August 13, 2018, Washington, DC ~ With legal representation from Bergmann & Moore (B&M), a Marine Veteran’s widow recently prevailed in the appeal of her late husband’s disability claim for cancer associated with his Camp Lejeune toxic exposures. The Veteran was stationed at Camp Lejeune in 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962, when the military dumped tons of harmful toxic waste that contaminated ground water that Marines and families used to drink, cook, and bathe.
The widow’s claim appeal against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), reached all the way to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court) in Washington, DC.
The initial claim filed by the Veteran in 2012 against VA sought service connection for esophageal cancer due to his in-service water contamination at Camp Lejeune. He was stationed at the base more than the minimum 30 days required by VA regulation. Sadly, the Veteran died in 2013. After the Veteran’s death, the widow filed for substitution so she could obtain the accrued benefits for the period while the Veteran’s claim was on appeal and he was alive. She also sought death benefits as a survivor of a Veteran who died due to a service-connected condition.
VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) denied the Veteran’s appeal in December 2017. The widow then contacted B&M in January 2018 and the widow appealed the Board’s decision to the Court. B&M and the widow prevailed when VA agreed to a Joint Motion for Remand (JMR) with the Court in August. In the JMR, VA admitted that VA made two significant mistakes:
~ VA admitted to the Court that the Board failed to address a favorable private medical opinion obtained by the widow. The favorable private opinion pointed out several errors in a VA medical opinion that was used by the Board to deny the claim.
~ VA admitted to the Court that the VA Regional Office failed to request the Veteran’s private medical records despite a 2016 order from the Board directing VA to obtain the records. The Veteran signed and gave VA proper authorization forms for nine doctors and four hospitals. Yet the VA Regional Office failed to act as directed by the Board.
As result of the JMR, the Marine Veteran’s appeal for accrued benefits and death benefits was returned to the Board in order to correct VA’s errors and decide the claim again.
B&M is honored to assist Veterans with their VA disability compensation appeals against VA. For a free consultation, please call 877-838-2889, or contact us at info@VetLawyers.com.