Matthew Hill: Hello. This is Matthew Hill along with Carol Ponton on the Hill and Ponton VA Video Blog. We are here to talk to you about filing secondary claims, and making sure that the claim you have filed is completed. A lot of times we see vets who file a claim for one thing, and that one thing causes a lot of other disabilities that frankly might be rated a lot higher than the person, and what issue we want to talk about today is actually diabetes.
Carol Ponton: That’s a great issue to talk about because it’s a perfect example of how filing for diabetes alone doesn’t really get the veteran what they need.
Matthew Hill: Typically 20 percent rating.
Carol Ponton: Right. If you’re taking medicine that’s a 20 percent rate. If you have insulin, and you have a regulation of daily activities, you may be able to get up to 40. That’s not going to reimburse you for what’s really going on. So, typically with diabetes one of the worst problems is peripheral neuropathy, the lack of feeling, the numbness, the pain in your hands, your arms, your feet, and your legs. If you have diabetes, and you have any of those problems, you need to put the VA on notice. If you tell them, “I have diabetes,” but you don’t explain, “I also have this terrible problem with my hands, and my legs. I can’t pick up a glass,” then you’re really shortchanging yourself.
Matthew Hill: You know, peripheral neuropathy, fancy term. I couldn’t spell it if you asked me to, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is like Carol said, “My hands are tinging. My feet are numb.” List the problems that are a result of that so that it’s on the VA to diagnose this in the VA.
Carol Ponton: Exactly. There are a number of problems that go with diabetes, and sometimes I worry that my veterans are not aware of them. Urinary incontinence or frequency of having to go to the bathroom is a big problem that people with diabetes have. You have to go to the bathroom every hour. You’re up all night long. That really affects your sleep. It affects your ability to do a job. Tell the VA about that. Let them know. Be aware, that that is a problem that is connecting with diabetes. Another problem, and this is one that really worries me because you can have a loss of kidney function. That’s a serious problem, but you may not know it. Most of my vets don’t know it. The only way you know it is if you look at your labs, that’s the blood tests that they take, and you can ask your doctor. Many of the VA doctors don’t tell people that you have a –
Matthew Hill: Right. What they’re doing.
Carol Ponton: So you look at BUN, Creatinine, things like that.
Matthew Hill: If you look at the labs. It can be anywhere from a page to four pages of numbers, and going across the board. The problem area should be noted with an H or and L.
Carol Ponton: For High or Low.
Matthew Hill: Those would be the ones that you’d want to ask the doctor about, but that’s where the kidney problems are hidden.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: And kidneys, what is that, a 40 percent, 60 percent rate.
Carol Ponton: Kidney is 40 to 60 to 80 percent.
Matthew Hill: So you might not know you have a kidney problem until it lets you know, but that could be something that your rated significantly for because, again, you probably have 20 percent for the diagnosis for the problem diabetes itself, but the other problems it’s causing. Heart, we didn’t talk about heart.
Carol Ponton: Heart. People who are diabetic often end up with heart attacks, and heart disease, so if you have a heart problem, and you have diabetes, then you should allege that as a secondary problem. That’s, “I have diabetes, and it’s caused this problem.”
Matthew Hill: Heart. Yeah. Alzheimer’s.
Carol Ponton: Alzheimer’s. That’s a sad one. I think the statistics are overwhelming that if you have diabetes, your chance of getting Alzheimer’s is up 75 to 80 percent.
Matthew Hill: Way too high.
Carol Ponton: Way too high.
Matthew Hill: But again, the VA Rating Code is supposed to compensate a veteran to the degree which they cannot work. It’s all dependent on working no matter how old you are, and so with diabetes, if someone can just give themselves insulin, and go on their day, they seem like they’re fine, but they’re developing all these secondary problems. Glaucoma. Another one we didn’t talk about.
Carol Ponton: Diabetic retinopathy.
Matthew Hill: Yeah. All these issues that are secondary to it. You’re rating should be a lot higher than that 20 percent. So, I’m good.
Carol Ponton: Just, I can’t emphasize how poorly advised a lot of my veterans are by their treating doctors, by the VA. I don’t know why, but they don’t educate them on what to look at. So you have to take care of yourself. I think, get your labs. The VA will give you, and if you have an H or and L, Google it. Is this something related to… BUN. Is BUN related to my kidney problem? Because I have a veteran, we went back ten years, and he got an 80 percent rating for his kidney, and he didn’t even know he had a kidney problem.
Matthew Hill: And it had been there in his lab the whole time.
Carol Ponton: It had been there in his labs. His doctor had never mentioned it. This is something I find all too often. Make sure that when you file a claim, you don’t need to put the name. You don’t have to have BUN, see my BUN, see my Creatinine. Say, “I have to go to the bathroom a lot.”
Matthew Hill: Right.
Carol Ponton: “I never had to do that before. I’m feeling fatigued. My hands hurt all the time. I can’t use them.” List all of the problems.
Matthew Hill: Well, thank you for tuning in today.