» VA

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 22, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in May announced its purchase of 20 ReWalk exoskeleton systems for a national clinical trial. The multicenter trial is the country’s first-ever study to evaluate the impact of daily exoskeleton use in an everyday setting. The first phase of the trial will be held in VA medical centers in Florida, California, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia. It will consist of 160 eligible participants who will be enrolled later this year. The six medical centers have already received ReWalk systems for training purposes. “The ReWalk device has […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) June 14, 2016 – Lawmakers have announced the Veterans First Act in an effort to create a culture of accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve services for veterans. The sweeping measure combines various legislation to make the VA more accountable by changing employment policies, making it easier to hire and fire senior executives, blocking bonuses for problem employees and allowing any VA employee accused of wrongdoing to be fired more quickly. The bill will also enhance whistleblower protection. “This legislation will help change the current corrosive culture at the VA by […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) June 7, 2016 – Senators have unanimously confirmed Michael Missal as the permanent top watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). President Barack Obama nominated the Washington lawyer to head the VA Inspector General’s office in October. However, Missal was not approved for the key position until after a confirmation process that lasted over six months. His nomination was stalled due to several unrelated VA concerns. “The search is finally over. A permanent inspector general to oversee the VA has long been overdue,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Hopefully Michael Missal will […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) May 13, 2016 – An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report has revealed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been systematically destroying documents related to veterans’ disability compensation claims. VA investigators performed spot checks at 10 veterans benefits offices across the nation. They went through around 438,000 documents that were put in bins for shredding at the regional offices. According to the report, staff were found to be destroying claims-related mail at six regional offices. There are a total of 56 VA regional offices. “The findings of the inspector general’s report should not […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) March 15, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs has requested around $78.7 billion in discretionary funding as part of President Barack Obama’s proposed $4.1 trillion federal budget for 2017. The VA’s discretionary spending would receive a nearly 5 percent boost to tackle outstanding health care claims from veterans, among other objectives. According to the proposal unveiled on February 9, the spending plan also includes more than $102.5 billion for mandatory VA programs such as disability compensation. The budget has doubled since 2009 when Obama was sworn in. “The proposed budget increase provides an opportunity to […]


Continue reading full article »

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 14, 2015 – A Florida Hospital Association survey has found that 95 percent of its member hospitals are waiting for around $134 million in outstanding payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The 30,000 outstanding claims are for medical services the state’s hospitals provided to veterans who faced long wait times at VA health care facilities or lived too far away from them. According to the association, around 6,000 of the unpaid claims have been delayed for over two years. In October 2015, VA Secretary Robert McDonald received a letter from 12 Florida Congress […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) March 8, 2016 – Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald unveiled a 12-point plan of breakthrough priorities for his department in 2016 before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in January. The list of goals included updating the VA website, modernizing hotlines, improving veterans’ health care access, reducing the disability claims backlogs, increasing employee training and tackling veteran homelessness. Four priorities focused on department needs while the other eight specifically served veterans. However, McDonald emphasized the ultimate outcome of all 12 aims would be to provide veterans with timely care and prompt benefits. “The VA […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) February 24, 2016 – Federal prosecutors ruled against pursuing criminal charges against two Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials who faced accusations of defrauding the agency for $400,000 and manipulating its hiring system for their own benefit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia in December declined the VA inspector general’s request for a criminal investigation against Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens. The Department of Justice said it “referred the matter to the VA for any administrative action that is deemed appropriate.” However, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller raised questions about why charges would […]


Continue reading full article »

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 23, 2016 – The government is changing its rules about confirming veteran deaths after acknowledging that 115 veterans were wrongly declared dead over the past year and a half. Their benefit payments were terminated even though they were still alive. Under the new policy, the Department of Veterans Affairs will send a letter to the address of those veterans that officials think are deceased. A surviving family member will then have 30 days to confirm the death. The VA will only terminate benefit payments if they do not hear from the family or the […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) February 17, 2016 – A yearlong investigation has uncovered thousands of privacy violations at Department of Veterans Affairs-run medical facilities, clinics and benefit centers across the country. According to ProPublica’s analysis of VA data, over 10,000 breaches have occurred since 2011. The majority of privacy incidents were inadvertent, such as medical records left in waiting rooms or documents sent to the wrong individuals. However, a number of errors involved employees intentionally snooping or stealing veterans’ personal information. The highest number of privacy violations — at least 370 over the past five years — was recorded […]


Continue reading full article »

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 18, 2016 – The approval rate for disability claims arising from Camp Lejeune-related illnesses has fallen by two-thirds since the Department of Veterans Affairs introduced a third-party process to review veterans’ medical files. Veterans advocacy groups have filed a Freedom of Information request for details about the identities and qualifications of the experts in the VA program. “Veterans could benefit from greater transparency on the VA’s part. The agency should make public basic information about its personnel and the process they use to evaluate claims,” said David Magann, a Florida-based veterans attorney. Almost a million […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 14, 2016 – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced new criteria on Dec. 1 to increase patient eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program. The change is expected to open the program to about 160,000 more veterans seeking health care at private hospitals and clinics closer to home. VA officials said staff have been granted more flexibility to evaluate eligibility. The changes are effective immediately. “The VA is taking a positive step toward consolidating care among different programs, increasing eligibility and improving its health care services after reports of long wait times at overwhelmed VA […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) December 30, 2015 – The Department of Veterans Affairs and the government are likely to fall short of their goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. According to a report released on Nov. 19, the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there were nearly 48,000 homeless veterans across the United States as of Jan. 2015. The number marks a 4 percent drop from 2014, but a decline of more than 27,000 people since 2010. Officials said that missing the goal should not take away from the significant progress that has been […]


Continue reading full article »

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 22, 2015 – Allison Hickey, undersecretary for benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs, resigned on Oct. 16 after the department’s internal watchdog discovered flaws in the oversight of promotions involving senior executives. The VA Inspector General (IG) found that around 24 senior executives were promoted or given new positions within the department. However, many of their salary raises did not “consistently reflect changes in the positions’ scope of responsibility,” according to an IG statement. Hickey was facing a congressional inquiry into the accusations. Hickey stepped down despite the department’s 88 percent drop in […]


Continue reading full article »

Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) November 18, 2015 – According to a statement of complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Dr. Jane Doe’s career was promising and there was a lot to look forward to for the future, until Doe ran afoul of Dr. Muhammad Atthar Naeem and Dr. Robert M. Heaney for reporting alleged racism. This case appears to be unique in that it bears witness to alleged racism, discrimination, sexual harassment and administrative actions that prompted Dr. Doe to blow the whistle and reveal the full extent of the story. This story, as told by Doe, […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 13, 2015 – President Barack Obama on Oct. 2 nominated lawyer Michael J. Missal to take over as permanent inspector general for the watchdog office of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Members of Congress have long called for the nomination of a permanent inspector general for the VA, saying it will bring more accountability to the department. In recent years, the VA has struggled to meet the health care needs of veterans and failed to provide timely decisions on benefits, along with dealing with scandal investigations and whistleblower retaliation. “It is unacceptable that […]


Continue reading full article »

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 10, 2015 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced on Aug. 24 that it has slashed its backlog of veterans’ claims for disability coverage by 84 percent from a high of more than 611,000 claims in 2013. VA officials have used a combination of paperless processing techniques, updated software systems and mandatory overtime by benefits department employees to reduce the numbers. Currently, around 98,500 of more than 362,000 pending claims in the Veterans Benefits Administration are awaiting processing. The average processing time for a case has dropped from 282 days to around 105 […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 6, 2015 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) watchdog investigates fewer than 10 percent of the almost 40,000 complaints it receives annually about problems at the agency despite their potential to harm veterans’ health. VA whistleblowers from across the United States spoke at a Senate hearing on Sept. 22. They claimed the department continues to retaliate against whistleblowers who report wrongdoing. The VA was also accused of failing to hold supervisors accountable more than a year after the scandal broke over wait times at the Phoenix VA hospital. “The VA’s culture of retaliation […]


Continue reading full article »

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 5, 2015 – A new report shows that although the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has improved its processing of veterans’ benefits claims overall, the office that processes disability cases for Florida has failed to handle claims properly. The VA regional office in St. Petersburg, Florida, is either overpaying or shortchanging the state’s veterans in some cases. The St. Petersburg office processes disability claims for all of Florida. The report was part of the inspector general’s ongoing review of regional offices throughout the United States. “In recent years, the VA has been experiencing high […]


Continue reading full article »

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 2, 2015 – A new study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense has found that women in the military are at the same risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as men with similar combat experiences. Researchers examined more than 2,300 pairs of male and female active-duty troops and veterans deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan at least once. They did not have PTSD at the beginning of the study. Participants were matched based on variables such as age, race, marital status, alcohol use, combat exposure and military occupation. […]


Continue reading full article »