Matthew: Hello, and welcome to another edition of the Hill & Ponton Veterans Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill.
Carol: I’m Carol Ponton.
Matthew: Today we’d like to talk to you about unemployability and how we see again and again where some people don’t notice it. The people we’re talking about are the veterans who are already rated anywhere from 60% to 90% and are not working, yet are not receiving unemployability.
Carol: Remember, unemployability is another way of saying 100%. You can get 100% by adding up under the crazy VA math to get to 100%, or if you aren’t working and you have one rating for 60% or a combination of 70%, 80%, or 90%, then they should be evaluating you for 100% under unemployability.
Matthew: The one that we see gets tricky a lot is the 60% rating. Fortunately, there are a lot of advocates and VSOs out there who will say, “You’re only 60%; you’re not eligible for unemployability.” If that 60% is due to one disability or a combination of disabilities from the same body system (like if it’s all orthopedic/back/knees/feet/arms), then you are eligible. It’s important to know that because if you’re not working and you’re getting that rating, you’re not getting the full benefits. As you’ve probably seen with the VA compensation itself, 100% is just about $3,000, whereas 90% is $1,800 or something and it keeps on going down from there. It’s really important just to analyze that yourself. In addition to the greater compensation, if your disability is permanent and total (meaning you can’t work at all ever again because of the disability), you’re entitled to other benefits as well.
Carol: Those benefits are fantastic. If you have children under 26, they get a college education free and they get medical insurance. Your spouse gets medical insurance and an education if they want. There are just an endless number of benefits that you get. But we see veterans that have had 80-90% for 20 years. Maybe initially when they got the 80% they were still working, but that’s why you always need to look at everything as things change. As you stop working, look at your VA benefits and should they change.
Matthew: This is another nuanced problem that we see. Let’s say a veteran is service connected active at 70% for PTSD yet has a really bad back injury on the job that has nothing to do with service. The veteran goes on Social Security Disability because of the back itself. A lot of times vets will think, “I’m not working because of my back (or that’s how Social Security acknowledged it), so I wouldn’t be eligible for unemployability,” and that’s not true. The VA must consider your VA disability by itself and not put any weight on disabilities that are not related to your service. This is important because, as Carol said, sometimes disabilities like PTSD do worsen significantly after working has stopped.
Carol: We find that when you’re not working, you have time to think about things — maybe you don’t sleep as well — and we find that the PTSD in many cases becomes much worse. Look at your benefits. If you know somebody who’s getting benefits in this level (60%, 70%, 80%, 90%), they really need to think about why they’re not getting 100%.
Matthew: That’s all we have today for the Hill & Ponton Veterans Disability Blog. Stay tuned for this same channel next time. Carol: Bye.