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NVLSP, Public Counsel and Paul Hastings LLP Announce Launch of Appeals Process Website For Veterans

Released 12/22/21 | Tags:

NVLSP, Public Counsel and Paul Hastings LLP Announce Launch of Appeals Process Website For Veterans and Family Caregivers

-VA Has Begun Mailing Court-Ordered Notice to Hundreds of Thousands of Veterans and Caregivers as a Result of Beaudette v. McDonough Class Action-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 22, 2021

WASHINGTON –   The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), Public Counsel and pro bono counsel Paul Hastings LLP, have established a website to provide information to seriously disabled veterans and their family caregivers about how to navigate appeals of benefits decisions under the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC or Caregiver Program). The organizations created this website as part of their role as class counsel in the landmark Beaudette v. McDonough case, which in April 2021 won for veterans and caregivers the right to appeal Caregiver Program decisions to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA or Board). The website https://www.vacaregiverclassaction.com/ provides important information about the class action lawsuit, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decision and how to appeal Caregiver Program decisions.

“The website is an important step in getting veterans and caregivers access to the resources and information that they need to secure the benefits they deserve,” said Amanda Pertusati, Supervising Staff Attorney at Public Counsel’s Center for Veterans Advancement.

All veterans and family caregivers who applied for benefits under PCAFC during the entire period of the program are allowed to appeal any PCAFC benefits decision to the Board. For claimants who appeal, the Board could decide they are entitled to re-instatement to the program, increased benefits, and/or back pay of benefits previously denied.

Under the Beaudette decision, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) held that the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act requires that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) permit claimants to appeal PCAFC decisions to the Board.  The court also ordered that VA provide notice to members of the class of their right to appeal Caregiver Program benefits decisions to the Board.  As a result, starting on November 17, 2021, the VA began sending notice to hundreds of thousands of severely disabled veterans and their caregivers.

To ensure that VA provides claimants with the right to appeal, the CAVC also certified a class of claimants who previously received Caregiver Program benefits decisions but were not permitted to appeal to the Board, and appointed class counsel to represent the class. 

The class includes “all claimants who received an adverse benefits decision under the Caregiver Program, exhausted the administrative review process within the VHA, and have not been afforded the right to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.”

The VA, however, continues to fight the court’s decision even as it provides notice to class members and processes individual appeals that they may file. On Friday, December 3, the Biden administration appealed the Beaudette case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In September, NVLSP and several veterans service organizations sent a letter to House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Leadership expressing their support for Beaudette decision and disapproval of any legal or legislative effort to undo the Court decision. 

“For years, VA has rejected or kicked veterans and caregivers out of the Caregiver Program for illegal or incorrect reasons, or no reason at all.  The Beaudette decision is a pivotal decision because it recognizes that veterans and their caregivers are entitled to appeal to the Board, and the courts, when the VA wrongfully denies them Caregiver Program benefits,” said NVLSP Director of Litigation Renee Burbank.

The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1981. NVLSP strives to ensure that our nation honors its commitment to its 22 million veterans and active duty personnel by ensuring they have the benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVLSP has represented veterans in lawsuits that compelled enforcement of the law where the VA or other military services denied benefits to veterans in violation of the law. NVLSP’s success in these lawsuits has resulted in more than $5.2 billion dollars being awarded in disability, death and medical benefits to hundreds of thousands of veterans and their survivors. NVLSP offers training for attorneys and other advocates; connects veterans and active duty personnel with pro bono legal help when seeking disability benefits; publishes the nation's definitive guide on veteran benefits; and represents and litigates for veterans and their families before the VA, military discharge review agencies and federal courts. For more information go to www.nvlsp.org.

About Paul Hastings LLP
At Paul Hastings, our purpose is clear — to help our clients and people navigate new paths to growth. With a strong presence throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., Paul Hastings is recognized as one of the world’s most innovative global law firms.

About Public Counsel
Public Counsel is the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Founded in 1970, Public Counsel strives to achieve three main goals: protect the legal rights of disadvantaged children; represent immigrants who have been the victims of torture, persecution, domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes; and foster economic justice by providing individuals and institutions in underserved communities with access to quality legal representation. Through a pro bono model that leverages the talents and dedication of thousands of attorney and law student volunteers, along with an in-house staff of more than 75 attorneys and social workers, Public Counsel annually assists more than 30,000 families, children, immigrants, veterans, and nonprofit organizations and addresses systemic poverty and civil rights issues through impact litigation and policy advocacy. For more information, visit www.publiccounsel.org.

Media contact:
Patty Briotta, office 202-621-5698, patty@nvlsp.org .

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