Public Citizen is handling the lawsuit against the VA on behalf of combat-wounded veterans. The government has failed to meet its obligations to the disabled. Veterans are entitled to receive their medical records without delay. Combat-wounded vets should not be forced to wait hundreds of days to obtain their records. The lawsuit is about fulfilling a promise to veterans, said Public Citizen’s Bart Stichman, co-founder and executive director of NVLSP.
Cowles was diagnosed with service-connected PTSD
William Cowles, 57, was diagnosed with adjustment disorder after serving in the Army National Guard. The Army improperly denied him medical retirement due to a failure to follow proper discharge rules. After two subsequent evaluations, the Army released Cowles and determined that he had service-connected PTSD, a severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder. In response, Cowles filed a lawsuit against the Army for denying him medical retirement and wrongful denial of benefits. The lawsuit seeks to change the Army’s decision to disband Cowles, allowing him to receive half of his educational benefits and $18,000 in retirement.
According to VA statistics, about one in three veterans suffer from some form of PTSD. In addition to mental health issues, PTSD can affect a veteran’s social and occupational activities. Symptoms may include suicidal ideation, speech irregularities, impaired impulse control, and difficulty adapting to stressful situations. According to the VA, a person with PTSD is rated as service-connected if they experience at least one of the following:
For a person to qualify for service-connected PTSD, the symptoms must be present for more than a month, create distress, and impair functional abilities. Additionally, the diagnosis must be medically proven. Evidence that the stressor is linked to current symptoms is necessary for VA to grant a service connection. To get a service-connected PTSD diagnosis, the veteran must have been diagnosed with this disorder by a physician qualified to diagnose PTSD.
Vets’ right to seek redress in federal court
Veteran health care can be difficult to find, but there is a way to get it. The Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (Pub. L. 112-56) amends chapter 21 of the United States Code to establish the term “veterans” and to clarify what constitutes eligibility. This law also requires agencies to treat active duty service members as veterans when offering them a job. However, only a small percentage of these applicants receive this treatment.
The USERRA protects the rights of returning veterans with disabilities. Under the law, employers can’t discriminate against these individuals based on their disability history. The ADA also applies to the treatment of employees in the workplace. This is a legal requirement for veterans and military medical benefits. But this doesn’t mean that companies can ignore this provision.
A veteran’s spouse or mother can seek preference for a government position, and in some cases, the veteran’s disability qualifies them. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if a veteran’s spouse or mother died in the line of duty, the mother may receive preference. The spouse or mother’s service is relevant in getting a government job, and vice versa.
VA regulations governing reimbursement of emergency medical expenses
Veterans may be surprised to learn that the CAVC has invalidated a regulation governing the reimbursement of emergency medical expenses. The court struck down the previous regulation, which prevented the VA from reimbursing emergency medical bills when other insurance paid part of the bill. The new rule also prohibits the VA from paying any copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance amounts. The new rule is set to take effect in January 2018.
A class-action lawsuit against the VA’s regulations governing emergency medical expense reimbursement has been filed against the agency. The Veterans Legal Services Program represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. In the suit, the organization estimated that the decision could cost the VA anywhere from $1.8 billion to $6 billion in reimbursements. While this is still a large number of veterans, this lawsuit is a significant win for many who received emergency care from the VA.
While this lawsuit was filed in October 2015, it was not decided until April 2016 when a three-judge panel ruled in Staab’s favor. The decision halted the VA policy of denying emergency medical claims nationwide. However, the VA has appealed the decision to the Federal Circuit. However, the VA has since withdrawn its appeal, but the payments are still in doubt. Moreover, the recently introduced legislation that requires VA to reimburse veterans’ emergency medical expenses would go into effect by January 2020.