Free Health Coverage for WWII Vets

This past Veterans Day, the VA announced that all World War II veterans would be eligible for free health care and nursing home services.

Although few WWII veterans remain, this could benefit the almost 120,000 still with us, according to Pew Research. This means they would no longer have to make copayments, pay enrollment fees, or pay premiums on anything received through the VA.

Free Health Coverage for WWII Vets

The impetus for this move comes from the 2022 Cleland-Dole Act, and will affect anyone who served in the military between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946.

The new expansion will cover all WWII veterans, irrespective of their disability rating. This comes just shortly after the VA added several hundred thousand beneficiaries to its payroll through the PACT Act. The VA is also spending $5 million on its “What You Earned” campaign, a promotional effort to advertise and explain cost comparisons for VA healthcare, educational support, and other benefits.

It’s part of the department’s extensive focus on educating veterans and boosting enrollment via the PACT Act. This has yielded significant results, too, as claims applications rose by about 39% in 2022. 

Other VA Health Coverage Expansions

In other news, the VA has also expanded its reimbursement program for families who lived in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, between 1952 and 1987.

During that time, the area suffered water contamination that created a spike in cases of Parkinson’s Disease. The recent update expands the reimbursement for the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program as it pertains to that serious neurological disease. Health officials attribute the increase in Parkinson’s at Camp Lejeune to contaminated water brought about by poor waste management of industrial solvents (dry cleaning fluids and other toxic chemicals).

The VA is also coordinating with the Indian Health Service and other organizations to bring more doctors to underserved/rural parts of the country. They intend to rotate at least 100 physicians to non-VA hospitals and facilities to address service shortages.

That’s a quick update on what you should expect to see from the VA shortly. As always, if you’d like to know how this would affect you or other veteran family areas, please get in touch with us.

Veterans Affairs Law exists to help veterans understand and fight for their rights regarding military compensation, health coverage, disability compensation, survivor benefits, and more. If you’ve had to struggle to get what you’ve earned from the VA, then we’re the ones to call for support.
You can reach us anytime to learn more about veteran benefits, appealing a disability denial, and more by calling our Sarasota office at 941-552-6677.

Military Retirement Pay & Benefits 2024: Key Updates to Know

Have you kept up with the changes and updates to military retirement pay and benefits?

That’s an important topic for us at Veterans Affairs Law, P.A. because of our focus on helping military vets get paid properly. While that emphasis involves areas like disability benefits and survivor benefits, it’s also essential to stay aware of changes to cost-of-living allowance (COLA), retirement pay, and other compensations. This post will cover all the recent benefits/pay updates to go into effect in 2024.

2024 Pay & Benefits Increases

Retirement Pay Increase - In 2024, monthly pay for veterans will increase by 3.2% with an increase in COLA. That’s the mechanism the VA uses to offset the effect of inflation. Some might notice that this figure is lower than the previous two years, where it increased 5.9% (2022) and 8.7% (2023). It’s still, however, a somewhat larger-than-average increase over the past 20 years. The 2022 and 2023 figures were unusually high because of exorbitant inflation levels, not seen since the early 1970s. This year reflects a slight return to normal, although significant inflation continues to occur. The increase in COLA hinges upon the U.S. Department of Labor’s assessment of inflation, which they base on annual changes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

VA Disability Increase - There are also changes that will affect how much disability pay veterans receive each month. It is, of course, based on one’s disability rating. Veterans with a 10% rating will gain $5.31 more per month, whereas those with a 100% rating will collect $115.90 more (not including dependent coverage).

Other Benefit Increases - The government is also raising Social Security and Civil Service benefits. Those recipients will also gain a 3.2% boost. That comes out to about an additional $50 per month for the average Social Security recipient.

Are You Not Receiving What You Deserve? Give Us a Call!

Like we always say, there’s no reason NOT to receive what you’ve earned from all those long years of sacrifice during your military service. We’re here to help if you’ve been denied benefits and want to make an appeal. Whatever you do, don’t take chances by going through it alone.

The team of legal professionals at Veterans Affairs Law, P.A. maintains a total commitment to helping military vets acquire the benefits they deserve. If you’re still having trouble with the VA, which is a common problem these days, we’re here to help you navigate their bureaucracy much faster.

Contact us anytime to learn more about veteran legal services by calling 941-552-6677.

When Denied Benefits: Why Veterans Turn to Veterans Affairs Law P.A.

Serving in the military is a profound commitment to one's country, often accompanied by personal sacrifices and life-altering experiences. Veterans carry the weight of their service with pride, but they also rely on the support and benefits promised to them by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Unfortunately, there are times when veterans find themselves denied the benefits they rightfully deserve. This is when veterans turn to Veterans Affairs Law P.A., a trusted voice for veterans in Sarasota, Florida.

The Promise and the Reality

When men and women enlist in the armed forces, they do so with the knowledge that they may face danger and hardship. In return, they are promised essential benefits to support them and their families, both during and after their service. These benefits can include healthcare, disability compensation, education assistance, and more.

However, the path to accessing these benefits is not always straightforward. Veterans often encounter bureaucratic hurdles, complex regulations, and, unfortunately, denials. This is where Veterans Affairs Law P.A. steps in as an advocate and guide.

Why Veterans Reach Out

Denied Benefits: The primary reason veterans seek the help of Veterans Affairs Law P.A. is the denial of benefits they are entitled to. Whether it's a disability claim, education assistance, or healthcare coverage, being denied benefits can be both frustrating and overwhelming.

Complex Appeals Process: The VA appeals process can be intricate and lengthy. Veterans may feel lost in the labyrinth of paperwork and legalities. We provide the knowledge and experience to navigate this process effectively.

Accountability: Veterans Affairs Law P.A. holds the VA and Congress accountable for the promises made to veterans. When those promises are not fulfilled, veterans have a powerful ally in their corner, advocating for their rights.

Personalized Support: Every veteran's situation is unique. Our team understands this and provides personalized support tailored to each client's needs. They take the time to understand your case and develop a strategy to achieve a favorable outcome.

Peace of Mind: Legal battles can be stressful, especially for veterans already dealing with the challenges of transitioning to civilian life or managing service-related disabilities. Veterans Affairs Law P.A. offers peace of mind by taking the burden off their shoulders.

Your Voice, Your Advocates

At Veterans Affairs Law P.A. in Sarasota, Florida, veterans find more than just legal representation; they find a dedicated partner in their journey to secure the benefits they've earned. With decades of experience and a commitment to holding the VA and Congress accountable, we stand as a beacon of hope and support for veterans facing denials and challenges in accessing their well-deserved benefits.

If you or a loved one has been denied benefits, don't navigate this complex process alone. Reach out to Veterans Affairs Law P.A. in Sarasota, Florida by calling 941-552-6677, and let us be your voice and advocate in the fight for the benefits you rightfully deserve.

Backlog of Veterans' First-Time Disability Claims Reaches Almost 300,000

The volume of veteran disability claims has reached an all-time high. Although the VA claims otherwise, it appears almost 300,000 overdue claims overrun the system. This comes amid a significant expansion in veterans’ benefits, as the VA tries to process several new cases to fulfill last year’s PACT Act.

What is the PACT Act?

PACT Act stands for Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act, an important piece of federal legislation for veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals and burn pits overseas. It passed in August 2022 with the aim of providing further benefits for disabled veterans who left the service between 2001 and 2013. In essence, it would offer better coverage for Iraq/Afghanistan war vets who had to work around hazardous air-borne substances, known to cause respiratory disease and cancer.

Why We’re Seeing Such a Backlog in VA Claims

As you might imagine, however, with that many veterans trying to make PACT Act claims all at once, the VA has run into quite a log jam. This has been even more strenuous as they impose more and more deadlines on enrollment, while more veterans scramble to file claims.

Of course, the VA had too many back cases during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. Prior to that, it had gotten its backlog down to about 70,000 cases, but since then, the volume has more than quadrupled. The VA has responded to this workload increase by expanding its workforce by about 20% (roughly 30,000 new workers).

What else has the VA done to respond to this problem?

There is plenty of pressure on its bureaucracy to address the backlog and not allow case levels to balloon out of control like it had 10 years earlier. Much of that pressure comes straight from Congress. In response, the VA intends to digitize its system to expedite its notoriously slow approval processes.

How Do You Avoid This Backlog Difficulty?

So, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s very easy to get stuck in the VA bureaucracy and wait a year to hear from them. While there’s no silver-bullet approach to achieving instant results, you CAN improve your chances for faster turnaround times if you hire professional legal help. Our team of veterans’ attorneys does nothing but this for former military personnel languishing in the VA system, trying to gain disability benefits.

Veterans Affairs Law is here to support American veterans while they attempt to secure their benefits. It’s not the easiest system to navigate (even without the backlog), which is why we offer valuable legal assistance. Contact us anytime to learn more by calling 941-552-6677.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and an important time to reflect on how that affects U.S. military veterans.

It’s impossible to avoid the somber reality that veterans comprise a disproportionate share of suicide cases, because of many traumatic experiences and severe disabilities they suffer. While this a complex topic, requiring attention from many professionals, we’d like to offer our take on how to understand and prevent suicide in the veteran community.

Why Suicide Prevention Support is Essential

Suicide has become a pandemic throughout Western civilization in the past two decades. This affects both the young and elderly, exasperated by many conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death among Americans, across all demographics. It’s become the second most common cause of death for young people (between ages 15 and 34). Young veterans certainly fit into that sorrowful statistic far too often.

Total suicides, among veterans is expected to surpass all post-9/11 combat fatalities by 2030. Therefore, it should be a pressing concern for the military, families of veterans, mental health professionals, and veterans themselves.

Know the Common Warning Signs for Suicide

How can you tell if a veteran (or anyone else) may be vulnerable to suicide? Are there any telltale signs that should prompt an intervention?

How Veterans Can Obtain Help

As usual, everyone should reinforce the idea that nobody has to handle their trials alone or cope with difficult stressors without help. Any veteran or civilian who is considering suicide can reach out to a myriad of support services such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

Here in Sarasota, there’s an affiliate of ours, the SRQ Vets organization, which dedicates some of its outstanding efforts to help struggling veterans as well.

Contact Us Anytime for Disability Claim Services

Finally, for our part, we assist veterans who are struggling to get the disability compensation and support they need. Since disabilities are another contributing factor for suicide, our mission is to mitigate the problem, and help American veterans finally overcome all the red tape with the VA.

Veterans Affairs Law can help you if you’ve suffered a benefits denial or had any other trouble filing claims after leaving the service. There’s no reason to admit defeat and surrender your benefits just because you reach a stumbling block with the VA.

Contact us anytime to learn more about our effective legal advocacy by calling 941-552-6677.

Reasons to Hire a Lawyer to Fight Your VA Disability Denial

Are you a veteran who has received a denial on a disability claim with the Veterans Affairs Office?

It’s important to know you haven’t met the “end of the road” because there are legitimate appeal methods, provided you secure effective guidance to navigate past the red tape. We’d like to remind you of the many advantages of hiring one of our attorneys to win your appeal claim. It makes a world of difference in improving your probability of a favorable appeal with the VA.

The Process is Complex - Almost all legal processes are complicated. Whether you need to fight a workers’ compensation dispute, sue for property damages, or reverse a disability denial, legal sponsorship is almost mandatory. There are three important elements that go into forming a valid case. First, veterans have to demonstrate they have a medical diagnosis for either a physical or psychological disability. Second, you would have to prove that the injury or illness came from your military service. Finally, there must be a “medical nexus” between the two. As you might have guessed, this can be contentious, especially if medical professionals or insurance companies dispute anything.

Appealing By Yourself Offers Lower Chances of Winning - It is possible to win an appeal on your own, but the numbers don’t lie: more veterans receive denials nowadays, and it takes a long time to get an answer. Even if you feel confident about appealing on your own, it’s more efficient to arm yourself with the assistance of someone who knows how to get the VA to respond quicker.

We Offer More Than Basic Non-Profit Support - That’s because Veterans Affairs Law has a full-time staff of lawyers dedicated to veteran-related litigation. Our service is specialized and personalized. Plus, if you hire a reliable attorney (working with us), then there’s a solid chance of rectifying everything without even going to court.

This is just a quick preview of what we can do to expedite your appeal claim through the long and frustrating VA process. Our goal is to help veterans gain the disability benefits, service awards, or survivor benefits they have coming to them after years of service.

Veterans Affairs Law serves military veterans around Florida from our location in Sarasota, Florida. If you’d like to learn more or get help with filing a claim, then call us today at 941-552-6677.

What are the Implications for Receiving VA Benefits if You’ve Developed PTSD after Serving?

There are many military veterans who experience what professionals dub “delayed onset of PTSD,” meaning the symptoms don’t appear immediately. Since that’s the case, it can create several difficulties whenever a veteran tries to prove it was combat related, and apply for disability benefits.

The Reality of Delayed Onset PTSD for Older Veterans

It’s common for older veterans to suffer the mental health consequences of overseas conflict well after their removal from the specific stressors. Sometimes, when they’re met with further lifestyle or health deterioration, later in life, then the latent PTSD symptoms may increase in severity. They were there all along, but the individual was better at coping with them initially.

It may even be possible for a veteran to avoid PTSD triggers for years, only to encounter them head-on after experiencing a subsequent trauma. Other veterans suffer worse as they get older and struggle with the deaths of family and friends, which could force them to re-envision sorrowful and traumatic events from combat zones.

How Do You Prove Delayed Onset PTSD?

What should you do if you’ve been diagnosed with delayed onset PTSD, suspect it's service related, and wish to apply for disability benefits through the VA?

The tricky part is proving that it was a dormant illness from military service rather than other health issues incurred during civilian life. You would have to demonstrate that PTSD has combat-specific triggers as opposed to depression from current issues (primarily age-related troubles).

VA Response: Late-Onset Stress Symptomatology (LOSS)

For its part, the VA has developed a way to determine if veterans (mostly those over 55) possess this problem. The Late-Onset Stress Symptomatology (LOSS) is a 44-item, self-reported test that helps veterans identify their symptoms. While this doesn’t replace a full mental health examination, it allows veterans to explore the possibility of delayed onset of PTSD, and decide whether to seek professional help.

We Can Help You Get a Fair Disability Rating

Besides obtaining further assistance from a mental health doctor, you’ll also want to focus on getting a fair disability rating from the VA. Alas, they tend to under-rate mental health conditions, creating a frustrating burden for suffering veterans. That’s why we’re here to help if you’ve received a proper diagnosis for PTSD, but are still being denied benefits

If you’re struggling with something serious like delayed onset PTSD, and cannot get through to the VA for benefits, then contact Veterans Affairs Law. Our entire focus involves getting fair treatment for veterans, even amid a frustrating VA bureaucracy. Find out how we can help you get all the benefits you deserve by calling us for support at 941-552-6677.

Navigating Medical Malpractice at VA Hospitals: Your Guide to Seeking Recompense

Nothing is worse than adding insult to injury, which, sadly, is what dealing with the Veterans Affairs (VA) office often entails for many returning service veterans. Besides dealing with the bureaucracy, it’s also possible to watch their disabilities worsen after receiving VA hospital treatment. While this isn’t the case all the time, it’s always possible for mistakes to occur, making a debilitating illness or injury even more severe.

What can you do if your health deteriorates while under the care of the VA?

Is it Medical Malpractice?

Fortunately, most medical staff in VA-run hospitals do a terrific job treating patients. However, like any other place, there’s always some small potential for medical malpractice. This refers to whenever a doctor, clinic, hospital, or other healthcare provider causes an injury because of neglect or omission.

While this a somewhat nuanced legal topic, there are countless examples of this in either VA or civilian healthcare facilities.

What Can You Do to Counter Malpractice?

Of course, medical malpractice is against the law and entitles the victim to financial recompense. How would this work for veterans, though?

The process for filing a malpractice claim against the VA is similar to other claims, but involves a few logistical differences.

  1. You would file your claim pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This holds that the federal government is a self-insured institution, and just as liable to negligent or acts of omission in its medical facilities as any private practice.
  2. Claims are investigated by the Office of General Counsel (OGC).
  3. The OGC will decide whether to settle your VA claim, or deny it.
  4. You can ask the OGC to review a denial. If you’ve reached two claim denials, the next avenue for recourse would involve filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the federal government.

Don’t Pursue a Case Like This Alone

There are roughly 1,500 malpractice claims against the VA each year, so it’s not just a fluke occurrence. If you believe your disabilities or other illnesses have gotten worse in a VA hospital (from possible negligence), then it may be time to consider filing a claim. This is not something you have to endure without assistance.

The experienced attorneys at Veterans Affairs Law are always happy to help you obtain recompense after serious medical malpractice, neglect, or poor treatment. If you need qualified counsel to pursue a case like this, then don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling 941-552-6677.

Have I Received a VA Claim Disability Denial?

How do service members know when they’ve been denied disability status by the Veterans Affairs (VA) office?

Alas, the VA will not notify you via phone, email, or regular mail. You’ll have to be proactive about checking this yourself. It’s also important not to fall for any scams from anyone who contacts you pretending to be the VA (and soliciting personal information).

Here’s what you should know about VA disability claim denials, and how to fight them.

Check the VA.Gov Website for Approval/Denial Status

You can discover your claim status fast by visiting the website. After filing your claim, it normally takes about four months for them to decide.

Once they do, if you’ve received approval, then you can download the award letter from their website. Approval letters will show you the disability rating, the effective date, and what you’ll receive. It’s also possible to appeal if you believe there is an error anywhere on the approval letter (i.e., the rating or amount you’ll receive).

How to Handle a Denial

Then, if you receive a disability denial, you’ll want to read everything carefully. At the top of the letter, the VA will show you how much time you have left to make an appeal (one year following the initial decision). This letter will also explain what contributed to the denial, citing the evidence they used to reach their decision.

There are three ways to appeal adverse rulings:

  1. Higher Level Review - Here, you cannot add additional evidence to your claim, but you can have a more senior or supervisory VA official review your case to see if there was a mistake in the process. This involves VA Form 0996.
  2. Supplemental Claim - This allows you to bolster your case with new evidence. This might include getting more medical opinions, other medical records, or even testimony from friends or colleagues. This appeal goes through VA Form 0995.
  3. Appealing to the Board of Veterans - You can also take your appeal to an administrative law judge, but this takes a very long time to process. Some claims may go unanswered for three years, leading many veterans to try the other options first. You would file this appeal through VA Form 10182.

Don’t Forget to Ask for Help

Finally, if you think the denial was wrong, then you have the right to appeal. If you do so, it’s well worth your time to obtain legal sponsorship. That’s where we offer our assistance to anyone who's been denied benefits or disability claims.

Veterans Affairs Law offers professional guidance for pursuing a denial appeal and finally gaining what the VA owes you for your years of service. We help Florida veterans make their way through all the overwhelming VA red tape and move on with life (with benefits). Contact us anytime to learn more about our effective veteran legal services by calling our Sarasota office at 941-552-6677.

Getting Your VA Disability Appeal Started

Have you suffered a disability denial from the Veteran Affairs (VA) office?

If so, then you may wonder what recourse you have to an appeal. Since 2019, there are three ways to accomplish this: 1) Adding supplemental information to your case, 2) Requesting a more senior reviewer, or 3) Utilizing the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

Of course, if you pursue these options alone, you might run into lots of bureaucracy and endless waits. Therefore, we’d like to show you how to begin the appeal process and offer further assistance.

Which Forms Do You Use for VA Disability Appeals?

The first step involves finding the right form for your disability claim. You would need one of three, corresponding to the particular appeal method you choose.

  1. Filing a Supplemental Claim - Use a Form 20-0995.
  2. Requesting a Higher-Level Review - Use a Form 20-0996.
  3. Requesting an Appeal through the Board of Veterans’ Appeals - Use VA form 10182.

Remember that once you receive your initial denial letter, you have one year to file an appeal. Follow the instructions carefully (for the applicable form) if you wish to have a strong chance at a timely response.

How Do You File?

You can still file appeal claims the old-fashioned way by mailing it to your regional appeal center, but it’s much more convenient to do it online now. The VA 10182, for example, can be found here at the VA website.

If you prefer to use the traditional mail system, just make sure you send it to the proper regional office. Veterans in Florida are closest to the VA benefits office in St. Petersburg.

Want Reliable Help with This? Call Veterans Affairs Law!

So, if you’re having any trouble with the VA, or need help with navigating the confusing appeal process, Veterans Affairs Law is here for support. By partnering with a reputable veteran-dedicated law firm, you have a much greater chance of getting your appeal past all the typical bottlenecks. We’ve helped countless Florida vets appeal adverse VA decisions, sometimes without even having to go through the Board of Appeals.

The experienced professionals at Veterans Affairs Law can help you breach the frustrating red tape you always experience with the VA, and get results faster. Our sole purpose is to help veterans obtain what they’ve already rightfully earned, including disability benefits, award recognition, and survivor benefits.
If you’d like to learn more, please contact our Sarasota office today at 941-552-6677.