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Court Rejects Veterans' Disability Claims Unfairly, Louisiana Advocate Says


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Court rejects veterans' disability claims unfairly, Louisiana advocate says

Published: Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 8:46 PM Updated: Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 8:57 PM

Bruce Alpert, Times-Picayune

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/07/court_rejects_veterans_appeals.html

A Louisiana veterans advocate Tuesday accused the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims of rejecting many valid disability claims.

"Veterans are not being treated fairly," said Paul Labbe, who heads the Louisiana Veterans Advocacy Group of Lake Charles.

Labbe said he also fears that a civil rights lawsuit alleging improper treatment by a doctor at the VA Alexandria Medical Center in Pineville will be thrown out if a federal judge accepts the arguments of Veterans Affairs lawyers.

A filing by government lawyers argues that the suit doesn't meet the criteria for a civil rights case and shouldn't be allowed to continue to trial.

Members of Congress have been looking at the issue of rejected disability claims after Assistant U.S. Solicitor General Anthony Yang admitted during a Supreme Court hearing in February that between 50 percent and 60 percent of veterans disability cases are mishandled by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Chief Justice John Roberts was surprised by the admission.

"Well, that's really startling, isn't it?" Roberts said. "In litigating with veterans, the government more often than not takes a position that is substantially unjustified?"

Labbe said the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims continues what he called the injustice of rejecting the vast majority of appeals by veterans denied disability benefits by the VA.

"Veterans aren't getting any justice at this court," Labbe said at a news conference outside the court's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

In 2007, a Harvard University study said it takes the Department of Veterans Affairs an average of six months to process a disability claim, and the appeals process takes a little less than two years. Because many veterans applying for disability benefits are elderly, many die before a final decision is rendered, the study said.

Calls to the court's chief justice, William Greene Jr., were not immediately returned.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony last week about legislation that would give veterans more time to file appeals.

Rep. John Adler, D-N.J., discussed the case of Korean War veteran David Henderson, a diagnosed schizophrenic, who was denied a hearing because his appeal was filed 15 days past the 120-day deadline set by the court. His disability, Henderson said, made it impossible for him to get the papers together in time to meet the court's deadline.

"The veterans' claims process is extremely difficult to navigate, especially when doing so without the aid of an attorney or while suffering from a mental disability," Adler said.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., said he was distressed to hear about a veteran in his state who was cut off from his veterans' pension for a year, two days after he voluntarily disclosed that insurance was paying some medical costs resulting from an accident in which an automobile struck his wheelchair, knocking him head first against the pavement.

Given that it takes many months to qualify for benefits, Hastings said he found it disturbing that someone could be cut off benefits in just two days.

"This means that the law effectively punishes veterans when they suffer from such an accident or theft," Hastings said.

Bruce Alpert can be reached at balpert@timespicayune.com or 202.383.7861.

Also see:

http://johnhall.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1215:hall-applauds-new-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-rule-for-americas-veterans&catid=39:news-center&Itemid=32

 

"Keep on, Keepin' on"

Dan Cedusky, Champaign IL "Colonel Dan"

See my web site at:

http://www.angelfire.com/il2/VeteranIssues/

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  • HadIt.com Elder

...

In 2007, a Harvard University study said it takes the Department of Veterans Affairs an average of six months to process a disability claim, and the appeals process takes a little less than two years. Because many veterans applying for disability benefits are elderly, many die before a final decision is rendered, the study said.

...

...

Given that it takes many months to qualify for benefits, Hastings said he found it disturbing that someone could be cut off benefits in just two days.

...

Definite signs that the system is heavily flawed...

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I was called into a VAMC for a weeks worth of neurological eval for MS. Withen a week after being discharged I recieved notice my VA Pension was being stopped. The reason given was, I was released by the VAMC neurologist to pre-hospital duties.

I told these idiots that my pre-hospital duties were T&P 100% disability, due to a neuromuscular disorder the VA diagnosed me with. It didn't mean I could build bridges for a living, just that I could return home to an incapacitated state.

They will do anything. And I mean anything to save a buck to put in their pockets. They care about Vets if their forced to. But they must be forced to.

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