Radio Law Talk Segment
Its veteran’s day. Let’s try and understand a little more about the legal hoops veterans have to go through.
ISSUES (Summarize both sides argument, both perspectives. You can use bullet points):
- Many veterans get injured but wait to file the necessary paperwork because they are not sure if they have a claim. Because they wait the wait time to get the answer increases.
LAW (with references, no need for blue book citations. This is the most important part, make sure the attorneys can answer any questions from callers on the topic. You can use bullet points):
- To apply: To be eligible to apply for veterans disability benefits, one must be a veteran of U.S. military service, an active service member with an impending discharge between 180 and 60 daysthrough the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program (BDD), or an active service member within 60 days of impending discharge through the BDD Quick Start claim process.
- Additionally, for a veteran to qualify for veterans disability benefits, the veteran must meet all of the following criteria:
- The veteran must have a disease or disability diagnosed .
- There must have been an incident during the veteran’s active service, and
- The disability must be “service-connected,” meaning that there must be a proven causal connection between the incident and the disability or the disability must be on the presumed connection list (more on this below).
- Howell v. Howell Supreme Court of the United States: FAMILY LAW: States were prohibited from increasing, pro rata, the amount divorced spouse received each month from veteran’s retirement pay in order to indemnify divorced spouse to restore that portion of retirement pay lost due to veteran’s post divorce waiver of retirement pay to receive service-related disability benefits
DETAILED FACTS (tell the story):
Many veterans wait years to get their disability benefits. One Leonard K. Jackson has been waiting 15 years. He was even endorsed by the White House. President Obama used him as an example to try and speed up the process. When there are more than 44,000 veterans waiting for their benefits, there is a long line.
Jackson did not know was denied the first time he applied, but he did not know about the appeals process and getting help. He dropped is first application and reapplied in 2011 but as of 2016 is still waiting for the response. https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/va-disability-benefits/va-benefits-disability-lawsuit-17-21490.html
In 2008 a lawsuit was filed by two advocacy groups, The Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare, against the Department of Veterans Affairs representing almost 60,000 veterans. The lawsuit claims that the VA is taking up to four years to process disability claims, which is causing economic devastation, homelessness, the breakup of families, and even suicide. The suit requested that the VA be required to pay interim benefits on any claim that takes longer than 90 days to process or six months to appeal.
Some of the allegations in the lawsuit include:
- A backlog of up to 600,000 disability payments, with delays of up to 177 days for initial claims.
- A shortage of treatment programs for post-traumatic stress disorder.
- A classification of post-traumatic stress disorder claims as “pre-existing personality disorders” in order to deny veterans disability or medical treatment.
Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare v. Shinseki as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs 599 F.3d 654
Veterans advocacy groups brought action against Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seeking declaration that the average time it took the VA to process Veterans claims for service-related disability benefits violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Due Process Clause, and also seeking injunction requiring processing of claims and appeals within specified time periods. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Reggie B. Walton, J., dismissed. The groups appealed.
On appeal the judge held the groups lacked standing to bring the action
Agent Orange Settlement Fund
The Agent Orange Settlement Fund was created by the resolution of the Agent Orange Product Liability Litigation – a class action lawsuit brought by Vietnam Veterans and their families regarding injuries allegedly incurred as a result of the exposure of Vietnam Veterans to chemical herbicides used during the Vietnam war. The suit was brought against the major manufacturers of these herbicides. The class action case was settled out-of-court in 1984 for $180 million dollars, reportedly the largest settlement of its kind at that time.
- Requirements: that the Veteran served in Vietnam as a member of the Armed Forces between 1962 and 1972 (the period during which Agent Orange was used in Vietnam);
- that the applicant was either a totally-disabled Vietnam Veteran or the survivor of a deceased Vietnam Veteran;
- that based upon the circumstances of the Veteran’s service (including location of service and particular experiences during service), the Veteran met a test of probable exposure to herbicides;
- that death or disability was not caused by a traumatic or accidental occurrence; and
- that death or disability occurred before December 31, 1994.
The Payment Program operated over a period of 6 years, beginning, after appeals, in 1988 and concluding in 1994. During its operation, the Settlement Fund distributed a total of $197 million in cash payments to members of the class in the United States. Of the 105,000 claims received by the Payment Program, approximately 52,000 Vietnam Veterans or their survivors received cash payments which averaged about $3,800 each. In 1997 the District court ordered the fund closed, its assets having been fully distributed.
OTHER FACTS (interesting facts, related facts, trivia, etc.):
- How to apply: fill out form online and mail it in. Look online at: https://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/apply.asp
- What you need to show to get benefits: https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/disability/veterans-disability/filing.htm
- To Appeal: veteranslaw.com/blog Once you receive a decision from the Board, you have 120 days to file a Notice of Appeal with the CAVC. Because this appeal is being filed in a federal court, the process is more formal and certain rules must be followed. Use this form to file the Notice of Appeal. There is a fee to file the Notice of Appeal; if you need help paying the fee and you meet certain income guidelines, you can apply for a fee waiver using the Declaration of Financial Hardship form. You can submit the Notice of Appeal and the Declaration of Financial Hardship by mail, fax, or email to:
- Clerk of Court
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
625 Indiana Ave., NW, Suite 900
Washington DC, 20004-2950
- Clerk of Court
- The CAVC (U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims) provides a list of attorneys/representatives that are accredited to handle appeals here: uscourts.cavc.gov/representative.php
- According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were about 22 million veterans living in the United States as of 2014. https://www.va.gov/vetdata/Veteran_Population.asp
- In 2013 3.4 million disabled vets. The cost to care for them: $14.8 Billion in 2000 to $39.4 Billion in 2011. https://www.adlerfirm.com/blog/2013/01/how-many-veterans-are-disabled.shtml
ARTICLE LINKS (so we can print them out):
www.veteranslaw.com/blog (how to appeal)
MEDIA (less than a 2 minutes FUNNY sound bite. You can include a couple of options. We realize that for some topics there is not much):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2TrW8jR8EM (MASH- the wind)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a7CbDcipuc (pool ball in mouth)