, they’re not going to look at it.|
|Matthew Hill:||This goes back to what we were talking about. She’s not talking about when you already have the 70 percent or 90 percent, hopefully who’s ever helping you at that point makes it- shows that you’re not working, that you have that in writing, is putting that in right away.|
|She’s talking about, again, when you apply for benefits and lets say you apply for heart benefits, and you’re not working due to your heart. Even though you’re not receiving any benefits yet, even though they denied you, she’s saying….|
|Carol Ponton:||The service connection. File the unemployability. They will say, “Well, I’m not going to process that.” That’s fine. Because what happens so often is, we find that people get the 60 percent rating or the combined 70 percent rating and then they file their unemployability and the VA grants them unemployability as of the date they filed the form.|
|Matthew Hill:||They say, “Oh, it’s a new claim.”|
|Carol Ponton:||This is a new claim. There are all these years before that they are not looking at. You want to get the proof of your claim, the quest for your claim in right away so that the VA goes, “What are you asking for?”|
|Matthew Hill:||Remember, it doesn’t matter if you file a claim for increase or filing a claim for service connection, you want both those forms in even before they get decided.|
|Carol Ponton:||The numbers are, and you can just Google, 686-C and 8940.|
|Matthew Hill:||Have a good day.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today we want to talk to you about filing a claim and what we would call filing a complete claim. What that means is when a veteran files a claim they typically file it for one disability. Let’s say for diabetes. A lot of disabilities like diabetes are almost a gateway. In that, that disability is a disability in and of itself but it causes, one, two, three, four, five other ones.|
|Carol Ponton:||The veterans, when you file your claim if you file for diabetes than the VA is going to say, “Okay great, do you take insulin? Do you not take insulin? I’m going to give you ten, twenty, maybe forty percent.” The real problem with diabetes that you know is that it causes so many other problems. You can have no feeling in your fingers, your arms, your feet, your legs. That’s the peripheral neuropathy. You have to put the VA on notice that this is what you’re filing for. “I don’t have any feeling in my feet. I can’t pick up my foot. I step on nails. I have ulcers in my legs.” What if it’s affected your kidney. There are so many things that diabetes does to you. You have to file for all of those things. The VA is supposed to look. They’re supposed to. They’re busy.|
|They look at what you ask for and that’s what they deal with. It’s really important that you make them know what’s going on. Erectile dysfunction, do you have that because of diabetes? Do you have depression because of diabetes? Make sure that you list. A lot of times it’s good to ask your spouse or your significant other, “What problems do you think I have or should we list because of this one thing?” Let’s talk about the back. You have a back problem, but maybe that means you have foot drop. You can’t pick up your foot or if you have a neck problem. Does that affect your hands and being able to use them? Think about what the problem is and all of the other problems it causes you. Make sure you list every single one of those on that claim.|
|Matthew Hill:||This can be overwhelming. Think about it. I would suggest a place to start would be to get a copy of your medical records. See what your doctor has diagnosed you with. Talking to your doctor about this, what he thinks is involved with diabetes, asking him what are the other issues? If you can’t do that get a copy of your medical records and see which ones are related. Carol was talking about the orthopedic issues. Frankly if you have a back problem and you’re suffering from anything else, a knee, an ankle, a hip you should probably file for that too because there’s a strong likelihood that they’re related. When I say they’re related. You can get secondary service connection meaning the knee was never a problem in service. There was never an accident from the knee. If the back either caused or aggravated the current knee injury they need to compensate you for that.|
|Carol Ponton:||They will. It’s just making sure that it’s clear, what you’re asking for.|
|Matthew Hill:||That’s just a word of advice when you’re filing a new claim. Take the time to sit there and think about what all this claim encompasses. How this affects your whole body? One we don’t see enough is that when the veteran does have a back claim and their legs don’t work and they lost their job because of it. One thing they don’t put down, which after talking to them a lot of times you’ll see is depression. They’ll be depressed just because their whole life was altered by their disability. Again it’s a total body, total system review you need to do before you put down a claim because as we know and you probably know as well these claims don’t get solved right away. You want everything in there.|
|Carol Ponton:||So that when you get your benefits and go back to the day that you filed your claim. Remember you can look at the rating decision. The highest rating most people get that we know for diabetes is usually 40%. There’s a higher rating, but most people don’t get anything higher than that because the VA has already done another rating for the peripheral neuropathy, for the loss of kidney function. You’re going to get higher ratings by getting all of those included in that rating.|
|I would want to say one thing about diabetes that over and over again most people that have diabetes and have a kidney problem don’t even know it. You need to learn to read your blood labs. If you have a BUN or creatinine problem it could be related to diabetes. Most people don’t find that out until its really really late. Ask your doctors, learn how to read those labs. That’s a 60% rating just for your kidney function if you’ve had that. Most of the time when my clients have it, it’s news to them. Make sure you know what’s going on.|
|Matthew Hill:||Thank you for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you again on this space.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello, and welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today, we’d like to talk to you about a question that we get all the time. That is in what states do you represent veterans? Where do you practice VA law?|
|Carol Ponton:||The answer is we work all over the United States. VA law is federal law, so it’s the same in every state. There are probably not 200 lawyers who do just veterans work, and many of those have only started doing it recently. For years, we’ve represented veterans in California and Michigan, all over the US.|
|Matthew Hill:||Our main office is in Florida, and we have a lot of cases in Florida, but we are all over the US, we travel all over. As Carol said, the law doesn’t change from place to place. Unfortunately, mistakes don’t typically change from place to place.|
|Carol Ponton:||They don’t change from place to place. It’s very easy to do them all over. Everything is pretty much on the internet now. Everything is paperless, and I’ve had no problem for years doing that.|
|Matthew Hill:||Yeah, our office has been paperless for over ten years, which means we put everything on our server, and so if there’s something our clients need, and they’ve sent us hard copies, we just send that back, but we can also e-mail whatever we have been sent, and that’s how we interact with the VA as well, is that we fax stuff in. We send it to their processing center. We’ve never really had a problem.|
|Carol Ponton:||Under the VA system, they have allowed, I think, 120 lawyers to access their clients cases on the VA system. We actually are able to go into the VA and access our clients, wherever they are in the US, and look at all the things that have been filed, what’s going on with their case.|
|Matthew Hill:||Essentially, the answer to that question is nationwide. We can represent you wherever you are. We are familiar with all 50 … What is it? 58? They always change the number. 58 different regional offices.|
|Carol Ponton:||He didn’t major in math.|
|Matthew Hill:||I’m a lawyer for a reason. Thank you for joining us today. We hope to see you again on the site soon.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton VA Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today we want to talk to you about a certain kind of widow’s benefits, called DIC benefits. There are several ways to get this benefit, and essentially the benefit is an ongoing monthly stipend, monthly pension, that the widow, the survivor …|
|Carol Ponton:||The widower.|
|Matthew Hill:||The widower would get if the veteran died due to one of several reasons. We’re going to focus today on the primary reason people get it, and that’s a service-connected death. That means the veteran died due to a service-connected disability. The way that’s most obvious is, if you will, if the veteran’s service-connected disability was the primary cause of death. If there veteran’s hurt, service-connected, and he dies of a heart attack, then that widow, widower, would be entitled to service-connected compensation for that.|
|One area where we find that survivors get pushed into the cracks, if you will, by the VA, is the other way of showing that it’s a service-connected death, and that their service-connected disability contribute to the death.|
|Carol Ponton:||It doesn’t have to be the main cause. It can be a contribution to the death. I think of one where the veteran was service-connected for PTSD, but he died of a heart attack. His treating psychiatrist said that because of his PTSD and his anxiety, that they think that contributed to the problem with his heart. His widow as given DIC benefits for that.|
|Matthew Hill:||Basically what she’s saying is the PTSD didn’t cause the heart attack, but it contributed to the heart problem, which did. There are other ones. If a veteran has diabetes, and let’s say it’s a Vietnam veteran, and then has a heart disease, which is not coronary artery disease, which would be presumptive service-connected, but a different kind of heart disease, an arrhythmia. He dies of the heart disease. That’s another issue where the diabetes would contribute to the approximate cause of that death, because it affected or worsened, I guess you could say, the heart disease.|
|Carol Ponton:||Exactly. I think we actually had one where the arthritis was so bad that it … The pain that that contributed to the heart disease. There are a number of things that can contribute it. You really shouldn’t just disregard this great benefit just because it wasn’t exactly what’s on the death certificate. If you can show that it contributed to the death, then you’re entitled to benefits.|
|You always want to also just throw in the one about if you’ve been 100% disabled for ten years, it doesn’t matter what you die of. He can be hit by a car. You’re covered. That’s something always to keep in the back of your mind. If the veteran has been 100% disabled for ten years or more, the widow or the widower is covered.|
|Matthew Hill:||What she said is two totally unrelated things. 100% for PTSD, again, yet has cancer, which is completely unrelated, then they would be … The widow would be able to get DIC benefits.|
|Back to the service-connected death, and the proximate cause, as Carol said, these could be so outside the box. We won a claim recently where the veteran died of liver disease, and was service-connected 100% for PTSD. There was no connection between the two, except there was a note from his doctor saying that he was eligible for a transplant, but for his PTSD made him so wild, and so illogical, that it was not worth the risk, it was not worth the hospital to give him the liver. But for his PTSD, he would have had a new liver. If he would have had a new liver, her would not have died.|
|Carol Ponton:||Just look into this. This is a great benefit, and it’s missed by so many people that are entitled to this benefit. We’re not just talking about widows. There are dependents that could be getting this benefit, and the benefit can be very significant.|
|Matthew Hill:||Dependent children, and dependent parents.|
|Matthew Hill:||Thanks for listening in, and we look forward to seeing you next time on the Hill and Ponton Video Blog.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Mathew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today we’re going to talk to you about Agent Orange and peripheral neuropathy. This is actually a pretty tricky one. Well, first of all, let’s back up. With Agent Orange, the VA has admitted that there are 14, 15 diseases that are related to Agent Orange. If you can show that you were exposed, the easiest way is if you were serving in Vietnam, they assume you were exposed. The will presume that any of these 14, 15 disabilities are service connected, and you don’t have to show that link in between. Big ones we always see, diabetes …|
|Carol Ponton:||Diabetes, prostate cancer, ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s, a number of cancers.|
|Matthew Hill:||If you have one of these then there’s no fight from the VA on the service connection. The rating is a whole other story. If you have something that’s off the list, or there’s a temporal part of it, then that gets difficult. If it’s not in the perimeters of the list, the VA is going to deny you flat-out and just not give you time of day frankly on it.|
|Matthew Hill:||We talked about it being presumptively service connected. Even is something is presumptively service connected, the VA has to do the analysis of a direct service connection. Meaning, did something happened in service? Is there a current disability? Is there a link between the 2? In this case, you’d have something happened in service as far as Agent Orange exposure, current disability. We talked about kidney cancer before, and then is there a medical link? VA will never do that. They’ll just say, “Nope, not on the list.”|
|Matthew Hill:||We’re going to talk about 1 in particular today.|
|Carol Ponton:||It’s peripheral neuropathy which is actually on the list, but it says you have to develop it within 2 years, and then they assume it will … Of service, of exposure, and then they assume it will go away. We’re finding that there are many thousands of veterans who have developed this peripheral neuropathy much later in life. It could be 30 or 40 years. What they have is they have numbness, no feeling in their hands, their feet, their legs. It’s a terribly crippling disease, and the VA is denying all these. At the same time, they’re given free treatment at the VA because the medical realizes there’s a link between them. You can win these cases. We’ve won a lot of these cases.|
|Matthew Hill:||We should say there are a whole host of veterans who have Agent Orange exposure and are service connected peripheral neuropathy because of diabetes.|
|Carol Ponton:||Right, but this is different.|
|Matthew Hill:||Right. You’ll see that. People have diabetes and then they develop this, but this is a case where there is no diabetes at all.|
|Carol Ponton:||No diabetes. I can think of a person who, his blood sugar was fine, but he had peripheral neuropathy. He was a Seal in Vietnam. He was back in the jungle where they had a tremendous amount of this Agent Orange. I guess he was in his 60s where he had no feeling in his hands, his feet. He had foot drop. He couldn’t pick up his foot. He couldn’t zip up his pants. He couldn’t do anything. He actually went to private doctors and they did pretty much the same thing that the VA is doing. They have them come in every 3, 4, 5, 6 weeks. They actually have an infusion that takes all day long. They have to put in this medication that goes in, and they they’re almost back to normal.|
|They still have some problems, but they usually walk and use their hands. This is the peripheral neuropathy I’m talking about. I have veterans that say when they go into the VA, the VA in Gainesville in Florida, they’ll be a huge circle where they’re all sitting around having infusion together. They’re all for peripheral neuropathy, all Vietnam veterans. The VA has been turning these cases down, but you can win them. You’re probably not going to win them at the regional office, but the BVA, the Board of Veterans Appeal, which is where you go after your first 2 times at the regional office, they are approving these cases.|
|You’re going to need a medical opinion. You’re going to need a doctor who’s qualified. We have one that I’m thinking of in particular that she actually worked with the military for a while. She investigated toxins and their affect on the soldiers. To do an opinion that the exposure to Agent Orange is what has caused his peripheral neuropathy. Most of these diseases are totally disabling. This is something that I urge you to pursue. You can definitely win this.|
|Matthew Hill:||That’s all we have today, but thank you so much for joining us, and we hope to see you again on this space soon.|
|Matthew Hill:||Hello, and welcome to the Hill and Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill.
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.
|Matthew Hill:||Today we want to talk about a question we get all the time, and it doesn’t seem there’s much information out there about it, and that is, “What is the difference between 100% and individual unemployability?”
|Carol Ponton:||The 100% is when you add all of your VA ratings up, and using VA math you get to 100%. Just so you know how VA math works, VA math says if you have a 60% rating, only 40% of your body is left, so the next time you get a rating, say it’s 20%, instead of adding 20 to 60 you say it’s 20% of the 40% left, which is 8%, which gives you a 10% additional rating, not the 20%.
|Matthew Hill:||It goes on and on like that. Essentially the closer you get to 100%, the harder it is to get 100%.
|Carol Ponton:||If you have 90%, you have to get another 50% rating to get 100%, so it’s really hard to get that knock, but you can, but it is. The VA- Go ahead.
|Matthew Hill:||I was going to say, as a side note, if you’re trying to put together your ratings, we have a disability rating calculator now on our website on the homepage under the VA Law. Check that out, because I spent the first five years of my career being utterly confused on how they put one thing and another together. Back to what you’re saying.
|Carol Ponton:||The VA realized it’s very hard to get 100%, and there are many veterans who cannot work because of their service-connected problems, so they have unemployability. This is identical to the 100% except for the veteran is not working and their rating doesn’t reach 100%. In order to qualify for unemployability, you have to be not working because of a service-connected problem and have one rating of 60% or more or a combined rating of 70% or more.
|Matthew Hill:||With one of those combined ratings being 40%.
|Carol Ponton:||Right. If you have that, then the VA should consider whether you are 100% disabled because of your service-connected problems. If they find that, they give you unemployability. You get the same benefits, everything is identical, except one thing: You can’t work. Every year they’re going to send you a form, “I find you 100%, permanently, and totally disabled under unemployability,” but there’s a catch. Every year you have to fill out the form they send you that says, “I haven’t worked.” If you don’t fill the form out-
|Matthew Hill:||Well, it asks if you’ve worked or not, and another thing people don’t realize sometimes is you can work. You can work and make up to the poverty line.
|Carol Ponton:||Well, the closer you get to the poverty line, the more I’d be concerned.
|Matthew Hill:||This is theory. I’m speaking in theory.
|Carol Ponton:||In theory, because remember, there’s no firm law as to exactly what working means as far as dollars. They say the poverty line, but I’ve seen people brought back in and questioned when it’s significantly less than that. I’m just saying, you can’t work, you make 2, 3, 4 thousand, I don’t think you’re going to have a problem, but if you get close to $12,000 a year, I would be concerned.
|Regardless, every year you have to report to the VA. When they send you the form, send it back showing whether you’ve worked, how much you’ve worked. If you do that, your benefits continue if you haven’t worked. If you don’t, you’re going to get a letter saying, “We are proposing to reduce your benefits because you didn’t complete the form.” You don’t want to do that, because sometimes it takes two or three months for the VA to get the evidence that you’re sending in, and they’re going to go ahead and reduce you while they’re waiting, so send the form in.
|Matthew Hill:||Yeah, and this applies for the rest of your life if you never work again. You need to fill that out, say, “I’m not working.” You either do this online on their system, or you send it in certified mail, because as Carol said, this is terribly inconvenient.
|Carol Ponton:||It’s a real easy form. You pretty much just have to give them, if you haven’t worked, sign your name, and send it back, but the two types of … 100% and unemployability are utterly the same except for that.
|Matthew Hill:||As long as you’re permanent and total. Thank you for joining us today, and we look forward to seeing you on this space again soon.
|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I am Matthew Hill, here with …
|Carol Ponton:||Carol Ponton.
|Matthew Hill:||Today we want to talk with you about one of the side benefits about being 100% service connected, permanent and total. A lot of people know about being able to go to the commissary on the local base or getting tax benefits, either tax waived or significantly reduced for a real estate property or the tags for their vehicle, but there is another one that, unfortunately, a lot of people do not know about and that’s student loans.
|Carol Ponton:||Right. If you’re 100% service connected, then you’re entitled to have your federal student loans waived, all of them, but you have to ask. You need to get the paperwork that says, “This certifies that you are 100% service connected veteran.” You send it in and request that all your federal loans be waive because you are disabled. They will do that. That’s an incredible benefit because, as you know, there’s no other way to get rid of them.
|Matthew Hill:||Right, those loans follow you to death and, unfortunately …
|Carol Ponton:||And beyond.
|Matthew Hill:||Right, if somebody cosigned, like a parent or a wife, then it follows that person until they’re paid. It’s a huge benefit. The question we would get here most often would be, “What if I’m not 100% service connected but I’m unemployability, or I have unemploy …”
|Carol Ponton:||Unemployability is the same thing because you’re 100% service connected disabled.
|Matthew Hill:||The key is with either 100% or unemployability, you have to show that it’s permanent and total. If you have that permanent and total status, then you’re eligible for this benefit.
|Carol Ponton:||Right, and you have to ask.
|Matthew Hill:||Yeah, that’s … It’s unfortunate. This isn’t one they advertise, but it is a big benefit. Thank you for tuning in and we look forward to seeing you next time.
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