Veterans Benefits: Know Your Rights

The issue of veterans benefits comes up a lot in a military divorce, as well as in estate planning.

These benefits are paid to veterans with disabilities that occurred during active service or were aggravated by active service. They are paid monthly.Andersen-Law-PC-Veterans-Benefits-5.26.16

I have assisted veterans whose benefits applications were denied. I have also represented military spouses in divorce and have needed to look into the disabled military spouse’s benefits and benefit applications in order to ensure my client’s rights were protected. The military spouse may have benefits that are not taxed but need to be counted toward income for child support and maintenance purposes. Sometimes, a veteran may claim he or she is disabled and cannot work or contribute financially when in fact the Department of Veterans Affairs concluded otherwise. This needs to be investigated. On the other hand, it is not the end of the story and the disabled veteran may have appeals or other ways to contest the determination.

The bottom line is that this area of the law is complicated and difficult to negotiate without knowledgeable assistance.

If you are a veteran, are a spouse of a veteran, have a child with a veteran, or are doing estate planning for a veteran, the following are unique components to these benefits that you need to take note of.

  1. Disability Math: The Veterans Affairs (VA) calculates the percentage of disability. Multiple disabilities are combined and separately rated. However, disabilities are not simply totaled. They are reduced progressively based on the total. There is also a “Special Monthly Compensation” which is a higher rate of compensation for veterans with special circumstances such as the loss of an organ, loss of an appendage and/or need for home care. There is also the Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU or IU), which can be awarded to individuals who cannot find employment due to their disabilities. Even veterans who do not otherwise qualify for veterans’ benefits may qualify to TDIU. Unlike in the case of other disability benefits, the age of the veteran CANNOT be considered in determining whether to award veterans’ benefits.
  1. Dependents and Survivors: Veterans with dependents receive an additional monthly allowance as calculated in this table. There is also a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefit available to survivors of veterans who died from their disabilities. The spouse must have been married to the veteran for at least one year in order to qualify for this benefit. Common law marriages can be recognized as marriage in Colorado, so a wedding ceremony and marriage certificate may not be necessary in order to qualify. A spouse of one year or more may also qualify for a Survivor Pension.
  1. Offsets: Military retirement pay offsets veterans’ benefits but Social Security benefits do not.
  1. Taxes: VA disability income is not taxed.
  1. Pension and Survivor Pension: Veterans who served during a period of war are entitled to this benefit. They must have been discharged under other than dishonorable circumstances. They also must be one of the following: over 65, totally and permanently disabled, receiving skilled nursing care in a nursing home, or receiving SSDI or SSI.
  1. Other Benefits: Veterans can also receive adapted housing grants, Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance, Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance and a burial allowance.

 Unique Exposures Based on Service: There are special coverages for certain veterans. For example, Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange, including Vietnam veterans who served in Thailand, Korean Veterans who served at or near the de-militarized zone, Blue Water Navy Veterans and veterans who served at Camp Lejeune.

Find this list overwhelming? This is one of many reasons that you need to consult a lawyer in order to know your rights. Call Andersen Law PC at 720-922-3880 or email me at beth@andersenlawpc.com to learn more.

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 5 – Discovery & Depositions

12 Steps of Divorce - Andersen Law-Step5.5.18.16More paperwork! Angela Aingel could not believe she had more financial and parenting “homework” to do. Her attorney had explained to her that she would need to serve DISCOVERY on her soon-to-be-ex-husband Art.

“We already did all that financial stuff!” Angela complained to her attorney.

“Those were the MANDATORY 16.2 DISCLOSURES,” the attorney explained.   This is DISCOVERY.”

“What’s the difference?” Angela asked, wanting to hear the explanation as to why she was forced to jump through all these hoops, as if the emotional stress of divorce wasn’t already enough. Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 5 – Discovery & Depositions”

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 6 – Hiring a CFI, PRE, Vocational Evaluator, Real Estate Appraiser and Other Experts

12 steps of divorce: Hiring a CFI, PRE, Vocational Evaluator, Real Estate Appraiser and Other Experts - Andersen Law PCArt Aingel came home from work to find a series of emails from his attorney. She wanted to know if he was interested in hiring any expert witnesses or professional evaluators for his divorce.

He really did not know the answer to that question. All he knew was that he did not want to pay for anything unless it was necessary. Getting divorced reminded him of getting married and buying a house: you knew your life would change, you did not really understand what was happening, and every time you turned around, someone was asking you to write a check.

Art called his friend, Draco De Ville, for advice. Draco was also going through a divorce.

“Draco, all these experts I am hearing about: CFI, PRE, RE appraiser, vocational evaluator, business appraiser, it just goes on and on! I cannot afford to pay any of these people! And who are they anyway? It sounds like alphabet soup!”

“Well, you came to the right guy,” Draco answered. “Hire all of them and then just get your attorney to get your wife to pay for them! That’s what I am going to do. Why not stick it to her? Oh, and if they do make you pay half of the fees, just throw away their invoices and refuse to pay them. What’s she going to do? It all comes out of the same pot anyway!”

“Got it,” Art said, thinking to himself, to listen to what Draco says and do the opposite. Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 6 – Hiring a CFI, PRE, Vocational Evaluator, Real Estate Appraiser and Other Experts”

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 7 – Motions to Compel and Telephone Conferences

 

Andersen-Law-PC-12-Steps-Divorce-Motions-to-Compel“What the heck is a Motion to Compel?” Draco DeVille shouted into his cell phone to his buddy Art Aingel.

 

Both of them were going through divorces. While neither of them were enjoying the process, Art and Angela Aingel’s divorce had been relatively calm. Draco and Desdemona DeVille’s divorce, however, seemed to be spiraling out of control. The DeVilles’ legal bills were well into five figures each and growing every day with seemingly no end in sight.
Draco continued to shout into his cell phone. “My lawyer just called and told me I have to tell my soon-to-be-ex-wife what person is watching my kids when I fly out of town! Also, I have to turn over three years of tax returns and my credit card statements. Like she can’t get that stuff herself, the lazy *#@$! Can you believe it?!”

Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 7 – Motions to Compel and Telephone Conferences”

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 8 – Temporary Orders Hearing

Andersen-Law-PC-12-Steps-Divorce-Temporary-Orders-HearingDesdemona DeVille and Angela Aingel sat on the bench by the country club where they had just finished a less-than-heated round of tennis.

The whole match, Desdemona had kept stopping play and motioning Angela to the net so she could either boast about the Motion to Compel she had served on her soon-to-be-ex-husband Draco, complain about the exact same motion, which Draco had served, on her or both.

“I cannot wait to drag that man into court again,” Desdemona announced angrily after the match. “Over my dead body will Draco get this country club membership!” Desdemona was shouting loud enough to echo across the nearby courts to hear. She saw a member of a nearby foursome rushing off to the clubhouse and hoped it was not to complain about Desdemona’s antics. Angela remembered that Desdemona had been politely removed from the summer league due to her frequent outbursts after putting lemon vodka in her water bottle.

As usual, Desdemona was a lot more worried about her own emotions than any effect the volume of her rant might have on those nearby. She waved her racquet over her head for emphasis, complaining, “Draco says he needs the club membership for his business developments. Hmmph! What about my business and my personal development? This is where I plan to meet my next husband!”

“What about Danny?” Angela asked, referring to the younger man Desdemona had been dating ever since she and Draco were on the outs.

“That boy toy? He’s just something to do,” Desdemona rolled her eyes. “I will never marry again without reviewing three months of his pay stubs and bonuses, taking a solo meeting with his financial advisor and at least three credit reports!” Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 8 – Temporary Orders Hearing”

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 9 – Mediation

12-steps-of-divorce-andersen-law-3-mediationPart One: When your know-it-all ‘friend’ tells you about how mediation is a waste of time.

Art Aingel was surprised when his friend Draco DeVille invited him golfing at the country club. Art, of late, had been running around like a college kid, getting the letters “L-I-V-E” and “F-R-E-E” tattooed on his knuckles and spending most nights in his young girlfriend’s Highlands bungalow she shared with four roommates. With each week that passed after Draco’s wife filed for divorce, Draco seemed to be getting less mature, going backward in time like Benjamin Button. Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 9 – Mediation”

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 10 – Parenting Plans & Separation Agreements

12-Steps-Divorce-oct-12-steps-of-divorce-andersen-law-4Walking out of the mediation session with a fully signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) tucked firmly into her canvas messenger bag, Angela Aingel felt elated that her divorce was close to finality. Of course, from deep down, she was reminded that she was divorcing the father of her children, someone who had once seemed the man of her dreams, but that was long ago. In her opinion, Art made Angela decide on divorce when he went back to drinking, putting his addiction ahead of everything, including his job, his health, the children and her. Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 10 – Parenting Plans & Separation Agreements”

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 11 – Witnesses, Pretrial Deadlines & Permanent Orders

divorcing-couplePart 1

 

After years of marriage, Art Aingel received the call from his attorney that he was officially divorced. He had settled his case in mediation, avoiding a costly trial, and man was he relieved about that!

Art called his friend Draco DeVille, who was going through his own divorce, to share his good news.

By contrasting his divorce with Draco’s, Art grew to realize that his own divorce journey was relatively smooth. To say Draco’s divorce was a bumpy ride would be an understatement. More like it was going to hell in a hand basket. Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 11 – Witnesses, Pretrial Deadlines & Permanent Orders”

12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 12 – QDROs and Other Post-Decree Issues

divorcing-coupleAngela Aingel was on the way to meet with her FINANCIAL ADVISOR and her ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY. She thought that once she settled her divorce case in mediation, she was D-O-N-E done.

 

Not true. The attorneys and parties ended up negotiating details of the divorce SEPARATION AGREEMENT and PARENTING PLAN for days afterward. Then they had to file court papers like the DECREE, AFFIDAVIT FOR DECREE WITHOUT APPEARANCE OF THE PARTIES, CHILD SUPPORT WORKSHEET and SUPPORT ORDER. Even then, the divorce was not final until the judge signed the DECREE and made it official.

Once that all happened, Angela and her ex-husband were officially divorced.

D-O-N-E done, right?

Not so fast! Continue reading “12 STEPS OF DIVORCE: Step 12 – QDROs and Other Post-Decree Issues”

What to Consider About Filing for Divorce at the End of the Year

If a person is considering filing for divorce at the end of the year, there are a lot of things at stake, and sometimes a person can end up spinning in circles deciding whether to file this year or next.Filing for divorce at the end of the year - Andersen Law PC

I always tell my clients that they should live their life first and consider the legal strategies second. This is because it is often difficult to predict how a strategic legal choice will play out in the long run. On the other hand, if you are making long-term choices authentically based on your own values and goals, then the legal decisions will automatically fall into place based on the things that are truly most important to you.

And if you’re living life the way you truly want to live it (rather than trying to manipulate everything you do just for a legal result), you will be able to handle the stress of the legal situation in a much calmer and more natural way. This helps the case more than you can imagine.

I have also observed the people are not as good at legal tricks and manipulations as they think they are. People who spend a lot of energy hiding money or trying to pull a fast one usually would’ve done better if they had just buckled down and did the fact-finding work and followed the rules. They waste energy trying to trick everyone, and it usually does not turn out the way they planned.

With that in mind, here are things that you can consider when deciding whether to file for divorce at the end of one year or at the beginning of the next. Continue reading “What to Consider About Filing for Divorce at the End of the Year”