In a recent report to the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the Government Accountability Office called for reforms that may eliminate disability benefits for older veterans. The GAO noted that the number of veterans receiving Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits increased 22 percent from fiscal year 2009 to 2013, and in the subgroup of veterans 65 years of age or older, usage increased 73 percent. Moreover, new beneficiaries in 2013 included 2,800 vets age 75 and older, of whom 400 were age 90 and older. These enrollments have led the GAO to question what is meant by “unemployability” when referring to individuals beyond the traditional age of retirement.
The GAO report was critical of VA procedures that cannot that ensure consistency in rating vets for disability. The GAO cited the lack of internal control standards and inadequate guidance on determining unemployability. The GAO found that disagreement on which factors VA rating specialists needed to consider, and how much weight to give various factors, could lead two rating specialists to arrive at opposite conclusions about an applicant’s eligibility. The GAO offered several options for the VA to revise its eligibility standards, including an age cap of 65 years.
As veterans’ benefits attorneys, we are very concerned that ageism is at play in these determinations. As Americans live longer, the idea of retirement at 65 becomes more and more of a quaint notion. In fact, whenever members of Congress discuss reforming Social Security, there is always discussion about raising the retirement age to 67 or 68 years. We are told that retirement at 65 is obsolete. So, it seems entirely contradictory for one arm of the government to say seniors don’t need Social Security benefits because they are vital, youthful and productive, while another government office claims they don’t need disability benefits because they’d be too old to work anyway.
If you’re having trouble getting your VA benefits approved, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban can help. Our nationwide law firm is focused on getting veterans the benefits they so richly deserve. To learn more, call us at 866-866-VETS or contact our office online.
Thank to Mr. Spencer I was able to get my VA disability claim re-reviewed and given another chance to receive disability. By far he is one of the most professional lawyers I have ever dealt with. So Veterans if you are looking for help with your VA disability claim I would suggest that you hire Macari, Russotto, Spencer, & Balaban. Thanks again for everything.
— Alfred Daye
As a disabled veteran trying to navigate the complexities of the Veterans Administrations regulations, I turned to the law firm of Marcari, Russotto, Spencer and Balaban. They helped me understand what I needed to do and prepared and presented to the VA an excellent presentation of my case. I recommend them for your legal needs.
— Harry Johnson
I was very satisfied with the excellent and professional manner the law firm handled my claim. I highly recommend any veteran who needs help with his or her claim to use Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban P.C. Special thanks to Mr Spencer for being very professional and courteous during the appeal process. Again Thanks to the entire firm for a job well done!
— Luther Henderson
My husband & I highly recommend this law form to any veteran trying to navigate the endless red tape of the VA. We turned to Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban to handle my husband's appeal and could not have been happier. We enjoyed open and consistent communication regarding our case. Any questions we had were answered immediately.
— Michele DeZayas
Amanda Medina-Morales was our point of contact and she kept us up to date on the progress of our case. It was a pleasure and relief knowing that someone truly competent and professional was handling this and fighting for us.
— Michele DeZayas