Army under fire for denying veterans health benefits

Melissa Quinn Contributor
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The U.S. Army is coming under fire from veterans across the country for failing to provide adequate health insurance benefits for those meeting standards as outlined by the Department of the Army.

More than 30 cases have been filed against the Department of the Army for veterans who met the criteria to receive disability benefits under the Traumatic Injury Protection Under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insure (TSGLI) for activities of daily living.

The vets listed in the cases served in combat as far back as Operation Desert Storm.

“There has been a declaration of intent by Congress and by the VA that this coverage should be provided if the service members meet the standards and that the coverage should be provided judiciously,” said Dan Rector, lead counsel representing soldiers in several of the cases.

Under TSGLI, service members receive disability benefits if they are injured as a result of a traumatic event, either while in combat or while at home. Under the policy, servicemembers can collect between $25,000 and $100,000 from the Department of the Army.

In order to receive the benefits, though, each soldier must meet one of the nine specified categories of loss: 1) Sensory losses, 2) Burns, 3) Paralysis, 4) Amputation, 5) Limb salvage, 6) Facial reconstruction, 7) Activities of daily living, 8) Inpatient hospitalization, 9) Coma/TBI [traumatic brain injury] combined with another injury.

All plaintiffs met the requirements specified, yet did not receive the appropriate benefits.

According to lead plaintiff Dannie Fail, the Army’s insurance program routinely denies benefits to injured veterans, Courthouse News Service reported.

“From what we can tell, the denials are essentially rubber stamped and the requirements are rather specific but that’s to the benefit of the service member,” Rector told TheDC.

Though the injuries may not have been sustained during combat, the TSGLI acts as the primary health insurance policy for members of the military, both active duty and veterans, Rector said. The injuries can stem from service-related duties, or from accidents in civilian life.

“Our contention is that the Army is systematically denying claims of activities of daily living for those who meet the requirement,” Rector said.

The case, filed in Denver, covers the claims of more than seven defendants, all serving in the Army. But, Rector, said, cases against the Army have been filed in courts across the country.

The most recent case, in which Fail is lead plaintiff, was filed on June 6, claims that eight veterans were denied their TSGLI benefits.

Fail, along with the other seven plaintiffs, each received certification from a medical professional, which should have guaranteed they receive the appropriate benefits.

“You can’t shadow box why you’re being denied if you don’t know why you’re being denied,” Rector said. “You’re being told no and you don’t know why.”

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