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Wounded Warrior Project Livestream Interview with VA Undersecretary Dr. Paul Lawrence

May 22, 2020

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) recently hosted a livestream interview between WWP Financial Wellness Vice President Tom Kastner and VA Undersecretary of Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence about the hurdles that the COVID-19 pandemic presents for veterans benefits processing.

According to an article published by Cision PR Newswire, Lawrence was quoted as saying, “With the onset of COVID-19, we put a stop to in-person C&P tests on April 2. [The] reality of the situation is that there are a lot of folks we have to see in person when it comes to testing, so we are working with some of our medical vendors to expedite this. Veterans should expect a communication on this within a month. But I want to make clear — if you miss a C&P exam because you don’t want to leave your house, we will not deny your claim, and you will not lose your place in line.”

Lawrence continued by saying that the veterans benefits administration will continue to conduct disability exam testing virtually and that this process may continue after the pandemic.

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Matthew Brown





Report Shows Vietnam-era Veterans on Guam Exposed to Agent Orange

May 20, 2020

A recent report by the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School stated that veterans who served on Guam between 1962 and 1975 are now eligible to make a valid claim for service-related toxic exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “The veterans meet the legal standard for exposure, said the review of government, private, archival and oral history evidence of herbicide use on Guam during the Vietnam era. Past claims based on service on the island have been rejected by the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Bart Stichman, executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, in a statement issued with the report on May 11.”

Stichman continued by saying, “It is time that the VA acknowledges the strong evidence of toxic herbicide exposure in Guam and care for veterans exposed,”

Relevant Pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Matthew Brown





Select VA Clinics Reopen for Non-Coronavirus Care

May 19, 2020

The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun to implement a “phased approach” to resuming regular VA healthcare by offering non-emergency services at 20 VA medical centers across the country.

According to an article published by Military Times, “Fourteen of the 20 of the sites reopening operations have at least one patient still actively receiving treatment for the fast-spreading illness. In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the “lead sites” will help to inform officials on how other facilities can expand services in coming weeks and months.”

Wilkie continued by saying, “The safety of veterans and staff is the highest priority when we consider how we provide health care services and procedures during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic…[The] VA will take into account guidance from various agencies including federal, state, and local government as we gradually expand health care services.”

Relevant Pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





Advocates Say Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Need Health Care, Not Lists

May 13, 2020

Recently the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that more than 200,000 people were registered on the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. Advocacy groups responded by saying that veterans exposed to airborne toxins need improved health care, not extensive lists.

According to Stars and Stripes, “The military used burn pits as waste disposal sites on bases primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of most of the trash created there, which included diesel generators, medical waste, computers and day-to-day trash from service members. The smoke generated from the pits contained toxins that can cause short- and long-term health complications. The registry, which began in June 2014, allows veterans and service members who deployed to certain regions in Southwest Asia as early as 1990 to self-report their exposures and health concerns in an online questionnaire that can be used to initiate discussions of health concerns, according to the VA’s news release about reaching more than 200,000 registrants.”

Relevant Pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





Veterans Advocates Worry VA Will Not Keep Up With Mental Health Demands

May 12, 2020

A new campaign was recently launched by the Department of Veterans Affairs called the “Now is the Time” campaign aimed at informing veterans and their loved ones of the mental health resources that are available to them. However, some veterans advocacy groups have voiced concern that the VA will not be able to keep up with the ever-growing mental health demand fueled by increased social isolation and unemployment as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “[Veterans’] advocates still are waiting for a report by a White House task force established by President Donald Trump last year that was charged with developing a national road map to boost mental health care and to stem persistently high suicide numbers among veterans, who have been hit hard in the pandemic. Release of the task force report had been scheduled in March but was shelved abruptly due to the outbreak.”

Last week VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced that the draft report was being finalized but did not give a release date.

Relevant Pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





Veterans with Burn Pit Exposure Warned of Additional Coronavirus Health Risks

May 8, 2020

Officials are warning veterans exposed to burn pits that they are at greater risk for respiratory complications related to the coronavirus outbreak. Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., sent a letter to VA officials requesting a more comprehensive virus response for the more than 200,000 persons listed on the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.

According to an article published by Military Times, “Typically full registration in the database includes an in-person exam by a medical professional, but most VA facilities are currently waiving that requirement in light of the ongoing pandemic. Last month, VA officials began sending emails to registry participants to warn them of possible vulnerabilities to coronavirus complications, which include severe respiratory deficiencies and failure.”

Relevant Pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





Last Day for Benefit Recipients to Register Dependents for Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

May 5, 2020

Today is the deadline for all SSI and veterans benefits recipients to register to receive a $500 Coronavirus stimulus check for dependents this year.

According to an article published by Military Times, “Payments, which can total $1,200 per individual and $500 per dependent.” Department of Veterans Affairs officials have also recently published several reminders to alert veterans that they must act by May 5 to ensure their payments get processed this year.

To apply, SSI and veterans benefits recipients must submit their information which includes names, personal and dependents Social Security numbers, mailing address, and bank routing number where the money can be sent.

Relevant Pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Matthew Brown





How COVID-19 Affects People With Disabilitiies

May 1, 2020

The current pandemic has put a focus on previously established and recognized inequalities in society. However, while COVID-19 is extremely complex and affects almost everyone in the country, it is simultaneously is having a greater impact, and in more specific ways, for those individuals with disabilities.

According to an article published by Forbes, those who are disabled and chronically ill, “…are generally at higher risk from COVID-19, both medically and from an array of practical barriers and institutionalization. [Many] disabled people live in nursing homes, group homes, and other centralized “facilities” where isolation is nearly impossible. Not only are they forced to live with not just one or two, but five, ten, a dozen, or hundreds of other people, with few ways to maintain the required physical distance. On top of that, they are cared for not by just one, two, or three aides, but by a rotating group of dozens or scores of staff, all exposed to dozens of other patients, with the attendant potential for exponential spread of any infection.”

Categories: Wolf and Brown News

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





VA Agrees to Study K2 Health Effects



On Monday, Congress was officially notified that the Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to study the health effects and impact of exposure to toxic substances on service members who served at a base in Uzbekistan after the 9/11 attacks.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “The commitment to study the health effects on service members who served at Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan, or “K2,” was outlined in a memo from the VA to the national security subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.”  In an Army study from 2015, it was deduced that K2 veterans who served at the Uzbek base were five times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

Relevant Pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Benefits

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





IRS Extends Deadline for Benefits Recipients Stimulus Checks for Children

April 28, 2020

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced a deadline extension to May 5 for individuals currently receiving Social Security or veterans benefits to inform the agency of any children eligible for a $500 stimulus payment this year.

According to an article published by Military Times, the IRS is planning on “launching a more formal public education campaign about the deadline and their online registration tools to increase awareness among veterans.”

Benefits recipients are no longer required to file 2018 or 2019 tax returns in order to receive the $1,200 stimulus payment but must let the IRS know of any children by May 5 in order to receive the $500 stimulus payment this year. In an article published by The Hill,  IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was stated as saying, “We want to ‘Plus $500’ these groups so they can get their maximum Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 and their $500 for each eligible child as quickly as possible…They’ll get $1,200 automatically, but they need to act quickly and use the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov to get the extra $500 per child added to their payment.”

The payments art part of a $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress in April.

Relevant Pages: Social Security DisabilityVeterans Disability

Categories: Social Security Disability, Veterans Benefits

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices