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Combat veterans hope to recover $20 million in lost benefits

Due to an improper classification on paper, combat veterans may have lost millions in veterans' disability payments. Advocates for the veterans have filed a class action lawsuit against the military to help the sailors and Marines recover the benefits they are owed. The disability benefits should have helped those  veterans who were unable to work because of combat injures.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three veterans and potentially more than 1,000 other veterans who were impacted by the paper mistake. The soldiers allegedly lost a combined $20 million in disability because service officials failed to not that their injuries were sustained while in combat. Without a "combat" designation, officials from the Department of Veterans' Affairs were forced to withhold payment for several years.

The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the case, but has not issued a statement or defense regarding the errors or the lawsuit. The claims issues were specific to soldiers in the Navy and the Marine Corps, not the Army or Air Force. Reports indicated that the problem most likely stemmed from a 2008 change in how veterans' disability claims are reported and rewarded. Under the old rules any service member separated for serious injuries would receive a lump-sum from the military. The disability checks would be delayed until the VA "recouped" the same amount.

Congress has since updated the rule, allowing combat-injured veterans to immediately receive those benefits payments. This means that veterans were losing several hundred dollars every month that could have help covered medical expenses and care. If you or someone you love has lost veterans' benefits or you are seeking disability benefits, an experienced attorney can help protect your rights.

Source: Stars and Stripes, "Lawsuit alleges paperwork mistake has cost veterans millions," Leo Shane III, July 26, 2012.

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