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

Friday, June 7, 2013

"I Was Awarded Social Security Disability for My Service Connected Conditions...Does That Mean I Am Automatically Eligible for Unemployability Benefits (TDIU)?"

The short answer:   No.

Now the long answer...


The Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration use different standards to determine whether someone is unable to work.


The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to decide whether an individual is able or unable to perform "Substantial Gainful Activity" on a consistent basis.  What type of work did they do in the past?  How old is the individual? Can the individual show up for work eight hours a day for each of the five days per week?  Can they maintain concentration for 85-90% of the work day?  Would they miss too may days in a month?  


What is important to note is that an individual can be rendered "disabled" by the Social Security Administration and still be "able" to perform some level of work - maybe part-time work or, depending on age, full-time sedentary (age 50-54) or light (age 55-59) level work.  


What is also important to highlight is that the Social Security Administration may have based their decision on both service-connected and non-service connected conditions. 


In contrast, the Veterans Administration will evaluate only service-connected conditions.  Step one for the VA to determine eligibility for unemployability / TDIU (Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability) is to ask whether the veteran:


  • has a a single service connected disability rated at 60% or more, or
  • has two or more service-connected disabilities where the total rating is 70% and at least one disability is 40% or more.

If it is determined that the veteran meets the above criteria, the VA will then evaluate whether the veteran can perform a "substantially gainful occupation" due to their service-connected conditions.  Substantial gainful occupation has been defined by the Veterans Administration as an occupation that would provide a veteran with an annual income that exceeds the federal poverty level for one individual.

Note the distinction:  SSA is looking at whether you can perform "substantial gainful activity" of $1,000 or more per month, on a full-time basis, whereas the VA is trying to determine whether your service-related conditions preclude working at a poverty-level income. 


Make no mistake, an award from Social Security Disability is a helpful tool for pursuing a claim for unemployability/TDIU benefits.  However, it takes understanding the nuance between the two programs - something we know well from handling a large volume of both cases - to make sure the veterans receives the maximum amount of benefits.


If you have been denied unemployability benefits / TDIU by the VA, call (888-534-6016) or email our firm to set up a consultation at our offices in Greensburg, Pittsburgh or Latrobe.  We are also happy to speak over the phone to help you through the legal maze that is the VA.


- The Veterans Disability Law Group at Quatrini Rafferty


Greensburg     Pittsburgh     Latrobe

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Note:  The above discussion is simple and generic.  Each case is different and requires a review of the facts by our office and most likely a consultation with medical/vocational resources.