News

2022 Social Security Benefits to Increase

December 3, 2021

In 2022, Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payouts will increase by 5.9% for more than 70 million Americans.

According to an article published by the Social Security Administration, “Federal benefit rates increase when the cost-of-living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). The CPI-W rises when inflation increases, leading to a higher cost-of-living. This change means prices for goods and services, on average, are more expensive, so the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) helps to offset these costs.”

COLA notices will be mailed to retirement, survivors, and disability beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and representative payees in December.

 

Categories: Social Security Disability News

Author: Michael Brown





Benefits for Veteran Burn Pit Victims Expands

November 12, 2021

After years of lobbying, a new benefit has finally been approved for veterans affected by the smoke emited from burn pits.

According to an article published by Federal News Network, “The Veterans Benefits Administration is about to start paying disability benefits for those exposed to fumes from burn pits in the Middle East as far back as the Gulf War. Payments will go to those with asthma, rhinitis, or sinusitis.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Disability News

Author: Matthew Brown





When and Why to See Your Doctor – Advice from Michael J. Brown, Esq.

October 28, 2021

I have always been a big fan of family doctors. It is the family doctor who gives us our flu shots and generally keeps us well. Sometimes it is our family doctor who yells at us when we do not keep our cholesterol or weight where it should be. But it is the family doctor who, if you visit them every three months, know if there is a change in your physical condition before you even say “good morning”. Medicine is not just a science, but also an art form. In order to get the most out of the art, we have to let the artist know what is happening with us.

In many of the medical records, I review I note that the doctor reports “patient states no change in the condition”. They say they are “feeling fine and there are no new complaints”. This is wonderful if you are 25 years old and are there for your yearly wellness visit. However, if you are a diabetic, or a heart patient, or suffering from venous insufficiency, it is important that your doctor knows about how these conditions affect you during the day or week.

Are your legs sore when walking? Do you get leg cramps at night? Are you going to the bathroom more often or in the middle of the night? Do you become short of breath climbing the front steps to your home? Any one of these symptoms may mean nothing. Perhaps you are just “getting older” but it is worth mentioning to your doctor, not only may he/she be able to easily treat the condition if he/she knows about it early, but it also paints a clear picture of your medical history, and provides a more detailed longitude history for your doctors in the future.

So, my medical advice, as a lawyer, is to see your doctor once every three months and to tell him/her what is bothering you.

Categories: Social Security Disability News, Veterans Disability News

Author: Michael Brown





More than 2,000 Additional Claims Processors Hired to Help with VA backlog

October 15, 2021

Veterans Affairs officials are hiring in excess of 2,000 additional claims processors to help cope with the increase in backlogged cases, the biggest that the department has experienced in seven years.

According to an article published by MilitaryTimes.com, “Department officials are also planning to use mandatory overtime for thousands of already-working claims staff and emergency coronavirus pandemic funding to help stem the problem. Even with that, Veterans Benefits Administration officials expect it to take two and a half years to bring the backlog back down to pre-pandemic levels. But they also are insisting veterans waiting on their claims to be processed should not panic.”

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Michael Brown





Toxic Exposure Legislation Expected to be Passed in 2021

September 24, 2021

Two Congressmen stated that they are positive that the bill to provide benefits to veterans affected by burn pits will be passed this year.

According to an article published by Connecting Vets, “Two bills are currently before Congress that address the health care implications of veterans exposed to toxins. On the Senate side, the Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act of 2021 would provide generations of veterans suffering from toxic exposures their due benefits and care for the first time in VA history. The legislation recently passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in markup unanimously and was introduced by committee chairman Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).”

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA Disability Deadline Extended for Gulf War Vets

September 22, 2021

The deadline for Gulf War veterans to claim presumptive disability for Gulf War Syndrome and other service-related illnesses has been extended.

According to an article published by Military.com, “While there is no time limit for claiming disability benefits from the VA in normal circumstances, some presumptive conditions do come with time restrictions…To qualify as disabling, a covered illness must have caused illness or symptoms in the veteran for at least six months…Originally the VA was scheduled to stop awarding benefits to new Gulf War veterans with a related disability diagnosis that was given after Dec. 31, 2021. However, the VA has extended that cutoff date to Dec. 31, 2026.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA Disability Claims Backlog to Increase this Fall

September 20, 2021

The number of first-time disability claims that have been waiting for decisions for months has now exceeded 215,000 nearly triple what it was in early 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

According to an article published by Military Times, “Veterans Affairs officials don’t know how bad the backlog of veteran disability claims will get this fall, but they know it’s getting worse. In a press conference with reporters on Wednesday, VA Secretary Denis McDonough acknowledged that the problem is going to get worse before it gets better. “We anticipate the backlog to further increase this fall as we process claims for new presumptive conditions from the Vietnam and Gulf wars…“We’re in the field fulfilling those claims now. But we want to keep warning our veterans about what to expect, so they see what’s coming in the same way that we do.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Michael Brown





Huge VA Records Backlog Addressed in Federal Spending Bill

September 3, 2021

Due to the gigantic backlog of records requests caused by the pandemic, Congress is deliberating on providing an additional $60 million to help address the problem.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “Most service records prior to 2004 are not digitized and could not be accessed remotely while federal workers were ordered to work from home for months during the pandemic. Millions of veteran records only exist on paper. The backlog reached a peak of half a million requests in May 2021, according to William Bosanko, Chief Operating Officer at the National Archives and Records Administration. On Thursday the House Oversight and Reform Committee approved the new funds as part of a $3.5 trillion social spending bill expected to be considered later this fall.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Wolf and Brown News

Author: Matthew Brown





Senate Backs Big Boost in VA’s $270 Billion Budget

August 11, 2021

Last week, Senate appropriators supported the White House on plans for another considerable boost for theDepartment of Veterans Affairs funding next year.

According to an article published by MilitaryTimes.com, “If approved by the full House and Senate later this year, the legislation would boost discretionary spending for Veterans Affairs by nearly 9 percent (to about $113 billion) and raise total department spending to nearly $270 billion next year, the largest in history…$13.1 billion would be set aside for veterans mental health care services, $2.4 billion for expanded telehealth services [and] another $2.5 billion would be set aside for the implementation of VA’s new electronic medical records overhaul plan.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA Expedites Compensation for Select Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits

August 4, 2021

Earlier this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs expedited disability compensation claims for veterans who developed certain conditions as a direct result of exposure to burn pits.

According to an published by Stars and Stripes, “The VA announced it will now process disability claims for those conditions on a presumptive basis, which lowers the amount of evidence that veterans must provide in order to receive benefits. The change applies to veterans who served from Aug. 2, 1990, to now in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, which includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the airspace above these locations. It also applies to veterans who served in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria or Djibouti from Sept. 19, 2001, to now. To qualify, the conditions must have manifested within 10 years of a veteran’s deployment.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown