Unrepresented Veterans Beware: SSA Disability Determinations Do Not Guarantee Unemployability Findings By the VA

A recent memorandum decision by Judge Hagel serves as a reminder to Veterans that forwarding a favorable disability finding by the Social Security Administration is no “slam dunk” for a finding of unemployability/TDIU.  Veterans that submit SSA decision letters on their own miss the crucial opportunity to explain at the outset that while an SSA finding may reference several conditions that—in the aggregate—render the Veteran disabled; the Veteran’s service-connected conditions, even considered alone, render the Veteran unemployable.  Continue reading “Unrepresented Veterans Beware: SSA Disability Determinations Do Not Guarantee Unemployability Findings By the VA”

What Surviving Spouses of Agent Orange-Exposed Veterans Need to Know

When a married Veteran dies due to a condition related to their military service, their surviving spouse (and sometimes their children) is eligible to receive DIC- a monthly payment from the VA for the remainder of their lives.  However, where Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange decades ago, yet were only recently diagnosed with cancer, survivors are often unaware of the fact that they may be owed DIC payments from the VA.  Continue reading “What Surviving Spouses of Agent Orange-Exposed Veterans Need to Know”

Veterans of Iraq/Afghan Conflicts Get Benefits for Burn Pit and Toxic Air Exposure

Many Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered unexplained symptoms of shortness of breath.  Until recently, those symptoms were denied by the VA, as oftentimes Pulmonary Function Testing (“PFTs”) for those Veterans returned “normal” results.  Recently, however, lung biopsies taken from Veterans have linked constrictive bronchiolitis directly to exposure to burn pits, toxic air and debris, and repeated exposure to sandstorms.  Please click the link below to access the full video…

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/exposed-to-airborne-hazards-countless-veterans-struggle-to-breathe-and-get-care

 

Federal Circuit Rules That Pain Alone Can Constitute a Disability

In Saunders v. Wilkie, 886 F.3d 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2018), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned prior precedent holding that pain alone (without an identifiable condition) does not constitute a disability upon which service connection may be granted.  Continue reading “Federal Circuit Rules That Pain Alone Can Constitute a Disability”

Don’t Let a Faulty VA Exam Sink Your Claim

It is not uncommon for a VA disability claim to be awarded five, ten, or even twenty years after it is originally filed.  It’s no secret– VA claims often take a very long time.  However, so long as the “claim stream” is kept alive by meeting all time deadlines for filings and appeals, upon service-connection, a Veteran will receive a back benefits award equaling the monthly payments owed since the time they first filed for benefits.  Continue reading “Don’t Let a Faulty VA Exam Sink Your Claim”

Veterans Tip: Protect Your Earliest Effective Date

You may or may not have an attorney representing you before the VA. If you are unrepresented, the greatest obstacle you face is preserving the earliest effective date possible for your claim for service connection.  An earlier effective date can translate into a Veteran being awarded years, or sometimes even decades, of back benefits.  Continue reading “Veterans Tip: Protect Your Earliest Effective Date”