|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to the Hill & Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today we want to talk to you about individual unemployability. We want to talk to you about a set of cases that most people don’t know about, and end up being very hard cases. Those are the cases where the veterans do not meet the rating threshold to receive unemployability benefits. We get this question all the time. What do I do when my rating is not high enough to get …|
|Carol Ponton:||Let’s tell them, in order to get unemployability you have to show that you have one rating that’s 60% or a combination or ratings at 70% with at least one of them at 40%. Okay, so say you don’t meet that but you can’t work because of your service-connected problem. The thought comes to mind is migraines, headaches. The highest rating you can get for that is 50%. That’s the only rating you have.|
|Matthew Hill:||At that point you can’t work, and a lot of times we see veterans like this who actually already receiving social security disability because of the migraines. If you can’t work and you’ve maxed out on your ratings, there is what I call a back door to unemployability. Carol just laid out what is necessary in the majority of the cases, those ratings. If you have one of those ratings, the 70% like she said or the 60%, you can be granted unemployability by your regional office. They can grant it right there or if they deny it you can go up to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals and be granted there.|
|Carol Ponton:||They’re used to these cases. They work these cases. A lot of them are approved.|
|Matthew Hill:||The other case we’re talking about, you only have that 50%. At that point, you have to keep on pushing your case. To win your case it has to go to the VA central office. The director of compensation has to sign off on this. These cases are a lot harder because your first battle is to get the person in the regional office to acknowledge that you are unemployable because of this 50% rating. Once that, I’ll call it a line adjudicator, makes that decision they have to give it to their supervisor and that person has to agree. From my understanding, there’s actually a third person that has to agree in the regional office. Well, unfortunately, the easier thing to do here is just to deny.|
|Matthew Hill:||We see that all the time. We’ve handled quite a few of these cases, and I’ve never seen a regional office send it over.|
|Carol Ponton:||On their own.|
|Matthew Hill:||Then it goes to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals. The Board cannot grant this case. They too would have to send it to the director of compensation. By that time hopefully you have enough positive evidence; you’ve got your social security opinion, you’ve got your doctor’s opinion, whatever you have in there. Then really the only thing the Board can do is send it back to the regional office and tell them to send it to the central office. This takes an incredible amount of time. The shortest one of these cases I’ve seen is five years because there’s no direct person who’s going to grant this. Now, if it goes back to the director, it goes from the director of compensation and they deny it, then it can make it’s way back up to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals and they can grant the case.|
|You can see from that chain of events, you know, seven, nine years is not out of the question. The VA will not tell you about this way to get unemployability, unfortunately, the majority of veteran services officers don’t know it. It’s just important to understand that if your service connected disability keeps you from working, whether it’s a 70% rating, 50% rating or even 30% rating, then you are entitled to unemployability compensation. The question is, what’s the route to take to get it? Carol mentioned the migraines. The other one we see all the time is back. If I see a veteran with a back disability rated at 40% that to me is really serious because the VA underrates backs. If I see someone at 40% then that tells me that they probably are not working because of that alone.|
|Carol Ponton:||Right. I have a case right now that has done exactly what Matt said, it’s gone to the regional office, it’s gone up to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals, the Board of Veteran’s Appeals sent it back and said, “Even though he has a 40% rating for his back, so he doesn’t meet the regular IU, I am directing you to send it to the central office and have them decide whether or not this veteran could work because of his back.”|
|Matthew Hill:||Again, just remember if you can’t work because of it you need to keep on pushing the case, but you also need to realize it’s not going to be a short and easy win.|
|Matthew Hill:||Thank you for joining us today and we hope to see you back on this space soon.|
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