Attorney Mandy Kelly recently received a decision from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) granting service-connected VA disability benefits to her client – a decision long overdue for the veteran. This decision awarded the client future monthly benefits in addition to an award of more than 30 years of back-pay benefits dating all the way back to 1986. In this case, the veteran first filed for benefits immediately after being discharged from the military, but was initially denied. He served in the Army from November 1979 through November 1982 during which time he had reported suffering injuries related to his back and neck as well as headaches. While the personnel records, documenting reports of these injuries and symptoms during his service, were in his file all along, the VA’s denial indicated that his conditions were not related to service. The veteran’s entrance examination documents that he was healthy with no significant medical history or pain prior to becoming a U.S. soldier.
In order to qualify for VA service-connected disability benefits, the veteran must establish the ‘nexus’ or the link that demonstrates their condition(s) incurred in, was caused by, or aggravated by their time in service. In this case, our client felt defeated not only because he knew that his injuries were directly linked to his time in service, but also because he never actually received a decision on his initial claim. He admits feeling as though the VA just forgot about him. Thereafter, he did what we find that many of our veterans do without an attorney: give-up on their claim.
There is no doubt that in the military, our service members have a tough mindset with the mentality to “suck it up” – often leading to a lack of care or treatment that they deserve. Moreover, upon returning home, most veterans are left in the dark, unsure of what benefits they could be entitled to and how to go about the process.
After years of suffering through the pain with trials upon trials of different medications and treatment, our client’s pain and associated headaches only became worse. Eventually, in 2011, he decided to finally give the VA disability application process another try, the veteran refiled for benefits in 2011 and was denied. With his denial in hand, he decided to hire an attorney and reached out to Mandy Kelly for help with the appeals process. Attorney Kelly, with Disability Law Group, represented the veteran at his hearing before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).
During the hearing, Mandy argued that her client’s back and neck conditions, with headaches, were a result of his time in service and she presented the relevant evidence she obtained to help prove his case. The BVA Judge agreed and she acknowledged that the veteran had never received notification of his first 1986 denial of benefits. Ultimately, the Judge found, based on Mandy’s arguments in court, that there existed a due process error and, consequently, reopened the previous decision. This decision allowed for the veteran to receive his retroactive service-connected disability benefits to paid back to 1986 and continuing on.
If you or your loved one have been fighting with the VA for benefits that are overdue, you can count on Disability Law Group and our experienced team of caring attorneys and staff. Disability is all we do. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at 800.838.1100 or 800.VET.1100.