The Social Security Administration has released the official Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2015. The COLA associated with Social Security disability benefits, will be reflected in the January 2015 benefit check and will have a 1.7% increase.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced that it processed 1.3 million disability compensation and pension claims in fiscal year 2014 - the highest number in VA history. The number of claims processed in fiscal year 2014 surpassed the number of claims processed in fiscal year 2013 by more than 150,000 claims. In addition to processing more claims, the VA has reduced its disability claims backlog (defined as a disability claim that has been pending for more than 125 days) by 60 percent since March 2013. According to VA statistics, veterans waited an average of 119 days less for a decision on their claim than veterans did in fiscal year 2013.
Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C.'s Associate Attorney, Robyn Cannon, is spearheading this year's Mobile Bar Association Canned Food Drive benefitting the Bay Area Food Bank. Last year, members of the Mobile Bar Association collected over 500 pounds of food for those in need. We hope to surpass last year's contribution and we need your help!
In 2012, Congress passed the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejume Families Act, which provided, in part, for health care (for veterans who served at least 30 days in Camp Lejune) and co-pay reimbursements for veterans and family members who lived at Camp Lejune from January 1, 1957, through December 31, 1987, and who suffered from any of the fifteen diseases deemed related to the toxic water. The covered diseases include esophageal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, myleodysplasic syndromes, renal toxicity, hepatic steatosis, female infertility, miscarriage, scleroderma, neurobehavioral effects, and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
The Social Security disability program is almost never black and white. There are very few disease that will automatically qualify you to receive benefits. A common question I am asked is, "Does have [fill in the blank disease] make me disabled?" The answer is almost always, "It depends."
Beginning next March, the Department of Veterans Affairs will offer standardized electronic forms. The VA hopes to streamline and speed up the claim filing process with the use of the electronic forms. In the past, veterans could file claims and appeals on any piece of paper - often causing delay and confusion. VA Secretary Robert McDonald hopes the electronic forms will make the process easier for veterans and ensure the most accurate decision on the claim. The VA is also standardizing the intent-to-file form allowing veterans or their survivors one year from filing the intent-to-file form to gather documentation and evidence for the claim.