Posts Tagged ‘disability compensation’

Army Struggling to Medically Retire 20,000 Soldiers

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

The Army has planned on medically retiring about 20,000 soldiers it deemed “physically or mentally unfit for duty.” Once discharged, these veterans with disabilities will face other issues inside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation system, according to an article in USA Today.

For some soldiers, with disabling conditions, they could face another 18 months of wait time before they’re separated from the service. Not only is this stressful on those waiting to get home, it impacts this country’s military readiness.

According to Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who’s the Army’s second highest ranking officer, the VA’s disability compensation system is “complex, disjointed, and confusing,”making it increasingly difficult to medically retire soldiers. The sheer bureaucracy that needs to be addressed in this situation is a direct result of this country being in war for the last 10 years.

 

The entire disability process averages 400 days. Soldiers are required to participate in 30 of them, at the very most. This isn’t a process exclusive to the Army, this is a service-wide issue. Just like when they’re in the military, soldiers are put on a “hurry up and wait” schedule throughout the disability process.

In 2010, there were 15,000 soldiers unfit for duty. This year there are 20,000, which is a 33% increase in 12 months. The Army may be forced to retain some of those troops in non-combat roles because there aren’t enough clinicians and psychiatrists to handle the growing number of soldiers returning from deployment with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

Help Disabled Veterans in Florida Gain Easier Access to Medical Records

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Often laws are seemingly passed “in a bubble,” meaning although the intentions behind the law may be good, there is very little regard given to how the passed law will affect those it is intending to serve and/or protect. This may very well be the case with Florida statute 395.3025. This statute speaks to patients gaining access to their own medical records, and ends up causing a financial hardship for those veterans relying on their disability compensation as their only source of income.

Currently, Florida statute 395.3025 forces anyone requesting a copy of their medical records to pay $1 per page. Although $1 may not seem like much, to someone with a limited income and years of medical records, that $1 can quickly add up. The intention of the statute may have been to help the State offset some of their costs, and thereby save taxpayers money, the consequences of the statute put those same taxpayers in very unfortunate and disadvantageous situations.

Many people rely on veterans disability or Social Security payments as their only source of income, which is very limited and fixed. Being awarded veterans or Social Security disability is not a quick or simple process, however. It is not unusual for claimants to have to attend multiple hearings for multiple reasons. It is also not unusual for many claimants to be denied their claims because they could not afford copies of their medical records to substantiate their claims.

This statute is negatively affecting thousands upon thousands of lives. It is seemingly working against disabled veterans having access to available federal money. That same federal money relieves the state of Florida from having to support uninsured and disabled individuals.

If you believe the the statute should make available those records free of charge for those people using their own medical records to support either an initial disability claim or an appeal against the Social Security Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), please sign the petition to support an end to the $1 per page charge for disabled Floridians.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today 1-888-234-5758.

VA Investigating Possible Nuclear Contamination at Naval Station in Antarctic

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The Antarctic Naval station, McCurdo Station, at one time used a nuclear power plant (PM-3A) to supply electric power to the immediate area. The plant, which went live in 1962, was eventually shut down in 1973 due to “frequent malfunctions.” Those malfunctions likely led to radiation leaking from the plant, which may have been the cause of multiple cases of cancer in Navy veterans stationed there during the 1960s and 1970s.

Post-shutdown, final operating reports detailed the extent of the problems the plant faced. According to those reports, there were 438 malfunctions as well as more than 120 reported radiation leaks measuring higher than what is allowed.

Newly discovered reports, however, show grave issues within the plant not long after its 1962 launch. Those reports were made in 1967 by private engineers hired to find problems in the plant because the plant’s reactor required replacement after only 2 years online. The new reactor also had malfunction problems until the plant was closed 9 years later.

According to reports, the reactor core suffered 30 cracks. Without being able to discover its source, the engineers also discovered a fuel leak as well as increased levels of “fusion product” within the primary coolant.

Multiple Naval veterans who were stationed at McCurdo place the blame for their cancers on the leaking reactor. Barracks were located down the hill and just a few yards away from the plant. A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) report makes mention of radioactive material moving down that hill and into the barracks.

The VA is currently reviewing documents related to this situation. It is not yet known if these veterans will be eligible for disability compensation. The VA, however, suggested all McMurdo veterans with cancer to apply for benefits.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.

Supreme Court Loosens Enforcement Of Disability Appeals Deadline

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Last week the United States Supreme Court decided that Veterans’ Courts can use discretion when deciding whether or not to deny an appeal for benefits based on a missed filing deadline. Further, The Court determined that a Federal Circuit court was “improperly harsh” in refusing an appeal from a Korean War veteran suffering from paranoid schizophrenia because he missed his filing deadline.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gave David Henderson a 100% disability rating in 1992 because he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. A regional VA office and the Board of Veterans Affairs denied his 2001 claim for supplemental disability benefits for in-home care. Henderson attempted to appeal the denial to the Veterans Court but the Court denied it as untimely as Henderson filed his appeal 15 days past his allotted 120-day deadline.

The Court to which Henderson appealed ruled they did not have jurisdiction based on a previous case finding deadlines for filing notices of appeals in civil cases jurisdictional issues. The Supreme Court justices unanimously disagreed.

They went on to hold the VA’s disability benefits program is “unusually protective,” and when appeals do get to the Veterans’ Court, they are granted almost 80% of the time. Clearly then, the initial decisions as to granting veterans’ claims are often flawed. Further, the disability claims process could not be more different than standard civil litigation. Justice Alito described VA benefit hearings and proceedings as “informal and non-advesarial” as opposed to the inherent adversarial nature that accompanies civil litigation.

As to the 120-day time limit, The Court found being too rigid in its enforcement begins to edge toward creating an adversarial environment. That 120-day time limit, then, was never intended to be so absolute so as to completely deny claims for being untimely. The Circuit Court’s ruling was reversed and the case remanded.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.

VA disability compensation for children of Vietnam veterans

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Children of female Vietnam veterans are eligible to receive VA disability compensation for certain birth defects caused by Agent Orange.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the VA is more apt to grant such benefits to children of female Vietnam veterans than children of male Vietnam Veterans. Birth defects such as loose joints, bowel and bladder disorders, bone abnormalities, hearing loss, reproductive problems, behavior disorders, abnormal skin conditions and spina bifida have been reported for children of Vietnam veterans, but the VA does not provide compensation to children of male veterans for any disability other than spina bifida.

Although the VA claims that there is a lack of research establishing a strong causal connection between birth defects in children of male Vietnam veterans, others say the VA is simply avoiding providing compensation to those dependents who far outweigh dependents of women who served in the war.

Learn more about VA disability compensation for children of Vietnam veterans.