Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 28, 2017 - While serving in the Coast Guard, a man injured his back as he was fixing buoys at sea. Following his discharge, he filed a request for veterans disability benefits. However, he was repeatedly denied benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs, despite his appeals. He also received letters stating that the department had lost his files. According to The New York Times, 34 years later, Jonathan Bey still has not received his benefits.
Bey, who is currently 61, said he was forced to resign from his civilian job 10 years ago because his injury worsened. He is now dependent on his wife’s income and pain medication. The veterans benefits system, which is a century old, has been marked by abuse, reforms and regulations. It distributes over $78 billion annually to almost five million beneficiaries. However, there are over 470,000 veterans who, like Bey, have been issued denials of benefits and have filed appeals. But the time in which it takes to process cases is lengthy, lasting years and even decades.
Tampa, Florida veterans lawyer David W. Magann says, “In cases such as this, veterans disability applicants are encouraged to employ the services of a veterans disability lawyer.” “Applicants who have legal representation are more likely to realize a positive outcome in their application for veterans disability benefits.”
Military records indicate that following his injury while serving in the Coast Guard, Bey was treated in an Air Force hospital for four days, and that during his last five years of service, he suffered intermittent spasms that weakened his condition. Then, in 1983, when he presented a claim to obtain free medical care and a small pension for his back from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the department replied via letter stating it found no evidence in his exit physical exam that revealed the injury. He filed an appeal in which he requested that the department review his complete medical file. The department denied his request.
Bey then searched the National Archives, outside Washington, and discovered records of his hospitalization, which he submitted. The department issued another denial. When a civilian doctor performed X-rays and wrote a letter detailing the injury to his spine, the department denied his claim. He received another denial upon filing an appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals. In 2016, his benefit was granted. However, a department error in the date of the initial claim removed decades of back pay. He filed an appeal.
The problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs have prompted new legislation that will hopefully result in faster appeal decisions and reverse a backlog of appeals.
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618