Compton: Reopening denied claim requires new information

By George Compton
Saturday, June 27, 2009

Q. I was denied disability compensation in 1999. I tried to reopen my claim this year and my letter from the VA stated that my claim was still denied and my claim was not reopened. Can you explain why my claim was not reopened?

A. To reopen a previously denied claim you must have new and material evidence to support your claim. Without that evidence your claim will not be reopened.

You provided evidence that your medical condition has become more severe. Your original claim was denied because your disability was considered not service-connected. You need new evidence to establish service connection to get your claim reopened.

Q. I know that exposure to Agent Orange would not apply to those of us who served off the coast of Vietnam. How about Agent Orange stored aboard the vessel?

A. The Joint Services Records Research Center recently provided a statement that no evidence was found that indicated any Coast Guard or Navy vessel transported tactical herbicides from the United States to the Republic of Vietnam or that ships operating off the coast of Vietnam used, stored, tested, or transported tactical herbicides.

Q. I know California has a property tax exemption for veterans rated 100 percent service-connected disabled. Do other states have a similar exemption?

A. Benefits vary from state to state. To find about a specific state benefits, I use At that site you will find a map of the U.S. and when you highlight a state, you are linked to the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a similar name, for that state.

Q. I have a government life insurance policy. My wife is now deceased and I would like to have my policy paid to my son. How can I be sure my policy now will be paid to him?

A. Government insurance policies are paid to the individual or individuals who are on record with the VA. If you want to designate a new beneficiary, you must notify the VA in writing. Contact this office and we will help you make the change. If you are not sure about whom you have designated, you can call the Insurance Center at 800-669-8477.

— George Compton, a retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the county Human Services Agency.

Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033, phone 385-6366, fax 385-6371, or e-mail [email protected].

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