Matthew Hill: Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton, and today we want to talk to you about the issue of severance and how that affects your VA benefits. Carol, what do you, or how often do you see this and what do you say?
Carol Ponton: Well, severance is when you have been granted service connection, let’s say for a mental problem, and then they sever it, they take it away, or you have been granted service connection for a back problem, and for some reason later on the VA takes it away. We find most of the time, or many times, this is done illegally. It should not have been done. The great thing about a severance that was done illegally is you can go all the way back to when they did it.
Carol Ponton: I had a veteran who in 1955 was granted benefits for a mental condition. In 1959, the VA severed it. For years he got nothing. He came to us and we were able to get him 100% back to 1959 when they severed him. These severances are often very bad, they shouldn’t have been done, and the veteran doesn’t know. I was severed. I just keep filing it again. They’re never approved again, or they do nothing. But, these are usually very good cases.
Matthew Hill: And even if they’re approved again, that doesn’t mean you can’t go back.
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: And you can get those benefits all the way back to the date of severance, even if 10 years later they grant you the benefits again that they should have been paying for.
Carol Ponton: These, unfortunately, a lot of times you’re going to have to go to the board or sometimes to the court for this because the regional office doesn’t like to make mistakes and it’s usually their mistake. But you need to know that. That’s not the only one. We’ve had lots of cases where we’ve been able to go back. One veteran I remember was in a wheelchair and they severed him. I think it was 15 years later that he came to us. I know Brian was able to get him benefits all the way back. Because remember, if the severance was not done legally, it’s void, so you go all the way back and re reinstate the benefit you had and see if you can should have a higher rating at that time as well.
Matthew Hill: Right. The amount of money they ended up owning the veteran becomes more and more. As Carol said, unfortunately, they seem to fight those more and more.
Carol Ponton: Right, but they can be won.
Matthew Hill: I believe that the language for severance is pretty high in that they, it’s fraud. They have to show something criminal took place for you to have gotten this benefits. So if they come and just take your benefits away, that’s a huge red flag. It’s one thing to reduce a veteran’s rating. If they do it properly, that’s something they can do. But just as take it all away at one point, that’s something where you need to fight.
Carol Ponton: We find that they use the wrong test. They used the test that you would use to get, this is likely it’s not that this occurred in service. That’s not the test anymore. They’ve already given you service connection. They need to prove that this was fraud, that this was way higher than, you know, as likely as not. The benefit is in your favor this time. You’ll read the language, and usually the VA acts like it’s in their favor, it isn’t. Anybody who has had anything severed, they should really look into having that reinstated.
Matthew Hill: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you on this space soon.