Matthew Hill: Hi. My name’s Matthew Hill, and I’m here with Carol Ponton on the Hill & Ponton video blog, and today we’re talking to you about Blue Water Veterans and the benefits that now we’re hoping they’re entitled to. As we spoke on an earlier blog, a big case came down last week where the court, the Federal Circuit Court decide that Vietnam was not just the land of Vietnam, but it was the territorial seas up to 12 miles out, as well. So all the Vietnam vets who are Blue Water Vietnam vets are now entitled to the same benefits, the same presumptions that the veterans who served on land were.
Matthew Hill: Even though that case is not final, meaning that the VA could appeal that to the Supreme Court of the United States, we think it’s important that you start moving on your case now.
Carol Ponton: Exactly.
Matthew Hill: If you haven’t filed a case …
Carol Ponton: File it. If you filed one before and it was denied, file a new one. You should file for everything that you think you may have that’s related to Agent Orange. Cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes … any of these problems. If you have them, file them. And like we said, if you filed them before and were denied, file them again. Okay?
Carol Ponton: If you file and say something awful happens to this case, nothing has … It doesn’t hurt.
Matthew Hill : Right.
Carol Ponton: But if you don’t file, and this case remains the law, then your right to benefits is going to be much later than it should be. So do yourself a favor. Go to someone. Get them to file the claims for you, and see what happens. This is a big case, and it’s great benefits. Not only for veterans, but also there are a lot of widows out there.
Matthew Hill: [crosstalk 00:01:53].
Carol Ponton: The widows should file a claim. That’s the sad thing. While this has been going on, people have been dying, so we want to tell everybody about this. This is big case. Because before if you didn’t step foot on land you weren’t entitled to the benefits. If you were in the harbor, if you were off the coast, you weren’t entitled to benefits. That’s not the law anymore.
Matthew Hill: You should recognize that if you file now, the VA very well could deny you, because they haven’t been told. The VA adjudicators at the regional office haven’t been told to start granting these cases, because the central office still hasn’t made up its mind what it’s doing. But as Carol said, who cares? What you’re doing is establishing your effective date, the date from which the VA should be paying you benefits, and that’s really important.
Carol Ponton: And not only that, your place in line. This case continues to be the law, there’re going to be a lot of people filing claims, and you don’t want to be behind all of them. Get in there and file your claim now.
Matthew Hill: Yeah. That’s the great thing here is that you … There’s an appeal out there that could be made, but we believe you are entitled to those benefits, and once this presumption takes place, you should be getting those benefits without the VA contesting it.
Carol Ponton: Exactly.
Matthew Hill: And so it’s important to make sure you get them as far back as possible. Now there is the question of if you get your benefits … Let’s say they apply, and they get benefits, and they had applied before. The question then becomes what is your effective date? It’s my belief-
Carol Ponton: And mine.
Matthew Hill: It’s not in law yet, but it’s my belief it should go all the way back to the first time you applied.
Carol Ponton: Exactly.
Matthew Hill: Because you are now considered what’s part, I believe, of the Nehmer class, and that’s a group of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, and they had very special rules on effective dates-
Carol Ponton: Very favorable.
Matthew Hill: That go all the way back to when the veteran first applied for benefits. So whether that first time is tomorrow, or that first time is 10 years ago, go ahead and get that in there, and get your claim rolling.
Carol Ponton: And the VA has tried to make it very easy for you to file. You can go online, file a claim, make a copy of it so you have, but that file is now being processed by the VA. Okay? Or you can go to a VSO or someone that can help you, but get it filed.
Matthew Hill: Thanks. Have a nice day.
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