Archive for the ‘Disabled Veterans’ Category
Friday, June 14th, 2013
Along with suffering from disabling physical medical conditions, vets can also find themselves struggling with mental health problems. One of the more common is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But now a new bill that has passed the House could allow vets to obtain disability benefits stemming from a sexual assault that occurred while serving in the military.
Named for a Navy vet who was raped twice in 1987 by her supervisor, the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 would not only make it easier to obtain disability benefits for the psychological effects of a sexual assault, it’s hoped that standards will change regarding how these cases are handled. One of which is that official records won’t be required in order to show proof of an assault. In other words, testimony from the victim would be enough.
The bill also strives to ensure proper medical care and treatment will be given to survivors of sexual assault. Too often mental health conditions are not adequately addressed among veterans. This is becoming a serious issue in not only stopping assaults, but also dealing with the aftereffects.
The VA plans to implement similar procedures for those who have experienced sexual trauma as they do in processing disability claims for conditions such as PTSD. This includes taking into account evidence that isn’t as intrusive.
Sexual assault can lead to a variety of long-term mental health problems, including PTSD, anxiety and depression. Contact the Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. to discuss the possibility of filing a claim for disability benefits if you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault or suffers from any other type of debilitating psychological condition stemming from military service.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
The U.S. House has voted 421 to 4 to give the Veterans Affairs Department additional funds in an effort to reduce the backlog of disability claims. This would result in the hiring of additional staff to address the claims backlog for fiscal year 2014.
The hope is that by hiring an additional 94 workers, it will allow the VA to reach its goal of eliminating the claims backlog by 2015. Claims that are older than 125 days are considered to be a part of the backlog. It’s estimated that there are more than 500,000 claims currently in backlog. Average wait times have been cited as being between 316 and 327 days.
The disability process requires an applicant to first file VA Form 21-526 (Veteran’s Application of Compensation and/or Pension). This can be submitted online or in person at a local VA office.
Additional paperwork generally includes proof of the vet’s periods of service and evidence of disability being claimed. It must also be shown that it was the result of active duty service. Medical records can help substantiate claims of disability. Marriage certificates/divorce records, birth certificates/adoption records may also be necessary.
By collecting the required paperwork and submitting it on time, this could help in preventing delays with the claim. When documentation is missing or incomplete, it can disrupt the process. It can help to work with an attorney who can ensure all necessary information is provided when filing the initial application. This could also avoid the potential for a claim to be unnecessarily denied.
Help from LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A.
LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. understands the frustrations that can be experienced when submitting a disability claim. We are here to help disabled veterans navigate the system and better understand their rights. Don’t delay seeking legal help, whether it’s your first time filing a claim or appealing one that has been denied.
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
As noted in a recent Stars and Stripes report, there has been a recent surge in veterans’ disability claims for sleep apnea. Since 2009 they have nearly doubled, increasing to 114,103 veterans or retirees drawing payments for the condition in 2012. The number of veterans who began drawing payments for sleep apnea was 24,791 compared to 983 in 2001.
Although some may have concerns regarding the legitimacy of some of the claims filed for sleep apnea related to military service, it can be a chronic condition that not only disrupts one’s sleep, but causes fatigue throughout the day. Those who legitimately developed this or other chronic conditions due to military service may pursue a VA disability claim.
Overview of Sleep Apnea
There are two forms of sleep apnea. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway is blocked or collapses. This results in pauses in between breathing or breathing that is shallow. The other kind is central sleep apnea, where for momentary periods of time there is no breathing.
If this condition isn’t treated, it can lead to other health problems such as heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat, diabetes and high blood pressure. It may also increase the risk of heart failure or worsen the condition for those who already have it.
Because it can interfere with one’s ability to function during the day, there is also an increased risk of having an accident at home, work or while driving. Proper treatment is critical.
The following are some of the signs of sleep apnea:
- loud snoring;
- lack of energy/sleepiness during day;
- difficulty sleeping;
- sporadically waking up gasping or choking;
- headaches (in morning); and
- sore throat/dry mouth (in morning).
Some of the ways sleep apnea can be managed include breathing devices, mouthpieces, surgery and/or making lifestyle changes (such as losing weight).
Filing a Veterans’ Disability Claim
If it’s believed that a chronic condition developed as a result of exposures during military service, disability benefits may be available. For help filing a claim or appealing a denied application, contact The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A.
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
A bipartisan group of more than 160 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the President recently urging his direct involvement in resolving the VA claims backlog. A bipartisan group of 67 senators had previously sent a similar letter.
Despite the agency’s budget increasing 40 percent, the number of backlogged claims has risen by 2,000 percent over the last four years, notes Congressman Patrick Murphy of Florida, one of the letter’s authors. The average wait time for those filing their first claim is between 316 and 327 days. However, many vets have waited as long as 800 days and some even beyond 1,000. Veteran’s Administration’s goal is to work through the backlog and by the end of 2015.
Meanwhile, an interactive map created by the Center for Investigative Reporting shows the number of claims backlogged in each VA claims office. As of May 28, 2013, there are 49,710 vets waiting a decision from the St. Petersburg, FL office. The number who have been waiting more than 125 days is at 34,408 and there are 11,091 who have been waiting for more than a year. The average wait time for first time filers is 433 days.
At The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A., our dedicated attorneys can assist with the initial filing of a claim or filing an appeal for a denied claim. Although it can be a stressful process, we are here to help walk disabled vets through it. Call 888-234-5758 to speak with a claims specialist at our office.
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) are the latest asset to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as it continues to focus on elimination of the veterans’ disability claim backlog. The VA recently announced that it has developed a partnership with the Disabled American Veterans and The American Legion – two prominent national VSOs that have been providing services to disabled veterans for many years.
The main focus of this partnership is to promote the submission of Fully Developed Claims (FDCs) when disabled veterans apply for veterans disability benefits. A FDC is a claim that:
- is submitted with all available supporting evidence;
- includes any private medical records;
- has notice of federal treatment records; and
- is certified that there is no further evidence to submit.
Claims identified as “fully developed” are not added to the regular queue for processing; they are expedited for a quicker decision. The more FDCs that are submitted, the fewer veterans’ disability claims there will be added to the already backlogged queue of cases awaiting decisions.
Veterans Service Organizations often have local representatives helping veterans in the community determine if they are eligible to file a claim for disability benefits. By working closely with these organizations and improving the pre-development of new disability claims, the VA hopes that more fully developed claims will be submitted and it will be able to further decrease the backlog.
VSOs may provide assistance to veterans filing first-time claims for disability benefits, but their claims representatives often do not have the resources necessary to appeal a denied claim or unfavorable disability rating. A veterans disability attorney is the legal advocate for disabled veterans facing these situations.
The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. has a dedicated team of veterans’ disability attorneys to help develop and support your claim through the initial application all the way to appeals. Contact us today – 1-888-234-5758.
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
With an aging population of disabled veterans and many younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service-connected ailments, the number of disability claims continues to grow almost as fast as they can be processed. Currently, the veterans’ claim backlog is approximately 850,000.
A new issue has been arising in the fight against the increasing disability claim backlog – some disabled veterans pass away before their disability benefits claims are resolved. Some veterans wait years for a decision on their claim, and sometimes they succumb to their disabling conditions or age before they are able to see a single cent of their benefits.
Vietnam veterans are currently the largest demographic of disabled veterans awaiting decisions on their benefit applications. About 38 percent of those stuck in the queue served in Vietnam, while the next largest group which makes up about 22 percent is of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.
As new filings for disability benefits continue to pile up, there are thousands of veterans awaiting decisions on appeals. Veterans who file an appeal must do so at the first level of arbitration with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Waiting times at this level average 1,040 days – just under 3 years – before a decision on the appeal is rendered.
Many veterans who must undergo the appeals process for their veterans’ disability benefits had already waited through the initial review process, and are now faced with several more months of waiting for a decision on their appeal. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review investigated 160,000 appeals from 2009 to early 2013, finding that during that time nearly 3,000 veterans died before a decision was rendered on their appeal case.
The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. can help disabled veterans with first-time filings for disability benefits, as well as veterans appealing a disability rating or benefit decision. Handling the appeals process is not something disabled veterans or their families have to go through alone: contact us today – 1-888-234-5758.
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Veterans can enjoy many health care benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to the VA, about 40 percent of the more than 22 million veterans are receiving health care from the Veterans Health Administration, and there are still more options available.
Veterans who were honorably discharged after at least two years of military service may qualify for VA health care. Disabled veterans are given priority for services through VA hospitals and medical centers. There aren’t any premiums, but a co-pay may be required and services may be limited in rural areas.
Disabled veterans may also qualify for other government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid benefits depending on their age, income, and the nature of their disability. Tricare is another option for military veterans and their immediate family members, with several plans and options for health care coverage.
Health Care for Disabled Veterans
When veterans apply for and are approved for veterans disability benefits they obtain proof that they have a service-connected disability. This can often help qualify them for expedited medical care and evaluations in the VA health system.
Disabled veterans currently enrolled in the VA health care system will qualify as having health care coverage in regards to the upcoming requirements of the Affordable Care Act that require everybody obtain health insurance. However, military spouses not covered under VA health care will still have to comply with the new laws, so programs such as Tricare may be important resources to look into in the coming months.
If you are a veteran seeking benefits for a disabling condition you believe was acquired due to or during your military service you have the right to file a claim for veterans’ disability benefits. The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. is here to help, so contact us today – 1-888-234-5758.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been the center of many debates regarding how effective the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been on providing health care to disabled veterans. This condition can cause anxiety, depression, insomnia and emotional instability that makes life difficult in regards to working and socializing.
Therapy for PTSD has been improving over the years, but one of the biggest obstacles for many veterans suffering from this disorder has been obtaining mental health care. Therapy sessions are conducted by trained mental health professionals which requires visits to VA hospitals and clinics. Some veterans are unable to make these visits due to travel complications, leaving them without the benefit of therapy for their condition.
Recently, a study by the San Diego VA offices has found that the latest therapy choice for PTSD care – telehealth conferences – may be as effective as in-person sessions. Telehealth is where conferences between veterans and therapists or counselors are conducted via video feed, eliminating the need for travel.
The study included 207 veterans in the San Diego area who participated in a 12-week PTSD therapy course. During treatment, researchers evaluated the veterans’ preferences toward telehealth conferences compared to face-to-face therapy. They found that most veterans did not mind the video conferences, and some even preferred it over in-office meetings. While veterans in the in-person therapy group had greater improvement after the 12-session period, there wasn’t any difference between the groups in six-month follow-ups.
Telehealth services are available through many VA hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas where there are no convenient VA health care facilities. Video conferencing is also helping with other veterans’ disabilities such as managing treatment plans for conditions such as diabetes or cancer.
Veterans who are enrolled in the VA disabled veterans benefits system may have earlier access to the latest medical technology and services. When a veteran works within the VA health care system they are entitled to health care for disabling conditions acquired due to their military service. The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. is here to help disabled veterans obtain the health care and benefits they deserve after serving our country. Learn about your right to benefits as a disabled veteran – call today to speak with a disability claims representative – 1-888-234-5758.
Monday, May 6th, 2013
Amputee veterans have seen some amazing advances in prosthetic technology in recent years and now smartphones may help give additional control to disabled veterans.
In the past, loss of limb meant a veteran had to work with a static prosthetic limb or undergo programming at a doctor’s office every time the limb needed to be adjusted. The i-limb line of prosthetics was among the latter class of bionic limbs, and for many amputees it was inconvenient to visit a specialist for programming of grip responses.
The latest line of i-limbs now features a phone application that can be linked to the prosthetic in order to let the user change grip settings when needed. The user can select from 24 grip patterns from a smartphone with the new technology.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has dedicated a specific research branch to helping amputee veterans regain mobility and dexterity after loss of limb. The VA Center of Excellence for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering is focused on improving quality of life for disabled veterans who lose limbs during active duty or due to combat-related illnesses or injuries.
Amputee veterans who suffered loss of limb due to a combat injury or service-connected illness may qualify for veterans’ disability benefits. Losing a limb or even loss of a part of the limb can be life-altering and result in long-term and permanent medical needs aside from prosthetics. These needs are often qualifying factors for veterans’ disability benefit compensation.
The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. is focused on helping our nation’s disabled veterans obtain the full range of benefits and compensation to which they are entitled. Contact our veteran’s disability firm to speak with a disability claims representative – 1-888-234-5758.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Some Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered health problems that may lead to disability claims as a result of exposure to open burn pits during deployment. Respiratory problems have been linked to exposure to these pits among vets who were stationed at or near bases that use these pits to dispose of trash from the base. Recently, the Forward Operating Base Salerno has come under fire for inoperable incinerators and use of open burn pits for trash removal.
The Salerno base is home to two inoperable burn pits that have gone into disrepair over the three years since they were initially installed. Currently, stagnant water has built up near the pillars which may create a potential hazard to nearby servicemembers, as it could become a breeding area for mosquitoes carrying malaria.
Burn pits were banned by the Pentagon in large war-zone bases due to the large number of health concerns and lawsuits, according to Stars and Stripes. Servicemembers in active duty in the areas where burn pits are operated may later find they suffer from health conditions due to their exposure to these burn pits.
From Agent Orange use in Vietnam to toxic burn pit fumes in Iraq and Afghanistan, any veteran who is exposed to environmental hazards during his or her active duty that causes disability may qualify for veterans disability benefits.
Proving a connection between military service and the disabling conditions is necessary to file a claim. A veterans disability attorney from the Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. can help if you’re pursuing a claim related to health conditions stemming from burn pit exposure, or other conditions resulting from military service. Contact us at 1-888-234-5758.