Matt Hill: Hi this is Matthew Hill and Carol Ponton, and we are talking to you from the Hill and Ponton Video Blog. Today we want to address a question we received recently that’s the kind of question that we get a lot, and it regards an effective date of a claim, of the receipt of benefits. Normally the effective date is the date of the claim that has currently been filed. If you filed in 2000, and the claim was denied, and in 2005 the claim was denied, and then 2010 and the claim was granted, it would be that last date. 2010. There are exceptions. Exceptions are they’re quite a few, and they’re incredibly complicated.
Carol Ponton: They’re very important, because if you can find an exception and go all the way back, that’s a lot of benefits.
Matt Hill: Yeah. The question we had was from a veteran who first filed in 1992, and he wanted to know if his benefits could go all the way back then. The first question we had was, “Well have you continuously appealed”, because then that’s an obvious yes. If that’s not the case then there are other things we look for. Did he file something as an appeal that the VA never acted on? Was there evidence in the file at the time that would have required a subsequent decision and they didn’t act on. There’s quite a few different ones, but they’re pretty technical.
Carol Ponton: It’s complicated. It’s very difficult. There are different laws that would reopen it. One is if they give you a denial, and within a year you submit additional evidence that would affect their decision, and they never make another decision. That’s an open claim. As Matt says, “What if they denied your claim for PTSD because there was no evidence of a stressor.” Later on you have a claim, and you are able to submit the stressor. The helicopter crashed, I saw these people dead, and they make a decision giving you PTSD based on that service medical record. Then you have a right to go all the way back. There are a number of exceptions, but it’s very difficult to go over all of them. It’s something our firm looks for whenever we have original claims, but it’s just very complicated.
Matt Hill: Well yeah and I think the complicated thing is you have to get a copy of your claims file. Which is the folder the VA benefit section keeps on you. It will have any and all the evidence and all the information of every claim you claim you filed since discharge. That’s kind of a puzzle that you can start to put together, and that’s where I’m saying, “Did you file information within the appeal period that they had and didn’t act on? Did you file an appeal they didn’t act on? Were there service records put on the file that they should have had before but they didn’t?” There are ways to get back to that first claim. I think it’s important to understand though that the rule is it’s the date of the claim that you currently are filing. To go back further it’s on you, the veteran, to find an exception or somewhere where the VA didn’t follow through.
Carol Ponton: When someone tells you just drop this, don’t appeal, go ahead and file new claim, what they’re telling you is to give up all your past due benefits. Now is that something you really want to do? You need to figure out what’s missing, what I need to get to the VA so that I can win now and get all these past due benefits?
Matt Hill: Well that’s all we have on this, and thank you for joining us.