American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster praised the Supreme Court's recent ruling that the 120-day requirement to file an appeal with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is not concrete - an individual may take longer if circumstances warrant.
"The court's ruling will certainly make a difference in the outcomes of many veterans' appeals," Foster said.
An example of a better outcome for veterans can be seen in the Henderson v. Shinseki case, which The American Legion filed an amicus brief on.
Mr. Henderson served on active military duty from 1950 to 1952. He was discharged in 1952 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, for which he has established service connection and currently has a 100 percent disability rating. In August of 2001, he filed a claim for monthly compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office based on his need for in-home care. The regional office denied the claim, and he appealed to the VA Board. The appeal was denied on August 30, 2004. On January 12, 2005, Henderson filed a notice of appeal with the Veterans Court, 15 days after the expiration of the 120-day appeal period.
In its ruling, the court held that the deadline for filing a notice of appeal with the Veterans Court can be modified for good cause.
"Our veterans sacrifice so very much serving in combat thousands of miles from home," Foster said. "They deserve every opportunity and consideration in applying for the benefits they earned through their service. The American Legion is proud to have been a friend of the court in this litigation."