As previously announced, the Albuquerque law firm of Collins & Collins, P.C. will be reaching out to homeless veterans. The firm will be available to veterans from 1 PM to 3 PM every Thursday (until further notice) at Noon Day Ministries located at 101 Broadway NE in downtown Albuquerque. The first weekly meeting will be today at 1 to 3 PM. The information below will describe the purpose of the meetings along with a few threshold criteria for the firm to be able to provide some assistance.
Albuquerque, NM -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/28/2013 -- Collins & Collins, P.C., an Albuquerque based law firm, will be meeting with homeless veterans at Noon Day Ministries at 101 Broadway NE weekly on Thursdays from 1 PM to 3 PM.
The original plan was to meet just once monthly. However, after the first session on February 12, 2013, it was concluded that weekly meetings would better serve the unique needs of homeless veterans. The first such weekly meeting will be held on February 28, 2013
The purpose of the meetings is to help determine if there any homeless veterans that are missing out on veteran disability benefits or pension benefits to which they are entitled. These benefits could go a long way toward improving their situation. If they are entitled to benefits, and they have not already filed a claim, then the firm will try to guide them through the process.
The firm will focus its efforts on pension and disability benefits. As a threshold for the firm to be able to assist, both pension and disability benefit eligibility requires that a veteran currently be suffering from a disability. Pension requires an inability to work. Disability benefits do not require that the veteran be unable to work unless the veteran is claiming unemployability as a result of the disability.
Moreover, both disability and pension benefits also require an honorable discharge. If a veteran received anything other than an honorable discharge, the first task is to upgrade the discharge. Only once the discharge is upgraded may the veteran be eligible for pension or disability benefits. For those veterans in this situation, the firm will provide some guidance on how to apply for an upgrade in their discharge.
Keep in mind that these are mere threshold requirements for the firm to be able to discuss the possibility of benefits further with the veteran. Without these, there is little else the firm can do to assist the veteran other than refer the veteran on to other possible resources in the community which they will certainly attempt to do.
If the veteran meets these threshold requirements, Collins & Collins, P.C. will be meeting individually with veterans to try to guide them in the right direction in properly filing their applications. Though the firm will be providing guidance in getting the applications filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the firm will not actually be acting as the veteran’s attorney or representative.
The goal is to help those veterans that have not yet applied understand how to get the process started on the right foot. The firm will be providing these advisory services on a pro bono basis. To this end, the firm will be bringing a number of commonly used forms that the veterans will be able to fill out on location. In turn, upon request by the veteran, the firm will hand deliver these applications to the Veteran Administration Regional Office in downtown Albuquerque.
It may very well be, that there are veterans with whom the firm meets that already been denied benefits. The firm will be talking to these veterans as well to inform them of their rights to appeal. This assumes that the veteran does not already have an attorney or other representative. If the veteran is represented already, Collins & Collins, P.C. unfortunately must refer them back to their own representatives and will be unable to assist them.
In very limited cases where the veteran has been wrongfully denied benefits, Collins & Collins, P.C. will if the veteran so chooses represent the veteran formally. This would require an agreement between the firm and the veteran at the Department of Veteran Affairs statutorily approved contingency fee rate. Of note, the VA approved fee is significantly lower than the firms standard contingency fees charged in its primary area of practice which is personal injury law.
The first meeting on February 12, 2013 at Noon Day was fairly successful with the firm able to meet with 4 veterans. The firm is confident that awareness among the homeless veteran population will grow and that it will be able to meet with at least this many each week. Over time, Collins & Collins, P.C. is very hopeful that at least a few veterans will find some relief from their unfortunate but hopefully temporary financial situation.
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