King suffered injury in Iraq while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Based on his diagnosis of ruptured discs in his neck and back, radiculopathy, and nerve entrapment in his arms and legs, King applied for veterans’ benefits. In January 2006, the VA awarded him benefits based on an 80% service-connected disability rating. King disagreed with his rating, believing it should be increased to 100%; accordingly, he submitted additional information in support of an increase, including his status as a recipient of workers’ compensation benefits through his private insurance company. In July 2007, rather than increasing King’s disability rating, the VA terminated his benefits based on an apparent misunderstanding regarding his ability to receive simultaneously VA benefits and workers’ compensation benefits under the Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1651 (2006).
In seeking reinstatement of his benefits, King submitted to the VA letters of support from both the Department of Labor and his private insurer. The VA did not change its decision, however. To the contrary, it attempted to recover from King the benefits it previously paid to him. King continued his attempts to resolve the situation with phone calls, letters, e-mails, and additional documentation. King also submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request related to his benefits. Eventually, King spoke on the telephone with an attorney for the VA who took action to reinstate King’s benefits. In March 2008, eight months after it terminated King’s benefits, the VA retroactively awarded King a 100% disability rating and reinstated his benefits based on that rating. King alleges that the VA sent him a letter admitting that it had “erroneously terminated [his] benefits,” but he concedes that the VA eventually paid him all of the correct back payments and interest.
Judge(s): Jennifer Walker Elrod
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
Related Categories: Administrative Law , Government / Politics , Torts
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