The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads in relevant part ” . . . [n]o person shall be be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution contains similar due-process language and reads in relevant part “. . . nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Due Process in essence protects our rights to fairness or being treated fairly as citizens of the United States of America. These due process rights apply to veterans disability benefits as veterans have a property interest in disability benefits under Cushman v. Shinseki.
Due process for veterans can be of important when it comes to their claims being adjudicated properly. For example, if the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) relies on altered medical records in its decision to deny benefits and such reliance is prejudicial to veteran’s claims, VA has violated veteran’s due process rights. In the case of Cushman v. Shinseki, VA relied on altered medical documents during a VA hearing. The Federal Circuit ruled VA had violated the veteran’s due process right to a fair hearing by relying on altered medical documents in VA’s conclusion to deny benefits. Cushman v. Shinseki, 576 F.3d 1290 (Fed. Cir. 2009).
Other due process for veterans violations may include VA relying on the wrong documents or another veterans documents that have been mistakenly placed in the veterans file, bias against the veteran in VA’s decision and language barriers that are not properly addressed by VA in the processing of claims with veterans whose primary language is not English. Ultimately, the main concern with due process for veterans seeking disability benefits is fairness in VA’s determination as to whether or not they qualify to receive such benefits, as well as fairness in the treatment of benefits veterans have already obtained.
If you or somebody you know is struggling with a VA appeal, contact the Berry Law Firm today at (888) 883-2483 for a free consultation.
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