According to the New York Times, 88-year-old Leroy MacKlem joined the Army in 1943 and served during the invasion of Italy. During his time in the service, he developed a chronic, painful hip injury that forced him to return home.
Between 1944 and 1950, after his medical discharge, MacKlem received veterans’ disability benefits and a 20 percent disability rating. However, the Veterans Administration cut off benefits after concluding that his hip injury was likely related to a car accident that took place before he enlisted.
In 2006, MacKlem contacted a veterans’ disability lawyer and asked to appeal his case – his hip pain wasn’t present when he enlisted, and his hip arthritis didn’t develop into a debilitating condition until basic training. A year later, he received notice that the VA was reversing their decision. He would receive 56 years of disability payments in a lump sum of about $400,000.
In the next two years, his case would be heard by several appeals courts regarding whether he deserved the payments and whether the federal court’s “extraordinary award procedure” decision in 2009 was legal. Finally this month, a federal appeals court said that he would be repaid everything. MacKlem told reporters that he’d believe it when he sees it.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.