South Carolina Widow Prevails
September 5, 2018, Washington, DC – Bergmann & Moore attorneys prevailed on behalf of a Vietnam War Veteran’s widow who sought survivor benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after the Veteran died from a rare form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme.
In August 2012, the South Carolina Veteran, who served in the Marines and earned a Purple Heart Medal, died. The widow filed a claim in September 2012 alleging the Veteran’s death was due to glioblastoma multiforme and caused by his exposure to Agent Orange (that includes herbicides such as dioxin) while serving in Vietnam. She also alleged that the his service-connected disabilities contributed to his death.
The local VA Regional Office denied the widow’s claim in March 2013. She then appealed, and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) in Washington, DC, denied her appeal for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC, also called survivor benefits), in March 2018. The same month, the widow contacted Bergmann & Moore for legal representation. She wanted to appeal the Board’s denial to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court), also located in Washington, DC.
Five months later, B&M and the Vietnam War Veteran’s widow prevailed when VA agreed to a Joint Motion for Remand (JMR). In the JMR approved by the Court, VA admitted:
– The Board made a mistake in failing to ensure all of the Veteran’s VA medical records were obtained. The VA failed to obtain about 30 years of VA medical records. VA’s mistake was to request records for 1996 – 2004, instead of 1966 to 2004.
– VA made a mistake when VA failed to obtain the Veteran’s private medical records from his oncologist, even though the widow submitted the correct release forms.
– VA’s Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam was not adequate. VA’s C&P exam only addressed if glioblastoma could be service-connected on a presumptive basis due to herbicide exposure. VA’s C&P exam should have also addressed if herbicides could be service-connected on a direct basis.
– VA’s C&P exam opinion also failed to address whether the Veteran’s other service-connected disabilities, including eye loss and residuals of a shell fragment wound in combat, contributed to or accelerated his death.
– The Board failed to address the medical research studies and other materials submitted by the widow in support of her claim for survivor benefits.
As result of the JMR, the widow’s appeal was returned from the Court to the Board in order to correct VA’s errors and decide the claim again for DIC benefits.
B&M is honored to assist surviving family members with their VA disability compensation appeals at an RO, the Board, or the Court. For a free consultation, please call 877-838-2889, or contact us at info@VetLawyers.com.
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