As veterans or current military member, you have demonstrated your bravery and dedication to our country. Many of you face daily challenges as a result of your service. As a fellow veteran, I empathize with these challenges and offer my help with any of a legal nature. Whether you are navigating the appeal of the VA’s denial of benefits, debtor/creditor issues relating to your service, or discharge upgrades, let me help you.
Veterans are often stigmatized and see their access to benefits and future employment limited by a discharge classified as less than honorable. I can assist you in preparing a petition and supporting evidence to submit to the appropriate board, and can stand before review boards on your behalf to provide the board member a deeper appreciation of any mitigating circumstances related to your discharge.
The Veteran’s Administration ties your receipt of benefits to your discharge status. If you received anything other than a fully honorable discharge, the VA will perform character of service determination before granting benefits.
Generally, the relevant discharge and their effect are as follows.
Honorable: You are eligible for VA health care, disability benefits, and GI Bill education benefits.
General Under Honorable: You are eligible for VA health care & disability benefits.
Other Than Honorable: You will need to ask for a discharge upgrade (federal) or Character of Service Determination (local VA regional office) to be eligible for health care & disability benefits. There are some exceptions if you have been diagnosed with PTSD or other mental health disorders due to your time in service.
Bad Conduct/Dishonorable: Not eligible for any VA benefits without a discharge upgrade.
Uncharacterized: Neither positive nor negative. Usually means service was not long enough to characterize the type of discharge.
Service-Connected Disabilities and Disability Compensation
As a VA accredited attorney, I can assist you is seeking an appropriate review of the VA's benefits determination stemming from your military service. Veterans who have disabilities, medical conditions, or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service—no matter when or where they served—may be eligible to receive tax-free monthly benefits.
A veteran’s claim for disability benefits is addressed in a three-part test. First, the veteran bears the responsibility to show they meet the VA’s definition of a veteran for purposes of a disability review. The VA’s definition of “veteran” includes both a period of service requirement and that the discharge is “other than dishonorable.”
Second, you must demonstrate the existence of a current disability. A vague or incomplete claim may result in the VA’s rejection of a claim.
Lastly, the disability must be related to the veteran’s service.
The VA has a “duty to assist” the veteran in making a claim, and the VA has a dedicated staff that in good faith provide this assistance; it is important that you carefully review your record and ensure you submit a complete list of medical records and supporting doctor’s statement to minimize the chance of an errant denial.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 established three options if an initial claim is denied. You may request a Higher Level Review by another VA claim adjudicator. No new evidence is submitted as part of this review, but the
reviewer looks at the record without deference to the initial adjudicator’s decision.
Alternatively, you may submit a Supplemental Claim supported by new and relevant evidence. The VA has a responsibility to aid you in gathering the new and relevant evidence to support your supplemental claim.
Lastly, you may choose to pursue a direct appeal to the Board of Veterans Claims. An appeal to the board may, but does not have to, include new evidence. You may also request an actual hearing before the Board.
An experienced attorney can assist in developing your supplemental claim and is highly recommended for an appeal to the Board. An attorney can help you identify the elements of your claim that were lacking and gather the records and evidence necessary to sufficiently prove your claim.
Veterans' Benefits Appeals
Other Veterans Issues
Non-Service Connected Pensions
The application process for pensions can prove to be a real challenge for anyone, especially for those who face conditions stemming from service to our country. VLI helps clients navigate the process of applying for pensions in order to receive the full amount to which they’re entitled based on the following conditions:
Aged 65 or older, or
Access to limited or no income, or
Permanently or totally disabled, or
A patient in nursing home receiving skilled care, or
Receiving Social Security disability insurance, or
Receiving supplemental security income.
We also help with the assessment of needs-based countable days, which must fall below a yearly limit, with 90 days of active duty including one day during wartime. If clients were on active duty after Sept. 7 1980, they must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which they were called up, with some exceptions.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Congress enacted the SCRA in 2003, significantly amending the original Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA). The SCRA is designed to ease financial burdens on servicemembers during periods of military service and addresses issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, evictions, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosures, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments. If your SCRA rights have been violated, you can hire a lawyer and sue on your own. You have a right to sue if your rights under the SCRA are violated and the act provides for remedies including the recovery of monetary damages, your legal costs, and your attorney fees.
Aid and Attendance, and Housebound Care
The are VA benefits designed to help individuals who find themselves unable to leave their homes unsupported, or requiring resources for the attendance of another person. I can refer you to individuals and organizations that help with the application process and data gathering required to ensure you receive appropriate payments in addition to any pension you may be reciveing.
I may also be able to provide you general information on other benefits and list of agencies or organizations that aid in your receiving such benefits. Such benefits include VA Home Loans, Educational Benefits, and Veteran Burials.