Sullivan & Kehoe Supports U.S. Labor Department’s Final Rule To Allow More Disabled And Veterans To Be Hired By Federal Contractors

Francis Kehoe, Esq., Founder/Partner, Sullivan & Kehoe LLP, says the U.S. Labor Department’s recent rule change in the hiring practices by federal contractors will give better opportunities to disabled persons and returning war veterans that had previously been unavailable to them before.

On August 27, 2013, the Labor Department announced a Final Rule that made a change to part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) in which, beginning March 24, federal contractors are now required to make sure that 7% of their new hires are comprised of people with disabilities and veterans. In addition, the Final Rule will require government contractors to document and update comparisons of applications from veterans and the disabled and the number of people the contractor actually hires.

The changes to the Rehabilitation Act and VEVRAA were in response to advocates’ concerns about the number of disabled people in the workforce and actively employed veterans. The organization Health & Disability Advocates in Chicago noted that during the recession between 2008 and 2010, the employment rate for the disabled fell by 12.3%, compared with 3.4% for their non-disabled counterparts.

On March 20, the U.S. Labor Department released a report showing the unemployment rate for all veterans in 2013 was 6.6% and 9% rate for those returning from the second Gulf War. Although these numbers are significantly lower than in 2012, and the overall unemployment rate for veterans is in line with the national average, the numbers for the unemployed Gulf War II veterans is much higher.

“This is a huge victory for recent veterans and the disabled,” Mr. Kehoe said. “They are going through difficult economic times and their disabilities or time away from our country has precluded them from finding meaningful work. Under the Final Rule, federal contractors will now be able to give them employment opportunities they might have never received otherwise.”

With offices in New York City, White Plains, Mineola, Kings Park and Riverhead, Sullivan & Kehoe concentrates in the area of handling veterans disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information, call (631) 269-1515 or visit www.sullivanandkehoe.com

Sullivan & Kehoe Comments on VA Department’s Easing of Claims Process for Veterans with P.T.S.D.

Michael Sullivan, Esq., Founder/Partner, Sullivan & Kehoe LLP, says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) decision to make the claims process easier for war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.) will allow the veterans to receive their benefits more quickly and eliminates the difficulties veterans must face in order to prove they have experienced such a traumatic experience while in combat.

The new rules, which took effect July 13, 2010, eliminates the requirement that veterans document specific events that might have caused P.T.S.D. such as bomb blasts, firefights or mortar attacks. Some of the reported symptoms of P.T.S.D. include emotional detachment from others, irritability and flashbacks.

Since 2001, more than 2 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, with an estimated 20% or more expected to develop P.T.S.D. The veterans health system has diagnosed over 150,000 cases of P.T.S.D. thus far. However, only 78,000 disability claims for P.T.S.D. have been approved.

According to the VA, when filling out the forms, veterans spend the most time gathering information and evidence needed to support their disability claim. Under the new rules, veterans will not have to provide such documentation, but rather, they can show that they served in a war zone and in a job consistent with what caused their condition without having to prove that they were under attack, served on the front line or saw a fellow soldier killed during combat. The change in the claims process will benefit veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I applaud the VA’s decision to ease these restrictions which have prevented many heroic men and women from receiving the benefits that they deserve in a timely manner,” said Mr. Sullivan, a former U.S. Marine. “Many of today’s veterans still suffer from the traumatic effects of war, even after they have been discharged and returned home.”

With offices in New York City, White Plains, Mineola, Kings Park and Riverhead, Sullivan & Kehoe concentrates in the area of handling veterans disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information, call (631) 269-1515.