Big changes are coming to the VA appeals process as a result of a new law, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which became law on August 23, 2017. The new law restructures the current appeals process to address the massive backlog of veterans presently waiting for decisions on their appeals.
Posted by Gregory M. Rada | August 24, 2017 | Health Benefits
In a change to longstanding policy, the VA will now provide emergency mental health care to veterans with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges. As of July 2017, all former service members suffering from a mental health emergency may access the VA health care system by visiting a VA emergency room, an outpatient clinic, or a vet… read more
Posted by Gregory M. Rada | August 2, 2017 | Disability Compensation
While traumatic stress from combat is as old as war itself, PTSD did not become an official psychological diagnosis until 1980. Psychological symptoms associated with PTSD are varied and may include persistent nightmares, intrusive thoughts, negative changes in mood, and heightened reactivity. According to new research presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion… read more
Posted by Gregory M. Rada | May 31, 2017 | Legal Update
Last month U.S. legislators introduced H.R. 1954 – the Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2017. In large part, legislators drafted H.R. 1954 in response to reports of nude photos of female service members being posted online. The bill is aimed at ensuring that these veterans have sufficient access to counseling and benefits…. read more
After a long wait, the Department of Veterans Affairs has finalized and released regulations that establish a presumption of service connection for certain conditions caused by contaminants in the water supply at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The amended regulations apply to veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members who… read more
This past November, the VA updated the portion of the M21-1 Manual that instructs VA raters how to process claims for evaluations of partial knee replacements. This update is a response to a decision by the Federal Circuit in Hudgens v. McDonald, which I wrote about in a previous post. In Hudgens, the Federal Circuit held that… read more
Posted by Gregory M. Rada | August 26, 2016 | Disability Compensation
The VA is offering new TBI exams to thousands of veterans who did not have their initial examination performed by either a psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon, or neurologist. This action impacts more than 24,000 veterans and will ensure these veterans receive a proper initial TBI examination and a new rating decision. The VA is offering new… read more
On May 18, 2016, in Hudgens v. McDonald, the Federal Circuit ruled that partial knee joint replacements qualify for ratings under Diagnostic Code (DC) 5055, which is the diagnostic code that grants a temporary 100% rating for the year following a knee joint replacement, and then a minimum 30% rating thereafter. This is a great outcome for veterans undergoing… read more
Secretary McDonald recently revealed more details regarding VA’s plan to expand disability compensation eligibility to veterans who were exposed to contaminated water while stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, including Reserve and National Guard personnel who would not normally be eligible for VA disability compensation benefits. The Department of Health and… read more
Posted by Gregory M. Rada | September 12, 2015 | Disability Compensation
A “total disability rating based on individual unemployability,” often referred to as TDIU, IU, or individual unemployability, is an avenue for the VA to compensate a veteran who can’t work due to service-connected disabilities at the 100% rate when the veteran’s disabilities do not actually combine to 100%.