02 January 2019

Review: Our two goals for C-123 Veterans' Agent Orange Benefits

Simple. A mostly successful seven-year effort. Many folks chipped in funds to help and I never wrote thank-you cards. That is because all I did was work and the contributors know it and know their help was vital.

GOAL ONE. VA designation of C-123 veterans as "presumptively exposed" to Agent Orange, thus entitling us to VA medical care and other benefits.

GOAL TWO: Get our VA disability claims honored from the earliest date submitted, if earlier than what VA limits for retroactivity (June 19 2015 at the earliest.) This is because many C-123 vets had claims in prior to that date, but were met with the then-automatic VA denial. And VA did deny...100% of all our claims were refused.

At least the VA barrier to our retroactive claims has been broken down a little. A handful of C-123 vets had claims approved via BVA appeals (Paul Bailey, Dick Matte) but VA has been firm in limiting retroactive claims to June 19 2015 and no earlier. It has to do with Reservists not being entitled to disability benefits unless disabled during the Reserve duty.

For some, this has cost tens of thousands in anticipated, but denied, "catch-up" checks. An example: a claim submitted in 2007 but denied at the time, then honored by VA once its C-123 rule was published on June 19 2015. If the vet was due a 100% disability rating, that's eight years of compensation VA won't pay...about $200,000 lost by the vet because of VA's limit of retroactivity set at June 2015.

The good news: at least one claim has been awarded retroactive Agent Orange benefits from the date submitted (in this case, March 2011. On the vet's appeal the BVA determined that C-123 exposure itself was a disabling injury that would date from "back in the day" while flying the Provider. That decision meant the affected Reservist satisfied the law's requirements regarding a disabling injury to trigger statutory veteran status, and the claim was honored back to the date the vet first filed for Agent Orange disabilities. That was a lot of money, with thanks due to the National Veterans Legal Services Project and their cooperating pro bono attorneys!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to share? Nothing commercial or off-topic, please.