Archive for the ‘General’ Category
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.
Monday, May 20th, 2013
With a veterans’ disability claim backlog in the 800,000s, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been searching for more ways to expedite the processing of these claims. Recently, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced that mandatory overtime will be implemented at the 56 regional claims offices across the nation.
The additional hours worked in the mandatory overtime period will be dedicated to continuing the emphasis placed on high-priority claims. These are claims made by:
- homeless veterans;
- veterans with financial hardships;
- former Prisoners of War;
- veterans suffering from terminal illnesses; and
- Medal of Honor recipients.
Veterans who file fully developed claims will also be prioritized, as decisions on their disability claims can usually be reached much faster than those that require additional evidence and documentation.
The additional hours made available to work on claims thanks to the mandatory overtime joins with several recent efforts to further decrease the veterans’ disability claims backlog. Last month, the implementation of provisional decisions began to allow eligible veterans to collect compensation benefits before their claim has an official decision. This process was implemented to help those who have been waiting for more than one year for a decision on their disability benefits claim.
Veterans who file a complete disability claim may be able to take advantage of the expedited decision process under the Fully Developed Claims designation. The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. have a dedicated team of veterans’ disability professionals to help develop and support your claim through the initial application all the way to appeals. Contact our veteran’s disability rights firm 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.
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
The success of many veterans jobs initiatives have led to the recent announcement from first lady Michelle Obama that goals for veteran employment have been met threefold.
Since several veterans benefits programs related to veteran employment and training had been launched in August 2011, Mrs. Obama reported that there had been more than 290,000 veterans and military spouses who have been hired or trained thanks to these programs – three times more than originally projected.
Veterans jobs initiatives have focused on encouraging businesses to emphasize the hiring of veterans and offered incentives to do so in both local and national capacities. Other veterans benefits programs exist to help provide new training for veterans to put their military skills to use in the civilian job market.
The Joining Forces initiative is one of the main veterans benefits programs that helps encourage the creation of more veterans jobs and helps military family members find educational and employment opportunities. The program has pledges from many businesses claiming they will contribute to the hiring or training of an additional 435,000 veterans and military spouses within the next five years.
There are Resources Available for Disabled Veterans
A unique part of some veterans employment programs is the focus on disabled veterans. In many cases, a veteran who suffered injury in combat or developed a disability due to military service is no longer able to work in previous lines of employment. Through veterans benefits programs such as the GI Bill, these disabled veterans are often able to learn new skills or re-train to work with the limitations of their disabling condition.
While many disabled veterans are still able to work despite their conditions, there are thousands more whose injuries or illnesses render them unable to perform the work they previously did before or during military service. The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. is a disability law firm in South Florida dedicated to helping servicemembers obtain the veterans benefits they deserve. Contact us 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.
Friday, April 26th, 2013
Disabled female veterans are becoming a larger percentage of the veteran population. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), there were approximately 2.2 million women veterans, some of whom require medical care through the VA system for service-connected disabilities.
A new hotline, 1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636) has opened to provide important information about veterans’ benefits, health care, and other resources and services. The hotline links female veterans, their families, and caregivers to valuable resources following their military service.
While disabled female veterans benefit greatly from this service from the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is open to all female veterans regardless of disability status. The operators can connect callers to various VA branches to assist with issues such as:
- health care appointments;
- education resources;
- veterans’ burial services; and
- benefit application status.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers many services for disabled veterans that specifically target the needs of female veterans. In 2010 the VA opened an outbound call center specifically designed to contact disabled female veterans to encourage them to enroll in the VA health care system.
With nearly 15 percent of active duty military and 18 percent of National Guard and Reserve military forces made up of female soldiers, the number of female veterans is expected to climb in the next few years. VA health care totals showed 160,000 female veterans utilized its services in 2000 and climbed to more than 354,000 in 2012. VA health care services for female veterans may cover general care, women-specific services, and disability care.
The qualifications to apply for veterans disability benefits are no different between male and female veterans. When veterans believe they are suffering from disabling conditions related to military service, they are entitled to seek disability benefits through the VA.
The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. can help disabled female veterans file for veterans disability benefits. Call us at 1-888-234-5758 or fill out our contact form to get in touch with us today.
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that disabled veterans waiting over one year for a decision on their veterans disability claim will have their cases expedited. A new initiative has started to help expedite the claims that have been sitting in the backlog for over a year – a situation that should never have occurred, according to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
“Too many Veterans wait too long for a decision, and this has never been acceptable,” said Shinseki. His department is implementing a new policy where VA veterans disability benefits claims raters will now make provisional decisions to determine if a year-old claim requires more evidence or if it is complete enough for a decision to be issued.
If any additional evidence such as a medical examination is required, the VA will expedite the order and place the disabled veteran on a priority list for a VA examination. Approved benefit compensation will be retroactive to the date the initial veterans disability claim was filed, especially in cases where an increase is warranted due to additional evidence of the severity of the disability.
Further, homeless veterans’ disability claims will be prioritized along with disabled veterans with limited resources and income. Other special categories of disabled veterans include those who received the Medal of Honor, are terminally ill, are former Prisoners of War, and those filing Fully Developed Claims.
Veterans falling into the category of Wounded Warriors – those who are separating from the military due to medical reasons – will still be handled with special priority with the Department of Defense. These veterans’ disability benefits claims are typically handled within 61 days of discharge.
It takes an average of 286 days to complete a veterans disability claim and many sit for several more months before they are processed and come to a decision. This leaves thousands of veterans awaiting decisions on their veterans disability benefits.
The Law Offices of LaVan & Neidenberg, P.A. is ready to help through its team of dedicated veterans disability attorneys. To go over eligibility for disability benefits and for help filing a claim or appealing a claim decision, contact us at 1-888-234-5758.