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Archive for Vanhoose’s Posts

How Do I get Service Connected for a Shoulder Injury?

 As someone who works with Veterans on a daily basis, I see a lot of similar injuries in those who served. One example of this would be injuries to the shoulder and the arm. These injuries can occur in combat and in non-combat duties. Getting service connected for a shoulder, arm, and leg, etc. can be quite difficult. One thing many Veterans do not realize is that range of motion plays a huge part in the evaluation of their disability.

Range of motion is the distance and direction of movement of a joint. With this definition in mind, we can determine that a limited range of motion means a specific joint or body part cannot move through its normal range of motion.

There are so many factors that have to be taken into account when being rated. Examples include Malunion (meaning, the healing of a fracture with incorrect anatomical alignment) and Nonunion (meaning, failure of a broken bone to heal).

The scapula and humerus move as one piece. An unfavorable ankylosis with abduction limited to 25 degrees from side can rate 40% for nondominant arm and 50% for dominant arm, for example.  A clavicle or scapula impairment of dislocation is rated 0% to 40%.  A shoulder condition can affect the humerus, clavicle, range of motion for the arm and recurrent dislocation (Fibrous union– this is what forms tendons and ligaments). 

These are just some of the examples; it can be very complex when working on a shoulder injury/condition.  Keep in mind all joints (shoulder, elbow, knee, and back) are based on range of motion, not the amount of pain it causes or the amount of medication needed for relief. At Jan Dils Attorneys at Law we have the knowledge and resources to help you navigate the VA Disability Process. Call our office today for a free phone consultation: 1-877-526-3457. Or use our online contact form.

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Discharges, and Your VA Disability Claim

 When applying for VA Disability Compensation and/or Pension Benefits, the characteristic type of discharge may play a huge factor in deciding whether or not you are eligible for benefits.  There are five different types of discharges that you may receive, which are as follows; Honorable, General, Other than Honorable, Bad Conduct (BCD), and Dishonorable. If you receive an Honorable, General, or a Discharge Under Honorable Conditions, you would be eligible to receive any type of benefit.

To be able to receive an “Honorable Discharge,” a service member must have received a rating from very good to excellent from their time of service. You are eligible to receive a “General Discharge” when you get separated from the service, under honorable conditions, and your performance is satisfactory. If you receive an “Other Than Honorable” discharge, it was either for misconduct or security reasons. When receiving a “Bad Conduct Discharge” you are normally separated from the service under conditions other than honorable. This is approved by a sentence of a special court-martial. Lastly, if you receive a dishonorable separation as part of a punishment then you will receive a Dishonorable Discharge.

If you do not agree with your discharge, you are able to fill out a DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge From the Armed Forces of the United States. When becoming a new client at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, one of the first questions that we ask is what type of discharge do you have? We are able to answer any types of questions that you may have and we will let you know if we believe you are eligible for VA Disability Compensation and/or Pension. If you are looking for legal representation for your VA Disability Benefits, you have come to the right place. We have several experienced people who have the knowledge and ability to help you with your VA Disability Claims. Feel free to give us a call at at 1-877-526-3457. Or Tell us about your case.

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Discharges and Your VA Disability/Pension Claim

 When applying for VA Disability Compensation and/or Pension Benefits, the characteristic type of discharge may play a huge factor in deciding whether or not you are eligible for benefits.  There are five different types of discharges that you may receive, which are as follows; Honorable, General, Other than Honorable, Bad Conduct (BCD), and Dishonorable. If you receive an Honorable, General, or a Discharge Under Honorable Conditions, you would be eligible to receive any type of benefit.

To be able to receive an “Honorable Discharge,” a service member must have received a rating from very good to excellent from their time of service. You are eligible to receive a “General Discharge” when you get separated from the service, under honorable conditions, and your performance is satisfactory. If you receive an “Other Than Honorable” discharge, it was either for misconduct or security reasons. When receiving a “Bad Conduct Discharge” you are normally separated from the service under conditions other than honorable. This is approved by a sentence of a special court-martial. Lastly, if you receive a dishonorable separation as part of a punishment then you will receive a Dishonorable Discharge.

If you do not agree with your discharge, you are able to fill out a DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge From the Armed Forces of the United States. When becoming a new client at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, one of the first questions that we ask is what type of discharge do you have? We are able to answer any types of questions that you may have and we will let you know if we believe you are eligible for VA Disability Compensation and/or Pension. If you are looking for legal representation for your VA Disability Benefits, you have come to the right place. We have several experienced people who have the knowledge and ability to help you with your VA Disability Claims. Feel free to give us a call at at 1-877-526-3457.

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Why Does My Attorney Want to Schedule a Pre-Hearing?

After receiving a hearing notice, most Veterans ask two important questions: Will my attorney be present for the hearing, and will I get to talk to my attorney prior to the hearing? The answer to both is yes.

 

The hearing clerk will call and schedule a time for you to speak with your attorney.  This is called a pre-hearing. The pre-hearing is usually two to three weeks before your hearing, depending on the type of hearing you have. There are several reasons why the pre-hearing is important to your case:

  • We make sure to have all your updated info, medical records, etc.
  • We will go over the strategy the attorney has for your case.
  • We will fill in any gaps of history that we or the VA needs to know.
  • You will find out what to expect at the hearing and the attorney will make sure you are comfortable with all aspects of what will take place.  The attorney also will let you know where to meet and what time.
  • The attorney will explain how the law reads on each issue and what the VA is looking for.

Also, while scheduling your pre-hearing appointment, the hearing clerk will ask a set of questions to get all your updated information so he/she can prepare your pre-hearing notebook for your attorney.

There are many benefits to having Jan Dils Attorneys at Law represent you for your VA Disability claim. This is just one of the many things that set us apart form the others. If you are a Veteran who is seeking service connection for a disability, don't hesitate to give us a call. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. You can also find us online at www.fight4vets.com

 

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Can the VA Rate me at 0% for PTSD?

Recently, I had a client who received a decision on his PTSD claim that confused him. The part that he did not understand was that the VA rated him at 0% for PTSD. He did not understand how that was possible. I assured him that there was no mistake, and that the VA can rate a Veteran at 0%.

I reminded the Veteran that PTSD is a condition that the VA can rate anywhere from 0-100%. In his case, they did not view the evidence provided as enough to rate him higher than 0%. This was still confusing, so I explained in detail how the VA is likely to decide a 0% rating.

The following are symptoms typical of a Veteran suffering from PTSD at 0%: A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough to either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication. Further, I explained to the Veteran that his GAF or Global Assessment of Function score played a part in his rating, too. This particular Veteran had a score that was between 91 and 100. The following are symptoms of a typical veteran who has a GAF score in this range: Superior functioning in a wide range of activities, life's problems never seem to get out of hand, is sought out by others because of his or her many positive qualities.

(Remember every case is different, and these are just basic guidelines for PTSD)

This particular Veteran had a good rating for PTSD. However, if he had a lower GAF score, symptoms that warranted a higher rating, and enough evidence to show this, this is likely something that should be appealed. This is just one of the many services our law firm provides. If you are a Veteran who is suffering from PTSD, or if you have been rated at a percent you believe to be too low, don’t hesitate to give our office a call for a free consultation: 1-877-526-3457.Or Tell us about your case.  Our law firm is dedicated to helping Veterans, and we have the knowledge, people, and resources to get you the help you deserve.

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What Happens if I Owe the VA Money?

So, you owe the government money…specifically the Veterans Administration.

Many times, people receive letters from the VA stating that they owe the VA money or that at some point in time they were overpaid and now they have to pay the money back to the VA.  An overpayment is money you receive that is not rightfully owed tohttp://www.fight4vets.com you.  Let me explain why this may occur and how it can be handled. 

First of all, you must report an overpayment immediately.  Overpayments may occur due to an error at the VA.  They simply may have overpaid you or forgot to change your status from married to single, for example.  However, if you intentionally give false information to the VA or do not report changes, this can lead to overpayments and also a termination of benefits.

If you are receiving VA compensation or pension benefits and a felony warrant is issued for your arrest or you are arrested, you are not eligible to receive your monetary benefits.  If a warrant is filed against you, it is your responsibility to notify the VA immediately so you are not overpaid.  If you continue to receive this money while the warrant is out or you are in prison, you will need to repay the money to the VA. 

If you were once married and received money for your spouse and you become divorced, you must report this to the VA so you are no longer paid for your spouse.  This also includes if you were being paid for step-children, you become divorced and the children no longer live with you. 

You may receive an overpayment for education benefits.  You may also have an overpayment if you default on a home loan.

The VA can collect these overpayments in various ways.  They may take a lump sum of money or they may withhold an entire month’s payment.  If you feel it would be impossible for you to live without your month’s payment, you are able to file a waiver and ask the VA to take out smaller payments until the full amount is repaid.

The VA may withhold future benefits or send this to a collection agency.  The VA can also garnish wages or file a suit in federal court.  They are also able to withhold approval on a VA home loan.  If you receive Social Security benefits, the VA may withhold these as well. 

The bottom line with payments: make sure you report any and all changes to the VA when it comes to your dependents and your income.  If your payments change and you have questions, call the VA immediately.  You don’t want to risk having to pay the VA money.  And remember, if it does occur that you have to pay the VA, they are willing to make payment arrangements if needed. They will recoup their money one way or another.

If you need assistance or have questions, please feel free to call Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. We have the people, knowledge, and resources to help you get the benefits you deserve. For a free phone consultation, give us a call at 1-877-526-3457.

 

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What is an SSOC in VA Disability?

So you feel like you have been waiting an eternity for a grant on your disability, and now you have finally received a decision in the mail. At this point you have had a hearing with a Decision Review Officer (DRO) at your VA Regional Office and are wondering anxiously about what they have decided. Most likely, the decision you just received is either a Rating Decision or Supplemental Statement of the Case. I would like to discuss with you the importance of a Supplemental Statement of the Case and what it means to you.

A Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) is a decision that comes after a Statement of the Case (SOC) and a VA Form 9 has been filed on the SOC. At our office, when we file a VA Form 9, we request a hearing with a DRO, if the client has not had one yet on the issue(s), as well as a hearing with the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). (You can also find our bloggers discussing in more detail VA Form 9s and SOC’ on our site). Once a decision has been made on the appealed issues, the SSOC is rendered. Like all other decisions, the SSOC will discuss the issues at hand and how the VA determines service connection and/or increases for them. Near the end, you will eventually find the decision the DRO has made and his/her reasoning for it.

Now, you might be wondering what the next step is. This is the part when things can get a little confusing. If a VA Form 9 was already filed on all of the issues on the SOC that was received prior to the SSOC, then an appeal is not needed. The file will automatically be sent to the BVA for further reviewing and another hearing will be held with a BVA judge, if requested.  If you aren’t sure if you requested a BVA hearing on it and want to go to one, then re-file the VA Form 9. It is better to be safe than sorry in this case because you only have 30 days to file an appeal on the SSOC. If you are satisfied with your claims then it is important to notify the VA that you wish to close your claims or else your file will still be sent to the BVA for review. SSOCs and VA Form 9s can be very confusing. However, our team at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law would be more than happy to help you better understand the process and file the correct paperwork. So please visit us at www.Fight4Vets.com or call us as 1-877-VETERAN.

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What is an SSOC in a VA Disability Case?

SethSo you feel like you have been waiting an eternity for a grant on your disability, and now you have finally received a decision in the mail. At this point you have had a hearing with a Decision Review Officer (DRO) at your VA Regional Office and are wondering anxiously about what they have decided. Most likely, the decision you just received is either a Rating Decision or Supplemental Statement of the Case. I would like to discuss with you the importance of a Supplemental Statement of the Case and what it means to you.

A Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC) is a decision that comes after a Statement of the Case (SOC) and a VA Form 9 has been filed on the SOC. At our office, when we file a VA Form 9, we request a hearing with a DRO, if the client has not had one yet on the issue(s), as well as a hearing with the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). (You can also find our bloggers discussing in more detail VA Form 9s and SOC’ on our site). Once a decision has been made on the appealed issues, the SSOC is rendered. Like all other decisions, the SSOC will discuss the issues at hand and how the VA determines service connection and/or increases for them. Near the end, you will eventually find the decision the DRO has made and his/her reasoning for it.

JennyNow, you might be wondering what the next step is. This is the part when things can get a little confusing. If a VA Form 9 was already filed on all of the issues on the SOC that was received prior to the SSOC, then an appeal is not needed. The file will automatically be sent to the BVA for further reviewing and another hearing will be held with a BVA judge, if requested.  If you aren’t sure if you requested a BVA hearing on it and want to go to one, then re-file the VA Form 9. It is better to be safe than sorry in this case because you only have 30 days to file an appeal on the SSOC. If you are satisfied with your claims then it is important to notify the VA that you wish to close your claims or else your file will still be sent to the BVA for review. SSOCs and VA Form 9s can be very confusing.  However, our team at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law would be more than happy to help you better understand the process and file the correct paperwork. So please visit us at www.Fight4Vets.com or call us as 1-877-VETERAN.

 

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What are the “Nehmer Laws” in the VA?

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Over the past several months, there has been a lot of talk about Nehmer Laws, but a lot of Veterans are not aware of what they are, or how it pertains to the VA disability process.

The term Nehmer refers to a court case which started in 1986 as a class action lawsuit against the Department of Veteran affairs. This case was started by Vietnam Veterans and theirs survivors due to Agent Orange (AO) exposure while serving in Vietnam. On October 13, 2009 secretary Schineski’s decision established presumptive service connection (SC) for 3 additional illnesses: B cell leukemia (such as hairy cell leukemia), Parkinson’s disease, and ischemic heart disease. This case is still ongoing.

The following illnesses are considered to be related to Agent Orange exposure while serving in Vietnam and fall under the Nehmer case:

 

                       Condition                                                            Became effective

·         Type II Diabetes                                                                   5-08-2001

·         Ischemic Heart Disease                                                        8-31-2010

·         Parkinson’s disease                                                              8-31-2010

·         B-cell Leukemia                                                                     8-31-2010

 

****There are other presumptive illnesses due to AO

Exposure that do not fall under the Nehmer Guidelines at this time****

 

After applying for an illness listed under the Nehmer case, it could be some time before your claim is decided due to the volume of cases. In an attempt to speed the process for Nehmer cases, the Huntington VARO reviewed only Nehmer cases from other states for approximately four months. In addition to the backlog of Nehmer cases, this caused a backlog in other cases.  

The VA Disability Process can be quite long and difficult. If you have a claim pending, don't heistate to give our office a call. Or, if you are a Veteran who has questions about applying for disabilities related to Agent Orange exposure, we will be more than happy to assist you with your claim. You can reach our office at 1-877-526-3457

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What is Pension through the VA?


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What exactly is Pension, you might ask? VA Pension is a cash benefit paid to a wartime veteran or to their surviving spouses that have limited income and net worth.  Ask yourself these 6 questions and if you meet all of the requirements then you are eligible. Are you a veteran who served at least 90 days? Did you serve at least 1 day in wartime? Was your discharge other than dishonorable? What is your income and net worth? How old are you? If you are under 65, are you permanently and totally disabled?

Income is deducted dollar for dollar from the maximum amount of benefits a veteran may be paid. The income from all family members is countable. This will include earnings, social security, disability, and/or retirement benefits, interest and dividends, and net income if self employed.  The income limit varies between each veteran. If he/she is a veteran and is without a spouse or a child the limit is $11,830. If the veteran has one dependent the income limit will be $15,493. If housebound and without a dependant the limit is $14,457, and with one dependent the limit is $18,120. If the veteran is alone and happens to need aid and attendance the income limit will be $19,736, but if they have one dependant the limit will be $23,396. CHK

A Veteran must fall under one of these dates of wartimes and must have served at least 1 day active duty. World War I (April 5, 1917-September 12, 1918), World War II (December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946), Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950- January 31, 1955), Vietnam Era (February 28, 1961-May 7, 1975), Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990-Present).

The pension is calculated by adding up all of the household’s income. It can be extremely difficult to figure out and grasp the concept of pension and also can be very confusing at times. That is why so many Veterans seek the legal help of attorneys like the ones at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. We have the people, knowledge, and resources to help you get the benefits you deserve. For a free phone consultation, give us a call at 1-877-526-3457.

 

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