Military Blast Exposure May Cause Brain to Age Early

Gregory M. Rada Disability Compensation

A study published Monday in Brain, A Journal of Neurology, found that “blast exposure may negatively affect brain-aging trajectories at the microstructural tissue level,” even among service members who felt nothing from the blast. It’s especially disturbing the study found signs of brain degeneration and early aging even in veterans who reported they never experienced blast-related symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, memory loss, or loss of consciousness. 

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VA’s New Standardized Forms and Intent to File a Claim

Gregory M. Rada Disability Compensation, Legal Update

VA’s requirement to use standardized forms to start claims and appeals has gone into effect as of March 25, 2015. In addition, the VA’s new “Intent to File a Claim” process replaced the old “informal claims” process. I’ve already discussed the details of the new standardized forms requirement here, as well as the intent to file a claim process here, so I’ve summarized the main points after the break.

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Veterans Law Legal Update: Beraud v. McDonald, 766 F.3d 1402 (Fed. Cir. 2014)

Gregory M. Rada Disability Compensation, Legal Update

Legal Update

 

In September 2014, the Federal Circuit decided Beraud v. McDonald, carving out an exception to the general rule that a “subsequent final adjudication of a claim which is identical to a pending claim that has not been finally adjudicated terminates the pending status of the earlier claim.” Now, under Beraud, when a veteran submits evidence to the VA within the appeal period of a rating decision, the VA must make a determination as to whether the evidence constitutes “new and material evidence,” or the claim remains pending until such determination is made. Notably, the claim remains pending even if there have been subsequent final decisions on the same claim.

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Service Connection for Tinnitus Without Accompanying Hearing Loss?

Gregory M. Rada Disability Compensation

Inner Ear Diagram

It’s very common for veterans to suffer from tinnitus without accompanying hearing loss. Unfortunately, when a veteran submits a claim for service connection for tinnitus without hearing loss, VA examiners will often render a negative nexus opinion that goes something like this:

“Although the veteran served in a high hazardous noise MOS, the veteran has bilaterally normal hearing indicating intact cochlear function. Therefore, the veteran’s reported tinnitus is less likely than not caused by military noise exposure.” 

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