Disabled veterans who meet certain eligibility requirements can receive VA disability benefits to assist them in paying for nursing home or extended care expenses. Veterans that find themselves in any of the following categories are eligible for such benefits:
In the legal field, “forum shopping” refers to the practice of attempting to control the outcome of your case by influencing what court and/or judge hears your dispute. For example, if you are able to file a lawsuit against a particular defendant in more than one state, you might investigate the laws and courts of each state as well as the judges in each state to determine which jurisdiction would offer you the better chance of winning your lawsuit. This practice also occurs in Social Security disability claim cases: claimants and their lawyers or representatives have been known to request hearings in front of certain administrative law judges (and refuse hearings in front of others) in order to increase their chances of obtaining a favorable decision. This practice, however, may soon be coming to an end as the Social Security Administration (SSA) prepares to take more aggressive actions against “forum shoppers.”
Back in June 2015, a report by National Public Radio revealed that the VA continued to deny compensation to soldiers used as test subjects for mustard gas. According to the report, approximately 60,000 veterans of World War II were subjected to tests in which they were exposed to toxic mustard gas in exchange for two weeks of extra vacation. When records about the tests were declassified in 1990, many began seeking VA disability benefits.
While many Americans across the United States have enjoyed recent gas prices that are much lower than prices several years ago, it is no secret that the cost of other goods continues to rise. For Americans on fixed incomes, such as those receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), these increasing costs can strain their household budgets and make meeting basic living expenses challenging. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) periodically grants cost of living increases (called COLA) to the amount of benefits paid to beneficiaries, sometimes this is not enough to keep up with inflation. Can recipients of SSDI and SSI benefits increase the amount of their benefits if their benefits are not enough?
A North Carolina Navy veteran was forced into proving he was alive after the VA determined he was dead. The veteran’s wife received a letter in July conveying the administration’s condolences on her husband’s passing, as well as demanding that she pay back nearly $1,600 in benefits improperly paid out after her husband’s death. The problem? The veteran was very much alive. This did not seem to matter to Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), who froze the veteran’s bank accounts and demanded he produce a notarized letter indicating that he was alive. Even the bank at which the veteran had accounts for 20 years demanded that he produce a notarized letter before removing the hold on his accounts.
A lawsuit brought by several Myrtle Beach property owners against AVX Corp. that had been dismissed by a lower court was reinstated and allowed to proceed following a recent South Carolina Supreme Court decision. The lawsuit was brought by property owners who claimed their property values had decreased and they could not obtain bank loans because of ground pollution attributable to AVX Corp.’s Myrtle Beach plant that utilized trichloroethylene (TCE). In reinstating the lawsuit and allowing it to proceed, the South Carolina Supreme Court stated that the property owner’s suit raised the “novel question” of whether South Carolina will recognize “stigma damages.
When you become unable to work and realize you may need to file for Social Security disability benefits, feelings of angst and confusion are common. After all, most people have little or no prior experience in dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA) or any government agency – other than, perhaps, the Internal Revenue Service. So when faced with the prospect of completing paperwork and speaking with a government official, some disability applicants may feel they must have legal assistance with them. Others may be self-confident and feel that no one can represent their interests as well as they can themselves. Regardless of how one feels, however, the question remains: must you be represented by an attorney in order to file for disability benefits?
What happens when the VA decides to rely on “outside help” in evaluating the disability claims of veterans? If you are a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune between the 1950s and the 1980s and who developed any one of a number of health complications due to exposure to tainted water at Camp Lejeune, the use of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) by the VA means your claim now has a much greater chance of being denied. While the VA is standing by its policy of using SMEs to help it evaluate certain claims (saying that doing so increases the consistency and accuracy of its decisions), critics charge that the use of SMEs is just another way for the VA to justify denying veterans the benefits they deserve.
The Social Security Disability trust fund is set to run out of money sometime in 2016, according to reports by the Social Security trustees. At that time, individuals who are receiving Social Security disability benefits (which includes both Social Security disability income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits) as well as individuals who apply for benefits will likely encounter a Social Security disability program that looks significantly different from the program today.
It was reported last week through several media outlets that the Veterans Administration (VA) is considering recommendations to impose an age cap on veterans receiving individual unemployability (IU) compensation. If adopted, the rule would eliminate eligibility for IU benefits for veterans over a certain age. Presently, there is no age cap or limit to how old a person can be and still receive IU benefits, allowing some VA disability recipients to receive IU benefits despite being 90 years old. Even if the proposed rule were adopted, it would not affect determinations already made but would only impact new VA disability recipients requesting benefits.