Posts Tagged ‘VA Disability Claim’

A Backward Glance & Today’s Reality

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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I imagine many of you are following Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s landmark documentary, “The Vietnam War,” on PBS. The reality of combat and the medical challenges that spring from it leave deep wounds—often in mind, as much as in body. Compounding this, a sense of societal alienation and civilian hostility to the mission may further exacerbate it for many veterans.

The Bottom Line: Rest assured, my staff and I understand your reality. More importantly, we have the specialized skills and unique insights necessary to help those who have had their veterans disability claims denied or undervalued. Tell us about your situation. There’s no cost for a case evaluation. Ever.

Veterans Need Your Help

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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The “band of brothers/sisters” loyalty that binds military veterans is one of the strongest and most enduring. Veterans like you are also voters. Moreover, you have the same right to petition our elected representatives as every other American citizen. This is one of those times. Consider this notice from the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association:

Abarr Blog 50 graphic

Agent Orange is an insidious poison with far reaching and long-term implications. Urging congressional support for Senate bill S-422 and House of Representatives bill HR-299 is your opportunity to make a difference for comrades-in-arms. We urge you to NOT delay in making your sentiments about these bills known to your Senators and your Congressional Representative. More information is available here.

The Bottom Line: If you’ve had such exposure and had your claim for disability denied or undervalued, contact us for a free case evaluation. We have the specialized skills to help you get a fair deal.

Filing A Claim For Veterans Disability Compensation

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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Veterans suffering from a service-related injury or disability—whatever the type—are often unsure how to go about engaging with that vast government bureaucracy known as the Veterans Administration. While my legal practice is geared to assisting veterans who have had their claims denied, we see merit in helping demystify the process for ex-service members just starting out. An excellent tutorial is provided by author Benjamin Krause on the DisabledVeterans.org website. You may wish to explore his explanation of the process with this link.

Before you go, feel free to bookmark my website in your browser for future reference. We wish you an equitable outcome. But, if your claim should be undervalued or denied outright, we would sincerely welcome your return.

Bottom Line: Should your disability claim be in dispute, we have the specialized resources and expertise to help you get a fair shake from the VA. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

Female Veterans Will Face Unique Health Issues; Part II ~ The Implications

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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The U.S. military is now integrating female soldiers into combat units. These women are destined to confront issues that their male comrades-in-arms simply don’t face. In addition to sexual harassment and assault—criminal acts—female soldiers must contend with anatomic realities that can have real consequences to their post-service health and well-being. Moreover, military recruiters have no incentive to mention them.

As noted by retired military experts on the subject, Julie Pulley and Hugh P. Scott in their Op/Ed piece, “Women recruits risk more” in the “Los Angeles Times” (25th July 2017):

“Military recruiters are aggressively targeting high school female athletes. Ads featuring women glamorize close-combat skills.” … “In this push for more female recruits, it’s not at all clear that young women—or the civilian population in general—understand the unique, disproportionate health risks women face in combat roles. The dangers, which have been known for decades, will undoubtedly be exacerbated as women serve in the most physically demanding units. Although the Pentagon has published studies detailing these gender differences, no such information is readily found on the Army or Marine recruiting websites. And the neighborhood recruiter isn’t likely to fill you in, either. But avoiding hard truths isn’t a legitimate way to attract new volunteers to the military.” …

“These differences will put women at a distinct disadvantage in newly opened infantry jobs, where they will be expected to carry 100-pound packs routinely, or in armor jobs, where they will have to load 35-pound rounds again and again. Women in these roles will have to constantly work at a higher percentage of their maximal capacity to achieve the same performance as men. No training system can close the gap.

Extreme physical activity, irregular meals, inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, sleep deprivation and stress are common in close-combat units. These factors can trigger “conservation mode” in women, which results in a decrease in female hormones, cessation of menstruation, and osteoporosis with a heightened risk of stress fractures.

We also know that if stress and exertion don’t suppress menstruation, many women in combat roles will choose to do so with hormonal contraceptive use. The side effects may include depression, weight gain and breakthrough bleeding. Depo-Provera, the contraceptive of choice for many military women, now carries a warning for loss of bone mineral density.

Pelvic floor injuries are another gender-specific danger for female troops. Studies have found heavy load bearing and paratrooper training can contribute significantly to urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse among women.” …

“[W]omen are approximately 67% more likely than men to receive a physical disability discharge from the army for a musculoskeletal disorder.”

The Bottom Line: If you’re female, your post-service health and well-being will be impacted. If you are still in the military, it is imperative that you “make a record” of symptoms as they develop. This means making trips to “sick call”—something that the military culture can discourage. But, you must protect your future. When you eventually separate from the service, be absolutely certain to: 1) report ALL symptoms and complaints you have at that time; and, 2) request a copy of all your Service Treatment Records from any and all locations at which you have ever been examined and/or treated. If your service-related disability case is denied, you will need the services of a law firm that specializes in this aspect of the law. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

(Also see Part I ~ The Facts)

Female Veterans Will Face Unique Health Issues, Part I ~ The Facts

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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That men and women have physiological differences isn’t news. But, the implications for female armed forces members is becoming increasingly newsworthy. Women are subject to a unique range of physical and psychological stresses.

The U.S. military branches are actively seeking more female recruits. As noted by retired military experts on the subject, Julie Pulley and Hugh P. Scott in their Op/Ed piece, “Women recruits risk more” in the “Los Angeles Times” (25th July 2017):

“The Department of Defense is committed to increasing numbers of women in the ranks without delay. The commandant of the Marine Corps—considered the toughest of the armed services when it comes to physical requirements—has nonetheless set a goal: 10% of new recruits for all its jobs will be women.

Citing several peer-reviewed studies, Pulley and Scott further explained:

“On average, an adult male produces 10 times more testosterone than an adult female, which almost doubles his muscle mass. (The average woman possesses only 55% to 58% of the upper body strength of the average man.)

Testosterone also causes development of a heavier and stronger skeleton in males and has a specific effect on shaping the male pelvis, adding greater strength for load-bearing tasks and enabling more efficient locomotion. It increases the size and function of their hearts and lungs and consequently males have 40% greater aerobic capacity, and higher endurance compared with females. Women’s smaller hearts require more blood to be pumped each minute at a given level of exertion because they have less hemoglobin in their blood to carry oxygen.”

The health consequences of all this may not emerge until later.

The Bottom Line: Female soldiers generally work harder than men to perform the same tasks and the implications are sobering.

(Also see Part II ~ The Implications)

Anxiety, Expectations, & You

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

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The prospect of seeking legal advice engenders anxiety in most of us—even other lawyers. The need to do so is problem enough. How to proceed adds yet another layer. Then, there’s: “How will I find the right attorney for my case? Will he/she be within my means? Must I pay up front?”

Valid concerns, all.

If you’re in need of a law firm that specializes in Veterans Disability Benefit cases and Workers Compensation law, you’re already hurting. You’re probably frustrated, too. You worry about where to turn. You worry about skill and competency. You worry about cost. It’s all quite human.

While we don’t presume to slay dragons, we are specialists in these areas of the law. Our first responsibility is to evaluate your case as carefully and compassionately as possible. We’ll give you our honest assessment—not a batch of over-promises. If we proceed together, we’ll work tirelessly with you to achieve a fair and equitable outcome.

In the end, perhaps the dragon that gets slain is the one called Anxiety.

*****

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.

Supreme Court Denies Veterans Disability Offset Compensation To Ex-Spouses

Written by Maurice Abarr on . Posted in Veterans Disability

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On 15th May 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Howell v. Howell that a state court cannot force veterans to offset the loss of a divorced spouse’s portion of a veteran’s retirement benefits when that veteran waives retirement pay in favor of disability pay. The issues have been hotly debated for years. The ruling overturned an Arizona Supreme Court decision and is now settled law. The case details are probably more relevant to those who specialize in divorce or dissolution law. So, you need not immerse yourself in the minutiae—rest assured we understand the decision and its implications for our Veterans Disability clients. If you are contending with similar circumstances with an ex-spouse, contact a domestic-law specialist. If that attorney happens to be unfamiliar with this Supreme Court decision, tell them to call us.

The Bottom Line: If you have waived your veterans retirement pay (or a portion of it) in order to receive service-related disability benefits, courts can’t order you to indemnify a former spouse for the lost amount in her/his portion of your now reduced veteran’s retirement pay.

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.

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.

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