Haug Partners Attorneys Increase Army Veteran’s Monthly Benefits

Linda Menifee joined the Army in the 1980s and served at bases in South Carolina, Georgia, and California. During active duty, she developed several service-connected medical conditions. These medical conditions caused or aggravated additional medical disabilities that developed after service. While Ms. Menifee received an honorable discharge from the Army, her disabilities prevented her from working.

When Ms. Menifee applied for benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) partially compensated her for the disabilities that she acquired during service. The VA Regional Office, however, denied Ms. Menifee’s claims for compensation for disabilities that developed after service as not service connected.

Ms. Menifee appealed the VA’s decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (“Board”). The Board instructed the VA to conduct medical examinations to evaluate whether Ms. Menifee’s service-connected disabilities caused or aggravated her post-service disabilities. Those examinations occurred in 2011 and 2012. Later in 2012, however, the Board denied her claim for secondary benefits based on the medical reports from those examinations. Ms. Menifee appealed the Board’s decision to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Haug Partners (formerly FLH) attorneys Sam Desai and Mike Harkness reviewed Ms. Menifee’s medical records and uncovered evidence demonstrating that the 2011 and 2012 VA medical examinations did not comply with the Board’s instructions. Specifically, the medical examinations failed to fully address whether Ms. Menifee’s service-connected disabilities caused or aggravated the medical disabilities that developed after service. In preparation for a mediation conference for the appeal, Sam Desai and Mike Harkness submitted a briefing memorandum highlighting the deficiencies in the VA medical reports. After reviewing the briefing memorandum, the Government agreed to remand the case and give Ms. Menifee the opportunity to seek her own medical opinions to support her claim for secondary service-connected disabilities.

Sam Desai and Mike Harkness then retained a medical expert and submitted additional evidence supporting Ms. Menifee’s claim. In a December 2015 decision, the Board cited the newly submitted evidence, granted Ms. Menifee’s claim for secondary service-connected disabilities, and increased the Ms. Menifee’s monthly benefits by over 100%. And the increase was retroactive for over eight years.