Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

September 2014 Archives

Employing Simple Methods in the Pursuit of Veteran's Disability Benefits

I recently attended a NOVA (National Organization of Veterans' Advocates) conference where the focus in assisting Veterans in their pursuit of disability benefits centered on a very common sense tactic: being simple. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been in the news for several issues but perhaps no single issue is more important than the backlog of appeals. The appeals backlog has prevented many veterans from receiving the benefits they are due. Therefore, the focus at the NOVA conference presented advocates a game-plan to get back to the basics and to hopefully expedite the appeals process for the veterans we assist. These two areas stood out the most to me:

BOARD OF VETERAN'S APPEALS REVERSES DENIAL OF SERVICE CONNECTION FOR DISEASES RELATED TO CHEMICAL AND TOXIN EXPOSURE

Steve House, a Veteran serving at Camp Carroll in South Korea, developed diabetes mellitus, type II. As a result of developing diabetes, the veteran developed peripheral neuropathy and erectile dysfunction. Veteran filed a claim for service connection for diabetes and a claim for secondary service connection for the resulting conditions. The Veteran was denied service connection by the VA based on the fact that the Veteran was not specifically exposed to Agent Orange as he did not serve in Vietnam or the Korean DMZ.

Changes to the Social Security Disability Hearing Process

Beginning September 6, 2014, new SSA rules went into effect that affect how the Office of Disability Adjudication & Review processes Requests for Hearings. For every hearing request received, the acknowledgement will now include language that the hearing may be conducted via video. If a claimant wishes to object to having a video hearing, he or she must file the objection in writing within 30 days of receiving the notice. This objection must be submitted via mail in the envelope included in the notice or via fax.

VA ISSUES FINAL RULE REGARDING SUBSTITUTION IN CASE OF DEATH OF CLAIMANT

Unfortunately, many veterans pass away before a decision can be made on his or her claim for benefits or before an appeal is completed. In such circumstances, survivors of the deceased veteran may, in some circumstances, take the place of the veteran and continue the claim or appeal. 39 U.S.C. ยง 5121A provides, in part, that if a veteran claimant dies on or after October 10, 2008, while a claim or appeal is pending:

Medicare and End-Stage Renal Disease

Most people think of "old age" or Social Security disability benefits when they think of Medicare- and these associations are correct. However, many people do not know that you can also qualify for Medicare if you have end-stage renal (kidney) disease.

Social Security Disability and Medication Side Effects

If you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits you are likely prescribed medications for your conditions that may have side effects. As noted in a prior blog post about the initial application (link is here), you have the ability to list the medications you have previously taken, are currently taking, or have been prescribed by a physician for your medical conditions. While you are completing that section of the application, it may be wise to also list the side effects associated with each medication.

FAMILY PROMISE - SERVING YOU

Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C.'s Associate Attorney Robyn Cannon is serving up Moe's Original Bar B Que to benefit Family Promise of Coastal Alabama on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, from 6:00PM - 8:00PM. Your generous tips and donations will go to support homeless families and children in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Please invite family, friends, and colleagues to this great event and put Robyn to work!

Social Security Disability Benefits and the Initial Application

When you file for Social Security Disability benefits you will be asked several questions about your work history, medical problems, and functional limitations. These questions should be taken as seriously as the questions you may face before an Administrative Law Judge because, in the event that your claim requires a hearing before an ALJ, the ALJ will have access to your responses from the initial application.

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