Class Action Suit to Yield Benefits for Thousands of Veterans

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CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT TO YIELD BETTER BENEFITS FOR THOUSANDS OF VETERANS SUFFERING FROM PTSD AND THEIR FAMILIES – Lawyers Serving Warriors

Veterans must opt-in by July 24 for disability rating upgrade and expedited review of benefits, NVLSP and Morgan Lewis available to counsel veterans on their rights as class members

Following an order issued by the judge overseeing Sabo v. United States, legal notices are being mailed this week to more than 4,300 veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom and were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The court’s notice invites them to join a class action lawsuit filed in December 2008 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims by signing and submitting an “opt-in” form no later than July 24, 2010.  Submitting this form will allow these veterans to take advantage of a negotiated resolution that guarantees an upgrade in the veteran’s disability rating and an expedited review by a military correction board to determine the full extent of the rating improvement.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of seven veterans by the non-profit National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) and pro bono counsel Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, alleges that between December 17, 2002 and October 14, 2008, the military illegally denied benefits to an entire class of service members who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and were discharged from service.

As a result of the suit, the military has agreed to expedite a review of records to increase the disability ratings previously issued to all class members.  To help affected veterans navigate the process of seeking the benefits to which they are entitled, NVLSP and Morgan Lewis are bringing together approximately 100 volunteer lawyers to offer free counseling to all class members.

The disability ratings which are the subject of the lawsuit are critically important to veterans with PTSD.  A permanent disability rating of 30% or more entitles a veteran to monthly disability benefits for the rest of the veteran’s life, to free health care for the veteran and his or her spouse for life, and to free health care for their minor children.

“For years, the law has required the military to assign a disability rating of at least 50% to all veterans discharged for PTSD.  This rating (above 30%) would give them the medical benefits they need.  And, in October 2008, the Department of Defense in fact ordered the military to assign a 50% rating for PTSD going forward,” said Bart Stichman, co-executive director of NVLSP.  “Yet, each of the seven named plaintiffs in our lawsuit received a rating of 10% or less.  We believe there are thousands more who were likewise shortchanged.”

Eligible veterans who join the suit will be entitled to expedited review of their disability rating, a correction of military records to show their rating for PTSD was at least 50% for the six-month period following the date of release from military service, as well as a determination of whether the new rating should be permanently increased, decreased, or remain the same.

After their rating is increased, class members may receive back pay of disability benefits, reimbursement for health care expenses the military should have covered, as well as future benefits to which they and their families are entitled—potentially millions of dollars in benefits over time.

“Even if the military board does not end up permanently raising a veteran’s PTSD disability rating, the veteran retains the right to ask the court to do so,” added Stichman. “In short, they cannot end up worse off by virtue of joining the lawsuit and agreeing to a board review.”

WHO CAN BE A CLASS MEMBER IN THIS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT?
All individuals who (a) served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, (b) were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual’s PTSD, (c) were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result, (d) were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual’s placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).

Veterans who do not receive the legal notice, but who believe they may qualify as a class member in Sabo vs. United States, should go to www.ptsdlawsuit. com to obtain information about their rights in the lawsuit.

http://www.lawyerss ervingwarriors. com/news_ releases- 10-0125.html

Go to Web site:  http://www.ptsdlaws uit.com/index. html

It only involves veterans who

(a) served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, (b) were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual’s PTSD, (c) were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result, (d) were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual’s placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).

Key Facts Regarding Sabo, et al., v. United States

  • On December 18, 2009, the United States Court of Federal Claims ordered that a legal notice be sent to you and all other veterans of the U.S. Armed Services who may be eligible to join the lawsuit known as Sabo, et al. v. United States.
  • The Sabo lawsuit was brought by seven veterans from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The seven veterans were discharged from military service as a result of a finding by a Physical Evaluation Board (“PEB”) that they were unfit for continued active duty service due, at least in part, to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), and were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%. You received the Court-approved legal notice because government records indicate that you — like the seven veterans who filed the Sabo lawsuit –were discharged from the Armed Services between December 17, 2002 and October 14, 2008, were found unfit for continued active service due, at least in part, to PTSD, but were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%.
  • The seven veterans in the Sabo lawsuit claim that the PEBs violated their legal rights, as well as yours, by assigning a disability rating for PTSD below 50%. The seven veterans have asked the Court to order the military services to give them – and to give you if you join the lawsuit – all of the military retirement benefits to which a veteran with at least a 50% PTSD rating would be entitled.
  • The military services deny that they have done anything wrong, and the Court has not yet decided that issue. For those who “opt-in” to the class, the military services agreed to prioritize applications to the records corrections boards requesting an increase of their PTSD ratings.
  • The Court approved the legal notice that was sent to you and other eligible veterans to inform you of your rights to either join or not join this lawsuit, and what you would need to do to join this lawsuit, if that is what you decide to do.
  • Under the Rules of United States Court of Federal Claims, the Court has allowed the lawsuit to be a class action on behalf of the following individuals:

All individuals who (a) served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, (b) were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual’s PTSD, (c) were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result, (d) were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual’s placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).

  • If you fit this definition, you may choose to join (or “opt-in” to) this lawsuit as a Class Member.
  • Even though you may have a right to join this lawsuit, there is no obligation to join and you do not lose any legal rights by declining to join.
  • The lawyers who represent the veterans in the Sabo lawsuit are not charging the veterans a fee for their services. These lawyers have agreed not to charge you or other class members a fee if you choose to join the lawsuit.
  • If you join this lawsuit, neither the Court nor a military records correction board can reduce the PTSD rating(s) that the PEB assigned to you absent fraud or unusual circumstances.
  • The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and Summary of Rights and Options provide more detailed information regarding this lawsuit.

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