Posts Tagged ‘Irvine’

Multiple Impairments Figure Into Disability Rates & Payments

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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Your service-related disability may not be just one condition. Consequently, the Veterans Administration makes provision for a range of conditions—multiple conditions, in this instance—in its disability percentages and its compensation tables. Each valid condition will be assigned a percentage. These can be ‘totaled’ to arrive at a final number. Actually, getting to the final percentage where multiple impairments are involved is more than simple addition. It’s actually a formalized combination. For example, if you have 70% for PTSD, plus 20% for your knee, and an additional 20% for your back, the final rating will be 80%. But, at 80%, you would need another 30% in a different body part to get to 90%, plus another 60% in some other body part to get to 100%. As you can see, it’s rather complicated.

The Bottom Line: Each veteran’s case is unique. Navigating these waters is what my staff and I do. We have the skills and resources to see your case through, while protecting your rights. You need not worry about complexities such as these. That’s our job. Contact us for a free case evaluation. We’re here to help you.

A Legal Giant Is No More

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Workers Compensation

An Appreciation…

Those familiar with my background know that Gerry Spence and Richard “Racehorse” Haynes each figured large in my career and as mentors. Richard passed away at his home in Trinity, Texas last week at age 90. He was flamboyant. He was controversial. And, he was utterly fearless in protecting the legal interests of his clients. He was an inspiration to me and I strive each day to be a similarly forceful advocate for my own clients. Farewell Richard, R.I.P.

Maurice L. Abarr, Esq.

Locating The VA’s Benefits Rate Tables

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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If you’re reading this, it probably because you have a need to do so. Fortunately, information about the dollar value of benefits available to veterans with disabilities and/or their survivors is relatively easy to access. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ website has it all—and more. Here’s the path:

Enter www.va.gov in your web browser
Click on “Disability Compensation”
Click on “Benefit Rates”

You will see the VA’s range of current Benefit Rate categories. Simply click on those of interest and the applicable tables will appear. You will see that the rate tables are organized according the percentage of disability—which was explained in my previous blog, entitled “Disability Levels ~ How The Veterans Administration Evaluates Cases.” You can view this blog by scrolling down.

Of course, you can simply use this LINK and be immediately transported to this part of the VA website.
Either way, you’ll want to bookmark the page in your web browser for easy access in the future.

The Bottom Line: This is the valuation the VA places on a broad range of veterans disabilities and circumstances. Pursuing them can be daunting. And, you certainly deserve a fair shake from the system if you are denied or wrongly classified. We understand the process and how to protect your rights. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

Disability Levels ~ How The Veterans Administration Evaluates Cases

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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The VA has awarded you a service connection for PTSD. Now, it will review the most current clinical evidence available to it so as to assess how the severity of your symptoms impairs you—including your ability to work and your degree of social function. A schedule is used with definitions and percentages that have been set by VA regulations. They have established Diagnostic Codes (DC) for a range of psychiatric (and medical) disorders. Provision is made for the degree of severity of related symptoms. From this, a corresponding disability percentage is assigned. Typically, the VA evaluates the level of psychiatric disability under common criteria, irrespective of your specific diagnosis. This includes PTSD. You can share this information with your psychiatrist and request a report or opinion letter describing your disability or impairment that you can submit to the VA.

It’s worth noting that even though the severity of your symptoms do not satisfy the diagnostic criteria for a 100% rating level, you may qualify under a different VA regulation that permits them to compensate you at the 100% level—insofar as the medical evidence demonstrates that you are unable to obtain or maintain gainful employment and that this is a consequence of your service-connected PTSD. This is called, a TDIU or IU. It stands for “total rating on the basis of individual un-employability due to service-connected disability.”

In ascending order, these are the definitions and percentages (rating levels) the VA uses for mental disorders:

0%: A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication.

10%: Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress, or; symptoms controlled by continuous medication.

30%: Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks (although generally functioning satisfactorily, with routine behavior, self-care, and conversation normal), due to such symptoms as: depressed mood, anxiety, suspiciousness, panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events).

50%: Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

70%: Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a work-like setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

100%: Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought process or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.

The Bottom Line: If all of this sounds a bit daunting, please don’t worry. My staff and I understand it. We’re uniquely qualified to guide you to a fair and equitable outcome that’s based on your unique circumstances. Feel free to contact us for a free case evaluation.

Scheduled For Your Veterans Administration C & P Exam ~ What You Need To Know First

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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You’d probably expect me to recommend consulting with an Accredited Attorney BEFORE going to a Compensation & Pension Exam. But, there are IMPORTANT considerations for this. The best way for me to demonstrate this is by way of an actual client example:

“Jane Veteran” was discharged from the military in 2010. She saw combat and was directly engaged on multiple occasions. At the time of discharge, she “just wanted to get home.” Making a claim for a mental injury or disability was not a priority at that time. As time went by, she struggled with nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, physical and mental fatigue. “Jane” wanted to put the trauma she experienced in service behind her. But she couldn’t. It was, as she put it, “eating [her] alive.” She had trouble keeping a job. She had trouble in her relationships. She began to socially withdraw and isolate herself.

Then, “Jane” encountered a fellow veteran from her time in the service. He shared that he too was having a hard time back in civilian life but that he’d been helped by the treatment he had received from the VA–and that he was now receiving monthly benefits from the VA as compensation for his disability. He urged her to make a claim.

So, five years after her discharge, “Jane” does so for several specific disabilities and begins treatment at her local Veterans medical facility for (among other things) PTSD. She is evaluated by a doctor the VA scheduled her to see. The exam was brief. To her surprise, the VA eventually decided that her claim for PTSD should be denied because there had been no “clinical diagnosis” of her PTSD. (This is the reason frequently given by the VA for denying a claim for such a disability.) “Jane” does the right thing by taking the first step in her appeal–filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VA’s denial of her PTSD claim. She hires an Accredited Attorney (us) to represent her in her appeal.

Soon thereafter, “Jane” receives notice from the VA that it has again scheduled her to be seen by an ‘independent’ doctor. The appointment letter is similar to the one for the first doctor—the one that the VA relied upon to deny her claim. But she knows she has to go or her appeal ends if she doesn’t show up.

We carefully review with “Jane” the areas that the VA doctor should cover in order for the evaluation to be fair and unbiased. This time the VA sees it her way and she is awarded 50% in disability following this evaluation.

We believe that “Jane’s” preparation—both mentally and informationally—helped in achieving that outcome. (Of course, it’s possible that the VA recognizes she has competent counsel and they need to get real on the merits of the claim.) We are still appealing “Jane’s” claim because the Effective Date they gave her (for when her compensation STARTED) was the date of the LAST evaluation, not the date she made her claim.

If you see your situation reflected here, contact us for a free case evaluation. My staff and I are here to serve you.

To The Veteran Who Says “But, I didn’t know!” ~ A Call To Action

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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Having interviewed dozens of Veterans who are in the claim process (or, should be) for their Service-Connected Disability, these remarks are for those who have yet to file a claim.

It’s understandable that Veterans in the process of separation/discharge from military service “just want to get home.” Unfortunately, many miss an opportunity to initiate a claim for their Service-Connected Disability(ies). The entitlement to VA Disability Compensation usually STARTS with the date you make your claim. As time passes, you may be losing money and jeopardizing your health by not starting the compensation process by initiating a claim.

It’s IMPORTANT for you to understand that it becomes more difficult to prove a claim for disability as time passes. The greater the interval between your date of separation and the date of your claim, the more evidence is likely to be needed to connect your current disability back to your military service.

It’s most disturbing when Veterans tell me that they did not even know a claim was possible! At least once a month, I interview a Veteran who simply says, “I didn’t know I could get benefits for the disability that started with my military service. I go to the VA and I get my medications [or therapy]. But, no one told me I could get money . . .every month. . . because of my disability.”

So if you (or a Veteran you know) seem to be having difficulty living life, working, or functioning in society–and these problems started with the military experience–the message is simple: FILE A CLAIM! Get the process started NOW!

My staff and I frequently counsel Veterans who are making claims for the first time on how they need to start the process. We do this free of charge. Then, if the VA doesn’t get it right (which often happens. . .some would argue “chronically”), we have the Veteran’s back and help him/her appeal. That’s what we do and we welcome hearing from you. So, now you do know.

The Attorney Should Hear You

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability, Workers Compensation

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If you’re injured on the job or due to your military service, you’re already suffering physical pain, emotional distress, and may possibly be facing financial ruin. Such circumstances are likely to be amongst the most difficult you’ve ever faced. We understand. This is our field of expertise. And, we know how important it is—not to just listen—but to really hear our clients. We’ll explain the process and guide you through the various decisions that must be made. And, we’ll craft the best possible legal strategy, based on your unique case.

We’ll let clients in a recent Workers Compensation case provide some perspective…

Mr. B.: “Mr. Abarr took my case and helped guide me through the toughest time in my life. Mr. Abarr got me the best care in southern California. After being in a trucking accident where I suffered a traumatic brain injury. Maurice had my back from day one. He loves to help people and so does his staff. Maurice you are my hero! Thank you for everything.”

Mrs. B.: “Mr. Abarr helped my husband and myself throughout our case every step of the way. He is a kind, sensitive and a very knowledgeable person and lawyer! I’m very proud of the way Mr. Abarr and his staff handled our case. We couldn’t have done it without them. Best lawyer that you could ask for with a beautiful soul that really cares for his clients. He will do whatever it takes to get you the information and care that is needed for your case. He’s a very hands on lawyer that truly cares for people.”

If you’ve sustained a job or service related injury, give us an opportunity to hear you. My staff and I are ready to help. There is no charge for a case evaluation. Ever.

NOTICE:  Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

When Your Spouse Dies On The Job

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Workers Compensation

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Your spouse has died in a work-related tragedy. The grief is deep and the tasks seem overwhelming. The unfortunate truth is that such death benefit claims are often won—and lost—based upon indirect or circumstantial evidence. Few survivors are emotionally prepared to seek legal advice or contemplate litigation. However, the passage of time is almost never an ally in such cases and delay can cause complications in any case one decides to pursue. The sooner a lawyer specializing in Workers Compensation cases is contacted, the sooner an investigation and the discovery process can commence. A qualified attorney will begin capturing and documenting the available circumstantial evidence related to the time and place of death while its fresh. We at The Law Offices of Maurice L. Abarr understand the issues and challenges faced by survivors. You’ve suffered grievous loss. My staff and I are at your disposal. There is no charge for a case evaluation and we will do our very best to protect your interests as we help you through the process.

NOTICE:  Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Workers Can’t Be “On Call” During Breaks—California Supreme Court

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Workers Compensation

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According to the Associated Press (23rd December 2016), the California Supreme Court has ruled that workers in California cannot be required by their employers to be “available” or “on-call” during their short rest breaks and that employers must give up any control over how employees spend that time.

The ruling came in a lawsuit by security guards for ABM Security Services Inc. The high court said the firm’s policy of requiring guards to keep their radios on and respond to needs, such as escorting a tenant to the parking lot during rest periods, violates state law.

In the ruling, joined by 4 of the 7 members of the court, Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar acknowledged the problem, writing, “An employee on call cannot take a brief walk — five minutes out, five minutes back — if at the farthest extent of the walk he or she is not in a position to respond.” … “Employees similarly cannot use their 10 minutes to take care of other personal matters that require truly uninterrupted time — like pumping breast milk or completing a phone call to arrange child care.”

The bottom line: If your employer requires you to be “available” for company business during your rest breaks, this is no longer legal in California. If you experience such treatment, contact us for help with this issue.

NOTICE:  Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Pentagon Wants Veterans Bonuses Back

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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If you’ve been following the news, you’ve probably heard reports that soldiers enticed by the National Guard to re-enlist must repay the cash bonus they were given.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times (23 October 2016), David S. Cloud reported the following:

“WASHINGTON – Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many who served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse – after audits revealed wide-spread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade. …”

Many of my clients are Veterans and I take Veterans’ issues very seriously. If you are affected by this or other claims (or claim denials) resulting from your service, we urge you to pay close and careful attention to all written notices you receive regarding any governmental action on this issue.

While our practice is limited solely to appealing VA decisions affecting Veterans’ disability benefits, we urge you to make your feelings about this matter known to your Senators and Congressional Representative.

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