Intro

Welcome to our Big News section for all the latest news concerning Military Disability.

We'll do our best to keep you up to date on everything that could affect your disability. Since the majority of our news will cover legal issues that can be dragged out for a long time, if you'd like an update on an issue, let us know, and we'll do what we can.

Please feel free to comment and submit questions. We want to give you the information you need, so help us by letting us know what you want to know.

This page is strictly for the latest and upcoming news. If you are looking for specific information about the disability system or your disability, see our Military Disability Blog: Advice From the Big Guy or our website, www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com, for all the answers you'll need.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 Wheelchair Games and the New Annie App

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Paralyzed Veterans of America are joining together to co-present the 2016 National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Salt Lake City from June 27 through July 2, 2016. The games are open to veterans with amputations, spinal cord injuries, or neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, who must use a wheelchair to participate in sports.

The events in this year’s Games include air guns, wheelchair basketball, track and field, archery, table tennis, swimming, and more. Wheelchair athletes from across the nation are expected to attend, but registration is limited to 550 athletes, so don’t delay in submitting your registration form. For more information, visit http://wheelchairgames.org.

In other news, the VA is currently field-testing a new phone app called Annie App, which should be available to all veterans in Spring 2016. Annie App is a text messaging service that you can use to stay on top of your health. Annie will send automated messages that prompt you to monitor your own health, and your responses allow Annie to let you know how you’re doing. Annie can also send you appointment reminders and other messages from your local VA facility. For more information, visit http://mobile.va.gov/app/annie-app-veterans

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Robotic Legs Now Available for Eligible Vets

In an historic move, the VA has agreed to pay for robotic legs for eligible paralyzed veterans with spinal cord injuries. The powered exoskeleton, called the ReWalk, was approved for in-home use by the FDA in 2014, but the $77,000 price tag meant few insurers would cover it.

The device consists of leg braces with motion sensors and motorized joints that can respond to changes in upper body movement and shifts in balance. There is also a computerized control system and a tilt sensor. Worn outside the clothing, there is a support belt around the waist to keep the suit in place as well as a backpack for the computer and rechargeable battery. Crutches must be used for stability, and FDA regulations require that an assistant be nearby.

The ReWalk not only improves quality of life, but also provides additional health benefits. VA pilot studies show that paraplegics who used the device as little as four hours a week for three to five months saw improved bladder and bowel function, improved sleep, less fatigue, and decreased back pain. Research into the long-term effects and benefits of this device are ongoing.

The ReWalk is not for everyone, however. It does not work for quadriplegics due to the need to use the arms and upper body with the device. There are also very specific weight and height requirements.

The VA has started training staff at twelve healthcare centers to provide the system, and the program is expected to expand. Already, 45 paralyzed veterans have been evaluated and meet the requirements for the device.

If you would like more information about the program, please go to http://www.va.gov/QUALITYOFCARE/improving/Spinal_Cord_Injury.asp.


Monday, January 4, 2016

VA to Offer Full Disability Benefits for Contaminated Camp Lejeune Water Exposure

Last August, we reported that the VA was considering expanding the list of conditions eligible for VA Healthcare caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. At that time, they assembled a team to start discussing this matter.

On December 17, 2015, instead of announcing that they were simply adding conditions, the VA announced that it is now proposing to also grant eligibility for disability compensation to veterans exposed to the contaminated water.

Currently, veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, are eligible to receive healthcare (but not disability compensation) for 15 conditions, and the VA also reimburses eligible family members for exposure-related healthcare costs.

Now, the VA is proposing that the following conditions be added to the VA Presumptive List for veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune during that time:

            Kidney Cancer                                   Leukemia
            Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma                 Multiple Myeloma
            Parkinson’s Disease                          Scleroderma
            Liver Cancer
            Aplastic Anemia/Myelodysplastic Syndromes

All conditions on the VA Presumptive List are presumed service-connected and thus eligible for full VA Disability Benefits, including both healthcare and disability compensation.

In addition, the VA is also proposing to expand this eligibility to include Reserve and National Guard members stationed at Camp Lejeune during that time. It will be presumed that they were exposed to the contaminated water and, in certain circumstances, to be disabled by that exposure, allowing them to be eligible for VA benefits.

While proposed, these changes have not yet gone into affect. The VA is currently working to finalize these regulations, and until they are published, it can’t grant any disability claims for these conditions. However, the VA does encourage vets who served at Camp Lejeune during that time to go ahead and submit a VA Disability Claim if they have conditions they believe are related to their exposure. It can’t be approved until the final regulations are published, but they’ll keep the claim on hold until then.


As soon as those final regulations are published, we will let you know. Until then, the VA will continue to grant claims that are covered by current regulations. To see if you are eligible for healthcare benefits for the 15 conditions already covered, visit http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/index.asp. To get more information about reimbursement for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for eligible family members, go to https://www.clfamilymembers.fsc.va.gov.