5 Common Mistakes Veterans do on their VA Claims

– Hi and welcome back to Hill & Ponton’s Veteran’s Disability vlog. I’m Natalia Jofre, company COO. – And I’m attorney Anne Linscott. – And today we’re gonna be talking about the five common mistakes made when a veteran is filing their claim. – Yes
– Right So let’s go with number one which is, not filing your claim right away. – Yes, so that’s a big mistake as far as, you can’t get the benefits
until you file the claim. The VA has duties to assist
and duties to notify veterans but all of that is triggered
by the filing of the claim. So the VA has no duty to tell a veteran that they should file for a claim, – Okay
– from the onset. – There’s obviously
exemptions to every rule, but for the most part, all of those duties for the VA to do things starts
when you file the claim. And really the main importance, or the main reason for it being a mistake to not file early, is that you’re risking giving up a lot of money.
– Right – And other potential benefits. – Yeah the longer you
wait, the longer it takes to get you paid.
– Right. – Yeah, you could lose. Okay so number two, giving
up on your VA claim. We see this a lot, unfortunately. – And it’s totally understandable. I mean even as an attorney,
the VA is frustrating. So not only is it a complex system just to understand as far
as what forms to file, timelines, things like that,
then you throw the legal issues in the mix and it’s, I can understand when veterans just say, you know it’s not worth
my time or frustration. That’s where we can step in. – Right
– And help take care of some of those frustrations,
but it’s a mistake to just give up on that because,
similar to not filing a claim, you’re giving up not only
monthly compensation benefits but potential healthcare benefits. – Which is huge. – Miscellaneous benefits that
are available for veterans for service connected conditions. So you know if the process itself is just weighing on you, definitely don’t give up. – Yeah
– Call a firm like us. Look and see if there’s someone that can help take over those frustrating parts so that you can still pursue the benefits. – And I think that sometimes
people do feel overwhelmed, even when they watch the videos, they’re like, wow it’s so much
information to go through, and so much to understand. And so much I feel like
I need to do or get, and I’m just not up to it. It’s like, that’s kind
of one of the benefits of hiring someone. It’s to remove that burden from you so that you don’t have to deal with that. – Right
– You know we tell people all the time, you know,
we’ll focus on your claim so that you can focus on getting better. – Exactly
– Because many times just managing your own health,
that’s a full time job. – Yes, and I was gonna bring that up. That’s what I tell veterans a lot. You take care of you, we’ll take care of the VA side of things. And of course there’s always going to be hassles and frustrations
involved with anything, but we can help take away a lot of that, the not knowing things, and kind of boil it down
to what you need to know and take care of that. So definitely don’t give up on claims, even ones that are tough. And we’ve had plenty of
veterans come our way that say, everyone refused my case, and we’ve been successful with them. – Yeah, I know you just
recently had pretty big case. – Yes
– Where you got a veteran increased from 10% to 100, and he got 13 years worth of back pay? – It was all the way back, yes, to 2006. So that was a huge case.
– Wow – And there’s still more to go. – Yeah, good for him, and good for you. – Thank you
– Congratulations on that. So number three, failing
to learn how the VA decides to give you benefits. – Yes, so that can kind of go in with giving up on a claim as far as, all that information is out there, and why it’s helpful to have an attorney. – Why would you say, maybe this will help, why would you say the VA usually denies most claims the first time? – Lack of evidence, it may even be just misunderstanding. The evidence might be
there, but the VA missed it. Or the veteran has it,
and thought the VA had it. – Ohhh
– Simple things. Also, the VA can low ball ratings. So you want to understand, in
the general sense at least, kind of what you might be entitled to because you might need to appeal and get a lot more benefits. I mean the difference between
even a 90% combined rating and 100% is a lot of money.
– Right – So knowing how the ratings work, kind of helps enable you to know, is it time to give up, or not give up, but is there more to
go, more things to do? – Right, right. – So that helps as far as
being an advocate for yourself. Although if you do hire an attorney, we’re there to advocate for you. If you haven’t hired an attorney, or we only know as much
as a veteran can tell us, and we don’t know what’s going on day to day with the veteran. So knowing, having that
knowledge about how things are rated can help you
know more about the claim. – And I’ve talked about this before, that I see one of the
mistakes that veterans make is that they assume that because the VA awarded them a low percentage that that’s all they’re entitled to.
– Right. – They think well, this
is what they’re giving me. I’m grateful, this must be
basically as good as it gets. If this is what they’re giving me, this must be what I’m entitled to. And that’s not the case.
– Right, exactly. A condition that’s a good example of that, are TBI and Parkison’s,
where the VA will assign the Parkinson’s a 30% rating, and that’s the highest for Parkinson’s. But federal law says
that they also have to rate all the different residuals. So that can be a huge
part that the VA misses. – So then, that’s a great example. They could then in turn maybe get 30% for the Parkinson’s but
maybe get an additional percentage for the TBI,
and additional percentage for something else? – Right, so if you have
tremors related to Parkinson’s or speech problems, trouble
swallowing is common. All of those things should
be rated separately. You might be able to get higher than 30%. Another thing that I find common with, I’m grateful for what they gave me, let’s not rock the boat,
and I totally get that. I’m risk adverse, but
you can appeal a decision and not risk what you’ve
already been granted. So a lot of times if we get a veteran granted individual unemployability, that’s 100%, there’s not much more to go. But we might disagree
with the effective date. Well you can appeal that. You’re happy with what you’ve been given, but there is still more to go and you can appeal and not risk losing. – Not risk that, okay. So number four, not filing
for secondary conditions. So why don’t you tell everyone what a secondary service condition is. – So a secondary, or
secondary service connection, would be if you’re service
connected for a disability, let’s say your back. The VA has said that your
back condition is related to service and you’re
receiving benefits for that. A lot of times with orthopedic claims, because of the pain, the chronic issues that the veteran has, they
may develop depression. That depression obviously developed because of their back condition. And so the VA should service connect it as secondary to their back. So even if the depression
didn’t start in service or there’s nothing that
happened in service that caused the veteran’s depression, we see a lot of cases
where there’s something like a back issue then
turns into something else, and so that condition can
then be service connected. – So you then need to
file a separate claim for that condition?
– Right – Not start all over again, but just add an additional
claim for that, right? – Right, so just to be safe, there’s a lot of regulations in case law as far as ins and outs of when the VA is supposed to consider secondary issues, when a veteran is
supposed to file a claim. But to be safe, file the claim, get that service connected,
because then you can hash out all the details moving forward. So secondary service
connection is a huge thing. Think about all of the
symptoms that you have related to a condition. A lot of times, I like
to think of the ratings as your symptoms you need
to be compensated for. So there are conditions like Parkinson’s where residual problems or symptoms, they can actually be separately rated. – Right, can you think of any other, since you mention that,
can you think of any other common examples or
common secondary service connected disabilities. – Obstructive sleep apnea
– Okay – Is something that can be secondary to a lot of conditions but we see it very frequently with PTSD claims. And that’s something
that, it’s a very common secondary condition and
it’s also very common for the VA to deny it, especially at the regional office level. There’s a lot of medical
research out there, doctors who link it. So that’s a common secondary issue that the VA might deny right off the bat, but it’s worth, kind of ties in with pursuing and not giving up on the claim. – Yeah, okay great. Number five, failing to
obtain a medical opinion. So why, you know we’ve done a couple of vlogs now on buddy statements, so why are buddy statements not enough? – So buddy statements are great, but there are certain things
that you have to have a doctor. Diagnoses and the nexus. So you or I could comment
on someone’s symptoms, how they were before or after service, things that we notice, but we’re not qualified to say a veteran has PTSD, or this incident in service
is as least as likely as not to cause this diagnosis. That’s something a doctor has to do and the VA is going to deny a claim, you know two of the three
elements for service connection are diagnosis and a length of service. – Right
– And that’s something that, unless a presumption applies, which that’s a whole nother loop, you need a doctor to give that link. – Is there specific wording
that the VA prefers? – I would say the biggest one is, at least as likely as not. So that’s 50/50.
– That big phrase. – A doctor’s report might
say, the veteran’s PTSD is related to service, and that’s great, as much as you can throw it in there, but using the exact words
that the VA likes to see, as least as likely as not. When it comes to claims involving individual unemployability,
the VA says that veterans who can’t find or maintain
substantially gainful employment. Just terms like that, get those in there. So that’s another, look
at the rating criteria for different conditions and see what kind of symptoms or
language that the VA uses in the rating criteria,
and that’s something that would be helpful for doctors to use in their reports, kind of buzz words. – Right, right. – Cause you don’t want the
VA to miss the symptoms. – You want to be able to make it as easy as possible for the VA to say, you know what, this claim
checked all the boxes, it’s all the right phrasing. It’s like okay, this is
clearly identifiable. – I say sometimes, making the
obvious even more obvious, if that’s possible.
– Good point. All right, Ann; thank you so much. – You’re welcome
– That was really helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to visit our website or call our office. Otherwise we hope you’ll join us again. – Thanks.

10 thoughts on “5 Common Mistakes Veterans do on their VA Claims

  1. Thanks for the video and info…a vet should never give up on their claims and get help if needed…I won my case after 38 years and got back pay(huge$$$$) for 38 years……I went from 20% to 100% P&T.

  2. I have a disability for anxiety disorder and insomnia. My question is can I file for PTSD wc is on my medical record at my private doctors diagnosis. I’ve been seen by a psychiatrist for almost 2 years and I’m taking medicine a narcotic pills since 1990. The VA claims agent says it’s the same as anxiety disorder which I have already as a disability. Is he right?

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