The VA has implemented an effort to screen and treat veterans under their care for the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C experts say this proactive approach should be a model for other government health programs and private insurers. Although about 1 percent of the United States population has the virus, veterans who use the VA for health care suffer from it at a rate of 4.8 percent. Vietnam-era veterans have it at an even higher rate. 7.5 percent of these veterans who use the VA have tested positive for the virus. There are many theories why this particular demographic suffers from the virus at higher rates. One is that it was not identified as a distinct virus until 1989, and baby boomers grew up in an era when blood wasn’t screened and before disposable needles were common in medical settings. Screening of blood did not begin until 1992. Older Hepatitis C drugs required shots injected into the stomach and had severe side effects. New medications are nearly 100% effective and have little to no side effects. Since 2014, the VA has cured 96,000 patients of the virus. In 2016, Congress provided billions in funding, and pharmaceutical companies released new versions… Continue Reading VA Helping to Eradicate Hepatitis C
According to a recent Veterans Administration press release, veterans are 20% more likely than non-veterans to kill themselves. And the suicide rate for female veterans is 250% higher than that of non-veterans. The department was accused of covering up veteran suicide rates in 2008. Last year, it was revealed that an average of 20 veterans committed suicide each day in 2014. Suicides among military veterans is especially high in the western United States and in rural areas. Social isolation, access to health care, and gun ownership may all be contributing factors to these higher rates. Montana, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico had the highest rates of veteran suicides in 2014. Many veterans in those areas must drive 70 miles or more to receive VA health care. If you or a loved one you know is suffering from mental illness, please seek professional help immediately.
Segway tour accidents are increasing in cities like Washington, DC. Operating Segways is more difficult than it may initially seem. At City Segway Tours in DC, riders must receive thirty minutes of training and wear a helmet, but accidents still happen and can lead to serious personal injury. From April 2005 to April 2008, 41 people were reported injured on Segways in DC. One in four were taken to the hospital for treatment, and some people suffered traumatic brain injuries. Personal injury attorneys in Virginia explain that if the company that manufactures or owns the Segway is found to be liable for a customer’s injuries using the Segway, the person may be entitled to compensation for their personal injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Age discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant is treated less favorably because of his or her age. This includes non-consideration for positions, demotions, or job loss. The employee or applicant must be 40 years old to be the victim of age discrimination. In 2016, 20,847 age discrimination complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Of those complaints, the EEOC only filed two cases in court, largely because workplace discrimination cases are often expensive and legally complicated. Additionally, A 2009 Supreme Court ruling established a precedent that puts the burden of proof on employees for age discrimination, and most discrimination cases are settled out of court. Furthermore, A 2015 study from economists at the University of California at Irvine and Tulane University found that older women face greater difficulty finding jobs than older men. Lastly, ageism can have a psychological impact on people. People 50 years or older who have a positive self-perception live 7.5 years longer than those who don’t, and those who experience age discrimination often feel worse about themselves and their age.
Beginning October 1, 2017, servicemembers who wish to resolve disability claims before leaving the military must enroll in the “Benefits Delivery at Discharge” program 90 days from separation rather than the current 60 days. Additionally, Quick Start, a program that allows troops with 59 or fewer days left to begin their claims process, will also end. Late filed claims will result in veterans waiting an average of 90 days after separation to get a decision on benefits. Many claims are not complete when service members leave active duty, and submitting disability claims between 90 and 180 days before separation will ensure claims can be fully developed.
When Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and made it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. There is currently limited case law on whether a male can bring a claim of employment discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act based on his partner’s pregnancy. Recently, a Mississippi man committed suicide after being fired for accompanying his high-risk pregnancy wife to a pregnancy-related appointment. His estate filed a complaint against his employer, alleging that he was fired because of his sex and his wife’s pregnancy. A 2007 case held that in order for a male to properly bring an employment discrimination claim based on pregnancy, he must allege that he was discriminated against because of his sex. The estate argued that he was “treated less favorably than male employees whose wives were not pregnant.” However, the court found that he must allege that he was fired because of his partner’s pregnancy and that a female would not have been fired because of her partner’s pregnancy.
The NY AFL-CIO is pushing back against a set of proposed Workers Compensation regulations, claiming they will slash benefits to injured workers. They claim the regulations would drastically reduce payments to workers who have suffered diminished use of a leg or arm. They would also place increased requirements on injured workers to show their future earning capacity would be diminished and make it harder for workers to contest their awards. The proposed regulations resulted from Governor Cuomo’s approved legislation that required the Workers Compensation Board to modernize its guidelines to reflect advances in medical technologies that get workers back on the job faster than in prior years. The proposed regulations are still subject to change, and the board is in the process of accepting public comments on them, and the board is required by law to have new regulations in place by January 1, 2018.
A Massachusetts subsidiary of Dell Technologies agreed to pay $110,000 in restitution and launch an employee training program to settle a former employee’s complaint of discrimination that she says she faced based on her sex and gender identity. The employee reported that she experienced hostility at the company, was denied job opportunities, and faced retaliation after she complained about the discrimination. As part of the settlement, Dell Technologies will pay $25,000 to TransCan Work, which promotes the employment of transgender people in Massachusetts and $25,000 to Girls, Inc.’s Worcester Eureka! that advocates for girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as well as $60,000 to the former employee.
Hundreds of veterans remain on the Social Security Administration’s payroll, despite being dead for years, and have received almost $38 million in benefits. This information comes according to a report from the inspector general of Social Security. The report cited inaccurate death records at the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the VA’s failure to send monthly death reports to the SSA. Approximately 750 dead people continue to receive benefits. An audit found nearly 4,000 cases in which payments were sent to people listed as dead. In 2006, over $11 million was paid to deceased veterans, which underscores the VA’s history of confusing the living and the dead for over a decade.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says some veterans are waiting six years or more to appeal denied claims, while on average it takes approximately three years to receive a final decision. VA officials complained that case records never close, and this open-ended system causes the appeals to drag on for years. Veterans can claim new evidence at any time, and the VA’s duty to assist in compiling that evidence and seeking more files from government agencies or private physicians stalls the appeals process. Now, when a claim is denied, there will be three options to appeal. First, Veterans can request that a more experienced claims adjudicator review his or her case with the same evidence initially submitted. Second, a veteran with new evidence can ask the Veterans Benefits Administration to reconsider the merits of the original claim based on the new medical information. Third, veterans can engage in a formal appeals process where jurisdiction for the appeal transfers to the Board of Veterans Appeals. A veteran can also seek a hearing at this stage to review the case with potential new evidence. By late November, the VA must deliver a comprehensive plan to the House and Senate veterans affairs committee… Continue Reading Streamlining the VA Appeals Process