Matthew Hill: Hello, and welcome to the Hill & Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill with Carol Ponton, and today we want to talk to you about pre-existing conditions. And when we say pre-existing conditions, it’s pre-existing conditions that all of a sudden become apparent in service by the service, not the veteran.
Carol Ponton: Right. So when you join the service, they do an exam before they let you in, and they note whether or not you have any problems that would keep you from performing in the service, so everything’s supposed to be listed on that exam. What I find very frequently is during service, a problem will develop … asthma, back problems, depression. And when the veteran goes to be discharged, all of a sudden it shows up on their discharge summary as a pre-existing problem, meaning one they had before service so that they can’t get VA benefits for it.
Matthew Hill: You’re saying they should … They were being medically discharged due to disability that started in service, yet when they look on their DD-214, there’s something saying all of a sudden it’s pre-existing.
Carol Ponton: Well, if they look on their discharge exam.
Matthew Hill: They see … Okay.
Carol Ponton: Or they’re asked to sign something. I’ve had many veterans tell me that they had a problem with their back. It just hurt in boot camp. Got worse and worse, and finally they were going to be discharged because of that, and they’re there to be discharged, and they’re handed a piece of paper where they’re supposed to sign that says, “I had this before I went in the service.” And that’s not true. But their option is, as they’re told, “Well, you can just stay in the service, or you sign this, and you can leave.”
Matthew Hill: An important thing to note on that is that the VA in its own regulations state that even though you sign something at service doesn’t bar you from getting benefits.
Carol Ponton: Exactly.
Matthew Hill: And they can’t use what you signed in service against you from you getting benefits, so it’s important to know that they probably pulled a quick one on you.
Carol Ponton: The pull a lot of quick ones.
Matthew Hill: But in this instance, just because they say it pre-existed-
Carol Ponton: It doesn’t mean it does.
Matthew Hill: It doesn’t mean that it did.
Carol Ponton: So what we do is we get written statements from parents, siblings to say, “They never had this problem before service. After service, or I remember in service when it happened.” And we’re able to prove these, so please don’t let that prevent you from getting the VA benefits you’re entitled to.
Matthew Hill: You represented us, and you deserve this. Thank you for joining us.