Firm’s Veterans Services Group Helps Earn Ruling to Improve Rights for Mentally Incompetent Disabled Vets
Newburgh, NY – Nancy Morgan, managing partner of Finkelstein & Partners’ Veterans Services Group, announced that the group participated in oral argument and won a significantly important appeal that will fundamentally change the rights of mentally incompetent disabled American veterans. The case Freeman v. Shineskiwas argued at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
It’s an unfortunate reality that our nation’s veterans make a great many sacrifices in the course of service to our country. Some, as a result of injury or age, have even sacrificed their mental competency. For those mentally incompetent disabled veterans, the Veterans Administration (VA) took away their right, and that of their family, to choose their own fiduciary, the person to whom the veterans’ property or power is entrusted.
The issue argued before the Court in Freeman v. Shineski was to determine whether the veteran or his family had the right to question the VA’s choice of a fiduciary for the veteran. Prior to this decision, the VA unilaterally appointed a fiduciary of their choosing. Frequently, the fiduciary was paid for their role and the fee deducted directly from the disabled veteran’s benefits. If the decision was challenged by the veteran or his family, the VA denied the appeal stating that the appointment of the fiduciary was the sole discretion of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Mr. William Freeman is a Vietnam-era veteran who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The team of veterans’ attorneys contributed to the briefs and made oral arguments before the Court that the choice of a fiduciary by the VA was appealable to the Board of Veterans Appeals and to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims just like any other decision made by the VA.
In a unanimous decision, the Court agreed that the veteran “is clearly and indisputably entitled to appeal to the Board the decision of the VSCM to appoint a paid fiduciary.”
“This decision is a tremendous victory not only for Mr. Freeman and other incompetent disabled veterans, but for all veterans,” said Andrew G. Finkelstein, managing partner of Finkelstein & Partners. “It points out once again that the VA is not above the law and is accountable to the people like every other branch of government.”
Finkelstein & Partners’ Veterans Services Group (VSG) is dedicated to ensuring our nation’s veterans receive the benefits they have earned and deserve. Comprised of a team of veterans advocates which includes accredited attorneys, the VSG represents veterans seeking VA benefits for current Medical conditions caused by their military service. We handle VA service-connection claims related to combat wounds, PTSD, TBI, toxin (such as Agent Orange) and environmental exposures, and other service-related Medical problems. To learn more, visit www.lawampm.com or call 1-800-LAW-AMPM (1-800-526-2676).