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3 Reasons Veterans Should Have a Professional Advocate

3 Reasons Veterans Should Have a Professional Advocate

The number of sad stories of veterans’ benefits getting tied up in the system is not only sad but startling. A quick internet search can lead to story after story of veterans who have struggled to receive the benefits that are owed to them. Robert DiCicco spent his final years battling through the red tape to get his benefits and pay for the bills to his assisted living facility. The sad part is he didn’t live to see it. The benefits he was owed did come through ten days after his death, but they were taken back by the Veteran’s Administration. The DiCicco family had to begin again as his wife was left to fight for the benefits as his beneficiary. The unfortunate part is that these stories are far too common. In fact, many veterans die or give up before they ever receive benefits. Knowing how and finding a professional advocate is a veteran’s best option.

1. Success rates are boosted with a professional advocate.

The National Organization of Veteran’s Advocates, Inc. (NOVA) reports that veterans represented by attorneys have the lowest denial rate in front of the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA). NOVA also notes that veterans with attorney representation are more likely to have their appeals allowed by the BVA. Another great benefit to having an attorney is the Equal Access to Justice Act. This act says that if the attorney wins the appeal, then the government must pay the veteran’s legal fees. Therefore, the attorney gets paid without affecting the veteran’s benefits.

2. Qualified attorneys know their way around the process.

Attorneys who specialize in veteran’s benefits cases understand the process. These attorneys know what paperwork needs to be filed and when. They can also walk the veteran through the process. Attorneys can read and understand the case files and records which can help the veteran maximize their benefits and even find benefits the veteran may not be aware of. After assessing case files, the attorney can determine the most efficient path to take to achieve these goals. In a system where many veterans are waiting years for benefits, there is a huge benefit to using an attorney.

3. Having a professional advocate provides personalized help.

A veteran with an attorney advocating for their case has personalized help. Case managers and people within the system cannot provide this kind of assistance to their clients as they are dealing with a multitude of cases. Attorneys and firms generally only take on the number of cases they have time to give attention to, allowing them to fight on your behalf. In addition, an attorney is able to answer claims related questions the veteran may have in a timely manner. Without an attorney, the only way the veteran can get answers is by calling the VA and often waiting long periods of time for answers. An experienced attorney can also help the client to know what records are needed to support claims and to provide sworn statements when necessary. You can be assured that if the BVA is hearing an appeal, they have an attorney. Therefore, it stands to reason that the veteran would want to even out the playing field by having an attorney as well.

When it comes to something as important as veteran’s benefits, it only makes sense that a veteran is better off with someone who knows the ins and outs of the process. It is the job of the attorney to advocate for their client, but they also provide support and information which is invaluable. If you don’t want to end up like Robert DiCicco and countless others like him, consider getting an attorney as soon as possible to help with your claim.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please call us at 1.800.660.7564 or visit our website:  www.covertlaw.com.

Vocational Rehabilitation: A Powerful Tool for Veterans Wanting to Enter the Civilian Job Market

Vocational Rehabilitation:  A Powerful Tool for Veterans Wanting to Enter the Civilian Job Market

Prospects for veterans looking to enter the job market have drastically increased since the Great Recession. In 2016, the unemployment rate for veterans (4.7%) was actually slightly lower than the rate for the entire population (4.85%). One factor that has contributed to veteran’s success in the workplace is the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) service provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

Through VR&E, eligible veterans or active duty service members are given a wide range of services to assist with job training, employment accommodations, resume development/review, and personalized coaching to assist with job seeking skills. If you want to fan your entrepreneurial flames after returning from duty, VR&E also provides guidance in starting your own business. Lastly, VR&E provides assistance for service members who are severely disabled and unable to work in a traditional work environment.

 

Eligibility requirements for active duty servicemembers:

  • Expect to receive a discharge other than dishonorable when leaving active duty
  • Acquire a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Apply for VR&E services

 

Eligibility requirements for veterans:

  • Discharged with a status other than dishonorable
  • Have the VA declare you have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10%
  • Apply for VR&E services

 

The period of eligibility to register for VR&E services is 12 years from being notified of the latter of either the date of separation from active duty, or date you were first notified of a service-connected disability rating from the VA.

 

After eligibility has been established, you will be directed to a Veterans Resource Center in your area where you will be evaluated to determine your specific abilities and needs. This evaluation includes an assessment of your interests, aptitudes, abilities, and whether your service-connected disabilities impair your ability to obtain/hold a job. Post-assessment, you will be given vocational-specific training aligned with your interests. You will be assigned a case manager who will be in charge of guiding you through this process. Generally, the case manager will directly instruct you on subjects where he/she has expertise, and provide supervision to other instructors who provide supplementary services.

 

During your evaluation, if it is determined that your service-connected disabilities are too severe to participate in the traditional work environment, you may be provided with independent living services. You can only take advantage of these services for 24 months because they are meant to be a point of rehabilitation to help you transition into the workplace, rather than a place to stay. Some of the benefits provided include: making arrangements for consultations with health professionals, counseling services to aid in determining your individual independent living needs, and providing information for home modification benefits you may be eligible for, such as the Specially Adapted Housing grant.

 

By now, you’re probably thinking that this investment will take up a good chunk of your time, and you may be worried about maintaining an income while participating in this program. Another great feature of VR&E is that you may be eligible for a subsistence allowance provided by the VA. The amount you receive depends on your rate of attendance in the program, the number of dependents, and the type of training. To view the different rates, click here.

 

VR&E is just one of the many opportunities offered to veterans seeking to enter the civilian job market. If you would like to learn more about other programs, or need assistance in understanding your rights if you are a disabled veteran, please do not hesitate to contact our office.  Give us a call at 1.800.660.7564 or visit our website:  www.covertlaw.com.

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NEIL R. COVERT, Attorney at Law

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1.800.660.7564

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