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What is Pension through the VA?

By Jon Corra · December 8, 2011
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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.

 

What are the Outcomes of a BVA Hearing?

By Jon Corra · December 6, 2011
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A lot of Veterans call us after their BVA hearing wanting to know what the Board will decide. First of all, I always like to let them know that it will be a while before the VA gets back to us on a decision. It can be up to one year after a hearing that a decision is made. Once you get a decision, there are three outcomes from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals: a grant, a remand, or a denial.

It is pretty cut and dry; you are either granted or denied based on the evidence. The Board Member may also remand it back to the Regional Office. When a Board Member issues a remand it is to obtain more information that the regional office failed to acquire or to fix an error made at the lower level. Once further action has been taken or evidence has been obtained, then a DRO will make a decision.  Please note that a full grant, as opposed to a remand, is very seldom received.

After a denial you have three options: file a reconsideration with the BVA, go back to regional office and re-open your VA Disability Claim, or file an appeal with the CAVC, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. If you decide to re-open with new and material evidence the claim(s) effective date will be the date of the re-open and you will lose the original date that you filed along with your back pay.

If you need help with claims at the BVA level, please call our office today. 1-877-838-3726. Or you can find out more about the VA Legal Process by clicking here.

What is a CUE in a VA Disability Claim?

By Jon Corra · December 5, 2011
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On occasion we find that an error in a VA Disability decision shows the VA failed to follow procedural directives, overlooked material facts of records, and/or failed to apply or incorrectly applied the appropriate laws or regulations. When this happens we file what is called a CUE, or a clear and unmistakable error.

A CUE is an error that is undebatableUndebatable, is the key word in the definition. Before filing a CUE, make sure you consider that at the time of the decision, everything of record and the law at that time. Also, consider whether the error made would have changed the original rating decision. Once the decision on the CUE is final, you may not file another CUE on the issue again. in that a reasonable mind can only conclude that the original decision was fatally flawed at the time it was made.

A CUE can be identified at any level of the appeals process. However, the definition of a CUE is very strict. Need help with this type of claim? Do not hesitate to call our office at 1-877-838-3726.

Heather Vahoose Bio

By Jon Corra · December 2, 2011
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Heather Profile

Heather Vahoose is the lead VA Attorney at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. Heather has a passion for helping Veterans and was one of the founding members of our VA Department in 2007.

Heather graduates from Kents Hill High School in 1995, from there she went on to Hobart and William College in New York where she studied Political Science and Environmental Science. After graduating, Heather chose to attend the Roger Williams School of Law. Heather graduated with her Law Degree in 2002.

AWOL and Veterans Disability

By Jon Corra · November 23, 2011
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Today we are going to discuss the term AWOL, which stands for ABSENT WITHOUT OFFICIAL LEAVE. AWOL can be considered desertion (if AWOL more than 30 days) or a temporary absence. This is when a person is absent from their post without a valid pass or leave.

Being AWOL can affect your ability to obtain service connected disability benefits. How many days you were AWOL and for what reasons can determine if you are able to receive benefits.

If you received an other than honorable discharge and were AWOL for more than 180 consecutive days, it will be next to impossible to receive any type of service connected benefits. If you were AWOL for shorter periods of time, there are some circumstances that would allow you to obtain benefits, but this is at the discretion of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Some factors will be considered when deciding if you will be granted service connected benefits. First of all, the VA will consider the length and character of your service, excluding the time you were AWOL. The time of service that you were not AWOL should be characterized as honest, faithful and have merit and should have been a benefit to the United States.

There are also some circumstances that are given consideration for being AWOL. They include family emergencies or obligations including obligations or duties that were owed to a third party. The veteran’s age, cultural background, educational level and maturity will also be considered when determining eligibility for benefits. The VA will consider how the veteran felt at the time and how the veteran may have reacted, not necessarily how the VA veterans services representative would have reacted in the same circumstance. There are also times that a veteran may have been injured in combat or had other injuries occur while on active duty. It will be sympathetically considered by the VA how the veteran may have reacted due to the veteran’s state of mind at the time the AWOL period began.

If you had some AWOL time but received an honorable discharge, you normally would be entitled to VA benefits. Any disability incurred while AWOL or in the brig cannot be service connected.

Tell Us About Your Claim

What is IU

By Jon Corra · November 16, 2011
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In the legal process of VA disability compensation, you may hear the term “IU”, which means Individual Unemployability. IU is a part of the VA’s disability compensation program that allows the VA to pay certain Veterans compensation at the 100% rate even though the VA has not rated their service-connected disability at the total level.

                In order to meet the criteria for IU, a Veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of his/her service-connected disabilities. Additionally, a Veteran much have: One service-connected disability ratable at 60% or more, OR two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one disability ratable at 40% or more with a combined rating of 70% or more.

                To apply, a Veteran must submit a VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability. Also, please note that Veterans may have to complete an employment questionnaire once a year in order for the VA to determine continued eligibility to Individual Unemployability. Understanding the criteria and completing the form can be difficult. 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.

Camp LeJune and VA Disability Compensation

By Jon Corra · November 10, 2011
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In January 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement affirming that servicemen and women who were stationed or worked at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune near Jacksonville, North Carolina between the years of 1957 and 1987 were potentially exposed to contamination within the drinking water. Recently within the past few months, our offices have been receiving many phone calls from Veterans who believe they were exposed to this contaminated water, and you, too, might also have questions on the issue.

            One of the first questions that Camp Lejeune Veterans ask is “Can I file a claim on being exposed and are my current medical conditions a result of the contaminated water?” At this time, the most important thing to understand is that the VA does not currently have a law set in place for these cases.  The VA currently is sending all claims involving Camp Lejeune water contamination to VARO, Louisville.  They are conducting VA examinations and obtaining opinions for disabilities based on an exposure to contaminated water.  These claims are being considered on a case-by-case basis.  Some claims have been granted.  This also means that once the VA is done conducting their research, a list of presumptive conditions may be issued. This list will help you and other Camp Lejeune Veterans better understand what specific conditions you can file on and how much compensation you could possibly receive, if granted.

            Another question that our representatives frequently get asked is “Can I still file a claim on just being potentially exposed to the water?”  The answer is no. In order to file a claim, you must have a current medical condition that you believe is most likely a result of the contamination. You cannot simply file a claim on being exposed. We understand that you are struggling for answers right now.   We wish we had more information to provide to our clients and Veterans.  However, if you do have questions on the Camp Lejeune water contamination or are interested in filing a claim, then please contact our office. We would be more than happy to help you in your case and will continually update our Veterans on the status of this issue.

 

What is an SOC?

By Jon Corra · November 7, 2011
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In the legal process of VA Disability Compensation, you may hear the term “Statement of the Case,” and are probably wondering what that means. In your legal timeline, a Statement of the Case or SOC comes after your “Notice of Disagreement.” Once your Notice of Disagreement is filed through the VA, they will make a decision. (This will often occur several months later.) This decision is referred to as a Statement of the Case.

So, now we know when it comes, but we still have to decide what it is in regards to your claim for VA Disability Compensation. Essentially an SOC is a decision. However, this decision is a little more detailed than your initial decision you received from the VA. The SOC will explain in detail why you were denied for your disability. They will often quote specific statues, and use legal terms to explain why they denied your claim. It can be, and most often is, a very confusing form. They also tend to be quite lengthy.

Unlike an NOD, a Veteran only has sixty (60) days to file the next form of appeal, which is referred to as a VA form 9. The sixty days starts on the date on the SOC, not from the time a Veteran receives the document.

Interpreting an SOC can be difficult, that is why so many Veterans seek the legal help of attorneys like the ones at Jan Dils Attorney sat 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.

VA Disability Timeline

By Jon Corra · November 2, 2011
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If you are a Veteran who has a claim pending through the VA, one thing you must prepare for is a long wait. At the current time, the entire timeline can take between two and four years for your final decision. When informed of the above, many Veterans are curious as to why it takes so long. It is actually quite simple. The VA regional offices are getting backed up. With the large amount of claims coming through the regional offices, there is a large back log. Some regional offices can have as many as 20,000 claims pending.

It is also important to know that your location has a lot to do with this timeline too. For instance, a regional office located in a major metropolitan area, like Chicago or New York City will likely be more backed up then those located in more rural areas.

It can be a long and difficult process, but that can be helped by not going at it alone. The attorneys at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law can help you get the VA Disability Benefits you deserve. See why we don’t take no for an answer and why we Fight for Vets.