“I gave up myself. The lawyers didn’t give up,” said one of our disabled veterans from Mississippi who recently received $175,000 in back benefits from the Veterans Administration after seven years of pursuing his claim.
This client has suffered from mental health issues since he was assaulted while in the service, was denied disability several times before calling Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys to have his case evaluated. “The key to these cases is proving that the veteran’s disability is related to his or her experience while in the service” said attorney Freedman. “In a case like this there was evidence that proved his mental health issues stemmed from the in-service assault.”
Eric Gang, the attorney in charge of handling the case and who eventually succeeded in obtaining benefits for this client, faced the task of proving that his irrational behavior — which later caused him to be released from service with a less than honorable discharge — occurred because of the trauma related to the assault.
“As a result of the assault, he took a weapon from the stock of practice rifles owned by the army and intended to kill the person who had assaulted him,” said Gang. “He didn’t go through with his plan, but also never returned the weapon — in fact, he took it with him when he left the service.”
Later, the FBI traced the weapon to him and prosecuted him for the theft of the rifle. It took years of persistence and requests to the U.S. Attorney’s office, but Gang was eventually able to get the file on the prosecution. The records corroborated the fact that he had taken the gun while he was under severe distress as a result of the assault.
“He never reported the assault or told anyone about it,” Freedman said. “However, a thorough examination of the records from before and after the assault showed that his behavior and mental health issues were directly connected to the traumatic experience.”
This veteran said he was surprised when he was finally awarded his benefits.
“On my own it just wasn’t going anywhere — they didn’t want to settle. The firm was persistent,” he said. “A lot of veterans just give up on their claims. You shouldn’t do that — the lawyers did a great job.”
Another veteran from Louisiana suffered from chronic pain in his feet and sleep apnea resulting from a combat incident. He was initially rated by the V.A. as 80 percent disabled. However, he was unable to hold a job at all. “With a Total Disability Individual Unemployable (TDIU) rating, a disabled veteran can receive payments of a 100 percent rating even though their disabilities might not add up to 100 percent,” said Freedman. “In this case, we had to prove to the VA that he was unable to work.”
A vocational expert was called in to evaluate the issues in his case. The evidence obtained from that evaluation convinced the Board of Veterans Appeals that he was unable to work at all in the current economy. After six years in the system, he received $150,000 in back benefits, and will continue to receive 100 percent TDIU benefits throughout his lifetime.
“Most individuals don’t have the knowledge or perseverance to proceed with these cases beyond the application and denial. The likelihood of an individual successfully getting records from the U.S. Attorney’s office, identifying the need for a vocational evaluation, or waiting six to seven years without the assistance of an attorney is extremely low,” Freedman said. “That’s where we can help—we can get them the benefits they deserve.”