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After Long Wait, VA Issues New TBI Regulations

Bergmann & Moore Quoted in New York Times as VA Links Conditions to Brain Injury

On Monday, December 10, 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs plans to publish new regulations on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a medical condition impacting hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war Veterans among the 2.4 million U.S. service members deployed to combat zones since 2001.  Based on news reports, VA’s regulation applies to all Veterans, including both deployed and non-deployed.

VA’s proposed new regulations represent a victory for veterans by establishing “Parkinsonism, unprovoked seizures, certain dementias, depression and hormone deficiency diseases related to the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands as eligible for the expanded benefits” such as VA disability compensation and healthcare, according to the New York Times.

“Veterans should be pleased with the new regulations,” said Paul Sullivan, a leading advocate for the proposed regulations. But Mr. Sullivan, who is director of public relations for a law firm, Bergmann & Moore, that handles veterans’ claims, said the department must increase training and staffing to ensure that it can handle the wave of new claims likely to result from the new policy.

Veterans and surviving families with questions should contact a veteran service organization about filing a disability claim.  VA’s much-anticipated TBI rules are based on a 2008 report by the Institute of Medicine about the impact of TBI. The report was ordered under the framework of the “Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998,” a law expanding research, healthcare, and disability benefits for Gulf War veterans.

This means VA should immediately implement robust staffing and training to meet the demand of new and re-opened disability claims on top of VA’s existing inventory of 900,000 pending claims and 250,000 additional pending appeals.

In addition, considering the tremendous number of TBI cases in the past 11 years, VA should continue sustained scientific research on TBI.  VA should also monitor the evolving science on TBI and expand the benefit regulations as needed.

Bergmann & Moore will keep you posted on developments related to TBI as they arise.

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