Monday, November 11, 2019

Washington State AG Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance

The Washington State Attorney General Office of Military and Veterans Initiative LogoMilitary and Veteran Legal Assistance (OMVLA) announced a centralized calendar of upcoming free legal aid clinics across the state. These events, which are coordinated with community partners, provide qualifying military personnel and veterans with free assistance for a range of civil legal issues. 
This and more is at

Appealing Your Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) Decision

If you have received an unfavorable decision (denial) from the Board of Veterans Appeals, or if you need help with a discharge upgrade, you might get free help from the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. If you apply, they may review your case and provide you with a free attorney if you meet all of the following criteria:
  • You are a veteran (or qualifying family member of a veteran); 
  • You have received a denial from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA); 
  • You do not have an attorney to help you; and, 
  • They find at least one meritorious issue to argue before the Court.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, but you can apply to try here.

Monday, September 3, 2018

November 14: Advocating for Veterans: The Basics on VA Benefits, Discharge Upgrades and Veteran Cultural Competency 2018

There are over 21 million veterans in the U.S.; many of them are not aware of the benefits to which they are entitled. Medical and financial assistance are available to those who have served in the military, but many veterans most in need are not receiving VA benefits. Navigating the VA claims system and applying for discharge upgrades before the Department of Defense are difficult and complex processes. Attorneys play an essential role in removing barriers to VA benefits, such as:
  • Lack of evidence to “service-connect” their injuries or disabilities.
  • Lack of current medical or mental health evidence documenting severity of symptoms for accurate disability ratings.
  • VA eligibility determinations for those given less than fully honorable discharges for behaviors that were related to minor disciplinary infractions or symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress or other service-related disabilities.
Nearly 45% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seek compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for service related injuries; 30% of these veterans who file for VA benefits include claims for Post-Traumatic Stress. Many of those who should receive benefits will be denied. Many service members who may be VA eligible are unaware of their legal right to pursue VA benefits, and of those who do apply, more than 90% will be denied. All of them will wait months or years for the VA to issue decisions on their claims. Learn how to navigate the VA claims process and to become an effective advocate for veterans in need. This all-day program will provide an overview of VA disability law and military discharge review law. You will gain an understanding of different types of military discharges, why they are important, and how you can help veterans with less than Honorable discharges.
IMPORTANT! If you get accredited by the VA before you attend this training, the first three hours will satisfy the VA’s CLE requirement. 1. Attorneys and other advocates must be accredited to practice before the VA. To obtain accreditation you must complete this form: 2. Accreditation by the VA may take several weeks, so do not delay filing your application. You can speed up the process by emailing the form to 3. Within 12 months after accreditation you are required to complete three hours of qualifying CLE. The morning session of this program satisfies that requirement, but only if you have already received your accreditation from the VA. If you have not received it, you should still watch this program, but keep in mind that you will need to complete three additional hours of CLE within 12 months after receiving your accreditation. 4. Attorneys and other advocates who become accredited will be listed on a national VA list, and are entitled to represent veterans in their claims for benefits, on a pro bono basis, and for attorney’s fees on appeals, where they are available. Who Should Attend: Attorneys seeking meaningful pro bono opportunities and any advocate who wants to help change the life of a veteran with a disability. Attorneys seeking to meet VA’s CLE requirements for new and continuing VA accreditation should also attend. Finally, attorneys who hope to expand their practice areas to include veterans’ cases where fees are available should register for one or more of the sessions.
Advocating for Veterans: The Basics on VA Benefits, Discharge Upgrades and Veteran Cultural Competency 2018
November 14, 2018
9:00 AM Pacific
Webcast - Register Now!
Practising Law Institute (PLI)
Credit in most jurisdictions
Free and open to the public.
More Information And Registration

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

December 18: Webcast - Better Serving Older or Disabled Veterans: A Special Session on the Intersections between Veterans Benefits, Social Security, and Medicaid

Register Now For Free!
Description: Well over one-half of the American Veteran population is elderly or disabled and entitled to a wide-range of government benefits— from income to health care to in-home services. These benefits can help a veteran and their family stave off poverty, prolong independence, and receive the supportive services they need to thrive. Yet, while many elder law, disability rights, and benefits practitioners are versed in Social Security and Medicaid, few attorneys are aware of how these benefits intersect with benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As part of PLI’s Advocating for Veterans series, this free half-day session will empower practitioners with the tools they need to maximize their Veteran clients’ income and well-being, and to better meet their health care and long-term needs. More specifically, expert veterans and government benefits attorneys will provide practitioners with an in-depth understanding of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ lesser known Non-Service-Connected Pension benefit and break down the interplay between VA Benefits, Social Security benefits, Medicaid, and In-Home Supportive Services.
What You Will Learn
  • How to determine whether a Veteran is eligible for VA Non-Service-Connected Pension, including how to reduce a Veteran’s countable income in order to ensure entitlement and maximize income
  • How VA Benefits and Social Security benefits intersect, including how they offset one another, the main differences between VA Non-Service-Connected Pension and SSI, and the impact of VA Non-Service-Connected Pension on SSI
  • How to prolong a Veteran’s independence by using VA Non-Service-Connected Pension with or without In-Home Supportive Services to pay for in-home care and assisted living
  • How to expand a Veteran’s long-term care options using VA Benefits, Medicaid, and In Home Supportive Services
Who Should Attend
  • Attorneys and advocates that work with or are interested in serving American Veterans will benefit from this program.
  • Elder law, disability rights advocates, and government benefits advocates may find the session particularly applicable to their practice areas.
  • IMPORTANT! If you are a VA-accredited attorney and have already completed the VA’s initial CLE requirement, this program may satisfy the VA’s continuing CLE requirement to maintain accreditation. 
Title: Better Serving Older or Disabled Veterans: A Special Session on the Intersections between Veterans Benefits, Social Security, and Medicaid
December 18, 2017
9:00 AM Pacific
Webcast - Register Now! Credit: Cost: Free By: Practising Law Institute More Information And Registration

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Agent Orange Exposure to C-123 Aircrews Not In Vietnam 1972-1982

Between 1972 and 1982, up to 2,100 U.S. Air Force (AF) Reserve personnel trained and worked on C-123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange (AO) during Operation Ranch Hand (ORH) in the Vietnam War.
AO residue was found on those aircraft. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers AF Reservists who served in ORH C-123s ineligible for health care and disability coverage under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.
Recently, VA asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to evaluate whether service in ORH C-123s could have exposed AF Reservists to herbicide residues at levels harmful to their health. IOM found:
  • The AF reservists would have experienced some exposure to chemicals from herbicide residue when working inside ORH C-123s. 
  • It is plausible that, at least in some cases (which cannot be associated with specific individuals), the reservists’ exposure exceeded health guidelines for workers in enclosed settings. Thus, some reservists quite likely had problems - as the report puts it, "non-trivial increases in their risks of adverse health outcomes."
  • If your client worked on those planes during that time, consult the Agent Orange Registry at your local VA Health Care Facility. The Client Does Not Have To Have Been In Or Near Vietnam - just working on those C-123s 1972-1982s. If you don't know where the Agent Orange registry is, ask at the information desk. It is not certain that VA will act on this, but it seems likely and the client has earned help for any AO-related problems. This can include medical assistance and disability pay. NOTE WELL: disability pay typically relates back to the day on which a claim has been filed. It is therefore very important to file a claim immediately, even if not all the documentation is available to complete a claim. If your client uses the online claim system, the start date is the day on which the claim STARTED to be filed, not the date on which the claim was completed. This can be an important distinction if it takes your client time to get all the documentation. Do not delay. As a general rule, your client can get the help they need filing a claim through their preferred VSO, but if they advocate delaying for any reason, your client may be better served going to the next one.
  • If your client did not work on those planes but had exposure to Agent Orange in other ways, check with the Agent Orange Registry. This report is the direct result of an affected veteran advocating not for himself but for his comrades, with a long campaign of calls, letters and documentation. If the client is not currently within the rules, the rules can be changed - read more at Dogged Reservist Behind Win for Ailing C-123 Crewmen
Learn More:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 12: Webcast - The Myths and Mysteries of Substance Use Disorder #MCLE

Many lawyers suffer from substance use disorder – more than is typical in the general population. Many  Fortunately, there are many attorneys who want to help to change that reality, but it’s often hard to know where to start. Would you know how to identify substance use disorder? Once you knew about the abuse, would you know how to help? So many things about substance use disorder are a mystery to us and so many things that we hear are myths. What’s the truth about substance use disorder? Join this 60 minute webinar to learn facts about substance use disorder and how to help.
The Myths and Mysteries of Substance Use Disorder
Monday, January 12, 2015
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PST
Preregister Now!
CLE credit:
  • CA Attorney Protective is an Approved Multiple Activity Provider in CA
  • NJ Attorney Protective is an Approved Multiple Activity Provider in NJ
  • WA - Approved for 0.25 live Ethics credit and 0.75 live General credit; MCLE Activity Number 388025
  • Other - CLE credit is being applied for in multiple additional states.
Attorney Protective
More Information And Registration

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pension Poacher Prevention Act - Washington State

From the Washington State Attorney General, March 10, 2014
Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Pension Poacher Prevention Act today passed the Legislature with strong bipartisan support. This measure addresses the growing problem of “pension poachers” who try to scam elderly veterans. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
 Ferguson worked with Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, and Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, to secure approval for Senate Bill 6208. A coalition of veterans’ advocacy groups and organizations representing elderly Washingtonians, including AARP, supported the bill.
 “Our veterans protected us and we have a duty to protect them from scams,” said Ferguson. “The Attorney General’s Office is working hard to defend the legal rights of veterans, and this bill will improve safeguards and increase enforcement against scammers who rob veterans of their hard earned benefits.”
 “Pension poachers” represent a growing scam to separate elderly veterans from their assets. The scheme involves unscrupulous financial planners or insurance agents claiming to be veterans’ advocates. They offer “help” in submitting a claim for a specific federal U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs pension benefit called Aid and Attendance. The Federal Trade Commission and VA have each issued recent warnings about the scheme.
Poachers convince veterans to reposition their assets to try to qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, which has specific and strict qualifications. The poachers then sell veterans often unneeded financial products or services to earn a commission or fee. Problems arise because these unscrupulous brokers often fail to deliver on their promises, do not provide full information about other veterans benefits, and do not reveal the potentially adverse consequences of the financial transactions such as loss of Medicaid eligibility.
 The Attorney General’s Pension Poacher Prevention Act will address these problems by prohibiting certain unfair and deceptive practices. The law will: Make it illegal to receive compensation for assisting with the preparation of a claim, except as allowed under the VA’s rules for accreditation; Prohibit individuals from guaranteeing a specific benefit amount; Make it illegal to misuse personal and financial information gathered for the purposes of assisting an individual with a veterans claim; and Give the Attorney General’s Office enforcement authority through the state’s consumer protection laws.
“Veterans and their families have sacrificed to protect us and as lawmakers we must do what we can to protect them,” said Sen. Andy Hill, who sponsored the legislation. “Too often scammers have defrauded veterans of their retirement savings and insurance options. By improving protections we can help secure their financial future.” “Vulnerable elderly veterans are being targeted by pension poachers offering empty promises of help,” said Rep. Kevin Parker, who sponsored a version of the bill in the House of Representatives. “Veterans are a vital part of our community and we need to work to protect them and the benefits they have earned.” "Veterans are sometimes specifically targeted for the benefits they have earned because of their service,” said Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. “Veterans and families who need claims assistance can always get it for free by contacting our agency and network of accredited veteran service officers.”
 If you're worried about a possible pension poaching scams, you can:
  • Contact the AG at 1-888-551-4636 
  • File a complaint at: