Hill & Ponton, P.A.

Video Blog – VA Mental Health Ratings

Matthew Hill: Hello and welcome to the Hill & Ponton Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill.
Carol Ponton: I’m Carol Ponton.
Matthew Hill: Today we want to talk to you about the mental health diagnostic code ratings, one of the tricky little areas in there involves suicidal and homicidal thoughts and, basically, plans is kind of the next step up. But, we see a lot of veterans get tricked up on this. By tricked up, I mean that even if they’re having these a lot of times they won’t admit that to the doctors, which in the end hurts their claim because the VA is going to underrate them.
Carol Ponton: Right. If you have suicidal or homicidal thoughts, that is going to give you a much higher rating with the VA. It can often expedite your case. But, I find veteran after veteran will not admit that to the VA, because they have a fear. They have a fear that they will be Baker Acted and put in the hospital. I want to make sure that people understand, you will not be Baker Acted unless you have a present intention of going out and killing someone or killing yourself. If you just have thoughts and you have plans, but you don’t have a present plan to do those things, they’re not going to Baker Act you. They’re going to put that down and that shows the extent of your PTSD or your mental illness. When you don’t tell them, you get a much lower rating, and that’s not fair to you. But it’s this fear that keeps people from doing that. That, the fear of being Baker Acted and fear of having their guns taken away, neither one is going to happen. Okay?
Matthew Hill: And I’d also say, one of the hardest things about a C and P Exam in a mental health setting. The care you’ve had previously, hopefully, is with a doctor or a licensed mental social worker, someone you’ve developed a relationship with and you’ve learned to talk with, learn to trust. The problem is you go in and see a C and P Examiner, never seen this person before, don’t know what their intentions are, don’t know where they’re coming from, and it’s hard just to open up and to just be real and let them know what’s going on. And that’s just something you got to realize going in there, and you got to still rise above that. Because that examiner, they’re not going to prod you, they’re not going to really look into you like somebody’s treating you, like somebody’s has invested-
Carol Ponton: An interest.
Matthew Hill: Yeah. An interest. They’ve got a bunch of exams to do all day, and they’re going to ask you questions, and if you don’t open up and volunteer information like this, they’re going to give you the rating that looks nice on their little sheet. You know, again, this is your claim, these are your benefits, you just need to … it’s going to be uncomfortable, but it’s something that you need to do and they need to know what you’re going through.
Carol Ponton: And it’s not just the Compensation and Pension Exam, many don’t even tell their treating doctor because of these fears that they have. If don’t have a doctor you can tell that to, you need to get another doctor, but you need to tell them. And I’m telling you, they don’t want to Baker Act anybody, they just want to make sure that you’re not going to go out and shoot yourself or somebody else. There’s a big difference between that and just having thoughts, because of the depression. Please make sure they know the full extent of what’s going on with you.
Matthew Hill: Thank you for listening today. Matthew Hill and Carol Ponton for the Hill and Ponton Video Blog. We look forward to seeing you on this space sometime soon.