VA readies spigot of payments – Retroactive Benefits

September 3, 2010
New Agent Orange Presumptons and Retroactive Benefits to 1985, Nehmer v. DVA
Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: Agent orange; AO; retroactive benefits; 1985; Nehmer v. DVA; — veteranclaims @ 5:16 pm
We strongly urge all veteran with a previous Agent orange claim, to make sure that they send a written reminder to their local VA Regional Office of their previous filing, and request a written reply which advises them of the current status of that previous filing.
Also, because given the shredding of records and such and that these original claims may be over 25 years old, there is no telling what remains in your claim file regarding that original filing, so get a copy of the records and get legal help. If your previous claim was denied, you may be able to secure legal representation.

“Because of a 25-year-old court ruling, Nehmer v. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA must review claims previously filed for these diseases and make payments retroactive to the claim date, or to the date of the Nehmer ruling, Sept. 25, 1985, whichever is later.

The 93,000 veterans and survivors so far identified as having filed a claim for one of these diseases don’t need to file another, said Pamperin. “We are going to review those cases on our own…back to the earliest date they claimed that disability — but not earlier than Nehmer — and will award benefits from that date.”

Full Article at: With new ‘AO’ rule out, VA readies spigot of payments
By Tom Philpott
Special to Stars and Stripes
Published: September 3, 2010

“The Department of Veterans Affairs published its final regulation Aug. 31 for compensating Vietnam veterans with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease or B-cell leukemia, or their surviving spouses.

Veterans diagnosed with these diseases only will have to show they stepped foot in Vietnam sometime from Jan. 9, 1962 through May 7, 1975, to qualify for service-connected disability ratings and compensation.”

“RETROACTIVE PAY – Because of a 25-year-old court ruling, Nehmer v. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA must review claims previously filed for these diseases and make payments retroactive to the claim date, or to the date of the Nehmer ruling, Sept. 25, 1985, whichever is later.

The 93,000 veterans and survivors so far identified as having filed a claim for one of these diseases don’t need to file another, said Pamperin. “We are going to review those cases on our own…back to the earliest date they claimed that disability — but not earlier than Nehmer — and will award benefits from that date.”

If the veteran is deceased, VA will award back pay to the surviving spouse. If no surviving spouse is found, the National Veterans Legal Services Program, which litigated the Nehmer decision, will help to identify someone else who might be eligible for the benefits.

Besides disability pay, back payments could include Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for the widow, enhanced burial benefits if a veteran’s death was due to a service-connected condition, and 36-months of education benefit to a spouse or a child, no matter what age the child is today, if the veteran was 100-percent disabled at time of death.

If veterans or survivors are worried the VA will not identified them as eligible for retroactive payments, they can file a new claim, Pamperin said.

“We are doing a data run against our corporate record, and some of these corporate records are limited to six diagnostic codes. So we’ve done the best we can with the resources we have to identify people,” he said.

Diana Rubens said 1000 staffers at 13 regional officers, including 326 specially-trained rating specialists, are working only on Nehmer claims, which can involve complex calculations and long searches for next of kin.

RECENT CLAIMS – 60,000 veterans and survivors who have filed claims for the three diseases since last October also will receive Nehmer protection in that payment will be made back to the date of the claim.

Every VA service center and regional office is working to develop and process these claims for payment sometime after Oct. 30.

“Our goal is to spend the next couple of months setting up as many claims as possible for payments as quickly as possible,” Rubens said.

FUTURE CLAIMS – If veterans or survivors planning to submit a new Agent Orange claim can show they had one of these diseases diagnosed on or before Aug. 31 this year, and if they file their claim before Aug. 30, 2011, it will be payable back to Aug. 31, 2010, the date the regulation took effect. Otherwise, payment date will be the date an approved claim was filed.

Pamperin advises veterans to gather medical records from private doctors so VA won’t need to schedule new exams to confirm their diseases.

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