Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Attorney Michael Quatrini Interviewed by WTAE on Obtaining Veterans Administration Benefits for Agent Orange Exposure


Did you see Michael Quatrini on WTAE last night? MQ was interviewed regarding the difficult process of obtaining Veterans Disability Compensation benefits for Agent Orange exposure. 

Thank you to WTAE investigative reporter Bofta Yimam for shedding light onto the struggle that veterans' and their widows' face with the Veterans Administration.

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VIDEO: Watch Bofta Yimam's report


Widow fighting VA to prove husband handled Agent Orange


PITTSBURGH —A local widow says she's been fighting the VA for years, working hard to prove her late husband handled the chemical herbicide Agent Orange.
A victorious outcome could give her compensation.
She's sharing her story hoping it could help others out there.
Deeni Tarre of Dravosburg says she knows her late husband handled Agent Orange. But the VA tells her unless she can prove it, she has no chance at getting compensation she believes she deserves.
"I love him, I miss him, I didn't want this to happen to him, I wanted to have a long life with him," said Tarre.
Tarre says her husband Christopher died at 64, after developing squamous cell cancer. During their 25-year marriage, he rarely talked about his service in the Air Force, stationed in Korea in the early 1960's.
"He was a loader, he loaded the stuff on the plane, this agent orange bound for Vietnam, now at a few points he did tell me he was in Vietnam but only on short missions," Tarre said.

Reporter: "He would load Agent Orange?"
Tarre: "Yeah, in 55-gallon drums."
But after collecting 10 years of medical records, digging through military paperwork and pressing the VA to grant her claim for compensation.
"Yeah, I was denied," said Tarre.
She's fighting for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, a benefit paid to eligible survivors of veterans for a death resulting from a service-related injury or disease. But proving the first steps, that her husband actually traveled into Vietnam - or was exposed to Agent Orange as a loader, has been tricky.
"If they know that somebody working in Korea in his exact location during that period of time was the one loading all of the planes that eventually went and sprayed Agent Orange in Vietnam, we're back in the game," said Michael Quatrini, a private attorney.

Reporter: "What do you make of all of this?"
Tarre: "I think they are hiding something."
Tarre filed her first claim in 2011, and was denied. She blames the VA for failing to keep adequate records.
"When I spoke to the gentleman at the VA he says, 'ohmigod.' I said, 'what's wrong?' He said, 'your husband's files were destroyed,'" said Tarre.

But the VA told Action News Investigates it's not aware that Tarre's files were destroyed. The agency does say it's double-checking Tarre's personnel file, including 1,000 pages of medical records.
"Her claim for DIC was denied because we haven't been able to make service connection to Agent Orange exposure," said Pat Arnold, Pittsburgh VA regional benefits asstistant director.
If her husband was alive, attorney Quatrini says they could ask key questions. That's why he urges veterans or their loved ones to get on the ball now.
"To find the exact person that they would have been on that mission with, the only person that could answer that question is the deceased veteran, the only person that could tell us exactly what the barrels look like that he was putting on to the plane, what kind of plane was it, did he have any pictures of that stuff," said Quatrini.
He suggests veterans make copies of documents, send it in certified mail to the VA and take detailed notes.

Simple advice, but critical in building a case like Tarre's.
"Really solidifying that he was exposed to Agent Orange, where and when," Quatrini said.
Tarre filed her latest appeal last year and is still waiting for a hearing. The VA says it's drastically reduced its backlog but admits:
"We could definitely use more personnel here ... we are strapped, we are working at capacity, we have a wonderful group of employees who've been working years of mandatory overtime to reduce backlog," said Arnold.
"If they can make you wait until you get disgusted and drop the whole thing, I think that's what's up their sleeve. I think they need to be exposed because there's many widows like me who have had their spouses fall to this and they died, and eventually they died," said Tarre.
Quatrini says veterans who suspect any Agent Orange contact need to request an examination by the VA, file a claim and write a statement.
Arnold also recommends that veterans work with service organizations, collect pictures of the veteran during service, and if possible, connect with their former unit members to get written statements.
As for Tarre, she says winning her claim could bring in about $1,100 each month.
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QR Veterans Disability Law Group

Serving Veterans nationwide from our offices in Greensburg, Pittsburgh, and Latrobe.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

QR Wins Remand at Board of Veterans Appeals for Hypertension and TDIU

QR is pleased to announce that our appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals for an Army veteran with service in Vietnam resulted in a reversal of the Pittsburgh Regional Office's severance regarding hypertension, and, a remand for further adjudication of a claim for Total Disability Based On Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.  This is a benefit payable to a veteran who is unable to work due to the individual's service-connected conditions. 

The veteran applied on his own and was originally denied by the Pittsburgh Regional Office.  The Regional Office severed the Veteran's hypertension as not being directly related to Agent Orange.  

Attorney Quatrini appealed the unfavorable decision and worked with the Veteran's private physicians to indicate that the Veteran's hypertension was "more likely than not" related to his diabetes.  

Mr. Quatrini attended a video teleconference with the Veteran in Pittsburgh, PA and was able to convince the Veterans Law Judge that the Regional Office erred by severing the Veteran's benefits for hypertension because said disease was related to his diabetes, not specifically to Agent Orange directly.  Additionally, Attorney Quatrini was able to convince the Veterans Law Judge that the Veteran's case should have been reviewed for eligibility for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability benefits as the Veteran suffered from several service-connected conditions, and, the issue of unemployability was sufficiently intertwined with the Veteran's initial claim for an increase in benefits. 

The BVA decision will now head back to the Pittsburgh Regional Office for further adjudication, including an updated evaluation and Rating for the Veteran's conditions.

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QR Veterans Disability Law Group

Serving Veterans nationwide from our offices in Greensburg, Pittsburgh, and Latrobe.

Monday, February 24, 2014

QR Results: Veteran Awarded Service Connection for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by Board of Veterans Appeals

QR is pleased to announce that our appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals for an Army veteran with service in Vietnam resulted in a reversal of the initial Ratings Determination by the Department of Veterans Affairs - Pittsburgh Regional Office, and, a full grant of service connection for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

The veteran applied on his own and was originally denied by the Pittsburgh Regional Office.  Attorney Quatrini appealed the unfavorable decision and worked with the Veteran's private psychiatrist to challenge the opinion of the VA examiner, who opined that the Veteran did not suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Mr. Quatrini attended a video teleconference with the Veteran in Pittsburgh, PA and was able to convince the Veterans Law Judge to accept the following facts:  
  1. the veteran engaged in combat during his service;
  2. that the Veteran had a qualifying DSM-IV diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his private psychiatrist, and;
  3. that the Veteran's claimed stressors were more likely than not related to his combat service.
Further, the Veterans Law Judge also accepted Mr. Quatrini's argument that a grant of service connection was proper for two reasons:  First, the opinion of the private psychiatrist was simply more credible, and; (2) the two medical opinions - one from the VA and one from the private psychiatrist - were in "relative equipoise", meaning that the two opinions essentially tied and compelled a victory for the Veteran.

The BVA decision will now head back to the Pittsburgh Regional Office for further adjudication, including an updated evaluation and Rating for the Veteran's PTSD.

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QR Veterans Disability Law Group

Serving Veterans nationwide from our offices in Greensburg, Pittsburgh, and Latrobe.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

NOVA Comes to Pittsburgh!

The National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) will gather in the Steel City for its Spring 2014 conference from April 23rd-26th


QR attorney Michael V. Quatrini has been added to the conference planning team.

To learn more about NOVA, follow the following link:     http://www.vetadvocates.org/

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Congress Approves Benefits Increase

Disabled veterans will receive slightly larger benefit checks next year under legislation sent to President Barack Obama’s desk this week, but efforts to make such cost-of-living adjustments automatic failed again to win approval from Congress.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to give final approval to a bill giving disabled veterans and the survivors of deceased vets a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase.

The same measure was passed by the U.S. Senate in late October, so it now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

View the entire article here:
http://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/news/local/congress-approves-percent-increase-for-vets-benefits/article_565bf349-2ea5-5735-a6a1-771aced20a0f.html

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pittsburgh TV Reporter Paul Van Osdol Chronicles the Long Wait of QR Veteran

 Paul Van Osdol from Pittsburgh television station WTAE recently visited Quatrini Rafferty's office in Pittsburgh to interview our client, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: Pittsburgh Vet's 50 year battle with the government | Investigations - WTAE Home


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The Veterans Disability Compensation @ Quatrini Rafferty

Greensburg   Pittsburgh   Latrobe