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VA Denied 78% of Burn Pit Exposure Claims

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Last week, Laurine Carson, a VA agency official said that 78% of disability claims related to toxic exposure have been denied. Carson is the deputy executive director of policy and procedures for the VA and released the information that only 2,828 out of 12,582 veterans between 2007 and 2020, have been approved for claims related to burn pit exposure. Lawmakers and advocates have been fighting for presumptive care benefits for veterans affected for years, saying that the agency does not have clear guidelines for who gets compensated. Many people have called the impact of burn pits on veterans the “Agent […]

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Kirsten Gillibrand’s Landmark Legislation Would Designate 12 Illnesses as Connected to Burn Pits

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Last week, lawmakers in the House introduced legislation to streamline the current process for veterans to receive benefits related to exposure to burn pits during service. The current process requires veterans to prove a link between their given illness and burn pit exposure. The new legislation seeks to remove this provision and outlines a new process: service members would only have to provide proof that they served at least 15 days in one of 33 countries listed in the legislation.  Gillibrand expressed her frustrations with the current laws during a press conference last week, stating that “This is a moral […]

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Extended IRS Deadline for Economic Impact Payments

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

IRS Extends Deadline to Ensure People with Children Receive $500 Economic Impact Payments The extended deadline is fast approaching and applies to people who: Receive Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability benefits, or SSI payments; Did not file a 2019 or 2018 tax return; Have a qualifying child under age 17; and Who did not already enter information in the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool for themselves and at least one child. If you have already entered information in the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool before and even after the IRS’ previously announced deadlines (April 22 for Social Security beneficiaries; May 5 for SSI recipients), you […]

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New Landmark Legislation to Remove “Burden of Proof” From Veterans Seeking Coverage for Burn Pit Exposure

Monday, September 21, 2020

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s new legislation received a big push this week. In a press conference on Tuesday she urged the bill’s passing to streamline the process for veterans to obtain benefits. Gillibrand was joined by Jon Stewart, a longtime supporter of veterans, especially those affected by toxic exposure. Congressman Raul Ruiz, former VA Secretary David Shulkin, advocate John Feal, and other veterans advocates were also in attendance at the press conference in support of the bill.  The legislation is called the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act of 2020. The core of the […]

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VA Lawmakers Working on Deal to Pass Major Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Suicide prevention has been among the topics on the top of lawmaker’s minds when it comes to providing adequate care for veterans. It looks as though top Veterans Affairs lawmakers in Congress are now close to an agreement that would pave the way for major veteran’s suicide prevention legislation to pass this year.  According to Sen. Jerry Moran, negotiations with his House counterpart, Mark Takano have been ongoing regarding the deal. “We have reached an understanding that the House will take up (the bill) on Sept. 21st , or 22nd,” said Moran. He also added that no amendments would be […]

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House Poised to Vote on Removing Marijuana from Controlled Substances Act, Opening Up Possibilities for Alternative Treatment at the VA

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Department of Veterans Affairs has long chosen not to incorporate the use of marijuana as a treatment option for veterans, listing the drug’s position on the federal controlled substances list as a primary reason. After nine months of silence, it appears the House of Representatives will be voting soon on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. However, a specific date for the vote has not been determined. The legislation would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances on the Controlled Substances Act, but states would still decide on the legality of it themselves. The MORE act, […]

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VA Proposes New Rule to Expand Coverage for Veterans and Troops Injured During Service

Monday, August 31, 2020

Traumatic brain injuries, heatstroke, and cold-weather injuries are among the list of service-connected injuries proposed for coverage under a new rule from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The proposed rule would expand insurance benefits to veterans and troops suffering from an array of injuries. First proposed by the VA in 2018, the rule’s targeting expansion is directed at the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI). The rule would allow for those previously denied to request reviews of their cases, where “new and material evidence” is applicable. TSGLI is an insurance program that provides short-term financial support to severely […]

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How Veterans Are Fighting Back on Toxic Exposure

Monday, August 24, 2020

Almost a decade ago, Rosie Torres approached Congress for support, asking for help for her husband and other veterans affected by exposure to the burn pits. Unfortunately, she gained little traction. She was met with pushback from Congress who supported the notion that more research was needed to determine if the military should be held responsible. Though a burn pit registry was set up, which works to identify those exposed to the burn pits, government officials did not acknowledge that Torres’ husband was sick because of his service overseas.  Torres’ husband, retired Army Captain Le Roy Torres had inhaled toxic […]

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House Advances Bills Protecting VA Medical Malpractice Victims, Update to VA Motto

Monday, August 17, 2020

Twelve bills were introduced on Thursday, July 30th 2020 by lawmakers in the house of representatives, some included provisions offering protections for victims of VA medical malpractice, others had measures for an update to the official motto of the VA. The fight for inclusion in VA coverage for various groups has been a long and arduous battle for many. The fight has now been brought to the official motto of the VA which reads “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan,” taken from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865. […]

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Protecting Injured New York Workers

Thursday, August 13, 2020

New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance is a statewide coalition of injured workers and stakeholders dedicated to protecting the rights of those injured under the New York State Workers’ Compensation laws. The group is now organizing an email campaign to spread awareness about the numerous problems with the workers’ compensation system. Participation is easy, and only requires following a few simple steps: (1)    Go to www.protectinjurednewyorkers.org. (2)    Click on the button which says “contact your legislators.” (3)    Enter your information; name, address, email, etc (4)    Click on the button which says “start writing.” You don’t have to compose the letter. It […]

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