It's that time of year; Tax time! Although VA disability compensation is not taxable by the U.S. Federal Government, in Germany (and most European countries) it is taxable in one form or another. Be sure to check with the tax treaty in the country you reside to see if VA disability compensation is taxable.
Also for veterans (and all U.S. citizens) living overseas, please remember that you still must file a yearly tax return with the IRS regardless of where you reside. Living overseas does not exempt you from filing a return. Go to the following link for more information on filing a tax return while living abroad; http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers
April 20, 2013.
Due to the increasing backlog of pending claims at VA, which has steadily increased over the past three years, VA has just released a fast letter dated April 19, 2013, instructing all VA regional office to decide all current initial claims that have pending since June of 2011 or earlier within the next 60 days. After this initiative has been finished, then VA is supposedly to focus much of their resources on claims that have been pending for 18 months or more. One can read VA's fast letter to their regional office here; http://www.scribd.com/doc/136979587/20-13-05-Special-Project-FL-to-Eliminate-2yr-Old-Cases-WH-GC-Approved-Final
December 29, 2011.
VA has extended the deadline for Gulf War veterans who suffer from any of the diagnosed illnesses or undiagnosed multi-symptom illnesses under 38 C.F.R. §3.317 to file for disability compensation. Previously any of the diagnosed illnesses or undiagnosed multi-symptom illnesses had to have manifested themselves before December 31, 2011, in order for disability compensation to be payable. Now that date has been extended five years until December 31, 2016. So, if you served in the SW Asia Theater of Operations at any time from August 2, 1990, through the present and have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, or any functional gastrointestinal disorder, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or suffer from any of the undiagnosed multi-symptom illnesses associated with §3.317, contact me about filing a claim for disability compensation. To read more about this change you can go HERE.
November 16, 2011.
VA has published the final regulation in the Federal Register regarding the Court ruling in Sursely -v- Peake. The new regulation provides for a second annual clothing allowance for veterans, who because of a service-connected disability, wear or use a prosthetic or orthopedic device that tends to tear or wear out clothing, or who are prescribed medications for a service-connected skin condition that tend to wear out or stain outer garments. Payments for a second annual clothing allowance will begin in 2012 for qualifying veterans. Veterans who believe they qualify for the annual clothing allowance should contact me for assistance. For more information click here.
July 29, 2011.
ATTENTION!!!!! ATTENTION!!!!! ATTENTION!!!!!!
It has recently come to my attention that there is a so-called "consulting company" here in Germany (in the Mannheim/Ludwigshafen area) headed by a retired Command Sergeant Major who is supposedly offering assistance with, among other things, claims to veterans living in Europe. DO NOT get involved with them! They are operating illegally! First, because they are not accredited by VA to offer assistance, and secondly, they are charging veterans €80.00 per hour regardless if that veteran has an initial claim or an appeal! They say they know the VA rules and regulations; however, it is quit apparent they do not because if they did, they would know that one of the basic Federal laws of representation under U.S.C. 38 and C.F.R. 38 does not allow charging a fee to a veteran for initial claims. Remember, in order to officially assist and represent veterans before VA, they MUST be accredited by the Office of the General Counsel! This is just a ploy to make some money off of some unsuspecting veteran!
Veterans deemed incompetent by VA can now appeal that decision. In a recent Court decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, (Freemen v. Shinseki - no. 10-1462), the Court determined that incompetency decisions made by VA regional offices, which were previously not subject to review on appeal, can now be contested through the VA's appeals process. To view the complete decision go here;
If you have been deemed incompetent by a VA rating decision and have been appointed a Fiduciary to manage your moneys from VA, and you would like to appeal that decision, please contact me about filing an appeal.
As of November 1, 2010, VA has implemented the regulations to add three new disabilities (Ischemic heart disease, B cell leukemia, Parkinson's disease) to the presumptive list associated with the exposure of herbicides during Vietnam. Many of these claims also fall under the Nehmer Court decision, which allows for an earlier effective date of an award if the veteran previously filed for service-connection for these disabilities and was denied. If you are a veteran who served within the "land borders" of Vietnam and suffer from any of these three disabilities (or any other of the presumptive disabilities associated with the exposure to herbicides used in Vietnam), you should contact me about filing a claim for service-connection.
Starting July 12, 2010, the VA implemented new rules to relax the criteria for service-connection of PTSD.
Under the new rule, VA would not require verification of a stressor related to fear of hostile military action or terrorist attack, or some other life threatening experience while on active duty if a VA physician confirms that the stressful incident re-called by the veteran supports a diagnosis of PTSD, and the veterans symptoms are related to the claimed stressor. What this means is that if a veteran has a diagnosis of PTSD confirmed by a VA physician, they need not prove that the stressor actually took place. Prior to this rule change, the veteran had to prove that the stressor, whether it had been in combat or some other life threatening experience, actually did occur.
If you previously filed a claim for PTSD and were denied because VA couldn't verify your stressor, you may want to contact me about the possibility of re-opening your denied claim and getting a grant in service-connection of PTSD under the new change in law.