(Center Square) – A new partnership was established with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs to provide free legal services to veterans denied disability coverage.
If a veteran needs to appear in court to appeal a decision denying disability benefits, an attorney from the National Veterans Legal Services Program will represent them free of charge.
Anthony Vaughan, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, told Center Square that the goal is to ensure equity in the area of disability benefits.
“NVLSP uses its legal expertise and knowledge of the benefits process to review denied claims,” said Vaughn. “Veterans have the right to have their own lawyers, but NVLSP lawyers will represent them free of charge.”
NVLSP was established in 1981 to protect the rights of veterans at the highest legal level. NVLSP attorneys have extensive training as veterans’ legal advocates. The training is “invaluable” when veterans take cases in court, Vaughn said.
As a national agency, IDVA does not represent veterans in court, Vaughn said. The partnership with NVLSP will give Illinois veterans free access to counsel when their appeals are heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims, Vaughn said.
The first step in the process is review of the case by the NVLSP. If the NVLSP determines there is a reason to go before her CAVC, the NVLSP will contact the veteran and offer the service free of charge.
“Veterans have every right to file a claim,” Vaughan said. “We will do everything within our power to reap the benefits they have earned.”
Both IDVA and NVLSP help veterans gather the evidence they need to make a case in court. Evidence may not support claims, Vaughn said.
“As a national agency, we make sure … not leaving any stone unattended,” he said.
Partnering with NVLSP is another way IDVA provides “the highest quality of service” to veterans, he said.