January 27, 2010

A recent development in the class action lawsuit, Sabo v. United States, will likely result in the payment of millions of dollars in financial benefits and improved healthcare for thousands of Iraq & Afghanistan veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their families. Sabo v. United States was filed in December 2008 on behalf of seven veterans by the non-profit NVLSP under the Lawyers Serving Warriors program, and pro bono counsel Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The lawsuit alleges that between December 17, 2002 and October 14, 2008, the military illegally denied benefits to an entire class of service members who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and were discharged from service due to the PTSD. The disability ratings which are the subject of the lawsuit are critically important to veterans with PTSD. A permanent disability rating of 30% or more by the military constitutes medical retirement and entitles a veteran to monthly disability benefits for the rest of the veteran's life, to free health care for the veteran and his or her spouse for life, and to free health care for their minor children.

For years, the law has required the military to assign a disability rating of at least 50% to all veterans medically discharged for PTSD. In October 2008, the Department of Defense (DoD) ordered the military to assign a 50% rating for PTSD going forward. However, the plaintiffs in the Sabo v. United States lawsuit received a rating of 10% or less prior to the October 2008 DoD mandate.

Veterans must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for this class action settlement:

All individuals who:

served on active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force,

were found by a Physical Evaluation Board to be unfit for continued service due, at least in part, to the individual's PTSD

were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%, and, as a result, were released, separated, retired, or discharged from active duty after December 17, 2002, and prior to October 14, 2008 (regardless whether such release, separation, retirement, or discharge resulted in the individual's placement on the Temporary Disability Retirement List).

Veterans who suffer from PTSD from any in-service trauma which resulted in their medical separation during the affected period are eligible. For example, those veterans who suffer from PTSD as a result of a sexual assault, a car accident, witnessing a fatality, fire or other traumatic event may be eligible, and may not be aware as it falls outside of the more visible subgroup of combat participants who are suffering from PTSD. Veterans who believe they meet these criteria should contact the Lawyers Serving Warriors project through the website: www.ptsdlawsuit.com. Veterans must contact the project no later than July 24, 2010 to be eligible. It is estimated that over 4,300 veterans may qualify under this class action.

While this lawsuit is solely for veterans suffering from PTSD as a result of a traumatic event in service, a larger group of veterans may need to check their ratings to ascertain that they were properly awarded benefits. The pertinent portion of the Code of Federal Regulations (38 CFR § 4.129) states that:

"When a mental disorder that develops in service as the result of a stressful event is severe enough to bring about the veteran's release from active military service, the rating agency shall assign an evaluation of not less than 50% and schedule an examination within a six month period following the veteran's discharge to determine whether a change in evaluation is warranted".

Thus mental conditions other than PTSD, such as an adjustment disorder or depression, could be considered under this regulation. While such veterans would not qualify under this specific lawsuit, if this regulation was improperly applied, they should contact a Department Service Officer to determine the best course of action in rectifying the situation.



  1. I opted in and got 50% TDRL from discarge date to six months after discharge and then was re-evaluated based on no evidence or medical records or me even being present or even notified of such a eval. IT NEVER HAPPEND!!! They made the revaluation up out of thin air and some how denied me a formal re-evaluation. I have been stuggling to servive with a family of 5 and cant aford help. My disability is to low with the VA for them to help and they are not helping me get evaluated thru them. The VA says to submit a claim, But with no counseling due to only 10% = no records. this is what the law suit was about and im back to square one and will some how have to pay back another severence that will leave me worse off then before! I need to be on TDRL to help get the counseling I need and medical records need to be keept for use in a re-evaluation in six months. That is TDRL, To help a soldier recover or retire, I havnt had a legal oppertunity of either. Please help and get the truth out there

  2. They did this to all of us not just a few. Myself included, do you wonder how Nancy Polosi can spend 250k$ on caviar for her air plane rides on Air Force one, but we can't even get compensated for being shot at, blown up, watch our friends die, and be robbed of our emotions? Then to be told that your life is not worth the same value as an ungreatful electoral college members caviar bill? Thanks for letting the defenders of the constitution know that our lives aren't worth the same as the yellow cowards. How about our families that suffer? Instead of saying thank you why don't you just spit on us like they did the Vietnam veterans? At least then they would be honest for a change.

  3. This article is very misleading. Those who get 30% or more do not get all those benefits,("...by the military constitutes medical retirement and entitles a veteran to monthly disability benefits for the rest of the veteran's life, to free health care for the veteran and his or her spouse for life, and to free health care for their minor children)." I am 60% disabled and my husband is 70% disabled and he or I cannot go into the VA Medical Center and get a simple dental check up. Our children do not get any benefits at all either. If we had 100% service-connected disability rating, then we would get the free health care that includes dental and all health benefits for our children. The only thing we get is our monthly disability check and health care for the service connected disabilities we got rated for.

  4. The VA health care is great. You can get health care for anything at the VA hospital. It's just that you will have to pay the copayment (which isn't much) if you are less that %100 and not service connected for. Dental was NEVER meant for those who are not %100 disabled.

  5. Dali

    Difference between your disability (service connected) and SABO members is SABO is COMBAT related. If you are 305 or more disabled due to combat, you get the "medical retirement and entitles a veteran to monthly disability benefits for the rest of the veteran's life, to free health care for the veteran and his or her spouse for life, and to free health care for their minor children"

  6. I served in Viet-Nam, 1967-68, I have PTSD, Sleep apnea / Memory Lost. I also, had Pro state Cancer, which was removed in 2001 and left me with erectile Dysfunction. Are there any Veterans who have information about the PTSD Law suite

  7. I was thrown to TDRL on April 2013, and was told that I will be reevaluated in 6 months, unfortunately I haven't heard from the Army or VA, my shit started to boil up about 30 days ago, I knew I needed my medications really bad thanks to the VA stupid medical system I am waiting 60+ days in order to see a doctor so I can get back on my medications. My other option is I have to see non VA provider which I didn't even know I could, yeah tomorrow, I have to see him tomorrow and I need my meds right away! the only people who know how messed up I'm are my kids and wife because the only place I go is Lowes' hardware store it takes my stress off of me, I start a project and stop when I'm stressed and start another one! waste of thousands of dollars? Nobody cares I guess and fock the VA

  8. I am not active military, however I was the spouse of active Navy for 15 years. At that time, I was very proud of our military. Since then, our son joined the Army at 19 (I bid goodbye to my son who was a that time proud and unbroken- so to speak). Straight out of boot camp he was assigned to funerals until he was assigned to a unit. He is currently with 101st Airborne Infantry (this took several months). Shortly after his assignment, they went to Afghanistan for approximately 10 months . He took lives, protected many in his unit including his own.

    He returned from Afghanistan August of 2013. Went through a mandatory 7 day class and then could come home (was diagnosed with PTSD). On 911 he went out to with hometown friends, he unfortunately got a DUI on same evening. To make a long story short, he is now being Chaptered out of the Army with a General. Instead of the Military dealing with the issue at hand they seem to just be dismissing so many of our brave men after they used them for what they needed, short of their contract which saves the government on veteran benefits. I could be wrong but my heart goes out to all of you who served and were put into situations that many 'grown' men would not have done or could not fathom experiencing. I hope all of you fight hard and get what you deserve AND some! Don't give up! Thank you and your families.

    PTSD never being addressed, although recognized, alcohol being recognized as a means to 'get past' the past so to speak.

    From what I have witnessed, the Army tells these young men/brave soldiers to be tough, and suck it up. The men are don't push their PTSD issues for fear of what will come back on them. In fact they just sit back and 'let' the Army do what they feel they need to do as they feel they 'deserve' what is given to them.

    I have talked with several young men from his unit. They

  9. My previous comment was apparently to long. Thank you to all you brave men and fight what is rightfully yours. You have been through, seen things and acted on situations most 'grown' men could not have even fathomed to do. I have noticed you all initially took what was given to you in part because you were taught not to 'argue' with your command and in part because you felt you needed to be punished. Do not feel this way. You are all AWSOME! Fight - and don't give up.

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  11. I was thrown out with 10% disability and given severance pay. Then when i got disability from Va they have tAKEN back all severance and still doing it. I was not given a psych evaluation for the medboard and they ignored cervical injury thaT THEY had evidence available and did not retire me or give me at least 30%. I did 17 and plus years of military honorable service. Most of my service was done as legal resident not even an american citizen. I then became one to finish my careeer based on reagan policy and still got sent to the Street and lost my credit, bankruptcy house etc.Iam 100% disbaled and still today am fighting back to get my military service retirement which ahs been denied over and over and cant even get care at VA.

  12. My 18 year old son went into the army right after high school, he was in Iraq for 5 years, opted out and was hard to find a job,, later he found one, got married, and not known to us, the parents, he went to Va to get help, he was having horrible nightmares, did not sleep, since he has been home, he has never been the same happy young man, as when he left. He tried several times to talk to VA, but was diagnosed with PTSD, and started drinking to keep the demons from him, it was terrible for someone that young, he got married, wife is pregnant, but since he could not could VA the help he needed, he committed suicide , and his wife and unborn child will get nothing from him giving his life to the army.....they helped us,,,,now we need to help them.....what rights does she have to try and collect any money,,,,,,

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