Winning a VA Claim is an exhilarating experience – after years of fighting, when you finally see those past-due benefits in your bank account, the sense of relief is palpable.
Unfortunately, many Veterans let the money burn a whole in their pocket – for someone struggling to make ends meet, a 5 or 6 figure past-due payment can seem like an endless fortune.
It’s not. Trust me on that – money is a weird thing….I watch my clients and Veterans around Social Media after a big win against the VA, and sometimes it seems like $100,000 disappears a lot quicker than $40,000.
On top of that, many Veterans tell the world how much the VA paid them. “Friends” and “family” come out of the woodwork, and often guilt Veterans – natural caretakers – into helping with gifts of money.
And unfortunately, a lot of Veterans fail to make sure that their VA claims and appeals are truly complete and leave a lot of benefits “on the table”….. (the VA often forgets Special Monthly Compensation, Aid&Attendance, TDIU and other follow-on benefits).
To help combat these problems, I’ve put together a list of 8 things Veterans (and their survivors) should think about after winning a VA claim.
When I took on the Veterans Law Blog in 2007, I had no idea what could be accomplished in the next 8 years.
The blog has helped many thousands of Veterans recover the benefits that they are entitled to – often without having to pay a penny to an attorney.
On the down side there are a lot of problems in the VA Benefits System needing to see the light of day….and I won’t pull any punches.
I’ve called out judges on the Court for words that demean the work of so many great attorneys that have helped so many Veterans.
I don’t have any problem pointing out how VSOs (like this VFW rep) sell Vets “up the river”.
Now, I am seeing evidence that the VA Office of General Counsel is fleecing the American taxpayer. Today we are going to learn how the VA’s attorneys made taxpayers pay $21,000 for a single sentence… .
In August 2015, the Veterans Court appointed a new Chief Judge.
Outgoing Chief Judge Kasold – the Chief since August 7, 2010 – stepped aside and made way for Judge Lawrence B. Hagel.
This type of thing is often more important to the lawyers of the Veterans Advocacy Community than it is to Veterans.
I don’t believe this should be the case: over time, it is part of my larger agenda to introduce you to the Veterans Court:
I want to show you how its decisions affect – good or bad – the administrative claims process, and how important this Court is to the future of Veterans Benefits law.
For starters, the role of the Veterans Court is not really clear to most Veterans.
After all, when most Veterans think of a Court, they think of discovery, jury trials, cross-examination….
That’s not the Veterans Court.
It’s a different kind of Court. There is no jury. No Discovery.
No, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims was a welcome “watch-dog” … an Article I Court (i.e., a court created by Congress under its Article I powers, not by the Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which is the font of judicial authority in our system.
It’s primary function is to review the final decision of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
And thank God for that!
With an error rate approaching the fielding percentage of the 2013 Baltimore Orioles, its good to have someone keeping an eye on the BVA.
The so-called Veterans Court is authorized 7 permanent active Judges – in addition, some temporary expansion provisions allow for 2 additional Judges.
All of the Court’s Judges are typically appointed for 15-year terms.
The Court only has one “Chief Judge” at a time.
The landscape of American politics and culture can change dramatically depending on which Supreme Court Chief Justice is leading the Court through the controversial issues of the day.
And because the CAVC is a “niche” court – it only affects about 21 million Veterans (less than 10% of our population) it’s not going to dramatically shape American values and culture.
But it how the Court comes down, on the issues of the day facing Veterans Benefits Claims, will have a major impact on anyone disabled by or injured in military service.
So let’s get to know what kind of Chief Judge we might be looking at here by taking a look at 3 Court Decisions that I think best represent the man who is our new Chief…..