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Articles Posted in Retiree and Military Issue

RBGWe at the Law Office of Robert B. Goss, P.C. are delighted to announce that our principal and founder, Bob Goss, is being honored this month in the December 2015 edition of Houstonia Magazine as one of Houstonia’sTop Lawyers of 2015.”

Houstonia Magainze partners with Avvo, the well-known attorney rating and review site, to identify lawyers who merit inclusion in the Houstonia “Top Lawyers” list.  Avvo uses a proprietary algorithm which factors in professionalism variables such as peer endorsement, attorney experience, education, training, public speaking, publishing, and awards.  Reader nominations and Houstonia Magazine’s own editorial review of nominee’s accomplishments are important additional considerations. Continue reading

17330-a-doctor-and-couple-viewing-an-x-ray-pvWhat Are Lay or Buddy Statements?

“Lay” or “buddy” statements are:

  1. Oral statements made by the Veteran, family members, friends, neighbors, or service buddies during a hearing; OR
  2. Any written declaration or written statement made by the same (Veteran, family members, etc.), regarding the Veteran’s disability.

Why Are Lay or Buddy Statements So Important?

As the names suggest, “lay” or “buddy” statements are statements made by people who know the Veteran but who aren’t qualified to make a medical diagnosis or prove medical facts. Continue reading

Cuckoos are geniuses in the bird world.  They trick unsuspecting birds into feeding their chicks, usually with the result that the poor duped birds loose their own babies while the cuckoo chick thrives.  But don’t think this happens only in the bird world.  Others have learned from the cuckoo, and are taking your resources!  For example, according to a recent independent study, here is how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compares with a few other large U.S. health-care providers:

Provider            # of Employees       # of Physicians     # of Patients     # of Facilities       States

 VA                              288,000                    20,208                 5,814,463              1,600                  50

Kaiser Permanente     174,400                    17,400                 9,100,000                646                   10

HCA                             225,000                   37,000                 1,795,300                 280                   21

Ascension                   155,000                    40,000                 1,515,500                161                    23

Continue reading

Medical ExamTexas has more female Veterans than any other state.   According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as of October 2, 2015, Texas is represented by 180,286 women Veterans.  While VA and the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) offer health, counseling, and other programs designed to meet the unique needs of our Nation’s women Veterans, women Veterans often feel like – and are – “invisible” when it comes to VA disability benefits and healthcare.

The fact of “invisibility” for VA disability benefits and healthcare is especially concerning because women represent approximately 10-percent of the U.S. Veteran population.  Moreover, the number of female Veterans is expected to rise -even though the overall population of Veterans is likely to decline.  This means more services, not fewer, must be made available for our Nation’s women Veterans. Continue reading

Inverted_JennyIf you or I made a high-dollar mistake at work, a “clear and unmistakable error,” we might expect some consequences. That’s not at all the case with “Clear and Unmistakable Error” (CUE) actions committed by benefits claims examiners at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Far from any remedial or disciplinary action for committing a CUE, as far as we can tell, nothing happens at VA.  Since there is no consequence to employees for errors, do not expect errors to be acknowledged or corrected. Continue reading

Clinicians_in_Intensive_Care_UnitMany people assume new illnesses, aches, and pains are “normal.”   Just part of aging.  Simply bad luck.  Or even genetics.  Veterans should not be lulled into passive acceptance of this so-called common wisdom.  Diet and exercise can only get you so far with the many health problems – some tremendously serious – which may be the result of your military service.  In addition, some health issues, such as birth defects, may be results of military service that affect not only you but your entire family. Continue reading

SmartIf the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denies your request for benefits, don’t be shocked.  If VA gives you a lower disability rating than you merit, don’t be shocked. Since 2014, in an effort to reduce its backlog of disability benefits claims, word is that VA is simply shoveling responses out the door.  Many are complete denials.  Some are just sloppy, giving you “something” (a low disability rating) in the hope you will be happy and go away.

When VA denies your request or offers a deceptively low rating, don’t be shocked: be smart!  Seek legal advice and promptly file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). Continue reading

Veteran_Affairs_backlog_(2012-08-09)Until Veterans are treated like full U.S. citizens with the right to representation by an attorney, we can only celebrate Veterans Day once a year.  Here’s why.

Only under limited circumstances are Veterans are allowed to use an attorney to represent them on appeals from denial of benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  In fact, prior to 2006, Veterans weren’t allowed to use an attorney at all when dealing with VA. Continue reading

Homeless_Veteran_in_New_YorkWith the extremely long delay in obtaining benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), many Veterans face tremendous and crippling medical bills.  These bills impact ability to pay for necessities, including rent, utilities, transportation, and even food.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: VA BENEFITS ARE PROTECTED!

Threats and constant calls from creditors and even advice from attorneys not familiar with Veterans benefits matters may push Veterans to make unwise decisions regarding their VA benefits.  It’s very simple:  VA benefits are protected from creditors, taxation, and other legal processes.  No one is entitled to just take your benefits away to pay off debts. Continue reading

Graduate_The new economic reality places a higher premium than ever on high-school diplomas and undergraduate degrees.  For that reason, Veterans are exploring educational opportunities, and not merely traditional community college or four-year institutions. Increasingly, Veterans are looking for education programs which provide hard, immediately useful skills.

To assist Veterans, the Federal government offers an array of programs for active-duty military and Veterans, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  States also provide assistance, with Texas offering generous support through plans such as the Hazlewood Act.  Despite the many state and Federal education options available, a large number of Veterans still have to rely on private student loans.  Given the tough job market, even degrees and trade skills do not translate to liveable salaries the way they once did.  This means a large number of Veterans have education-related debts, particularly loans, they simply can’t pay. Continue reading

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