|Matthew Hill:||Hello, and welcome to the Hill and Ponton Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill here with …|
|Carol Ponton:||Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||We’re doing a series right now on what we call Big Mistakes with VA Claims, mistakes that we see over and over again and can be fatal to the claim, not just the claim, more importantly to the veteran getting the benefits they deserve. We spoke recently about veterans failing to even make a claim and what that does. Today, we want to talk about not making all the claims.|
|Carol Ponton:||This is what I will typically see. I have a veteran who has hurt his back, clearly related to service, and he continues to try to get the rating for his back higher. The highest rating that most veterans are going to get is 40%.|
|Matthew Hill:||That’s very difficult to get.|
|Carol Ponton:||That’s difficult to get, but what the veterans aren’t realizing is the way that the VA makes up for that is they also give you a rating for things related to the back. If you have radiculopathy, pain, numbness running down your leg into your foot for either leg because of the back, you should file that. The VA doesn’t know what you have unless you tell them. What happens with a lot of veterans, they’ll get 40% for their back, and they may get 40 or 60% for each leg. Say you have dropfoot. You can’t pick up the toe of your foot as you’re walking, and that’s related to your back. You need to claim that.|
|Incontinence can happen a lot of times with back problems. The other thing I see is depression. If you can’t sit, stand, walk without pain, if you can’t do your job, you’re depressed.|
|Matthew Hill:||Or your life, as you knew it, just doesn’t exist anymore because of that.|
|Carol Ponton:||Then you need to file because if you don’t file, then you can’t get any benefits. That’s how you get complete benefits for the problem that you’ve encountered. If you’re only getting 40% and you can’t work because of your back, that’s really depressing. You need to file for everything that’s related to that service connected problem.|
|Matthew Hill:||I’d say almost a cheat sheet on where to look for that, because what Carol’s talking about, radiculopathy for the legs, radiculopathy in the arms due to a cervical spine, some of that stuff is medical mumbo jumbo, but if you’re treating with the VA, you can ask for your latest records, and they will have a sheet on there that shows all of the problems you have and the medical diagnosis. Those are the ones that you should apply for if you feel like one’s related to the other or if your doc is telling you, “Hey, the pain in your leg is due to the problem you have in your lumbar spine,” but as she said, it’s important to make sure you’ve documented and you filed for all these claims because it’s all the claims together that’s going to get you the highest rating possible.|
|Carol Ponton:||In the past, you could file a 4138 form and just say, “My back is causing me to have problems with my legs, and I’m really depressed.” Now you have to actually file a 21-526 form. What will happen is people will send in a 4138, this form that outlines, it’s a story about what’s going on with the veteran. The veteran sends it, and then the VA, instead of processing a claim, they’ll send back, “Did you want to file a claim? If you did, you have to file it on this form.” If you’re not filing it on the form, you’re not filing a claim. Make sure you list every one of those problems.|
|Matthew Hill:||Back to listing those problems, you do not have to list the medical term. If your leg hurts, it’s going numb, you can put that. If you know the word radiculopathy, great, but if you don’t, you need just describe what you’re feeling, sensation. If you feel depressed, you don’t know the correct medical condition, mental health condition that is, you can say, “Have no motivation. I don’t want to be around people.” Just whatever it is, don’t be frightened by having to use the right words. Just put it down so that the burden then goes on the VA to develop the evidence to grant you the|
|Carol Ponton:||If you can’t work, make sure you put, “I can’t work because of this.”|
|Matthew Hill:||Thank you all for joining us this time. This is our small series on big mistakes we see, and this was mistake number two, not filing all your claims. Thanks.|
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