A couple years ago, the Attig Law Firm the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) for the surviving spouse of a Veteran with an Accrued Benefits VA Appeal.
The Timeline of the Case.
In this case, the Veteran filed his claim for service connection in 2001. He died in 2008 – of the very condition that he claimed was service connected. (And for which the VA never paid him a dime).
His surviving spouse, who believed that his death was caused by his service-connected condition, filed claims for Accrued Benefits and for Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
The VA Regional Office denied the claims and the Veteran’s spouse filed an appeal to the BVA.
The BVA, after years of deliberation, denied the Veteran’s spouse’s claim for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and remanded the claim for Accrued Benefits to the VA Regional Office.
Rejected and Misled by VSOs, the Survivor turned to Professional Advocates.
After being told she “had no legal issue on appeal” by more than one “VSO Service Representative”, she looked to a Professional Advocate.
The Attig Law Firm looked at the case.
The error was obvious: the BVA erred when it denied the Veteran’s spouse’s claim for DIC before the VA had finally adjudicated the claims for accrued benefits.
This makes sense, right?
After all, how can the VA decide whether the Veteran died from a service-connected condition before it had decided what all of his service-connected conditions were.
If you’re ready to find out if a Professional Advocate can help in your claim, the key is to choose an advocate that is a good match for you and your claim: my free guidebook “8 Things Veterans Should Know Before Hiring an Attorney” will help you find the advocate that is right for your claim.
What Happened at the Court and the BVA?
The VA attorney at the Court had to admit that our legal analysis was correct.
We showed them the case law that says it is error for the BVA to decide a portion of a claim that is “inextricably intertwined” with another portion of a claim, particularly when the undecided portion of the claim could affect the portion of the claim that the BVA denied.
The BVA decision denying DIC benefits was vacated, and the BVA granted the Survivor DIC benefits.They remanded the Accrued Benefits claim, which is on its way back to the BVA for a decision.
We are confident that we will prevail on Accrued Benefits here – the evidence overwhelmingly supports the Survivor’s position, and we secured the help of one of the best Forensic Pathologists in the nation to help the BVA “fill in the blanks” on complex medical evidence that the Judge might not otherwise understand.
The BVA errs more times than it gets it right – I’m sorry to say this, because I know some really cool people that work there and are really trying to make a difference.
The problem is that the BVA is woefully understaffed, the Appeals process is too protracted, and the VA just doesn’t know its own laws.
Are you Tired of Surviving Spouses getting Screwed?
It’s maddening to hear – every single day – what the “Free VSOs” and their battle buddies in the VA Rating departments tell Survivors.
VSOs that don’t know or understand law tell Survivors that they don’t have a claim or appeal. They did this to my grandmother, and deprived her of life-changing benefits that were available to her as the surviving spouse of a deceased World War II combat Veteran.
The VA – which another attorney argues is no better than an insurance company with its “Delay and Deny, until you Die” approach to claims – puts Surviving Spouse claims at the bottom of the paper stack.
I’m publishing a book for Surviving Spouses:
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