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Veterans Information

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Should Veterans Have a Right to Access Classified Military Records Regarding Chemical Weapons Exposure During the Vietnam Era?


It's patently unfair that after fighting for or serving your country you have to fight for the benefits you're entitled to. That's particularly frustrating when your service has resulted in a life-altering and/or life-shortening disability.

A skilled California Veterans disability and benefits attorney can help eligible veterans file a claim or appeal an unfair denial of benefits…especially when government roadblocks impede access to necessary records.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What Veterans Need to Know About Social Security Disability and Other Benefits


Q: What benefits are available to disabled or non-disabled vets?

They navigated minefields or launched missiles by air or sea.  They performed daring rescues and survived ambush attacks. In many cases, they paid dearly for their sacrifice and service to our country and many didn't make it home with all the parts they left with—if they made it home alive at all.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

VA Disability Claims Remain Backlogged


What is the Veterans Administration doing to expedite disability claims?

The Veteran's Administration continues to face a backlog of disability claims. While the department had set goals to eliminate the gridlock, it has been reported that more than 70,000 disability claims remain  trapped in Veterans Affairs processing centers across the country. The VA missed its goal of reducing the number of delayed claims to zero seven months ago, even though officials contend a number of claims have been left open intentionally so that veterans receive full payouts. That being said, the agency is not satisfied with the delays in what it described as a "continuous improvement process."

The Extent of the Problem

Many benefit claims submitted to the VA, about one in five,  can take longer than the promised four months to process, excluding appeals which are on an even slower track and can years to be resolved.
Read more . . .


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Veterans Seek Class Action Status over Disability Claims

What recourse do veterans have if they have been denied disability benefits?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, put in place by Congress in 1998, does not hear cases that aggregate veterans' denial of benefit complaints. Now, a group of veterans is arguing that this policy denies them of their right to bring class-action lawsuits to fight grievances.

The group has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of thousands of veterans who have suffered financial and medical hardship because of delayed claims. The overarching issue is whether the court's refusal to hear cases brought on behalf of a class of veterans denies them recourse typically available in most state and federal courts.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is one in which a group of people who have suffered the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action sue the defendant as a group. By combining the suits, thousands of claims can be resolved at the same time, rather than being litigated individually.

In this case, the veterans argue that they have been harmed by delays in the Veterans Administration's response to disability claims. Each of the veterans in the group has waited for more than a year to have disability claims reviewed. By being denied recourse to bring these cases as a class action, the veterans must wait for their cases to be taken up individually, which will only result in further delays, given the backlog of veteran claims.

Backlog of VA disability claims

The VA has reportedly cut its backlog of disability claims over the last two years by 88 percent to 74,955. However, the number of appeals over initial disability decisions has risen during this time: 14.6 percent of disability decisions were appealed. The average appeal can take as long as four years and often involves multiple rounds of appeals.

Meanwhile the VA agrees that the Veterans Appeals Court should block class actions. In fact, at legislative hearings in 2009 and 2001, agency representatives testified that class actions would "divert the court's scarce resources."  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is considering whether the veteran's court should now allow class actions to be heard.

In the meantime, if you have been denied disability benefits by the Veteran's Administration, you should consult with a qualified attorney.

 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Veterans’ Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits

Veterans’ Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits

The Veterans’ Administration’s non-service connected pension program can help supplement the income of elderly or disabled veterans. The VA deems any veteran age 65 or older to be permanently and totally disabled. This “disabled” classification entitles senior citizens who are veterans, or their widows, to tax-free pension payments regardless of their actual physical condition, provided they meet the needs-based criteria.

One significant advantage of this program is that, unlike a traditional service-connected pension, there is no requirement that your injury or disability be tied to your time in service. On the other hand, this is a needs-based assistance program, so many veterans may not qualify for benefits.

To qualify for benefits under the program, you must have served on active duty for at least 90 days, and at least one of those days must have been during a time of war. Additionally, you must not have had a dishonorable discharge from the military.

Periods of war time are determined by the U.S. Congress as follows:

  • Mexican Border Period: May 9, 1916 through April 5, 1917, only if you served in Mexico, on its borders or in adjacent waters
  • World War I: April 6th, 1917 through November 11, 1918, or through April 1, 1920 if you served in Russia
  • World War II: December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946    
  • Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1965, or beginning February 28, 1961 you served in Vietnam
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through the present

Once qualifying military service is established, you must also pass the income and asset tests. The VA must determine that your net worth is not enough to adequately support you during your lifetime. Your vehicle and primary residence are not counted when determining your net worth.  The VA generally caps net worth, exclusive of your car and primary residence, at $80,000 for a married veteran, or $40,000 for a single person.

Additionally, your countable income must be lower than the available pension amount. Fortunately, countable income is offset by your unreimbursed, recurring health care costs, including prescriptions, insurance premiums or assisted living expenses.
 


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