Veteran's Disability Cases
Attorney Christopher Lyons is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to handle veterans’ disability compensation claims. Heis also admitted to practice before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Mr. Lyons is a member of the Court of Appeals of Veterans Claims Bar Association and the National Organization of Veterans Advocates. He is also a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives. He handles veteran’s claims on a national basis.
Why have an attorney?
Attorney representation in a veteran’s disability case can be very helpful. Veterans’ disability law is a dynamic area of the law. The body of law is growing and it changes quite often. Most of the legal precedents are developed by the Court of Appeals of Veterans Claims and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in their written opinions. Thus, it is helpful to have an attorney on board who can navigate the case law. In addition, an attorney who deals in other areas of disability law such as social security disability can be helpful. I deal with social security disability cases in addition to veterans’ compensation cases. I find that the two areas of law compliment each other and my experience in social security cases is helpful in veterans’ disability cases. In addition, many of my veteran clients can qualify for social security disability and don’t even know it. Furthermore, I find that many of my social security disability clients have VA ratings that can be increased to their benefit.
Many veterans apply for benefits, are rated or denied, and then give up. It is important to utilize the many levels of appeals in veterans law as well as the ability to sometimes reopen or revise claims.
How do the fees work?
Our firm, for the most part, uses the regulatory scheme in which our attorney’s fee agreement provides for our fee to be paid out of 20% of your back benefits if you win your claim (not future benefits). Thus, this is a contingency fee basis. You do not pay fees unless you win and it would be automatically withheld from any retroactive award. No fees would be withheld from future benefits. Our firm would need to be reimbursed for any costs advanced such as fees for medical records or opinions
Some conditions are presumptively service-connected. This means that, if they appear within a certain period of time after service (called the presumptive period), the VA will assume that the disease is service connected. As long as a veteran can show that the disease was severe enough within that period, he or she could get service connection. Presumptive periods vary. They range from one year to any time after service. There are many chronic diseases that are presumptively service connected, such as arthritis, psychoses, and leukemia. In addition, specific ailments are presumptively service connected for veterans who: served in the tropics, were exposed to radiation, were prisoners of war, are veterans of the Persian Gulf War or were exposed to Agent Orange (certain Vietnam veterans).
Some other rules that are helpful to veterans:
- The VA’s duty to assist and to notify veterans was strengthened by the Veterans Claims assistance Act of 2000. This remains one of the most litigated areas of VA law. The VA has a duty to notify the veterans of what is necessary to substantiate his claim and to assist the veteran by obtaining important records, etc.
- Under federal law, the veteran is presumed to have been in good health when he or she entered the service unless there is clear evidence to the contrary. This presumption is important when the VA denies a claim on the grounds that he veteran’s claimed condition existed prior to service. This presumption applies unless the VA can show by clear and convincing evidence that the condition preexisted service.
- Also under federal law, if a veteran is treated in the service for a condition which preexisted service, the condition will be presumed to have been aggravated by service in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary.
If you would like a free telephone consultation regarding your claim, please contact us.
What is required to get VA disability compensation?
In most cases, you will have to persuade the VA of the following three things to establish entitlement to service-connected benefits:
1. You currently have a physical or mental disability.
2. Something happened to you while in the service or shortly after discharge. This could mean that you contracted a disease, suffered an injury, etc. In addition, it may be that you had a condition prior to service that was aggravated during service.
3. There is a link between your disability and what happened to you in service. The event(s) in service may be the direct cause of your disability or your disability may be created or aggravated by a service-connected condition.