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Disabled New Jersey vet sees inconsistency in benefits

NAELA National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. MEMBER

Over 40 years ago, a New Jersey man was serving in Vietnam. During a combat operation, the man lost one of his legs when his company was unexpectedly attacked. Since that time, he has been receiving various disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Recently, however, he was denied a clothing allowance he has received for decades on grounds that his injury was not documented as "combat-related."

The man has tried to provide proper documentation and call VA offices regularly, but has had no luck. He's frustrated that things would change so dramatically over the course of a couple years. Every year the man has been required to re-apply for VA benefits, but hasn't had any pushback up until a couple years ago.

This particular allowance may not seem like a huge financial benefit -- it's $700 to $800 annually -- but for a retired person on a fixed income, it can make a big difference. Now the man is working to contact VA officials to demonstrate that he was indeed injured in combat, something that seemed to be clear to benefit administrators for four decades.

Unfortunately, this New Jersey man's experience isn't unique. Whether a person is looking for a regular allowance for their injury or looking to go into long-term care, dealing with veterans benefits can be a complicated matter. This is why a number people find it helpful to consult with an attorney who understands what needs to be done in order to obtain specific benefits in a timely manner.

Furthermore, as veterans look to the future, it may be useful to create a plan to deal with future medical costs, which can be very costly. Once they are administered, VA benefits are helpful, but it may be helpful to develop a strategy to make sure they are delivered according to an individual's unique needs.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "Bamboozled: VA delays benefit to decorated Vietnam vet, saying battlefield limb amputation isn't 'combat-related'," Karin Price Mueller, April 8, 2013

  • Our firm has helped East Hanover veterans obtain the benefits they need. To learn more, please see our New Jersey VA benefits page.

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