Brian Hill: Hello, welcome to the Hill and Ponton video blog. I’m Brian Hill and this is Carol Ponton. Today we want to talk to our Blue Water veterans who are getting new benefits under this law that was just passed, about how they go back and prove their claims. So this is very important information. Stay with us and we’ll be right back.
Brian Hill: Carol, so we expect to see, firstly the VA is going to have to accept that a lot of these claims were filed way back 20, 30 years ago, and they’re going to have to grant service connection with an effective date of the earlier claim. So what can a veteran expect to get, what’s the veteran have to do?
Carol Ponton: This is a real concern for us because this is years and years ago and hopefully these veterans were treated at the VA, because that’s one facility that is required to keep the medical records. If they were seeing a private doctor, that’s going to be a real problem because you have to prove what your condition was like back during the time period from when you started your claim forward.
Brian Hill: So what that means is that even though you have, for instance, a 1985 effective date, you only get benefits from 1985 if you can show that you had a rate-able condition and if you can’t show that, then you may get service connection, but you’re going to get a 0% rating.
Carol Ponton: And that’s why it’s so important to figure out how do you prove what your rating should be. So for instance, if you went to the VA, they should’ve kept all the ratings, all of your medical records, and they would show exactly what you were treated for, the medications you were taking, the complications you had from these different diseases. If you didn’t go to the VA, one thing that I found is some of the places like Walgreens or Walmart, those pharmacies keep those prescriptions for years. So it may be that you can get them to run a list of all of your prescriptions so it shows that the veteran or you were on insulin, on Metformin or whatever medications you were taking. And they would show the diseases that are connected with that.
Brian Hill: And this is an area where buddy statements are going to be really, really important because it may be that the only way that you can prove how bad your husband was back then is to file your own statement, to file the statement of the kids, to file a statement of the friends or the pastors. The regional offices historically have been very reluctant to accept this type of testimony, but the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington will accept it. They understand the law that they have to consider this and give this full value for what happened in this person. So this is a time when we think buddy statements, detailed buddy statements about what happened are going to be very, very important.
Carol Ponton: And you should start getting those now. You should decide, I’m going to go out and get all of my medical records. I’m going to talk to people who either, if this is your claim, who maybe knew back then, or if it’s a claim for a deceased spouse or relative, then talk about, I noticed they could barely walk because they had peripheral neuropathy in their legs because of diabetes, or I knew they were on dialysis because of their kidney. So you should start now getting these. Unfortunately, while the VA is supposed to help you obtain these documents, that’s not what we’ve seen.
Brian Hill: Okay, so if there’s anything we can do to help, please feel free to call us.