Veterans Disability Benefits

Veterans Face Higher Risk of Asbestos Lung Cancer

by Norris Injury Lawyers | November 10th, 2015

Members of the United States armed forces put their lives on the line to protect our country and it’s citizens from harm each and every day. The dangers these soldiers face aren’t always a foreign enemy, though. In fact, the threat is sometimes right under their noses.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in many industrial products and materials. Exposure to asbestos can cause an individual to develop several deadly forms of cancer. While asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma are commonly reported, so are forms of the disease that affect the stomach, colon, and throat.

Soldiers and veterans tend to be at a higher risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates veterans account for roughly 30 percent of 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma that are reported each year. They also account for around the same percentage of all annual asbestos-related deaths. This is due to the military’s extensive use of products containing asbestos over the past 50 years.

Veterans who have been exposed to asbestos should be aware of their legal rights to compensation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs outline the eligibility requirements and steps to apply for compensation on their website. However, sometimes claims for benefits stemming from asbestos exposure are denied.

If you find yourself in this situation, it may be wise to speak with a Birmingham veterans benefits lawyer. Doing so can help clarify the legal process of appealing your case and can help ensure any questions you have are answered.

Gay Soldiers Seeking VA Disability Benefits Petition for Upgrades In Discharge Status

by Norris Injury Lawyers | September 29th, 2015

In order for a veteran to receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, he or she must have received an honorable discharge from service. But until four years ago, thousands of service members were kicked out of the military because of their sexual preference, which prevents them from receiving benefits. The Birmingham veterans disability lawyers at Norris Injury Lawyers explain that now with the repeal of our nation’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, many veterans who were less than honorably discharged are seeking to have their military statuses updated.

Between 1941-2011, as many as 100,000 soldiers were less-than-honorably discharged from military service due to their sexuality. Many of those soldiers endure public and private humiliation detailed in an article from CNBC News.

Current laws allow for an upgrade in discharge status for soldiers discharged after being deemed homosexual. However, the veteran must prove there were no “aggravating” circumstances surrounding the discharge. Lawmakers are currently considering a bill called the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which would grant upgrades to anyone who was discharged from military service because of their sexuality, regardless of the circumstances.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, we have seen the impact that veterans disability benefits can have on the lives of former soldiers. Our Alabama personal injury lawyers are hopeful to see changes to the law that help deserving veterans get the benefits they need.

The Dangers of Toxic Exposure at Fort McClellan

by Norris Injury Lawyers | September 15th, 2015

The soldiers who serve our country face many dangers in the line of duty. However, one of the most dangerous and unrecognized hazards service members may face is exposure to harmful substances. Whether it’s radiation, bio hazardous materials, or toxic chemicals, the Birmingham environmental injury lawyers at Norris Injury Lawyers say it’s important to warn our veterans of the health risks they may be facing if they served at Fort McClellan here in Alabama.

Fort McClellan was a U.S. Army installation constructed in 1917. The facility was closed in 1999, but many toxic chemicals were present during the years leading up to the base’s decommission. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has identified three common potential health hazards soldiers serving at Fort McClellan may face, including exposure to radioactive compounds and chemical warfare agents.

Another hazard soldiers stationed at Fort McClellan faced came from the Monsanto chemical plant located just down the road from the base. Data indicates harmful polychlorinated biphenyls were released into the air from the plant, causing harm to those stationed at the base.

Veterans who experience adverse health events as a result of toxic exposure at Fort McClellan may be eligible to receive veterans disability benefits. However, getting approved for benefits can be complicated. That’s why the legal team at Norris Injury Lawyers suggests speaking with a legal representative if your claim for veterans disability benefits has been denied in the past.


Camp Lejeune Veterans May Now Qualify for Disability Benefits

by Norris Injury Lawyers | August 18th, 2015

For more than 30 years, the water at a United States Marine Corps base in North Carolina was contaminated with toxic chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals resulted in many soldiers and veterans developing serious health conditions.

The Birmingham veterans’ disability lawyers at Norris Injury Lawyers explain that over the span of three decades, many of those  affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have moved all across the country. But now, these individuals may soon qualify for the veterans’ disability benefits they have struggled to receive.

The Huffington Post reports that the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has announced the agency will begin reforming the way benefits are distributed to service members harmed by water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Under the previous rules, veterans filing claims related to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune had to have their case examined by special experts. As a result, only one in 20 claims received approval. Now, claims will no longer have to go through this step, and 15 different illnesses can be linked to the water at the base.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, our Birmingham personal injury attorneys are hopeful these reforms can quickly put benefits into the hands of veterans who are most in need.


VA Disability Benefits Offered to Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

by Norris Injury Lawyers | July 14th, 2015

A large number of Air Force reservists were exposed to the toxic defoliant known as Agent Orange during Vietnam War era. For decades, many of those individuals have been fighting to get the veterans’ disability benefits they need. The Birmingham veterans disability lawyers at Norris Injury Lawyers explain that battle will be over soon though, as the U.S. government has announced they will be offering benefits to certain soldiers exposed to Agent Orange.

An article from U.S. News & World Report says that between 1969-1986, more than 2,100 Air Force reservists working aboard C-123 aircraft were exposed to unspecified amounts of Agent Orange. The federal government had denied the exposure for decades, but recently agreed as much as $47.5 million in benefits to these vets over the next ten years.

Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to numerous health conditions, including certain cancers, respiratory conditions, and diabetes.

Veterans exposed to Agent Orange are encouraged to file for benefits as soon as possible. If  you’re having trouble getting your veterans disability benefits, our Birmingham personal injury lawyers may be able to help. Give us a call at (800) 477-7510 for a free initial consultation.

Study Examines if Service Animals Can Be Used to Treat PTSD

by Norris Injury Lawyers | May 12th, 2015

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that affects as many as one-third of soldiers who have served overseas. It also happens to be one of the leading conditions that can qualify former service members for veterans disability benefits.

The rate at which PTSD is being diagnosed in veterans has prompted researchers to look into new and innovative ways to treat the condition, including the use of service animals to help patients control their condition.

According to the Military Times, a team of researchers at Purdue University is working to determine if having a service dog on hand can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD under certain circumstances. The study will measure stress levels, medication levels and types, relationships, and quality of life of 50 veterans with service dogs and 50 without trained companions.

Those results will then be used to determine if service animals could be of benefit to former soldiers suffering from mental conditions like PTSD. Currently, only veterans with physical disabilities are eligible to receive a service animal.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, we recognize the countless struggles many veterans face with their health on a daily basis, and our Birmingham personal injury lawyers are hopeful the findings from this particular study can be used to improve the care these individuals receive.

Changes Made to Veterans Disability Benefits Claims Processing

by Norris Injury Lawyers | March 31st, 2015

For any former service member who cannot work because of a mental or physical condition related to his or her time in the military, the process of applying for veterans disability benefits can be complicated. The government is hoping to alleviate some of these complications by formalizing the application process.

Previous laws allowed veterans to inform the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to receive disability benefits by simply writing a note outlining their intentions. If a veteran’s application for benefits was approved, his or her benefit payments would be backdated to the date they requested assistance.

An article from the Portland Press Herald explains that under laws adopted last week, a veteran must submit a standardized application for benefits. If the application is approved, benefits would only be backdated to the day the application was submitted and not to the date the veteran first declares his or her desire for benefits.

While some say the new process will help alleviate the backlog of claims, others claim the new system will inhibit some veterans—including the elderly and those with certain disabilities—from being able to submit their requests for veterans disability benefits in a timely manner.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, we know how frustrating the veterans disability benefits process can be, and our Birmingham personal injury lawyers are hopeful changes to the application process will have a positive impact for all veterans.


Alabama Advocacy Group Visits D.C. to Fight for Veterans’ Rights

by Norris Injury Lawyers | March 17th, 2015

United States military service members are entitled to certain benefits and services for defending our country. One of these programs is veterans disability benefits. However, hundreds of thousands of veterans are struggling as they await decisions on their claims. Some veterans wait months, years, and in some cases, decades to receive an approval or denial.

Luckily, a group of Alabama veterans are fighting for the rights of their brothers and sisters in arms as part of American Veterans’ (AMVETS) “Storm The Hill” campaign. They recently visited Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about the issues many soldiers and veterans face today.

An article from The News-Courier stated the group dropped off packages of literature regarding the need for VA healthcare reform at the offices of seven Alabama representatives and our state’s two senators. AMVETS also advocated to end discrimination against veterans in the workplace.

While the group did not speak to lawmakers face to face, plans were made for an opportunity in the near future.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, we recognize the daily struggles many veterans face in overcoming illnesses and injuries related to their service to our country. That’s why our Birmingham personal injury lawyers are hopeful AMVETS recent visit to Washington, D.C. was effective in raising awareness about the issues affecting veterans today.

Soldiers Mired Down in Veterans Disability Appeals Process

by Norris Injury Lawyers | February 3rd, 2015

When soldiers or veterans are left unable to work because of medical conditions related to their service, they may be entitled to veterans disability benefits. But a majority of claims are initially denied, and this can leave veterans to wade through the veterans disability appeals process.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported last week that more than half of all veterans disability claims are reviewed numerous times before decisions are issued or other cases are evaluated. This process is leaving many veterans waiting years for decisions on their claims.

According to an article from the Washington Times, there are more than 300,000 veterans awaiting decisions on their appeals. The issue has prompted lawmakers and veteran advocates to call for changes to the system.

Some of the reforms being considered include hiring more claims processors and awarding incentives to employees with the highest accuracy rates. Still others have called for teleconferencing to be allowed for appeal hearings so as to reduce the need to coordinate schedules and transportation.

Until these changes are made, veterans will continue to struggle to get the benefits they’re owed. The most important thing for these individuals to know is that help is available.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, our team of Birmingham personal injury lawyers knows the countless difficulties a disabled veteran can encounter and we are hopeful changes are made soon to get these true American heroes the care they need in a timely manner.

How Are Veterans Disability Benefits Determined?

by Norris Injury Lawyers | January 6th, 2015

A growing number of soldiers are seeking medical attention for disabling injuries and medical conditions. Many of these individuals will qualify for veterans disability benefits, but understanding how these benefits work can be difficult.

The most important thing to understand about veterans disability benefits is that they are based on the level of an individual’s disability. In other words, those who are completely disabled receive more compensation than those considered partially disabled.

Another factor that can affect the amount of benefits that disabled veterans receive is their number of dependents. Disabled veterans with children, parents, or spouses who depend on them for income will get more benefits than disabled veterans without dependents. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides a veterans disability benefit rate table to show soldiers the monthly payments they can expect to get based on these and other factors.

Understanding how benefit payments are determined is only half the battle though. First, you must first be approved for benefits. This process can be complex and confusing. If you’ve been denied veterans benefits, a knowledgeable attorney may be able to help get your claim approved.

At Norris Injury Lawyers, we have experience handling veterans disability benefits cases. If you need help appealing your veterans disability benefits denial, our team of Birmingham personal injury attorneys wants to help—just dial (888) 318-4245 for a free consultation today.