TAMPA, Fla.,April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida disability benefits lawyer John V. Tucker volunteered his services three years ago to an organization that matches lawyers with clients who lost appeals for Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. His assigned client was the widow of a World War II veteran. She was denied Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) in 2001 after her husband died of what his doctors insisted was a service-related condition.
His client's claim was denied at every level in the VA on the grounds that her husband's death was unrelated to his service injury. This was despite the reports of four separate doctors stating the veteran's war injury eventually caused a condition resulting in his death. By the time Tucker became involved, his client had been fighting with the VA for seven years. It took an additional three years to finally win the case.
"We were elated when we won this appeal," said Tucker. "Our job is to solve people's legal problems and we keep fighting until we do. My client deserved this victory and I'm glad I could help her. Ten years is a long time to fight government bureaucracy."
A Florida disability lawyer at Tucker & Ludin, P.A., Tucker signed up to offer pro bono legal services in 2008 with The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. The organization provides free legal representation to veterans and their families who have pending appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. By law, veterans cannot use legal counsel to represent them until their claims have been denied by a regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Until then, veterans and their families must fend for themselves.
Tucker, who prefers to preserve his client's anonymity, said that his client's husband received disability payments from the VA for his war injuries until his death in 2001. She assumed that getting DIC, or widow's benefits, would be automatic. When her claim was denied, she documented her case. Four of her husband's treating doctors stated that the veteran's service-connected disability contributed to his death.
But the VA was unmoved. After her claim was denied by both the VA Regional Office and the Board of Veterans Appeals for seven years, she filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. That's when Tucker stepped in. After three more years of filings, motions, and hearings, the case was remanded to the VA by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. On March 29, the Board of Veterans Appeals reversed the previous decision stating that the death was not related to the veteran's service-connected condition. This decision cleared the way for Tucker's client to claim DIC benefits retroactive to 2001. The amount of the total award is currently being calculated.
About Tucker & Ludin, P.A.
With offices in Clearwater and Tampa, Florida, Tucker & Ludin, P.A. lawyers provide legal representation to clients with a wide range of disability issues related to individual disability insurance, ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act - the law that covers employee benefits like group disability insurance), Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income, and Veterans Administration disability claims. In Veterans disability claims like the one described above, the firm helps people in all 50 states.
SOURCE Tucker & Ludin, P.A.