korean war veteran holding american flag

November Case Spotlight

In November 2021 Partner Mandy Kelly received a great win for a Korean War Veteran. The Veteran became Mandy Kelly’s client several years ago while trying to prove that his service-connected conditions prevented him from working.  In April 2020, attorney Mandy Kelly was successful in proving that the Veteran was entitled to receive Individual Unemployability benefits retroactive to 2009 due to his service-connected back condition and his traumatic brain injury (TBI). Individual Unemployability is granted when a veteran’s service-connected conditions prevent him or her from securing or maintaining substantial gainful employment. The Veteran and his spouse were elated with such a large retroactive amount, but Mandy Kelly knew that the fight for all of his benefits and her work was not done.  The Veteran also suffered from Parkinson’s disease and Mandy Kelly knew that it was important for her to get this condition service-connected as well.  With Parkinson’s Disease being such a severe condition, it was important to protect the Veteran’s spouse in the event that his condition caused his death in the future. One way a veteran’s spouse is entitled to continuing benefits after a Veteran passes is if the veteran dies due to a service-connected condition.

Generally, to establish service connection, a claimant must show: (1) a present disability; (2) an in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and (3) a causal relationship between the present disability and the disease or injury incurred or aggravated during service, the so-called “nexus” requirement. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1131; 38 C.F.R. § 3.303. Establishing service connection on a secondary basis requires evidence sufficient to show (1) that a current disability exists and (2) that the current disability was either (a) proximately caused by or (b) proximately aggravated by a service-connected disability.  In this case, attorney Mandy Kelly was able to provide the Board of Veterans’ Appeals with medical literature and a well-reasoned medical opinion supporting the conclusion that current medical research indicates that those who suffer a TBI are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

A Board of Veterans’ Appeals Decision from July 2021 ultimately determined that the Veteran’s Parkinson’s disease was proximately due to his service-connected TBI.  The lawyers at Disability Law Group understand that a favorable decision like this one can give a veteran comfort in knowing that if something happens to him, continuing benefits for a surviving spouse will be there. If you, or someone you know, suffers from a TBI or Parkinson’s disease, and believe it was caused by service, contact Disability Law Group today for your free consultation. Our attorneys and staff specialize strictly in disability benefits, and we will fight to help you win every benefit you deserve. Whether you were already denied or if you would like advice from the very start, contact us today and speak with one of our attorneys to understand your rights and get the representation that you need.