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Category: Legal Update

DoD Issues New Guidance for Discharge Upgrades Involving Mental Health

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | November 13, 2017 | Legal Update

New DoD Guidance for Discharge Upgrades Involving Mental Health As I have noted before, service-connected mental health conditions frequently lead to veterans receiving other-than-honorable discharges. In turn, other-than-honorable discharges often prevent veterans from receiving much needed VA benefits and health care. In response to this problem, the Department of Defense (DoD) has issued new New… read more

VA to Revamp Appeals Process

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | October 10, 2017 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

Big changes are coming to the VA appeals process as a result of a new law, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which became law on August 23, 2017. The new law restructures the current appeals process to address the massive backlog of veterans presently waiting for decisions on their appeals.

Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to Support Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | May 31, 2017 | Legal Update

Last month U.S. legislators introduced H.R. 1954 – the Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2017. In large part, legislators drafted H.R. 1954 in response to reports of nude photos of female service members being posted online. The bill is aimed at ensuring that these veterans have sufficient access to counseling and benefits…. read more

VA Finalizes Camp Lejeune Presumptive Conditions

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | March 2, 2017 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

After a long wait, the Department of Veterans Affairs has finalized and released regulations that establish a presumption of service connection for certain conditions caused by contaminants in the water supply at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  The amended regulations apply to veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members who… read more

VA Issues Updated Guidelines for Partial Knee Replacements

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | February 6, 2017 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

This past November, the VA updated the portion of the M21-1 Manual that instructs VA raters how to process claims for evaluations of partial knee replacements. This update is a response to a decision by the Federal Circuit in Hudgens v. McDonald, which I wrote about in a previous post. In Hudgens, the Federal Circuit held that… read more

Federal Circuit Rules Partial Knee Replacements Qualify for Temporary 100 Percent Rating

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | June 14, 2016 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

On May 18, 2016, in Hudgens v. McDonald, the Federal Circuit ruled that partial knee joint replacements qualify for ratings under Diagnostic Code (DC) 5055, which is the diagnostic code that grants a temporary 100% rating for the year following a knee joint replacement, and then a minimum 30% rating thereafter. This is a great outcome for veterans undergoing… read more

Update on Camp Lejeune Presumptive Conditions

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | January 6, 2016 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

Secretary McDonald recently revealed more details regarding VA’s plan to expand disability compensation eligibility to veterans who were exposed to contaminated water while stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, including Reserve and National Guard personnel who would not normally be eligible for VA disability compensation benefits. The Department of Health and… read more

VA Establishing Presumptive Service Connection for Camp Lejeune Tainted Water

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | August 6, 2015 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

The VA announced on Monday that it is beginning the process to amend its regulations and establish presumptive service connection for certain conditions from exposure to contaminated drinking water at U.S. Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The VA already provides health care services to veterans who have any of 15 conditions and who were… read more

VA’s New Standardized Forms and Intent to File a Claim

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | April 1, 2015 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

VA’s requirement to use standardized forms to start claims and appeals has gone into effect as of March 25, 2015. In addition, the VA’s new “Intent to File a Claim” process replaced the old “informal claims” process. I’ve already discussed the details of the new standardized forms requirement here, as well as the intent to… read more

Veterans Law Legal Update: Beraud v. McDonald, 766 F.3d 1402 (Fed. Cir. 2014)

Posted by Gregory M. Rada | January 20, 2015 | Disability Compensation,Legal Update

  In September 2014, the Federal Circuit decided Beraud v. McDonald, carving out an exception to the general rule that a “subsequent final adjudication of a claim which is identical to a pending claim that has not been finally adjudicated terminates the pending status of the earlier claim.” Now, under Beraud, when a veteran submits evidence to the VA… read more