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Did Contractor Drop the Ball on VA Benefits?

Retired service personal in dire need of VA benefits would not be cheered by the allegation that a contractor hired to review the cases of thousands of Vietnam veterans for exposure to Agent Orange may have denied benefits in spite of obvious need, all because the contractor was less than thorough in reviewing cases, or so it has been alleged. [more]

Released 4/27/16 | Tags: Agent Orange

Bart Stichman: VA policy unfair to some former service members

Bart Stichman, joint executive director at the National Veterans Legal Services Program, talks with Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu about a Veterans Affairs Department policy his group says is unfairly denying health care and compensation to more than 100,000 former service members. [more]

Released 4/27/16 | Tags: Discharges

VA gets ‘F’ for claims approvals

The percent of disability claims approved by the Veterans Affairs Department for Persian Gulf War-related illnesses has declined steadily in the past five years, resulting in record lows, according to a new report. [more]

Released 4/26/16 | Tags: Veteran's Benefits

Should PACER Fees Pay for Flat-screens?

Say the government used money paid to access court information to buy flat-screen monitors — would that violate federal law? That’s the accusation in a lawsuit against the United States of America, that takes aim specifically at the U.S. Administrative Office and its Public Access to Court Records Electronic System, otherwise known as PACER. [more]

Released 4/26/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Bill to Protect Combat-Injured Veterans Severance Payments Passes Senate Finance Committee

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner’s (D-VA) legislation to ensure that veterans who suffer service-ending combat-related injuries are not improperly taxed on the severance payment they receive from the Department of Defense (DoD) has passed the Senate Finance Committee. Under federal law, veterans who suffer combat-related injuries and who are separated from the military are not supposed to be taxed on the one-time lump sum disability severance payment they receive from DoD. Unfortunately, taxes on combat-related disability severance payments have nonetheless been withheld from qualifying veterans for a number of years, in part due to the limitations of DoD’s automated payment system. Veterans are typically unaware that their benefits were improperly reduced as a result of DoD’s actions. [more]

Released 4/26/16 | Tags: Congressional Legislation

‘Excessive’ PACER Fees Prompt Class Action Complaint

The government agency running the PACER system, which provides online access to federal court records, charges more fees than necessary to recoup its costs in providing its services, a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia April 21 alleges. [more]

Released 4/25/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Court Rules for Veterans to Receive Medical Payments

The Veterans Administration has been forced by a U.S. Court of Appeals decision to take a giant step forward to help veterans with their health care. On Friday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims voted unanimously to strike down a VA regulation that the VA had been using since 2009 to deny reimbursement requests from veterans who had to get emergency medical care outside the VA system. The court rebuked the VA’s reimbursement regulation and said it had unlawfully refused to fix the regulation. The VA had been specifically mandated to fix this regulation by Congress in 2009. The VA, by federal statute, is required to pay these claims. [more]

Released 4/25/16 | Tags: Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

Class Action Lawsuit Challenges PACER Fees as Excessive

A class action lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenges the fees charged by PACER, the federal courts’ online court records system, as excessive. The lawsuit seeks to obtain relief on behalf of “all individuals and entities who have paid fees for the use of PACER within the past six years, excluding class counsel and agencies of the federal government.” The lawsuit, filed by the Alliance for Justice, the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the National Consumer Law Center, claims that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which mandates that the fees to access court records online cannot exceed the amount needed to maintain the system itself. [more]

Released 4/22/16 | Tags: Class Actions

Lawsuit accuses PACER of milking the public for cash in exchange for access

The federally run online court document access system known as PACER now finds itself listed on a federal docket. Its overseer, the US government, is a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the service of overcharging the public. The suit, brought by three nonprofits on Thursday, claims millions of dollars generated from a recent 25-percent increase in page fees are being illegally spent by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO). The cost for access is 10 cents per page and up to $3 a document. Judicial opinions are free. This isn't likely to break the bank for some, but to others it adds up and can preclude access to public records. The National Consumer Law Center, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program also claim in the lawsuit that these fees are illegal because the government is charging more than necessary to keep the PACER system afloat (as is required by Congress) [more]

Released 4/22/16 | Tags: Class Actions

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