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New VA rule threatens disability benefits; NVLSP offers tip to safeguard them (Veterans Life)

A rule by the Department of Veterans Affairs recently came into effect, which will end much of the informal claims process for VA disability benefits. The rule, according to a press release issued by the National Veterans Legal Services Program, became effective March 24, 2015, and limits the types of inferred claims VA will allow, leaving “injured and disabled veterans at a serious disadvantage when applying for VA disability compensation.” The NVLSP press release states that there are two aspects of the rule that are particularly important: First, the rule eliminates the right of a veteran to initiate the VA adjudication process by writing a plain letter to the VA seeking a specific benefit; and second, the VA will now severely limit the type of benefits that will be adjudicated when presented with a disability benefits claim. [more]

Released 4/8/15 | Tags:

New VA Forms ‘Obliterated’ Non-Adversarial Process (Blog)

Many veterans organizations claim the new VA forms required to file disability compensation claims “obliterated” the non-adversarial process VA is required to adhere to. Ron Abrams, head of NVLSP, stated: “This is the essence of the non-adversarial process VA is supposed to have,” he said. “VA is supposed to be a friend of the veteran. If they find something else in the file that helps vets, they point it out and take care of it. Now, they’ve obliterated that. This is now a system of VA against the veterans, and the veterans will be hurt.” [more]

Released 4/2/15 | Tags:

Senator Blumenthal to Deliver Remarks On Veterans Health Care Challenges (Yale Law School)

Senator Richard Blumenthal ’73 will speak at Yale Law School on April 2 during an event about the crisis and reform efforts surrounding the Veterans Health Administration. Panelists will include Carolyn Clancy, MD, Interim Under Secretary for Health, Department of Veterans Affairs (by video conference); Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, Professor of Health Policy, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Heather Sandler, MSW, Senior Constituent Liaison, Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal; and Bart Stichman, JD, LLM, Joint Executive Director, National Veterans Legal Services Program. [more]

Released 4/1/15 | Tags:

New VA benefits forms prompt anger, legal challenge (Military Times)

Veterans Affairs officials insist recent changes to how individuals can file benefits claims are nothing more than an efficiency move to clean up their files.But groups like the American Legion and AMVETS are accusing the department of abandoning their promise to help veterans get the benefits they deserve, and have filed a lawsuit to reverse the changes. [more]

Released 3/31/15 | Tags: Veteran's Benefits

American Legion says VA must ‘hold true to its mission’ (American Legion)

American Legion says VA must ‘hold true to its mission’ The American Legion’s national commander, Michael D. Helm, admonished the Department of Veterans Affairs for eliminating its informal claims process, which has been used in roughly half of all such claims filed by veterans. “VA needs to hold true to its mission, which is to serve America’s veterans and not penalize them,” Helm said. “Why on earth would (VA) Secretary McDonald approve a regulation change that invalidates about half of all disability claims being filed?” The new rule went into effect March 25. [more]

Released 3/30/15 | Tags:

Veteran Groups Sue VA for Ending Informal Disability Claims Process (Military.com)

Five national veteran's organizations have filed suit against the Veterans Affairs Department over its move ending informal claims applications and requiring veterans to fill out standardized forms. The plaintiffs are The American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the National Veterans Legal Services Program, AMVETS, and the Vietnam Veterans of America. [more]

Released 3/27/15 | Tags: Veteran's Benefits

Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing (Insurance News Net)

In January of 2015 the National Veterans Legal Services Program testified before your House Subcommittee on Disability, Assistance and Memorial Affairs for the HVAC and presented several proposals that TREA thinks would help the situation. They included:" - Authorize BVA to Develop Evidence Itself Without Having to Remand to the AMC or Regional Office - Provide Veterans Organizations with a Right to Petition the VA General Counsel for a Binding Precedent Opinion on the Proper Interpretation of a Statute or Regulation - Authorize the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to (a) Certify a Case as a Class Action on behalf of Similarly Situated VA Claimants, (b) - - -- Require the VA to Stay Proceedings on the Claims of All Similarly Situated Claimants, and (c) Once the Court Finally Decides the Case, Require VA to Apply the Decision to all of the Pending Claims That Were Stayed - Prohibit The ROs And BVA, In A Case In Which There Is Positive Evidence Supporting the Award Of Benefits, From Developing Negative -Evidence Against The Claim Unless The RO or BVA First Explains In Writing Why The Existing Record Is Not Sufficient To Award Benefits - Require VBA To Change Its Work Credit System for RO Adjudicators So That Raters Do Not Get Work Credit For Denying A Claim Without First Obtaining The Evidence Needed To Comply With The VA Duty To Assist" [more]

Released 3/19/15 | Tags: Testimony, Veteran's Benefits

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