On December 22, 2011, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims gave approval to a class-action settlement victory for veterans and their families. As a result of the settlement proposed by The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), the U.S. military agreed to pay lifetime disability retirement benefits to 1,029 of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans discharged with PTSD who were denied benefits. Through the settlement, these veterans will receive:
- Entitlement to lifetime military disability retirement payments retroactive to the veteran’s date of discharge, which may result in monthly payments above what the veteran is receiving from the VA.
- Eligibility to apply for the Combat-Related Special Compensation, which may further increase monthly disability payments.
- Lifetime military healthcare, called TriCare, for the veteran, spouse and children until at least age 18.
- Lifetime military post exchange and commissary privileges.
- Eligibility to purchase life insurance coverage through the Survivor Benefit Plan.
- Reimbursement for medical treatment expenses of the veteran, their spouse and their minor children, from date of separation from military service.
The settlement also states that an additional 66 veterans who are class members will receive the same benefits if they receive a VA disability rating of 30% or more when applying to the VA for PTSD disability benefits.
The military also agreed to increase the PTSD disability rating of 1,066 OIF/OEF veterans who were wrongfully denied a 50% rating for PTSD upon discharge. This increase may qualify the veterans for thousands of dollars in back pay according to the settlement.
After the NVLSP and Morgan Lewis filed the class-action lawsuit in 2008, the settlement agreement was eventually filed by the NVLSP and military departments in July 2011. All class members were notified, with 96% of those who responded being in favor of the agreement. The settlement will be substantively implemented within six months of the December 22, 2011 approval. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims will retain jurisdiction over the claims to address any implementation issues that may arise.
“These veterans served our country in time of war, but have waited 3 to 8 years to receive the disability benefits they’ve earned for their service,” reflect NVLSP co-executive director, Bart Stichman, “This is a happy ending to a sad chapter of military mistreatment…”
Click here for more information about this settlement…