If you’re a veteran fighting for disability rights, Vet Comp & Pen is waiting for your call, or email.
By David Cummings
Many veterans don’t realize they’re not getting their full share of benefits. Filling out the forms is a complicated process. That’s where Jim Hill and Gina Uribe come in. The two entrepreneurs Gainesville, Fla., based company, Vet Comp & Pen Medical Consulting, has a single purpose: helping veterans get the benefits they medically and ethically deserve. Not a penny more, not a penny less.
“A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount up to and including their life,” Hill says. “At the very least, these men and women deserve everything the VA has promised them.”
A Navy veteran, Hill believes the United States government and the VA can do a better job taking care of the estimated 22 million veterans. He acknowledges inadequate funding and a lack of sufficient resources are a significant hindrance. Vet Comp & Pen fills the void. The firm has built a team of professionals with diverse and extensive backgrounds in all aspects of the VA disability claims process. The Vet Comp & Pen team has several hundred years of combined professional medical experience, and some of their team members have worked on more than 30,000 VA claims during their careers.
The stories behind those they help are consistently familiar. A soldier fulfills their service. When they go to apply for disability benefits, they don’t have a medical professional review their med records page-by-page, line-by-line – instead, they are told to list all their disabilities on a form. This process rarely results in the veteran receiving all of the compensation or services they are entitled to.
“The majority of our clients exhausted all of their free services,” Hill says, estimating the average veteran comes to Vet Comp & Pen receiving about $1,100 per month – and they end up with an average monthly increase of $912 per month after VCP reviews their records. The company knows all the tricks. They follow simple steps. Focusing on the pathophysiology and pharmacology impacts, the Code of Federal Regulations, and VA case law. “Our fastest case to date was a 70% increase on a PTSD claim in 17 days,” Hill says, “but the average timeline is generally four to six months once we complete our review.”
Two of VCP’s specialties are: addressing low-balled PTSD ratings and developing VA ratings for secondary claims to PTSD such as sleep apnea, diabetes, and hypertension. Many veterans are frustrated they are being treated for PTSD by the VA but are denied VA disability compensation for PTSD by the VA. “We’re very successful at overturning this injustice and excel with cases on appeal,” Hill says.
Uribe is an excellent example of why Vet Comp & Pen provides excellent service. A certified nurse practitioner, she consulted with the VA for three years working as a VA certified Compensation and Pension Examiner. Veterans would come to her office unhappy and really on guard. “I started realizing the process was so complicated they needed help,” she says. “There are so many laws that govern the disability process it’s almost impossible for a veteran to properly navigate the system without professional assistance.”
She felt so bad for the veterans she was helping that she started taking on cases during her time off. Word began to spread among veterans about this woman who was good at getting benefits increased. “Veterans started tracking me down and calling me asking to help them,” she says. “I would look at their records and tell when what disabilities to file for because no one else would.”
Uribe says she immersed herself into the Veterans Administration law and documentation, mastering the Code of Federal Regulations. She says knowing the proper terminology and wording is critical. She knew the filing process from her time as a consultant. “Once I started incorporating the medical evidence from the medical record, and then showed how that evidence applied to the laws, that’s how I started winning appeals and helping them win in the claims process,” she says.
Over time the workload became too much. When Hill, who has a background in business development and served as CEO for several companies, approached Uribe about teaming up. She was all in. Hill had his history with active-duty injuries too. He suffered a back fracture during his service in the Navy, seeing duty in Operations Just Cause in Panama and the first Gulf War. Before joining up with Uribe, he spent several years helping veterans with career transitions. He says many of the vets he helped were disabled. The collaboration has paid off tremendously. When she was on her own Uribe could consult with 300 to 400 veterans a year. Since creating VCP, she estimates they are helping 500 to 600 veterans each month. She attributes the growth to the company’s team of medical and legal experts. Their health care providers are trained to observe a person’s mental and physical needs; the legal experts are knowledgeable in the legal maneuvering of the VA’s claim process.
“It’s not that the VA isn’t trying to do the best it can,” Hill says. “They don’t have the sufficient medical and legal training to realize sometimes that a veteran’s disabilities go beyond physical ailments one can see.”
Hill gave an example of a veteran whose disability rating was 40% when VCP took on his case. “After a 15-minute conversation, we realized this guy was legally and ethically entitled to 100% rating,” Hill says. “The difference could mean as much as $2,500 a month. We helped him get all the benefits he deserves to support his family.”
VCP’s compensation for helping veterans is based on the outcome of their service. If a veteran gets a raise in their benefits, VCP receives half of the amount of the increase for 10 months – then the veteran keeps everything for the rest of their life. If they don’t get a veteran an increase in benefits, then their services are free. They don’t pay anything upfront, and VCP never touches the benefits they are already receiving.
The veterans get the benefits they medically and ethically deserve. Not a penny more, not a penny less.