November 27, 2018, Washington, DC – Bergmann & Moore (B&M) prevailed on behalf of a Vietnam War Veteran’s widow who was denied survivor benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
In March 2013, a widow living in New York filed a death benefit claim for her husband, who died in 2007 from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a rare type of brain cancer. In March 2014, VA’s Regional Office (RO) rating decision denied the widow’s claim for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
VA denied the widow’s DIC claim on the grounds that the Veteran’s death due to GBM was not linked to his time in the Army or his exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides while serving in Vietnam. After VA’s first denial, the widow submitted new evidence to VA, and the RO denied her claim a second time in February 2015
The widow believed VA was wrong. After fighting VA for two years, the widow contacted B&M for representation in August 2015. She then began the appeal process with B&M by submitting VA Form 21-0858, called a Notice of Disagreement (NOD), to the Regional Office.
In response to her NOD, in May 2016, VA issued a Statement of the Case (SOC), and VA continued to deny the widow’s claim. She took the next step with B&M and submitted a VA Form 9, called a Substantive Appeal, sending her claim to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board), located in Washington, DC.
As part of the appeal process, B&M took action in four vital ways to assist the widow:
1. B&M sought and obtained new military records confirming the Veteran’s deployment to an area of heavy Agent Orange spraying.
2. B&M requested a new medical opinion from a qualified oncologist who concluded there was an association between the Veteran’s GBM and his exposure to Agent Orange. The medical opinion by the private-practice cancer specialist was based on a careful review of key facts. The physician reviewed the Veteran’s deployment to the war, exposure to Agent Orange, medical history of cancer, and the peer-reviewed, published medical research associating dioxin, a toxic component in Agent Orange, with GBM.
3. B&M submitted all of the new military and medical evidence to the Board for consideration.
4. B&M also submitted a detailed brief arguing the Board should, based on the new evidence and the law, grant the widow’s DIC claim.
In October 2018, the Board granted the window’s DIC claim with an effective date of March 2013, conceding that the Veteran’s death due to GBM was associated with his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
B&M is honored to assist Veterans and family members with VA claim appeals at a VA Regional Office, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
If you are not satisfied with VA’s rating decision on your claim, such as a low rating, an incorrect effective date, or a denied benefit, then please contact Bergmann & Moore for a free consultation at 877-564-8439 or info@VetLawyers.com.