|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome. I’m Matthew Hill with the Hill and Ponton Veteran’s VA Video Blog. I’m here with Carol Ponton, and today we’re continuing a series on big mistakes we see veterans make that really hurt their claim. The one I see a lot that’s kind of hard to understand sometimes is the veteran understanding what the goal is. With the VA benefits, to get VA compensation you got to show a bunch of different things. You got to show something happened in service, that there’s a current disability, that the two are connected, and then what the rating is and then what the effective date is.|
|We see, a lot of times, veterans coming to us with a denial, say PTSD. They bring us a rating decision they disagree with and they say, “I was denied. When I was in service I was in combat. I saw a lot of action. I had a good friend die.” They tell us just how horrible their experience was. My first response, and I think Carol will do this too, is, “Well, let’s focus on what’s going on here.” That, the VA finally admitted that this is related to service, but the issue now is compensation. They low-balled you on the rating.|
|Carol Ponton:||They gave you a 10% rating.
|Matthew Hill:||Right. The only thing the rating entails is what’s going on now, how is it affecting you now.|
|Matthew Hill:||In a way, it’s kind of moving the ball, in that I see it, the VA can get you to focus on what happened then versus what’s going on now, you’re not going to win the appropriate level of rating.|
|Carol Ponton:||Right, because the issue is what’s going on now. I think with some of my veterans I do like to say, “Show some of the stressors so it’s clear how awful it was, but then we need to focus on right now. What’s happening to you right now?” I want to know from your wife or your significant other, how is this affecting you. I want to know from you. Do you sleep at night? Do you have nightmares? That’s what you need to focus on. That’s one of the biggest problems with PTSD is, most of the time the veterans don’t know what the issue is.|
|Matthew Hill:||Right, and I guess, it’s kind of hard because if you’re fighting for service connection for this issue, whatever it is, you need to talk about what happened in service and you need to have records or buddy statements or statements of friends who knew you then to prove what was going on. Then you have to have a medical link between that and the current disability. Once you get that disability rated, once the VA finally admits, “Okay, this is related to service,” your whole focus needs to be on, “How do I show them how bad it is? My day to day life, how does this affect me?”|
|You just need to understand that when you’re filing that claim, most likely that’s a claim for an increase or an NOD off an original rating. You need to be thinking, “How is this affecting me and how can I show the VA how bad this is on my life?” We deal a lot with unemployability cases and 100% cases. A lot of times those veterans just, they have such a hard day to day life but they don’t realize it, they’re not focusing on it. They’re focusing on what happened in service, and when they do that they don’t give the VA the evidence they need to rate them at the VA.|
|Carol Ponton:||That’s why a buddy statement, a wife, a special person that’s with you, family members, they see it and they can give us a very good picture. Then that helps us draw out from the veteran, “Tell me what’s going on.” A lot of veterans don’t want to talk about it. I don’t blame them, but this is the one time they need to talk about it in order to get the rating they’re entitled to.|
|Another area I see this in is, for instance, backs. I will have veterans who are clearly injured, have back injuries in the service, and the VA denies the service connection. The veteran is saying, “Look at my service medical records. They show I was clearly injured. Look it, I just had a third back operation. What’s wrong?” What’s wrong is, remember there are three things you need. Something happened in the service. It’s caused a problem that you have right now, and there’s a nexus, that means there’s a medical opinion that says what happened in the service is causing this problem. You need to focus on what’s missing.|
|Matthew Hill:||Right. As Carol said is it, are they not saying it’s related to service? As she said, if that’s the case, is there evidence of something happening in service? Is there evidence of a current diagnosis? Where we see a lot of problems is, is there a medical opinion linking them? If you have that, and frankly the way to know if you have that if you’re filing a claim is, are they already paying you for it? If they’re already paying you for, we said PTSD 10% or back at 20%, well then the issue now is, how much does it affect you now? That’s where the focus needs to be.|
|Carol Ponton:||Right. I think it’s always worthwhile to have buddy statements, no matter what your problem is. It’s important to have medical evidence backing it up. A psychiatrist, an orthopedic surgeon, whoever is treating you.|
|Matthew Hill:||Well thank you for tuning in Hill and Ponton Video Blog. Again, this was a part of our series of big mistakes the vets make that hurt their claim.|
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