Hill & Ponton, P.A.

Video Blog – Getting Your Medical Evidence to the VA

Matthew Hill: Hello and welcome to another Hill & Ponton Veterans’ Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill here with-
Carol Ponton: Carol Ponton.
Matthew Hill: … and today we’d like to talk to you about medical evidence and how it factors into your claim, what you need to be thinking about your outside evidence and what you can expect the VA to do and what you should be doing.
Carol Ponton: One of the things that I see over the years is that the VA will ask the veterans, “Who are your treating medical sources?” The VA will write to them, and the veteran thinks the VA has obtained them but they haven’t, because the letter says is, “Dear Doctor, This veteran is applying for disability benefits and we would like a copy of your records. We will not pay you any money for doing this.” So what happens is most of the doctors don’t send in the medical records. The veteran, meanwhile, thinks the records are in there, but they’re not.
Matthew Hill: Well, the veteran has a good faith reason to think that they’re in there because the VA under a law has what’s called The Duty to Assist, which means the VA must assist the veteran to get records that would help win his case. So once the veteran identifies who the doctor is or where the evidence is, then, in theory, the VA should obtain that. But as Carol just said, they say, “Please send it but we’re not going to pay you any money.” And unfortunately, there are very few doctor’s offices that are going to do that.
Carol Ponton: Very few doctor’s offices, and the long term sadness that I feel about this is I see over the years veterans have applied, they’ve told the VA exactly who their doctors are, the VA sent a letter and said, “We’re not going to pay.” The doctors don’t send the letters in, and now twenty years later, those records don’t exist anymore. You can’t get them.
The VA records they can get, but private medical doctors … I think all of our veterans should go out and get the records and submit them themselves. And keep a copy.
Matthew Hill: Yeah, and again, the VA has a Duty to Assist, but at the end of the day it’s your claim and you need to do what you need to do to win the claim. At this point, they should be helping you do this, but the best thing to do is assure that the records are in there. Because that’s the thing. The VA’s not going to send you a letter saying, “Oh, we got this.” They’re just going to-
Carol Ponton: And they’re not going to say, “We didn’t get them,” either.
Matthew Hill: Right. Right. They’re not going to let you know either way. The only way you would really know from a document from the VA would be when you get the decision, and on the decision they list the evidence they used. So you’d want to double check there that it’s in there or not. But otherwise, short of ordering the whole C-file, you have no idea. On the other hand if you actually send it to them, you have a better idea that it got there.
Carol Ponton: Well, you know it got there. You don’t know it got in your file.
Matthew Hill: Oh, that’s true too.
Carol Ponton: So I would send it certified mail. I would keep a copy of it, and then when you get your decision, if you see that these records are not listed, then you resubmit those records, and you say, “Previously I submitted them. Here’s a copy of my certified mail. Please consider this in my case.”
Matthew Hill: For this case, yeah. It’s just really important not to sit back and just submit your claim and just think it will all go through. I mean, even though something happened in service, you’ve got the current problem now and it seems obvious to you, it might be, but then again it might not, and it might not from their vantage point, and you might get denied. So it’s just something to be careful about.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: Well, thank you so much for joining us here on the Hill and Ponton Video Blog. We look forward to seeing you soon.