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CCK Presents at 2019 National Association of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) Fall Conference

November 3, 2019
CCK Partner Barbara Cook presenting at NOVA Fall Conference 2019: Recent Court Cases and How to Use Them

The National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA) is a not-for-profit educational membership and national organization of attorneys and other qualified members who act as advocates for disabled veterans.  NOVA hosts two conferences per year, one in the spring and one in the fall, in addition to training webinars throughout the year.  The three-day 2019 Fall Conference was held September 14th through September 16th in Portland, Oregon.  The conference was designed to increase the knowledge, confidence, and expertise of advocates in representing veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The conference included presentations by prominent veterans lawyers and moderated panels with VA administrative personnel, including: Cheryl Mason (Board of Veterans’ Appeals Chairman), David McLenachen (Appeals Management Office Director), and Jackie Imboden (Veterans Affairs Central Office Lead Consultant).

CCK Presentations and Panels

 Six members of Team CCK presented at the NOVA 2019 Fall Conference:

 Christine Clemens: “Ensuring Your Client is Properly Rated”

CCK attorney Christine Clemens provided information to veterans advocates about how to ensure their clients are properly rated by VA.  Specifically, the presentation gave an overview of VA disability ratings, the rating schedule, diagnostic codes, and combined disability ratings.  It then discussed how to determine whether the veteran’s assigned disability rating is correct.  The presentation ended with a conversation about how to challenge an improper VA disability rating.

Barbara Cook: “Recent Court Cases and How to Use Them”

 CCK partner and attorney Barbara Cook’s presentation explained recent cases from both the Federal Circuit and the CAVC, and suggested ways that practitioners can use these cases at the Regional Office, Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and Court levels.  The presentation consisted of many cases involving the following issues in veterans law:

  • Vietnam/Gulf War veterans
  • Scope of claim
  • Evidence
  • Ratings
  • Aggregate action
  • Earlier effective date
  • Hearings
  • Interpretation of VA regulations
  • Fees

 The presentation provided a summary of each case; however, some cases involved more in-depth discussions, including the following:

  • Procopio v. Wilkie – holding that veterans who served in the 12-mile territorial waters of Vietnam are presumed exposed to herbicide agents
  • Stewart v. Wilkie – holding that a medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness is defined as a diagnosed illness without conclusive pathophysiology or etiology
  • Morgan v. Wilkie – establishing that VA must search all avenues of scheduler ratings before resorting to an extraschedular analysis

Brad Hennings: “Electronic Access for Attorneys and Agents”

CCK attorney Brad Hennings presented on topics regarding electronic access for attorneys and agents.  Specifically, the presentation highlighted VA’s various technology systems, including those from both the old Legacy Appeals system and new Appeals Modernization system.  For example, it explained the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) – an online database comprised of veterans’ electronic claims files.  Furthermore, it went into detail about how veterans advocates can obtain access to this system in order to better serve their veteran clients.

Zachary Stolz: “Conversation with CAVC Judges”

CCK attorney and partner Zachary Stolz moderated a 45-minute panel with CAVC Judges, including Chief Judge Robert Davis and Judge Mary Schoelen.

Robert Chisholm: “Appeals Reform Panel with VA Guests”

 CCK attorney and founding partner Robert Chisholm moderated a two-hour panel with Cheryl Mason (BVA Chairman), David McLenachen (AMO Director), and Jackie Imboden (VACO Lead Consultant) regarding VA’s new Appeals Modernization Act (AMA).

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