Black & Jones Win Service-Connected Compensation Benefits for a Veteran
United States veterans are crucial to American life as we know it. These men and women risked their lives to protect our freedom and ensure our values and way of life is preserved. To each of them, we owe a debt that cannot be repaid. When these hardworking men and women return home, they deserve our thanks and our help. Yet, oftentimes, our systems and government leave veterans alone, confused and without necessary help. That is why Black & Jones Attorneys at Law began representing veterans seeking service-connected compensation benefits.
A Victory for Veterans
Recently we represented a veteran that served in the Republic of Vietnam. During his time in Vietnam, he was exposed to herbicides. Many years later, he developed a range of heart-related conditions like hypertension, carotid artery stenosis, atrial fibrillation and bradycardia. He applied for service-connected compensation alleging that these conditions were related to his exposure to herbicides. The Veterans Benefits Administration denied his claim.
Black & Jones stepped in and filed an appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. Following a hearing with the administrative law judge, Tracy Jones submitted a brief and additional evidence to the judge. After receipt of the same, the BVA issued a decision in favor of the veteran, finding that the veteran’s condition was essentially ischemic heart disease (IDH) and found that it was presumptively connected to herbicide exposure in Vietnam.
Black & Jones is instrumental in obtaining a positive outcome for veterans. After filing the appeal and obtaining a hearing date, we:
- Prepare the veteran for the hearing
- Go over what to expect at the hearing, what types of questions will be asked, what the issues are and what is important to make clear for the record
- Review the medical evidence that the judge has
- Prepare the veteran on how to respond to things in the records
We are also present at the hearing to ask the veteran specific questions to ensure the record is complete and that the veteran is able to tell the judge all of the important information.
Next Steps & a Medical Nexus Letter
In addition to representing the veteran at the hearing with the administrative law judge, Black & Jones obtains any necessary medical records to submit into evidence. Oftentimes, like in this case, the VA fails to obtain all the pertinent medical records even if the veteran informs them of their existence. We make sure to review the VA’s claims file and determine what records are missing. Sometimes it is necessary to encourage the veteran to go back to the doctor to obtain additional documentation about their condition. Black & Jones then obtains all the relevant records and submits them to the BVA for consideration.
In this gentleman’s case, Tracy Jones also determined that it was necessary to get a medical nexus letter. A veteran has the obligation to prove that they have a medical condition that is related to their service. Some conditions can be presumptively linked to service, which means that you need only show that the veteran served in a specific location and that the veteran has been diagnosed with a specific medical condition.
In such a claim, you do not need a medical opinion that there is a connection between the condition and the service, as it is “presumed” to exist by law. For most conditions, however, it is necessary to get a medical expert to write a letter that states the veteran’s condition is related to their service. In this particular case, although we alleged his condition was presumptively connected, it strengthened the case tremendously to get an opinion to clarify his diagnosis and to state there was a link. When necessary, Black & Jones will get that additional medical opinion to support the case for a veteran.
Following the hearing, Black & Jones will submit a letter or brief to the BVA outlining the evidence and testimony. We will also outline the statutory and case law that supports a finding in favor of the veteran. A clear, concise legal argument with supporting medical and testimony evidence is crucial in obtaining a victory for a veteran.
Your Experience is Valid
Veterans are often told they can file for service-connected disability benefits on their own and that the system is there to help them. But in reality, their chances of prevailing are greatly increased by obtaining an experienced attorney to help. If you have been denied service-connected compensation benefits or think you may be entitled to benefits, call Black & Jones Attorneys at Law at (815) 967-9000 or fill out this form for a free consultation to see how we can help you too!