Veterans To Receive Reimbursement for Out-Of-Pocket Expenses

Veterans who use the VA system for their healthcare are able to get the care they need without expenditures. But if the VA’s emergency care facility isn’t close enough, a trip to a local emergency room may be required.

A visit to an emergency room is just that—an emergency, usually a life-threatening one. Sometimes emergencies occur when a veteran isn’t able to make it to a VA facility. When time is of the essence, it’s important to find the closest available ER, whether or not it’s the VA’s.

Veterans To Receive Reimbursement for Out-Of-Pocket Expenses

Does The VA Cover Other Medical Expenses?

Veterans are told that if they need emergency care from outside the VA, they will be covered. But as veterans and their families have discovered, emergency care from a non-VA facility is quickly followed by bills. If a veteran has other health insurance, such as through their job, that may cover most of the expenses, outside of a deductible. But in many cases, private health insurance doesn’t cover absolutely everything, meaning that the policyholder must pay the balance out of his or her own pocket.

A veteran can file a claim with the VA to reimburse them for the balance, so long as that sum is no deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance charges. Unfortunately, many veterans have seen their claims denied on that basis, even though that wasn’t the case.

The Deciding Court Case

In September of 2016, Coast Guard veteran Amanda Wolfe went to a local emergency room seeking treatment for an appendix that was ready to burst. Driving to the VA facility would be three hours and not enough time to be treated quickly as needed. With both her VA benefits and self-paid private insurance, Wolfe presumed that she would be covered.

Her expenses for the emergency visit totaled $22,348.25, and her private insurance covered all but $2,558.54. She filed a claim with the VA for the remainder, only to see the claim denied six months later. The reason, the VA said, was that amount fell under their exclusion for deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance charges. This put Wolfe in financial hardship, and she personally paid off the amount in 2017.

Wolfe vs. Wilkie

In a case filed by Ms. Wolfe, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) found that the VA’s denial from a 2018 reimbursement regulation violates the Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2010 (ECFA). This regulation requires the VA to reimburse veterans for emergency care from a non-VA facility. The case was later certified as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of other veterans who were also denied reimbursements. The CAVC then ordered the VA to begin reimbursing veterans who saw their claims incorrectly denied.

The CAVC found that VA’s 2018 reimbursement regulation violates the Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2010 (ECFA) that requires VA to reimburse veterans for the emergency medical expenses they incur at non-VA facilities that are not covered by the veteran’s private insurance.

On April 6, 2020, the CAVC ordered the VA to begin mailing out “corrective notices” to more than 1 million veterans who were incorrectly notified that their expenses were not reimbursable by the VA. In the Wolfe case, the VA admitted that original notices with misinformation likely discouraged many veterans from submitting claims for reimbursements. The VA began sending out the corrective notices on April 13, 2020, and begin reviewing and re-deciding more than 72,000 denials beginning May 20, 2020.

Five years prior, in Staab v. Shulkin, the organization appealed to the CAVC after another veteran was denied $48,000 in reimbursements after open-heart surgery because he also had Medicare, which partly covered his bills. The CAVC found similar results in that case, and the VA violated the ECFA in its decision.

What This Means For Veterans Now

The VA’s website has a brief fact sheet on “community-based healthcare” for veterans available on its website.

For those who found their out-of-pocket expenses denied after an emergency room visit, it may be time to revisit the claim. You can call the VA to request information on your claim at 1-877-466-7124.

The VA’s Office Of Inspector General found that similar claim denials could add up to as much as $6.5 billion in repayments to veterans who were previously denied. The internal audit from the VA’s Inspector General is available online here.

Get Help From A Houston VA Disability Attorney

If you’ve been denied reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses by the VA. You do have the right to legal representation when you come face-to-face with the VA’s bureaucracy.

Call The Herren Law Firm in Houston at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation for VA disability and other benefits. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

Vision problems are one of the many reasons people apply for disability. Macular degeneration, or MD, is a leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 50, and for people in the US. It’s most common in people over 60. It’s also called “age-related macular degeneration,” or AMD.

Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

As a veteran, you may also experience this condition as well as other vision problems. MD can make everyday life difficult, including driving, working, reading, and seeing what’s right in front of you. If you notice that you are having a difficult time seeing things the way you did before, you may be overdue for an eye exam.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye, in the center. That means a person with macular degeneration loses their central vision, but not their peripheral. For instance, when you look directly at a clock, you may see the numbers but not the hands.

Most people don’t completely lose their vision, but simply don’t see what’s right in front of them. In other cases, the vision loss is mild.

There are two types of MD:

  • Dry, the most common type, roughly 80% of the cases, where the macula itself thins considerably leading to the growth of tiny clumps of protein, called drusen
  • Wet, less common but more serious type, where new blood vessels begin growing under the retina and leak fluid into the eye.

Smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other risk factors contribute to MD’s development.

MD comes on slowly, and most people don’t realize they have it until they begin having blurring. There isn’t a “cure” for MD, and dry doesn’t yet have a full treatment. Regular ophthalmologist visits can detect it early and help manage if you do develop MD.

What Does The VA Say?

For many years, the VA didn’t recognize macular degeneration as a disability. Fortunately, that has since changed, allowing veterans with MD to seek treatment and receive benefits.

The VA puts MD into the Schedule of Ratings as “Organs of Special Sense.” They use these three tools as the basis for determining your eye problems and the impact of MD on your sight:

  1. Central acuity, or the ability to distinguish details and shapes at a distance using an eye chart
  2. Visual field, or everything you can see when staring ahead at a fixed point
  3. Muscle dysfunction, or how well the eye moves around to pick up sight

As with any condition you present to the VA, you’ll need to show MD as a service-related condition (primary or secondary), or provide proof from a physician of the connection.

The C&P Exam

The VA will also require you to take a Compensation and Pension exam, or C&P. This exam determines the degree of your disability and the rating for a disability, and determining the service connection.

The VA requires you to undergo an exam by either a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. You’ll also need to provide:

  • A current diagnosis for your eye condition
  • Evidence of an in-service event, illness, or injury that’s related to your condition
  • A “nexus letter” from a physician that connects the current eye condition to an in-service event, illness, or injury

All of these show a direct service connection. However, a secondary service connection is also possible. An existing illness or medication is taken for a different service connection may also cause or aggravate MD as a secondary condition. They can include:

  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Lyme disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

If you already qualify for healthcare through the VA, you can also obtain these eye exams and diagnoses from the VA as well. This includes testing for conditions like glaucoma.

Macular degeneration is a relatively newly rated condition under the VA’s disability rules. Getting help from an experienced disability attorney can go a long way in making sure your application is done correctly.

Let Herren Law Assist You With The VA For Macular Degeneration

If you’re a veteran with vision issues including macular degeneration, you can apply for and receive VA benefits for this condition. Should the VA either deny or under-rate your condition, it’s time to get help and increase your chances of success.

Call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.

 

 

Best Way to Fight to Get Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits

Getting approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI) is a long and difficult process. The application process is confusing and complex, and the risk is high that you’ll do something incorrectly. If you’re in the middle of trying to get SSDI, expect to get at least one denial.

Best Way to Fight to Get Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits

You may be told that Social Security denies everyone’s application for Social Security Disability, but that’s not entirely true. However, over two-thirds of applicants see their initial application denied. Frequently, these denials are for avoidable reasons. What’s the difference?

Main Reasons For Denial

During the application process, it’s important to show that you are disabled, unable to work, and need help. You must demonstrate that you are unable to work, or complete any “substantial gainful activity.” Your condition must also last longer than 12 months or end in death. The reasoning is that a shorter period for something non-fatal like a broken leg isn’t a “disability.”

There are three main reasons that Social Security will deny your disability claim:

  1. Insufficient work credits or other technical details (i.e., an incorrectly completed application)
  2. Medical reasons, such as insufficient medical evidence or your condition is not considered “disabling” or that your condition won’t last longer than 12 months or end in death
  3. Non-medical reasons, such as making too much money

If you are denied, do not give up. You do have options.

Fighting For Your Benefits

“Fighting” may be a strong word to use, especially if you can’t work for whatever reason. But if you’re disabled and can’t work, it’s important to show Social Security that you are disabled.

Don’t fall into the mindset that all you need is medical evidence to prove your disability in order to get benefits. There’s more to it than that.

The first thing a claims examiner needs to see is sufficient evidence that supports your doctor’s statements and assessment of your disability as well as the statement that you are disabled. Without it, there is no proof that you’re truly disabled.

Because claims examiners see so many applications every day, it’s important to have a claim that correctly and truthfully shows your diagnosis, prognosis, as well as your functional limitations. This is a list of the things that you are unable to do because of your disability and diagnosis. Without it, an examiner will believe that you have no functional limitations, and are capable of working.

In addition to proper medical evidence, you’ll also need to keep abreast of deadlines, ensure that any requested documentation is included with your application and that your application is even received. You should also call and check the status of your claim so that it isn’t ignored.

When sending anything to Social Security, consider sending it “certified” along with the “return receipt requested.” It costs extra and is a bit more trouble. But you can not only prove that you sent it, but that someone at Social Security received it.

When Should You Apply?

Submit your application as soon as you become disabled. There is no waiting period. The longer you wait, the more money you could lose, since Social Security will only pay you up to one year prior to your application. You can apply the day you become or declared disabled. Therefore, if you are disabled, apply immediately.

Initial applications can take three months or longer for a decision, but appeals may take months (or even years) due to the backlog of cases.

It also means that the other one-third of applications are approved on the first try and don’t need anything else.

Hiring An Attorney

One way to increase your chances of getting approved either with your initial application or on appeal is to work with an experienced disability attorney who understands how to file an application and navigate Social Security’s process.

A disability attorney can help with your initial application, gather medical records, verify your eligibility through work credits, assist with an appeal, and ensure that everything is done correctly in either case.

Because disability attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, you won’t owe a fee until your case is won. Additionally, the fee comes from your “back pay,” and is limited to 25% of your back pay or a maximum of $6,000. Social Security will also pay your attorney directly if you have “back pay” benefits.

While an attorney can’t guarantee success, having one greatly increases your chances of success either on your initial application or with the appeal.

Houston’s Social Security Attorney

Whether you’re applying for social security disability through Social Security, the laws are complex and the process difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time, and have a better chance of being awarded the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

 

Can I Get Veteran Disability Benefits For Anxiety Or Depression In Houston?

At one time, disabled veterans returning home after leaving military service were simply rated for their physical injuries. Mental disorders, including so-called “shell shock,”  were not considered for disability benefits. Fortunately, the VA has begun to recognize mental disorders like anxiety and depression and awarding veteran disability benefits to those who need them.

Can I Get Veterans Disability Benefits For Anxiety Or Depression In Houston?

Like civilians, veterans can find themselves with anxiety, depression, or both. The actual rate of these illnesses for veterans is two to three times higher than the rest of the population. Because veterans can be particularly susceptible, especially those who have experienced combat, the VA does award disability based on your level of disability and a service connection.

Mood Disorders

The VA uses the term “mood disorders” to classify anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. Anxiety and depression are common, as is PTSD, sleep problems, compulsive behavior, sadness, apathy, and others.

These are two different disorders but frequently occur together. Anxiety is usually identified by feelings of dread, uneasiness, or fear that leads to physical stress. Depression is generally feeling blue along with sadness, hopelessness, apathy, and other long-term feelings, including thoughts of suicide. Left unchecked, the symptoms can become long-term, and do not resolve over time, requiring medical intervention.

Establishing The Service Connection

As with any medical condition, the VA requires proof and medical evidence. This requires a number of steps that clearly indicate your condition. Unlike a physical condition or injury, anxiety and/or depression require a somewhat higher standard of proof, as well as a service connection.

The mood disorder may be a direct connection or a secondary one.

  • A direct service connection is one that developed during your military service after your military health screening showed no evidence of psychiatric issues, and no evidence of any issues prior to service
  • A secondary service connection shows that the anxiety or depression occurred after a physical injury that is associated with chronic pain, or traumatic brain injury (TBI) that leads to additional physical and mental issues.

Mental and physical illness can also be connected. Depression and anxiety can also lead to symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness, sleep disorders, as well as and aches, and pains without an obvious cause. You may have considered or filed a claim for the physical symptoms, which could lead to a secondary claim for anxiety or depression.

Medical records are essential, including military and civilian, as well as current treatment records from either a VA or a private provider. A “nexus letter” from your physician is helpful in firmly establishing a connection between your military service and anxiety or depression.

Rating Schedule

The VA rates veterans for anxiety or depression depending on the degree of disability they are experiencing, as well as the level of impairment.

  • 0%–this indicates a mild case that isn’t disabling and probably won’t require medication, so it’s considered a “non-compensable rating.”
  • 10%–the veteran’s condition is easily managed with medication and doesn’t lead to major disability. This rating includes a small disability payment.
  • 30%–the veteran is still able to maintain employment as well as relationships with others, but may occasionally miss work due to self-isolation. Compensation is higher for this rating.
  • 50%–this indicates a higher level of impairment or an increase in it. The veteran may be experiencing difficulty in following instructions at work, completing tasks, making decisions that aren’t in line with previous ones, or symptoms that manifest in physical ways, such as a monotone voice. Compensation increases for the 50% rating.
  • 70%–this rating indicates that the veteran’s symptoms have increased exponentially, and he or she may have difficulty keeping a job or completing classes, leading to an increase of compensation for this rating.
  • 100%–for a veteran to receive this rating, he or she must be completely disabled and impaired with an inability to function. There is a marked decline in the veteran’s emotional and cognitive functioning, and the veteran is unable to work because of it. A veteran may be so anxious or so depressed that he or she is unable to get out of bed, take a shower, or otherwise take care of themselves.

A veteran who has more than one disability will not receive separate checks for each. Rather, the VA uses a complicated system to determine an overall rating that’s inclusive of both physical and mental illness. That is, if you’re rated for a back injury as well as depression, there will be a total rating that encompasses all of the disabling conditions, with a total dollar amount every month.

For Veterans Who Need Help Now

If you’re a veteran, or you know one who is in need of help, The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7. You can send a text to 838255, open an anonymous chat here, or call 1-800-273-8255, then press 1, all free. You’ll communicate with a trained crisis responder who can help connect you with counseling services across the US, as well as suicide prevention centers (SPC) in VA centers around the country.

We’re Here To Help

You can apply online for VA benefits, or by visiting your local VA office. Help is also available.

If you’ve been denied disability benefits, or don’t know where to start, call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.

The Five Top Reasons You May Be Denied Disability Benefits in Houston

Applying for disability benefits is a long-term and complicated process. Even if you believe you’ve done everything correctly, you may still be denied disability benefits.

The truth is, out of the millions of applications submitted to the Social Security Administration, a full 70% of applicants see their initial application for disability benefits denied. But in order to increase your chances of being in the 30% that are approved, it’s important to understand why the other 70% are denied.

The Five Top Reasons You May Be Denied Disability Benefits in Houston

Incomplete Medical Evidence

It’s one of the most important parts of your application, and yet many people don’t submit enough. You’ll need to show substantial medical evidence from your doctor, hospital, or another healthcare provider that demonstrates your inability to work, and how your condition prevents you from working.

The medical evidence from your primary treating physician provides the full story on your condition. During your visits, it’s important to discuss your inability to work with your doctor so that it can be documented in your records. Even if you are sent to a medical exam by Social Security, chances are one exam will not be enough to demonstrate disability.

Additional documents such as documented missed work time and doctor’s notes excusing you from certain types of work are also useful to submit with medical records.

Not Following Medical Advice Or A Treatment Plan

Even if you are seeing a doctor for your condition, you must show that you are consistently following a treatment plan. Without it, the evidence of your condition is inconsistent and doesn’t show if your condition is improving or worsening. It also may indicate that you are unwilling to cooperate with treatment. If there is a legitimate reason why you are unable to continue treatment, you can mention it in a hearing. In this case, you should discuss your case with a disability benefits attorney beforehand, and have them represent you in the hearing.

Earning Too Much Income

Some applicants may still be working and are earning more money than the limit for substantial gainful activity (SGA). In other words, someone who earns more than $940 a month is making more than disability pays. Social Security only approves applications for benefits to people who are unable to work. In this case, you’ll be denied disability benefits whatever the severity of your condition.

Not Cooperating With SSA

The Social Security Administration may contact you to ask questions or to request additional documentation. If you don’t supply all the requested information, don’t attend a scheduled medical exam, or attend a meeting with the SSA, your application will be denied.

You can prepare ahead of time with a full listing of what you’ll need to apply from the SSA’s website.

Filing A New Claim After Denial

Many people will simply re-file their application after they receive a disability benefits denial letter, only to be denied again. Without understanding why the original claim was denied, the new claim is also denied.

Don’t re-file your application. Your denial letter will indicate your right to appeal, and how to file one. You may benefit from a consultation with a disability benefits attorney who can advise you on the appeals process.

The Next Step—Appeal

If you’ve received a denial letter, don’t give up. You have the right to appeal, so use it.

There may be other reasons for denial as well. It’s important to file your appeal as soon as you can, following the instructions given by SSA.

Because the process can take a significant amount of time, you don’t want to have your claim denied on appeal. Instead of leaving your appeal to chance, working with a disability benefits law attorney can increase your chances of approval on appeal. The important thing is not to give up and get help this time.

Call Us For Help With Your Disability Appeal

We’re experienced in handling all types of disability claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the disability benefits they need. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

Do Disability Benefits Change If My Medical Condition Changes in Houston?

Applying for disability is a complex, long-term process with a considerable amount of documentation required. You’ll need to not only prove your disability but your work history and earnings that qualify you. Even after you’ve submitted everything requested, you may still find yourself denied benefits, requiring an appeal.

Once you’ve begun receiving benefits, you will still have to support your diagnosis during periodic reviews of your case. But if your condition changes, what’s next?

Do Disability Benefits Change If My Medical Condition Changes in Houston?

How It Works

SSDI is not awarded based on the degree of your disability, but your earnings history.

As a rule, you get awarded disability if you have a medical condition that is expected to prevent you from working for more than a year, or ends in death. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) considers you fully disabled at the time you’re awarded benefits.

Therefore, if your condition worsens, you’re already at your maximum benefit amount, and the amount won’t change.

Regular Reviews

All SSDI recipients have periodic case reviews to determine if they still have a true disability. Depending on the circumstances, reviews can happen from every six months to every seven years. This will largely depend on the seriousness and type of your condition and if any improvement can be anticipated.

SSA will mail you a letter in advance of your upcoming medical review. You’ll be asked for patient and treatment records from doctors, clinics, and hospitals where you’ve received treatment since your last review, or since you were awarded benefits. If you’ve also been working, you’ll need to provide information on that such as dates, payments received, and the type of work you were doing.

The only way you might receive an increase is with a yearly cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to take into account inflation.

Social Security also regularly conducts audits of accounts. Any previously uncounted earnings may require your monthly benefits to be recalculated. If any disparity is found, you’ll be notified of the recalculations and the increase in your monthly payments.

If Your Condition Improves

This will depend on what condition you are claiming disability with. Some may improve with time, such as certain types of cancers with treatment, while others may not.

Should your condition stay the same, or become worse, you will most likely continue receiving benefits. This is true even if you receive a separate, additional diagnosis for another condition.

However, if your condition significantly improves to the point where you can return to working and earning a living on your own, it’s highly likely that your cash benefits will come to an end.

You can earn some money while on disability. In 2021, that limit is $940 monthly before benefits are reduced. Additionally, you can also participate in a trial work program for up to nine months to see if you are ready to return to work. The nine months do not have to be consecutive.

The Social Security Administration has a booklet available online that explains some of the basics of SSDI.

Your Houston LTD Disability Attorney

Most attorneys aren’t familiar with the intricacies of disability filings, but we are. With over 4,000 successful cases, we focus on helping disabled people receive the benefits they need. We’ve handled multiple situations that are similar to yours. We have the experience to help you through the process for a successful outcome.  The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application, any necessary appeals and help you get the disability benefits you need so you can live your life. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees.  We only collect if we win your case.

SSDI Changes For 2021—What You Should Know

Every year the Social Security Administration updates the program to accommodate those on the program and those joining. In 2021, there are multiple changes to everything, including a 1.3% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for those receiving Social Security monthly.

For individuals on Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, there are also changes that include a slight increase in monthly benefits.

If you’re eligible for SSDI, understand that the amount you receive is based on the amount of money you earned in your life prior to the disability. You can apply for it if you worked long enough and earned enough “credits” over your lifetime.  It is not based on the severity of your disability.

SSDI Changes for 2021. What you should know

Benefit Increase

The average SSDI payments are generally between $800 and $1800 monthly, and the average monthly benefit is $1,277. The 1.3% raise also applies to SSDI benefits.

SSDI benefits range from $100 and top out at $3,148. In 2021, the monthly benefit payment for a non-blind is $1,310, and for a blind person is $2,190.

Increase In Earnings

A non-blind applicant for disability must be making less than $1,310 per month to receive SSDI, an increase of $50 a month and $600 annually. A disabled worker with a spouse and one or more children can receive $2,224 monthly, an increase of $29 from last year.

A blind applicant can earn up to $2,190 monthly, an increase of $80 per month and $960 annually.

Earning more than these amounts will lead to a disqualification since it becomes “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA.

Individuals who want to try going back to work may be allowed to do a trial work period (TWP), in which they can return to work on a part-time basis. However, there is a limit on allowable earnings during the TWP. The maximum you can earn during a TWP has increased to $940 per month for 2021.

Back Pay

Applying for and receiving disability is a long process that can take a considerable amount of time. Three factors figure into the amount of back pay you may receive:

  1. Your date of application for SSDI benefits
  2. The date you became disabled, or “established onset date” (EOD), when your disability began
  3. The five-month waiting period prior to your “date of entitlement,” or DOE

Once an EOD is established, there is a five-month period before SSDI payments begin. All back pay and any retroactive payments are paid in a lump sum.

Houston’s Social Security Attorney

Whether you’re applying for Social Security or Disability through Social Security, the laws are complex and the process difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time, and have a better chance of being awarded the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

Can You Receive Both CRDP And VA Disability In Houston, TX?

Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay, or CRDP, is a specific type of payment for military retirees with a 50% or greater rating from the VA. It concurrently supplements the VA disability payments that a veteran may receive. Generally, veterans can’t receive benefits from both the VA and from the DoD in the form of military retirement pay. However, the CRDP changes that.

Can You Receive Both CRDP And VA Disability In Houston, TX?

The good news is that yes, you can receive both if you’re qualified. But there are a few things you need to know before you ask about receiving CRDP.

What It Is

This law was passed in 2004 to give military veterans both their VA disability benefits and their military disability through the DoD.

CRDP is a benefit that allows veterans who qualify to receive monthly benefit payments from both the DoD and the VA. It is a “phase-in” of benefits that gradually restores a retiree’s disability offset from the VA.

CRDP became fully implemented in January of 2014,

Are You Qualified For CRDP?

Veterans who are rated 50% or higher disabled qualify, if they are eligible for retirement pay. If you would be eligible for retirement if you were not disabled and receiving disability pay, you may be eligible. However, you must also meet one of these additional qualifications:

  • Be a reserve retiree with 20 years of qualifying service, have a disability rating of 50% or higher, and at retirement age.
    • The retirement age for reservists is generally 60 years of age, but some reserve retirees may reach eligibility prior to 60. Members of the Ready Reserve can have their retirement ages lowered below age 60 by 3 months for every 90 days of service during a fiscal year.
  • Retired under the Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) along with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher.
  • Be a disability retiree who earned your entitlement to the retired pay under another provision of law aside from only disability with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher. Your CRDP eligibility may occur at the time you would have otherwise become eligible for retirement pay.

If you are qualified, you should automatically receive monthly payments. The Defense And Finance Accounting Service conducts regular audits of accounts to ensure correct payments. If you were not previously being paid at your correct rate, it is possible that you could receive a retroactive payment from the DoD, based on:

  • Your date of retirement
  • The date at which you first became disabled at 50%

You are also eligible to receive both your VA disability compensation and your retired pay if you are a military retiree who meets all of the above requirements in addition to:

  • Rated by the VA as unemployable, also known as Individual Unemployability (IU)
  • Receiving VA disability compensation as a result of IU

The DFAS also forwards its audit findings to the VA so that they may conduct their own assessments.

Additional information is available on the DFAS website.

CRDP Caveat

Getting CRDP means you are compensated for retirement pay that you didn’t receive before. This means that it can also be subjected to a collection for things such as:

  • Any government debt
  • Alimony
  • Community property
  • Child support

Unlike the VA disability, you will be required to pay taxes on anything you receive as CRDP. These payments stop when a retiree passes away.

Get Help From A Houston VA Disability Attorney

Whether you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, or want to investigate a case review, we’re ready to assist. You do have the right to legal representation whether you’re starting your application, facing a hearing or dealing with an appeal.

Call The Herren Law Firm in Houston at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation for VA disability and other benefits. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

 

 

The Four Symptoms Associated with PSTD

PSTD is a condition well-known to service members as well as civilians who have either been involved with or witnessed a frightening event. Many people who have been through trauma have difficulty with coping and adjusting but can heal with self-care, reaching out for help and time.

The Four Types Of Symptoms Associated with PSTD

But for those who have more trouble coping and healing from a traumatic event are experiencing PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Any kind of sudden, unexpected shock can bring on PTSD in anyone. However, veterans, especially combat veterans, can be particularly susceptible to PTSD. Risk factors that increase the possibility of PTSD include:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Little or no social support following the event
  • A personal and/or family history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Additional stress following the event, such as the loss of a job, a home, a loved one, or other pain and/or injury

The Symptoms

PTSD is characterized by four distinct symptoms:

  1. At least one re-experience symptom. An individual with PTSD can be “triggered” by a number of external factors, including:
    1. “Flashbacks,” frequently accompanied by physical symptoms such as heavy breathing, heart racing, and/or sweating
    2. Other physical signs of stress
    3. Upsetting or tormenting thoughts
    4. Dreams or memories related to the trauma that recur
  1. One or more avoidance symptoms. Exactly what it sounds like, avoidance can take the form of staying away from people, places, and things that remind the sufferer of the flashpoint event. For instance, a person who has experienced a bad car accident may stay away from cars altogether. A traumatic event at work may lead to someone quitting their job or staying away from their office. Avoidance can also be the avoidance of thoughts surrounding the events.
  1. Two or more arousal or reactivity symptoms. These symptoms can cause sleep or concentration disruptions, anger and/or stress, or eating disorders. They include:
  1. A person startles easily
  2. Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  3. Difficulty with concentration
  4. Irritability, including angry and/or aggressive outbursts
  5. Feelings of tension or being “on edge”
  6. A person engages in reckless, destructive, and/or risky behaviors
  1. Two or more mood and cognition symptoms. These can begin or increase after the event and can lead to social isolation from friends and family members. They include:
  1. Continuing negative emotions such as fear, guilt, shame, and/or anger
  2. Difficulty remembering everything about the trauma
  3. Negativity towards themselves or the rest of the world
  4. Losing interest in formerly favorite activities
  5. Misleading thinking about the event that includes blame
  6. Social isolation
  7. Happiness, satisfaction, and other positive emotions are difficult

Children over the age of six may also re-enact their trauma while playing, or have frightening dreams that may or may not involve the trauma.

Why Do Some People Get PTSD And Others Don’t?

There are a number of factors as to why some people develop PTSD and others don’t after a traumatic event:

  • Getting help and support from family, friends, and/or support groups
  • Resolving feelings regarding their actions in response to the trauma
  • Having and using a coping strategy to get through and learn from the event
  • Having the ability to respond and be prepared to scary events as they happen despite the fear involved

Individuals who do develop PTSD and experience the crippling effects should work to find the help they need to recover so they can live better, without the effects. Those with little or no social support may be able to find help through their primary care physician or local mental health association.

Help is available for those who need it:

Houston VA Disability Attorney For PTSD

Whether you’re suffering from PTSD or something else that’s service-related, we can help you apply, appeal, and make your case to get you the benefits you deserve.

When you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, call The Herren Law Firm at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

Disability Income Protection In Texas

Dealing with creditors can be a difficult experience, especially if you’ve recently become disabled or have had an event that caused you to fall behind on your bills. Should a bill go as far as being sent to collections, you’ll also receive calls from debt collectors, including agencies.

Disability Income Protection In Texas.

Occasionally, debt collectors make statements intended to strike fear in someone to force them to pay up. For someone on disability, this can be particularly menacing. Don’t let them intimidate you.

In most cases, if a creditor or debt collector tells you that they will “take your disability check,” it’s a scare tactic.

But there are occasions where past-due debts can be taken out of your disability income, under certain conditions.

Social Security Income

Federal law prohibits Social Security disability payments from garnishment.

In every case, a debt collector must go to court and file a lawsuit, then obtain a judgment for the money. Your bank would then be required to turn over the money, known as a “garnishment.” But if you receive certain types of income, they are not allowed to do so.

Certain benefits are exempt by federal law from garnishment, including:

  • Social Security
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans benefits (including disability)
  • Federal Railroad retirement, unemployment, and sickness benefits
  • Civil Service Retirement System benefits
  • Federal Employee Retirement System benefits

The US Treasury requires your bank to automatically freeze two months of these benefits and keep them for your own use. However, anything over that two-month threshold is accessible, meaning that a creditor can access the rest of it.

Your Bank

Debt collectors are forbidden from taking your disability payments directly out of your bank account or remove it from a prepaid debit card. Despite the rules, many still attempt to do so.

Your bank or credit union is required to protect two months of that income from garnishment for your use. This means that if your monthly disability payment is $1500, and your bank balance is $4,500, the bank is only required to protect $3,000, or two months of payments. The additional $1,500 can be made available to creditors.

Banks are required to review accounts prior to garnishment to ensure that Social Security payments have been deposited and are not garnished. Should a creditor or debt collector attempt to collect from your disability payments, you may have to go to court to get it returned. If you are sued by a creditor that collects from your bank account, make sure to notify the judge that the money is from Social Security and is exempt.

If you are one of the many recipients who receive benefits on a Direct Express or other prepaid debit card, they are still protected from garnishment just as if they were in a bank account.

You can write an “anti-garnishment letter” to your bank stating that your income is exempt, including your name, address, and account number. Mail it to your bank certified, return receipt requested, or hand-deliver to the appropriate person at our local branch.

Adding disability monies into a bank account with other funds may render it accessible to a creditor. It may be wise to have a separate bank account just for your disability income payments and avoid comingling the disability funds with any other monies.

Long Term Disability Payments

In most states, private disability payments are also protected, because they do not allow creditors to take this income. Federal law can also protect some or all private LTD payments.

The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) protects 25% of “disposable earnings”—what’s left after deductions—from collection actions or the amount by which wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is lower. States are also required to this amount as a minimum, although some protect higher amounts.

Exceptions

Some debts are allowed to be garnished from Social Security Disability income, including:

  • Child support
  • Overdue or defaulted student loans
  • Back taxes
  • Other monies owed to the federal government

Similarly, child support and back taxes can be garnished from LTD payments. However, if you receive SSI, these benefits can’t be garnished for these reasons.

Houston’s Disability Attorney

If you need help with your SSDI, it helps to have an experienced disability law firm to answer your questions.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.