Veterans seeking more disability benefits than ever before

The veterans of the post-9/11 wars are reporting disabilities in record numbers. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is experiencing a great deal of difficulty keeping up with all of the new claims.

Part of the reason for this is that veterans are now reporting, on average, eight or nine ailments each, ranging from concussions to PTSD. Another reason for the drastic increase in veteran disability claims is that many of the soldiers who sustain injuries that would have been fatal in the past are surviving, but suffering traumatic injuries.

More than 560,000 US veterans have their disability claims older than 125 days that have yet to be approved or denied.

If you are a veteran and have gained a long-term disability while serving your country, contact the Indiana long-term disability lawyers of the Hankey Law Office, at (800) 520-3633.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Settle Long-Term Disability Lawsuit

U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars won a long-term disability class-action settlement with the federal government.

According to court documents, the National Veterans Legal Service Program and government officials asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims last week to approve lifetime disability retirement benefits for 1,029 veterans diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. The veterans were denied their benefits when they were discharged after their wartime service.

The lawsuit alleged military services violated the law by not assigning a 50 percent disability rating to personnel discharged for post traumatic stress disorder, which entitles veterans to disability retirement benefits. Bart Stichman, the National Veterans Legal Service Program co-executive director, calls the settlement a triumph.

“These veterans covered by this agreement were exposed to highly traumatic events during deployment, only to return home and be shortchanged on benefits after the military found they suffered from PTSD that was so severe that they needed to be discharged,” Stichman said.

The settlement must be approved by a judge before it is final.

If you need assistance with long-term disability litigation, please contact an Indiana long-term disability lawyer of the Hankey Law Office, by calling (800) 520-3633.

Departmetn of Veterans Affairs Expands List of Agent Orange Illnesses

Recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expanded the definition of disease associated with Agent Orange exposure.

According to officials with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which used to be called the Veterans Administration, has expanded the list of diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure to include heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic B-cell leukemia. Diabetes, as well as several types of cancer, has been on the list for years.

It is presumed that veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 could have been exposed to the toxic substances and could develop one or more of the illnesses linked to them. Veterans with these illnesses are offered health benefits and disability compensation, which has not always been the case. A registry was established in 1978 to cover Agent Orange-related illnesses, and has been expanded in recent years.

If you need assistance securing disability benefits, please contact the Indiana Disabled Veteran Lawyer of the Hankey Law Office, at (800) 520-3633.

VA Claims Backlog Doubled in Last Year

The number of veterans’ disability claims taking more than four months to complete has doubled a senate report says.

The large backlog has prompted criticism from veterans and Congress that the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to prepare for a rise in cases it knew was coming. “Without question, I believe that the VA disability claim system is broken,” Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash said Wednesday at a meeting of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

The number of claims taking more than 125 days to decide has gone from 200,000 a year ago, to 450,000 today, according to administration budget documents. An increased backlog means veterans must wait even longer to receive payments for disabilities.

The VA says the delays are due to a generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with more complex claims, as well as a decision to expand compensation for Agent Orange-related illnesses.

If you need assistance securing disability benefits, please contact the Indiana Veterans’ Affairs Disability Benefits Lawyers of the Hankey Law Office, by calling (800) 520-3633.

Proposed Bill Would Benefit Disabled Veterans

A new bill introduced last week seeks to protect disabled veterans who were denied benefits because they could not meet the 120-day appeal deadline.

Ranking Democratic Member Bob Filner, D-California, introduced H.R. 810, the Fair Access to Veterans Benefits Act of 2011. The legislation would require the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to hear appeals of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals’ decisions denying veterans disability compensation benefits. The Veterans’ Claims Appellate Court would only hear cases of denial for veterans who, due to circumstances beyond their control, were unable to meet the 120-day statutory deadline for filing an appeal.

On March 1, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that veterans who miss the 120-day deadline are not automatically disqualified from filing an appeal through the CAVC.

Filner applauded the court’s decision saying, “congress created this Article I court so that VA would not be the final arbitrator of both veterans’ claims and appeals, so that veterans would get a fairer bite at the appeals apple.”

If you need assistance securing Veterans’ Affairs disability benefits, please contact an Indiana Disabled Veteran Lawyer of the Hankey Law Office, by calling (800) 520-3633.

VA Hosting Public Forum to Improve Benefit Payments

The Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting a public forum in Arizona aimed at improving the fairness of payments for Veterans with disabilities.

“We welcome to this public forum key stakeholders, our nation’s Veterans, Veterans service organizations, public and private health experts, health economists and Department of Defense professionals, who will provide us with the information we need to bring the disability rating criteria into the 21st century,” said Michael Walcoff, acting Under-Secretary for Benefits. The focus of the forum is to assist the VA in gathering information to update the Department’s schedule for rating disabilities.

The schedule is used to assign levels of disability compensation for Veterans who are service-connected for these disabilities. The forum is a third in a series of public meetings that will enable the VA to make changes to the ratings schedule. It is part of a systematic update of all 15 body systems rating schedules, which will be completed by 2016.

To discuss filing for veterans’ affairs disability benefits with an experienced and compassionate long-term disability lawyer, contact the Indiana veterans’ affairs disability attorneys of Hankey Law Office P.C. at (800) 520-3633 today.

Veterans’ disability case goes to Supreme Court

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a veterans’ disability case.  The case made it to the Supreme Court after a disabled veteran was denied benefits for missing a filing deadline.

The veteran, David Henderson, was determined to be completely disabled with paranoid schizophrenia years ago after his service in the Korean War.  In 2001, Henderson attempted to receive disability benefits to cover costs of the necessary in-home care related to his disability.  First, the Department of Veteran Affairs denied his request and later, an appeals court denied his appeal because he missed the 120-day deadline for appeals by 15 days.

Henderson’s lawyers argue that veterans who have served for our country and become disabled should not be denied disability benefits because of a deadline that could easily be made more flexible.  In addition, they stated that these deadlines have to be made flexible in cases where the deadline is missed for good reasons, like as a result of a veterans’ mental disability.  The case is still being heard by 8 of the Supreme Court justices.

To discuss filing for veterans’ affairs disability benefits with an experienced and compassionate long-term disability lawyer, contact the Indiana veterans’ affairs disability attorneys of Hankey Law Office P.C. at (800) 520-3633 today.

Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities awards activist

Linda Muckway, a disability activist, was recently given the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities’ Distinguished Leadership Award for a Person with a Disability. Muckway, herself, uses a motorized wheelchair. The Governor’s office gives out the award annually to recognize leadership and disability advocacy across the state.

One of Muckway’s most notable achievements was the creation of a 24-hour disability accessible taxi service. In addition, she is the chair of the City/County Council for People with Disabilities and several other committees. Furthermore, she frequently testifies in court on behalf of people with disabilities.

The Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities began giving out the award in 2006 and “works to change Indiana public policy so Hoosiers with disabilities can live independently, work productively and be included fully in community life”.

Contact the Indiana long-term disability attorneys of Hankey Law Office P.C. at 317-634-8565 today if you have questions about filing for disability benefits.

Indiana veterans' statistics

For Veterans’ Day, Indiana University Kelley School of Business’ Indiana Business Research Center released statistics concerning veterans in the state.  According to the research center, as of last year there were 501,000 veterans living in Indiana.  This makes up 10.4 percent of the adult population in the state.

In addition,  34 percent of the veterans living in Indiana served in the Vietnam War period from 1964 to 1975.  Another 21 percent served in the Gulf War era, 12 percent in the Korean War and 11 percent in World War II.  Statistics show that 27.2 percent of Indiana veterans have some type of disability.  15.5 percent of Indiana’s overall adult population has a disability.

Contact the Indiana veterans’ affairs disability benefits lawyers of Hankey Law Office P.C. at 317-634-856 if you are a veteran seeking disability benefits.

VA extends agent orange benefits

Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that they are extending the distribution of benefits to veterans affected by agent orange.  Agent orange was a chemical used in the Vietnam War to open up heavily wooded jungle areas and make enemy combatants more visible.

The VA has provided benefits to veterans suffering from agent orange-related health conditions since 1985.  Such conditions include Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, prostate cancer, respiratory cancer, and soft tissue sarcoma.  The expansion now includes veterans with Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart disease and hairy cell leukemia- diseases recently associated with agent orange exposure.  An estimated 200,000 veterans are expected to receive benefits as a result of the expansion.

If you are a Vietnam veteran suffering from an agent orange-related disease, contact the Indiana veterans’ affairs disability benefits attorneys of Hankey Law Office P.C. at (800) 520-3633 to learn more about obtaining benefits.

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