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.”
The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has decided to decrease the statewide workers’ compensation rate by 4.5 percent, which will save employers around $400 million in 2017. The Department of Financial Services must review and approve the decision; if they do, it will take effect October 1st. As part of the state budget, the workers’ compensation reforms include providing relief for first responders who are exposed to trauma and extreme stress in emergency situations, requiring injured workers who have not received benefits to receive a hearing within 45 days, and allowing seriously injured workers to apply for lifetime benefits when their benefit caps are set to expire.
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
Current bankruptcy laws in American dictate that student loan debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, unless the applicant can show “undue hardship,” which is a financial burden so extreme that other options would not provide relief from the loans. The average student graduating in 2016 carries a debt of over $37,000. This amount can be as many as two to three times more for those who complete graduate studies. Even without any other debt, student loan debt can prompt a financial tailspin for individuals, especially when repayment on student loans begins mere months after graduation. The United States Congress has received several proposals aimed at reducing the student loan debt burden, one of which allows an individual to include his or her student loans in bankruptcy if and only if the lender does not offer any debt-relief options. Organizations opposed to debt relief include those that purchased bundled student loans as investments called SLABS, or Student Loan Backed Securities. If the debt can be discharged in bankruptcy, the value of the SLABS decreases.