Education and Information are Power.
I’ve long preached that on the Veterans Law Blog.
I believe that with MORE Information, we as Veterans have MORE Power to stop griping about the VA’s Woe’s, take the reins in our VA Claims, and push them across the finish line.
I’ve written entire books on this topic – trying to teach Veterans that by Taking Back the Power – in your VA Sleep Apnea claims for example – you can beat back the VA’s denials..
A colleague of mine – another attorney that represents Veterans before the VA – recently proved this point in a recent VA Sleep Apnea case.
Let me Tell You about Doug Friedman.
Every once in a while, I like to talk about an attorney that’s doing great work for Veterans.
Not too long ago, I showed you how attorney Matt Hill won one of his cases.
Many of you have told me you used Matt’s strategy in your own appeals or claims.
In today’s post, I want to show you what Doug Friedman is doing for Veterans in Alabama.
I met Doug through the National Organization for Veterans Advocates (NOVA).
An Alabama lawyer who speaks with a hint of a New York accent, he struck me as a knowledgeable and shrewd advocate from his first handshake.
Doug’s firm focuses on representing veterans who have claims for both VA Disability and Social Security Disability. He believes that these claims are related and should have a coordinated strategy to obtain the best results.
That’s a pretty smart approach.
But what I like best about Doug is that – like me and hundreds of attorneys in NOVA – he is a true believer.
When I asked Doug why he does what he does – representing Veterans before the VA Regional Offices and the Board of Veterans Appeals – here is what he told me:
“We must ensure our veterans are treated well if we expect our men and women to volunteer for service in the future.”
That’s straight to the point, isn’t it?
He went on:
“I believe Veterans are entitled to be fully informed about their rights, and to have legal representation in their VA Disability claims, as many say the process is broken and virtually inaccessible. It’s MY job to “treat our clients well” and to do what we say we are going to do.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – despite what a Court judge might think of attorneys – the attorneys that dedicate their careers to representing Veterans are a different….in my opinion, a better….cut of attorney.
Let’s take a look at a VA Sleep Apnea Claim that Doug just won.
How to Win One Type of VA Sleep Apnea Claim.
Here’s the story Doug told me – in his words:
“The Veteran was first diagnosed with OSA 10 years after discharge. He says that he had symptoms of it during the service.
His file shows that while he had a high school education, he had trouble following along in his training classes – – to the extent that his instructor questioned his mental competence, and sent him out for a psyche eval.
The eval lists symptoms such as fatigue, grogginess, foggy brain etc. – – with no mental restrictions found.
When the Vet came to my office, he had an SOC denying his claim. He asked what he should do.
I took his Service Treatment Records to the doc who had diagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and included affidavits from his spouse and an Army buddy who lived with him before he got married. I also included my client’s affidavit.
The doc told me that while Sleep Apnea was not well known at the time my Vet was in service, the records he was looking at were the symptoms of Sleep Apnea. He recorded his opinion that it was at least as likely as not that the vet had Sleep Apnea beginning in the Army.
The BVA decided the case within four weeks – they granted Service Connection for Sleep Apnea and remanded it to the VA Regional Office to set the rating.
A few weeks later, the VA Regional Office assigned a 50% Rating.”
I Teach Veterans Exactly How to Do this in their Own VA Sleep Apnea Claims.
In my eBook for Veterans “The VA Sleep Apnea Field Manual”, I talk about the 4 most common approaches to proving up a VA Sleep Apnea claim or appeal.
It’s about connecting the dots – from your symptoms (or diagnosis) in service, along with your symptoms after service, to the limitations you currently face.
In researching the VA Sleep Apnea Field Manual, I saw TONS of cases where the Vet didn’t connect the in-service symptoms to the condition, or the in-service condition to the present condition.
What happened to these Veterans in their claim?
Don’t Want to Lose Your VA Sleep Apnea Claim or Appeal?
You have 3 choices – assuming you aren’t the type to “give up” or “throw in the towel”:
Trust your VSO to file and develop the lay and medical evidence you need to prove up your VA Sleep Apnea Claim. A risky option if you choose the wrong VSO…but there are some damn good VSOs out there, too.
Educate yourself about VA Sleep Apnea Claims and do it yourself – with a lot of reading and a bit of old-fashioned “elbow grease” – it can be done.
Hire an attorney to prove up your claim.
Each of these options are good. None is better than the other – and the cool thing is that now you have a CHOICE of 3 options.
But each requires you do the same thing. Each option has one thing in common:
To succeed as a Veteran battling the VA – you need information. You need power.
If you are going to develop and prove your claim yourself, or if you are going to choose a representative to do it for you, you need to know what the right way to develop and prove your claim.
The way Doug Friedman did it.
Want to learn more?
Read about the VA Sleep Apnea Field Manual here.
Learn more about Doug Friedman and his team by clicking here.