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Buddy Statements (Pt 4) Increased Rating

Buddy Statements (Pt 4) Increased Rating

(mellow music) – Hello and welcome to the
Hill & Ponton VA video blog. I’m Matthew Hill, here with Carol Ponton, and today we are talking
about buddy statements. This is the fourth part in our four-part series
on buddy statements. The first one we discussed was, – Why–
– how important they are. – Yes. – And then the second was, how to actually craft a buddy statement. The last one we just talked
about was on service-connection and how you can show
through buddy statements, your disabilities-related service. And this is gonna, this
is gonna be on rating, so essentially, you’re already
rated for a disability, and now you’re trying to
get an increase rating. You’re trying to get the VA to understand what the correct rating should be. And we were talking about this, and we think one of the disabilities that lends itself to
understanding this the best, is actually PTSD. – Right. – A lot of times, you have PTSD, it’s just the perfect storm
when it comes to veterans, who don’t, aren’t really self-aware. They don’t know how bad it is. On top of that, they
don’t wanna talk about it, they don’t wanna think about it. When they go see their doctors, they don’t want their doctors
to do something to ’em, put ’em on medication, lock ’em up. And so they don’t tell their
doctors how it’s goin’. And so, a lot of times
you’ll get a veteran, to where you see exams, you can see discontinuing
treatment records showing, guy seems pretty okay. He’s coping with it. But once you talk to those
around them, family, friends, bosses, you realize it’s
not the case at all. – Right, so we recommend
buddy statements for first of all, the veteran. When we talk to the veteran, I pull out, DBQs are
disability questionnaires, benefit questionnaires,
that the VA has online, and there’s a really good one for PTSD. And it goes down all of the criteria that they think you need in order to be service-connected for PTSD. And what they’re looking for, as the problems that come with that. And so I like to ask the veteran about each one of those criteria. And then I go through all the
symptoms that people have. And I wanna make sure
they’re telling me the truth, because, as you said, most people, it’s horrible to have to talk about it and think about it.
– Right. – But I tell them, this is the one time we really need to let the VA
know what’s going on with you. So, I go through all of that, and then I ask, who’s the
person that knows you the best? Are you married?
– Right. – Do you have family members? And then we talk to them. And we tell the veterans, don’t get upset with these people. – Right. – These are the people that are helping us paint a picture of how this disease has really harmed your life. And when you go to them, you need to know what
issues to talk about. And that’s why this form is so helpful, because you start saying, is he paranoid? Is he unable to be around people? Does he have trust issues?
– Right. – Anger issues? Give me examples of those. So this buddy statement really
gives you an opportunity to create a wonderful picture of how PTSD has totally
affected this veteran. – Yeah, I like to think about it as total, I don’t know that it’s
necessarily wonderful, but it’s a way to get information that the veteran just doesn’t see. You know, one of the biggest
things that any veteran, any person with PTSD will tell you, is the most horrible, are the nightmares, the night terrors, the flashbacks. And as bad as those are, the VA caps the rating on those at 30%. So unfortunately, a lot of
time what I see on the DBQs from doctors, is that
that’s what they check, “Oh, this person has
really bad nightmares.” Well, that’s capped, but on top of that, this person might have
really bad anger issues. Yells and screams, just gets
in fights for no reason, isolates himself, nobody
wants to be around them. That’s a significant problem.
– Right. – And that’s a problem
that would get the veteran a much higher rating. And unfortunately, it’s also one that they might not be that self-aware of.
– Right. – Another person sees it–
– They may feel they get– – and experience– – They get angry, because
there’s a reason to get angry. – Yeah, yeah. – And the people that look at
him say, “That was way out of, “out of line from what happened.” – Right, right, the response is the worst. I mean, you know, I typically
start, like Carol says, with the veteran to ask them how many anger, or anger issues they have. You know, a typical response I’ll get is, “Oh I get irritated,
but I don’t get angry.” Until I get to, well, what happens when a guy
cuts you off in traffic? And then you get a list
of explicitive (laughing), list of curse words, and some pretty interesting stories. But they still might not be aware of how overreacting that is. And that’s why working with the wife, working with children, working
with friends, co-workers, you can get a really good statement. And again, it goes back to
getting a competent statement. You just want them to list stories that happened,
facts, observations. You don’t need them to say,
“This guy deserves benefits.” You need them to lay out
what exactly happened, or what they see, or the children being on pins and needles all the time around their dad, and why. – And what you put in, is just as important
as what you leave out. Matt’s really right. Please don’t put, “This
person deserves benefits. “He’s a really nice guy.” He may be all that, and
he may deserve that, but when you put that in
there, all of a sudden, the VA says, “Is this subjective? “Are you really trying to plead his case?” – Right, right. – “Or are you, what are you doing here?” So don’t distract the VA. You can win this case by telling truth. It’s like seeing a movie. You want to paint a picture of what you see with this veteran. – Right. There’s a time and place for
the argument, the persuasion, and that’s your via, your attorney, actually writing a letter. But the point of a buddy statement, the power of the buddy statement, is the reflection of the
facts, and the stories. ‘Cause the VA can’t make that go away. What gets the veteran his proper rating, is just showing the VA a day in the life. In a service-connection case, they might be able to
hide the service records, they might be able to, you
know, not get something. But this is what’s really
goin’ on, day-to-day, and that’s the power
in the buddy statement. – Well the other power that I see is, think about the person, the
decision review officer. He reads case after case after case. You want to make this personal. You wanna make this, so
that the person knows what you’re living with,
and all of a sudden, they can see, “Oh my gosh,
this is really awful.” This is your chance to tell your story.
– Right. – So, make sure it’s complete. – Well thank you for tuning in. Again, this is the fourth part, on the four-part series
of buddy statements, and the power they have
on a veteran’s claim. Thank you. (mellow piano music).

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