Military veterans’ disability claims are the subject of daily stories and issues across this country. These issues arise in all shapes and flavors, ranging from implementing paperless claim processing systems to pilot programs speeding up claim payouts to adding new diseases to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) presumptive disability list. Disability claim issues are rampant and now the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a case about disability claim deadlines.
This case revolves around David Henderson, a severally mentally disabled Korean War veteran. The VA rated Henderson 100% disabled following his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Henderson applied to his local VA for monthly benefits and was subsequently denied. Henderson then missed a 120 day filing limit in order to have the VA’s decision judicially reviewed.
The Veterans Court refused to extend the deadline, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed their decision based on a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case. Henderson was bedridden from his disability, which is why he missed the deadline. The Supreme Court will decide if the Henderson will be precluded from appealing the VA’s decision to deny his benefits.
Disability claims stemming from Iraq and Afghanistan are on a constant rise. At the same time, mental health conditions could likely cause other veterans to miss their deadlines, according to veterans advocacy groups. Furthermore, hospitalization is a reality for many disabled veterans, which may prevent timely filing. VA lawyers argue because federal law establishes the 120 day time limit, judges cannot adjust that deadline; that responsibility is left to Congress.
Henderson has since passed away and this appeal is being continued by his widow. The Court’s decision in this case will affect thousands of veterans in the future.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.