VA Proposes Standardization in Disability Claims Process
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) March 4, 2014 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has proposed that veterans use standardized forms to submit disability claims.
This is an idea that would seem in step with the desire to streamline and modernize the process. However, the proposal has veterans groups concerned that many former members of the military will not be able to navigate the new system.
Traditionally, veterans have been able to submit claims in a variety of ways, including through simple, handwritten notes. The claim becomes the initial point for retroactive pay reference when and if the filing veteran’s claim is approved.
“The standard means of filing a claim for benefits involves completing and mailing to one’s local VA office the so-called Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension,” said James G. Fausone, a prominent Northville, Michigan attorney who specializes in legal help for veterans. “It is always helpful to attach any supporting evidence, such as medical records, to the application.”
The VA wants to dispense with the so-called “informal claim process” that veterans employ when they submit a handwritten note in favor of online or standard paper forms. The agency says the measure will help it catch up with its 400,000 backlogged claims. But such a mandate would mean that the claim period would not begin with receipt of a handwritten note.
Some veterans groups are arguing that, as a result, those who use the Internet will be rewarded at the expense of others. “We have concerns because the average age of the American veteran is 64 years old, and the 2010 census reported that 55 percent of Americans 65 and older do not have regular access to the Internet,” said Zachary Hearn, deputy director of benefits for the American Legion.
For many veterans, the VA’s proposal may become an irritating burden requiring additional detail and paperwork. But legal experts advise that the claims process is inherently complicated. That argument is particularly compelling in circumstances when a rejected claim must be appealed — in which case, the help of an attorney could be pivotal.
“Pursuit of your appeal without experienced legal counsel severely reduces your prospects for success before the court,” Fausone said. “Over 75 percent of all cases resolved at court in 2008 were represented by legal counsel.”
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800
- Uncertainty looms over future of VA health records
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) faces uncertainty as it assesses the best way in which to meet long-term needs for its electronic health record system (EHR). One option is developing a shared system of military health records with the Department of Defense (DOD) in order to allow faster access to veterans’ records. However, efforts […]
- Veteran homelessness slashed by half in six years
The number of homeless veterans in the United States has been reduced by 47 percent since 2010. Data indicates an overall decline of 17 percent in veteran homelessness in 2015 alone. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual estimate, there were under 40,000 homeless veterans on a given night in January. […]
- Michigan veteran treks 1000 miles to raise awareness for PTSD
A Michigan veteran completed a cross-country walk in a mission to raise awareness for veteran suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fruitport native Marty Wills trekked 1,000 miles to Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina. He began the two-month journey in Muskegon on Memorial Day. Wills carried with him an American flag […]
- Virtual reality opens up world of possibilities for PTSD treatment
Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may find relief with a new and surprising form of therapy. A clinical psychologist at the University of Southern California Institute of Creative Technologies is using virtual reality to treat the condition. Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo spent over a decade designing 14 virtual reality worlds to help veterans […]