In 2012, something extraordinary happened for an 88-year-old World War II veteran. Mr. Leroy MacKlem served the United States Army during the invasion of Sicily in 1943. In 1944, he received a medical discharge because of hip pain. He was assigned a 20% disability rating and he was entitled to disability benefits. In 1950, those disability benefits were stopped by the federal government which determined that Mr. MacKlem’s hip pain was due to the natural progression of an injury that occurred before he entered the service.
The New York Times reported in 2012 that Mr. MacKlem’s payments were stopped in 1950, but in 2006 Mr. MacKlem decided to appeal the ruling that had occurred 56 years earlier. In 2007, he received a letter from a review officer stating that the 1950 decision was wrong and that Mr. MacKlem should receive retroactive benefits. The case was appealed, but in 2012 a federal appeals court upheld the decision and Mr. MacKlem was granted approximately $400,000 for about six decades of unpaid veterans’ disability benefits.
How Long Do You Have to Appeal a Decision?
Mr. MacKlem’s case is an important one and the lesson is clear: If you deserve veterans’ disability benefits, you should not stop fighting for what is rightfully yours.
However, you should be aware that there are deadlines for appealing a denial of your veterans’ disability claims. Specifically, you typically have:
- One year from the date of the denial letter to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD).
- 60 days from the date you receive a statement of the case in response to your NOD.
- 120 days from the date of the Board of Veterans Appeals denial to file your appeal with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
- No time limit on requesting that your case be reconsidered; however, you need new and material evidence in order to have your request granted.
- No time limit on requesting a revision to a previous decision; however, you have to show that a clear and unmistakable error was made in the previous decision.
If you believe that you have been unjustly denied your disability benefits—whether you served in World War II six decades ago or you have just returned home from Iraq or Afghanistan—you should speak to an attorney about appealing your case. At Morgan & Weisbrod, our experienced veterans’ disability lawyers can review your medical evidence, answer your questions, and do whatever we can to get you the payments you deserve. Call today to schedule a free, private appointment.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.