Has the VA denied your disability or given you too low a rating? Unfortunately, the VA is overworked and sometimes makes mistakes when investigating applications for disability benefits or disability ratings. If your benefits have been denied, Moebes Law is here to assist you with the appeals process.
At Moebes Law, we have a unique understanding of challenges wounded veterans face. When not practicing law, Lieutenant Colonel Moebes serves as a Medical Service Corps officer with the U.S. Air Force Reserves, and has deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom: twice to Balad Air Base, Iraq and once to Andrews AFB, Maryland. He has also facilitated the aeromedical evacuation of thousands of wounded warriors throughout his decorated military service.
Let us help reward your past service to our country by serving your legal needs now.
Call (404) 354-5432 to schedule your free consultation with a veterans disability attorney. We will work without end until you have the benefits promised to you. Whether you need compensation for an injury on the job, or being eligible for benefits, we will fight for you.
An Interview with Michael Moebes:
How does the typical veteran’s disability case go?
Michael: A lot of times the clients will be receiving treatment at a VA hospital for some kind of injury or illness that resulted from their military service. It’s possible they’ve been receiving treatment for this illness for a while and didn’t even know that it was related to the military. They learn that they can get better sensibility benefits, meaning a monthly check related to their disability partial or full.
Most of the time this check is a percentage, so it’s a partial, and they’ll file for it and then either they’ll get completely rejected because the VA will say there’s no causal nexus, or they might get a percentage that the veteran thinks is way lower than what they should actually get.
With the ease of access to information on the internet, a lot of people can research what some of the appropriate rules and laws are in this arena in Atlanta and do their initial filing. They might also work with a veteran’s service organization to do the initial filing like a charitable group that can help them.
But they can use a lawyer, and the lawyer can actually get paid to help them at the appellate level, which is a result of getting back news you don’t like. At this level I work at 120% contingency fee when I help them with appeal. I think it’s beneficial to use a lawyer over one of the veteran’s service organizations, or VSO’s, just because of our training and advocacy.
Even knowing a decent amount about the VA and what some of the rules are or not going to teach you what 3 intense years of law school and then several years of practice will teach you in terms of, like I said, the art of advocacy and presenting evidence in a manner that’s persuasive. So, the next step is normally we file a notice of disagreement and then we get go in front of a decision review officer at the local VA or DRO and we present our case or I guess it’s actually our appeal.
Next up, we present our appeal in front of the DRO and sort of explain to him or her why we disagree with the decision that the VA rendered and they might send them for another medical examination or they might grant them part of their claim or all of it or whatever. And if we disagree with that we file to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals and that’s normally, my practice is sort of limited to the decision review officer and then above that the Board of Veteran’s Appeals.
I’ve been in cases at the level above that but if I need to I guess I could. But the Board of Veteran’s Appeals is actually military lawyers who hear a case and they’re out of Washington, D.C., but they’ll hear your case via video conference at your local VA. And so we’ll go in Decatur at Clairmont Road and go do that as needed. Unfortunately, it takes a long time, months and months if not years. It takes a long time to go through, but eventually you hope that you’re able to get the VA to connect the dots and link up the problem or the sickness to the military service.
Then they can give a good effective date which will make a big difference in the claim. Usually this means that the date that the disability sort of started or became effective because obviously if you go through the VA appellate process and you win and they give you an effective date from only a little while ago, that’s not really a lot of money. But, if you’ve been fighting them for three years, or whatever the amount of time, and the effective date goes back much further to something like Desert Storm that can be a ton of money.
So, that matters, too, and the effective date can kind of vary by when symptoms manifest themselves and when incidents occurred and at so I’ve helped several Vietnam veterans because of Agent Orange issues. There are several ailments that they’ve already said you don’t even have to approve the causation as long as you prove you guys are big boots on the ground and somewhere in Vietnam where they had Agent Orange you can just link it up.
I’ve helped countless older vets who are still in need of my help, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to help out some younger guys like me who’ve been involved in the two gulf wars, and who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and physical problems.
Cases that go through the appellate process have elements that can be sort of automatically tied to specific deployments like all the Agent Orange problems to Vietnam. There’s also, of course, lobbying working to make some of the Gulf War syndrome problems tied to Desert Strom where it’s less of an onerous process to prove the case or the claim.
What are some of the disabilities veterans are seeing that they might not realize is related to their service?
Some cases of prostate cancer and Type II diabetes have been tied to Agent Orange exposure so if you can prove that you were there, that helps. A lot of people are getting sleep apnea and some are correlating this to deployment, especially in combat and environment and the stressors as well. There hasn’t been the direct causal link established with respiratory issues and them being a result from burn pits, but there’s a bun pit registry and that’s being lobbied for right now.
What should someone who thinks their conditions might be tied to their service do?
Michael: You always have to try and seek out help as soon as you can. A lawyer will be able to help you much faster than the VA probably will. Things tend to work more slowly at the VA, and I don’t think they do a great job in that duty to assist. They are supposed to help you with that initial filing, and if not, there are charitable organizations that help with that initial filing, too.
Then at the point where if they’re denied, or they’re given a really low percentage and they want to appeal it, my firm can help, because the process will always be easier with a lawyer. It’s a matter of whether you can go online and find resources and forms that they can do for the initial filing, which as lot of these can actually be found on my website.
We also have a Facebook page where I try to update that almost daily with articles related to VA issues and medical problems and tying it to your VA claim and then some worker’s compensation articles as well. There’s a lot more on the news about the VA stuff so I tend to update the Facebook page a lot with information on those things.
What would you tell them to look for if they did decide that they need help from an attorney?
Michael: In Atlanta there are only a handful of lawyers who do it and in other states they may have a little more if it’s a state with a lot of vets like Florida but you know I think it’s good to look for someone with military experience. It’s certainly not essential but I think it helps.
My military job is Medical Service Corp so I have a more intimate knowledge of medical issues in the military than probably most officers even if it’s a JAG who’s more familiar with the legal aspect of military life specifically under the UCMJ, Uniform Code of Military Justice. In the VA they’re not really worried about the UCMJ.
They’re worried about medical issues and because I worked in a hospital or medical environment during my deployments in Iraq I saw firsthand a lot of the problems that are still affecting people now and I worked directly with doctors and nurses and med techs and continues to do that and my military reserves role.
So I think that’s beneficial and then someone who’s a member of NOVA, the National Organization of Veterans Advocates. I think is very helpful because it shows you’re willing to spend a lot of money and time each year in an organization that lobbies for veteran’s causes and has continuing education seminars twice a year. I try to attend at least one of them every year to sort of sharpen us all and get better at representing veterans and networking with other lawyers from other states and seeing what they’re doing well.
Something I did right off the bat was I joined NOVA and went to the accreditation process to become allowed to practice before the Veteran’s Courts. Having some litigation experience is good even if it’s someone who is new to the VA scene in Atlanta