On August 9th, 2017, Doug Friedman will present at First Protective’s Advanced Planning Symposium, held in New Orleans. Doug’s presentation, “Sales Ideas from an Advanced Sales Attorney,” will discuss sales ideas based on cases we work on with agents.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have partnered to create a more cost efficient, secure way to help Veterans who apply for social security disability. This initiative is anticipated to significantly speed up the disability decisions for Veterans by allowing the SSA to access medical records electronically rather than through a manual process.
The Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) program gives the VA and participating community providers access to Veterans’ health information for purposes of treatment. Now, the SSA will have access to this program for purposes of processing benefits for Veterans and their dependents.
This partnership is a step in the right direction to better assist our Veterans.
Full Article Link: http://bit.ly/2fCPBbl
Please feel free to contact our office at 1-800-728-0434 if you have any questions regarding Veterans Disability or Social Security Disability Law.
On Friday, November 4th, Friedman Law Firm, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety, will be hosting the Veterans Disability Symposium at the Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, AL.
To register, visit the website below. http://www.soph.uab.edu/dsc/DisabilityforVeterans_2016
A limited number of scholarships are available. For more information, please contact our office at 205-879-3033.
This event will discuss the expectations of veterans who are disabled, how to respond to those expectations, and what makes the veterans different during the treatment process. It will include a review and update on resources for veterans, including innovative research on traumatic brain injury, vet-centered return-to-work initiative, and a new centralized community website.
Our list of topics and speakers include:
- Latest Developments at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert T. Reynolds, Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Back to Work Initiatives, Charles J. Sevola Jr., Vice President, Veterans Initiatives, Prudential Financial, Inc.
- Veteran Aid and Attendance, William Nolan, Esq., Nolan Elder Law and Estate Planning, LLC
- Long Term Disability Insurance, Craig Costa, Service/Sales Support, The Hartford and Michael Cleveland, Disability Risk Consulting Group
- Homeless and Veterans with Special Needs, Anne Darden Wright, Executive Director, The Firehouse Shelter
- United Way – Community Website- Consolidation of Information for Veterans Service, Lula Skowronek, LCSW, Executive Director, Priority Veteran
- Access and Helping Veterans, An Overview of Programs, Alisha Stanton, Social Work Chief, Birmingham VA Medical Center
- Appeals Process for Veterans, Cheryl Carroll, Decision Review Officer, VA Regional Office, Montgomery, AL
- Innovative, Home-based Treatment for PTSD, Barbara Swicegood Fisher, Founder of Clearview Therapeutic
- TBI Brave Initiative Project, Andrea Taylor, Research Assistant, UAB Brave Initiative Project
Professional points will be available for nursing contact hours and Social Work CEUs.
Doug Friedman Writes Open Letter to Alabama Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions About Bill Passed by House That Would Reform the VA Appeals ProcessThursday, September 22, 2016
September 21, 2016
Dear Senator Shelby,
Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016. This bill reforms the process for veterans to appeal their VA disability compensation claims.
My law office represents hundreds of veterans for their disability compensation claims, and we speak with many more about their potential cases each month. If nothing else we inform them of their rights and the proper procedures to claim their benefits. We have deep knowledge and experience about these matters and are concerned that any legislation treat the veterans fairly. We do not seek anything for them other than the benefits they deserve, and the protection of the rights they served our country to protect.
While I recognize the need for appeals reform, the reform measures endorsed by VA do not adequately protect veterans’ due process rights. So, I do not support the legislation as currently written. Here are three major concerns:
- The legislation in its current form will discourage a veteran from exercising the right to judicial review before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Specifically, the legislation does not extend effective date relief to CAVC decisions. VA has also taken the position that a veteran cannot seek review before the CAVC of a Board of Veterans Appeals denial and simultaneously submit new evidence before VA to preserve the original effective date. If VA’s intent is fulfilled, it would force a veteran to choose between seeking review of legal error in the BVA decision or filing a supplemental claim in hope of preserving the effective date. This result is not only contrary to the veteran-friendly scheme designed by Congress, but it also potentially prevents the Court from correcting prejudicial legal errors, e.g., statutory violations and misinterpretations of law.
- The legislation does not provide for effective docket management. Specifically, a veteran who chooses to submit new evidence before BVA, but who does not want a personal hearing, will be forced to wait with those veterans who are requesting a hearing. BVA currently has a backlog of over 70,000 hearing requests and can usually accommodate only about 11,000 hearings per year. Veterans who only want to submit new evidence will be unfairly delayed.
- The legislation does not provide a realistic plan for how the more than 450,000 pending appeals will be handled in a timely and fair fashion.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to have your offices contact me. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Douglas I. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm, P.C.
On Monday the VA proposed a rule which, if enacted, would allow service-connection for several conditions if a vet served at Camp Lejeune from 1953-1987. The change would allow veterans, reservists, and National Guard who served at Camp Lejeune during this period to receive compensation based upon a presumption that they were exposed to contaminated water. The conditions expected to be covered include:
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Adult Leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Aplastic Anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune during this period and have one of the listed conditions, contact us at (800) 728-0434 for information about applying for benefits.
Friedman Law Firm, PC and the Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety will host a symposium Friday, November 6, 2015 at the Lakeshore Foundation. This symposium will discuss the expectations of veterans who are disabled, how to respond to those expectations, and what makes the veterans different during the treatment process. Individuals from the private and non-governmental sectors will discuss their approach to meeting their clients’ needs, and sharing lessons learned with our attendees. Our panels include well-respected leaders from the medical, non-profit, social issues, legal community and the Department of Veterans Affairs. There will be opportunities for questions and answers from our expert panelists and networking opportunities with those attending the symposium. This event is free and open to the public.
Visit http://www.soph.uab.edu/dsc/Veterans2015 for more information and to register for this event.
Doug Friedman and Jessica Friedman hosted a workshop at the 106th Annual International Claims Association Education Conference held in Las Vegas on September 27th through the 29th. The ICA conference is the leading educational conference in the life and health claims industry.
The workshop educated insurance and advocacy groups about how veterans claims are different and how to treat veterans during the claims process. To illustrate how veterans feel and to gain a better understanding of what veterans really need, the Friedmans showed a video interview of two of our clients.
The Friedmans also took some of the staff with them to run an exhibit booth to educate potential partners about the services that we offer and how important it is to have someone that knows the law and the claims process and can treat veterans clients with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We recently persuaded Social Security to award disability benefits to a woman who suffered from Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Restless Leg Syndrome.
Her application had been denied, so she appealed and requested a hearing before an administrative law judge. We ended up having five hearings in this case. This is what happened.
The first time the judge abruptly ended the hearing and said that he wanted to call a medical expert to testify. The second time the judge abruptly ended the hearing and said that there was not enough time to finish taking testimony from the medical expert. The third time we finished, but in spite of favorable testimony from the medical expert, and strongly favorable opinions from the treating physicians, the judge denied the appeal.
During these hearings the judge offered a closed period of benefits – – meaning that he agreed that our client was disabled, but that her disability had ended and was not ongoing. The client refused the offer because she was still suffering from an ongoing disability. Instead of issuing a partially favorable decision for the closed period the judge denied the whole case.
We appealed to the Appeals Council. The AC has a large backlog, and it took about two years for the case to be considered. But, the AC agreed that the judge was wrong, and remanded the case for further proceedings – – unfortunately, still before the same judge.
So, we asked the judge to recuse himself and let another judge decide the case. This request was denied, but during the fourth hearing, the judge granted this request. The case was assigned to another judge.
We returned to the hearing office for the fifth time. A medical expert and a vocational expert were present to testify. The medical expert testified that in his opinion the client’s medical condition equaled a Listed Impairment. This meant that the client’s medical condition was severe enough so that she should be found disabled on medical considerations alone, without regard to vocational factors such as her age, education and work history. Thankfully, the judge agreed and the case was awarded.
This client is an excellent example of how important it is to keep appealing your case, and not giving up. By doing so the client is expected to receive about four years of past-due benefits – – benefits that would not be paid to her if she gave up, or if she had accepted the judge’s offer of a closed period.
If you have any questions about Social Security hearings, or if you would like help in the appeals process feel free to contact us.
If a veteran is dissatisfied with their VA disability rating, they can appeal the decision. During the appeals process, the veteran can request a hearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) if they are displeased with the decision they received from the Decision Review Officer (DRO). The prospect of having a hearing before the BVA makes many veterans anxious and distressed because they do not know what to expect.
It is normal to feel some anxiety about unfamiliar things, but these hearings are designed to be an informal hearing to give the BVA a better understanding of the veteran’s case. An attorney is not required to be present at the hearing, but it is extremely beneficial to have an attorney as a guide through the process and to make sure that the case is presented in a favorable manner for the veteran.
A notice of the hearing will come in the mail with the hearing date and time about a month in advance. Hearings are usually held in a small room located at the VA Regional Office, not the commonly anticipated courtroom. The only people present are the veteran, their attorney, and the judge. The judge will be present in person or on a monitor during a video teleconference.
The hearing will begin by the judge explaining the procedure. Then the attorney will ask questions in the form of conversational talk that provides the judge with more information about the case. Questions that will be asked will be about military service, work history, and their daily activities that their disabilities affect. If necessary, the attorney will submit additional evidence such as medical records or photographs. Sometimes the judge will ask some follow-up questions.
The hearing usually takes less than an hour. Once the hearing is complete, the transcript of the hearing is sent to the judge and a decision is usually determined within several months.
If you have a hearing notice or just have questions about hearings, feel free to call us. You are under no obligation and we will be happy to answer your questions.
The VA announced on August 3, 2015 that it will start the process of amending its regulations to establish presumptions of service connection for certain conditions resulting from exposure to contaminated drinking water at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
This is in addition to the healthcare that the VA already provides for eligible Veterans who have one of 15 conditions and were stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987. VA also provides reimbursement of healthcare expenses for those 15 conditions to eligible family members who resided at Camp Lejeune during that time period.
The diseases that are currently being reviewed for potential presumptive service connection include kidney cancer, angiosarcoma of the liver, and acute myelogenous leukemia. These conditions are known to be related to long-term exposure to the chemicals (Benzene, Vinyl Chloride, Trichloroethylene and Perchloroethylene) that were in the water at Lejeune from the 1950s through 1987.
The VA has published information about Camp Lejeune at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/. To register for notifications about Camp Lejeune drinking water go to https://clnr.hqi.usmc.mil/clwater.
If you have any questions about applying for the benefits that you deserve please call us toll free at 800-728-0434 or email at email@example.com.