VA Secretary David Shulkin stated recently that ending veteran homelessness will take longer than his predecessor originally anticipated. He did say, however, that reducing the number of homeless veterans to 10,000-15,000 from 40,000 is an achievable goal for President Trump’s administration. Virginia, Delaware, and Connecticut have effectively ended veteran homelessness, along with other communities. Shulkin anticipates that achieving the goal will be a multi-year process.
Several veterans recently received settlements for 100 percent disability after retaining Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC to assist them with their claims. Eric Gang, who handles these cases for the Freedman firm, attributes the majority of the winning cases to finding good experts who can provide evidence to prove that the disability the veteran is claiming is related to his or her service. “In many of these cases the claimant is dealing with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the psychiatric distress that results from it,” Freedman said. “It can be very complicated connecting the client’s mental health issues with his or her service. Eric is extremely skilled in this area and we are fortunate to have him on our team.” Other than PTSD, the challenging cases handled by the firm include those involving sexual trauma, PTSD in cases where the veteran’s discharge is under other than honorable conditions, head trauma, and other mental health issues. “Soldiers frequently suffer trauma that causes psychiatric problems, however, their problems are not treated while they are in service,” Gang said. “As a result, they abuse alcohol or drugs, or act out in some other way considered to be engaging in ‘misconduct,’ and eventually are… Continue Reading Firm grows record of success obtaining 100 percent disability benefits for Vets
An Inspector General’s office report revealed recently that more than 100 veterans died while waiting for care at a Los Angeles hospital over a nine month span that ended August 2015. Although improvements at the VA have decreased wait times for veterans to receive care, they remain perilously long. Some hospitals have shown virtually no progress, despite increased funding to alleviate some of the problems. Once the VA has the power to eliminate incompetent and inefficient employees as well as oversee distribution of funds and monitor results, access to care could improve dramatically.
In 2016, the VA spent $1.2 billion for a total of 2 million telemedicine encounters between veterans who live in remote locations and their doctors. Approximately 12 percent of veteran patients receive some portion of their treatment through telehealth. However, there are roadblocks to providing this kind of care. Telehealth is legal as long as the veteran patient is at a federal VA location and “seeing” a doctor with an unrestricted license in at least one state. But if the veteran is not on federal property and, instead, is at a home or at a nearby clinic, the doctor must be licensed in the state where the patient is located. The VA has asked Congress to invoke the Supremacy Clause and override the state licensing laws for doctors so that doctors do not need to be licensed in all of the states where they are practicing telemedicine. Relaxing such rules will increase access to veteran care nationwide.
As a law firm that represents Veterans with Veterans Disability claims, our attorneys and staff see first-hand the physical and emotional scars borne by these brave men and women. On this Memorial Day, we honor those who have lost their lives, and those who are living with disabilities related to their time in service. The sacrifices made by thousands of our service members impact their lives after their return to the U.S. on a daily basis. Our responsibility as a country, is to provide the support and benefits promised to them when they signed up to serve. Unfortunately at this time, there are more than 500,000 Veterans (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) waiting for decisions on disability claims and appeals, with an average wait time of three years. There are 130,000 homeless Veterans, and 20 Veteran suicides a day, showing the depth of the struggles these men and women face, even after their service ends. Upon returning home, the last entity our veterans should have to fight is the United States government. But unfortunately, that is not the case. Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, is proud to be able to assist Veterans in obtaining the benefits they deserve.
VA Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin believes that the VA cannot be reformed without understanding the experience of patients in the system. As a result, he continues to see patients regularly, in-person and remotely. Secretary Shulkin is the first non-veteran to head the VA. Although he was not President Trump’s first choice to lead the agency, he was confirmed 100-0 by the Senate. As part of Secretary Shulkin’s proposed reforms, the VA will begin to offer free mental health care to veterans barred from the system for less-than-honorable discharges in June. Part of Secretary Shulkin’s success lies in his consistent bipartisanship. He has been able to raise money from both Democrats and Republicans to enhance the VA system and ensure its viability and success.
Senators Marco Rubio, Johnny Isakson, and Jon Tester have unveiled their proposed legislation entitled the “Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.” If passed, the VA will be better able to protect whistleblowers and have the power to demote or remove incompetent and underperforming employees. The legislation would also create the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection in the VA. The bill will also reduce the time it takes to terminate or suspend VA employees who perform poorly or engage in misconduct. As Senator Bill Nelson, a co-sponsor of the bill, stated: “The brave men and women who have served our country deserve nothing but the best, and this bill is another small step in ensuring that they receive the care they deserve.”
Although President Trump promised that the White House would set up a hotline for veteran complaints to speed up reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs, no such hotline has yet to be created. President Trump pledged that the hotline “would be devoted to answering veterans’ complaints of wrongdoing at the VA and ensure no complaints fall through the cracks.” While campaigning for the presidency in 2016, he even suggested that he would answer the hotline himself and that “under a Trump Administration, no veteran will die waiting for service.” A similar campaign promise to create a commission to “investigate all the fraud, cover-ups, and wrongdoing that has taken place in the VA” has failed to come to fruition.
For veterans who served at least one day during a wartime period and are now disabled due to a non-service related condition, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers a pension benefit called Aid & Attendance Allowance. Aid & Attendance Allowance pays for care in an assisted living community, long-term nursing home care, and in-home care for veterans. Family members can be paid for the in-home care they provide if they meet certain criteria. If a veteran is disabled and requires assistance from another person to complete daily tasks such as dressing, eating, or bathing, he or she qualifies for the pension. If a veteran needs assistance to avoid hazards in his or her environment, he or she will also qualify. In both cases, the assistance need not be permanent. Care services provided by an unlicensed loved one need to be prescribed by a health care professional, and the parties must have a valid care contract in place to ensure that the caregiver receives fair market value for his or her services. If you think you qualify for this pension benefit through the VA, contact an attorney who is experienced in veteran’s benefits to assist with the steps that… Continue Reading Aid & Attendance Veteran In-Home Care
Although the Department of Veterans Affairs stated it was lifting its hiring freeze in the wake of an increased budget, the VA is leaving more than 4,000 jobs unfilled unless they are specially approved by top VA leadership as addressing an “absolute critical need.” The VA stated a need for a leaner structure as it allows more veterans to seek private medical care. Many veterans organizations are concerned that the VA is headed toward privatization of care. They are worried that the department previously warned of the need to address the disability backlog but are now backtracking by refusing to hire more workers who could help to alleviate the excessive appeals wait times. VA chief of staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, stated a need for “deliberate hiring strategies” as the VA builds “a future VA of Choice.” The backlog of cases is expected to exceed 1 million within the next ten years, and the average wait time for an appeal will increase to 8.5 years. Current wait times for an appeal of an initial benefits decision are five years on average.