Waco VA

More than 465,000 veterans nationwide are waiting on disability claim appeal answers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the law firm of Bergmann & Moore.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file

Central Texas veterans are invited to a workshop Wednesday for free disability claim consultations with personnel from a national law firm.

Bergmann & Moore, based out of Bethesda, Maryland, will host the session from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Veterans One Stop, 2010 La Salle Ave. in Waco.

More than 465,000 veterans nationwide are waiting on disability claim appeal answers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the law firm that focuses solely on veterans’ disability benefits. More than 38,000 of those veterans are Texans.

Veterans and their families will learn about the VA’s disability claim process, including how and when to appeal a VA decision. Among those answering questions about the claim process and benefits will include Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War veteran and director of veterans outreach at Bergmann & Moore, and Alicia Guidi, a benefits expert and director of client intake at the firm.

When a veteran files an initial claim, and then learns the claim was denied, it’s the ensuing appeals process that tends to trip people up, said Steve Hernandez, McLennan County veterans services officer.

“It’s the appeal process that kinds of frustrates everyone to the point they quit,” Hernandez said. “If you’ve got a claim and want to submit (it), don’t get frustrated. If you need some help along the way, we’d be glad to help with that.”

Hernandez said he met Sullivan after testifying before Congress four years ago. Sullivan happened to be in the audience, and they have since become good friends, he said.

“If I can get federal money to the local economy, it’s a win to the county and it’s a win to the veteran,” Hernandez said.

No matter how challenging the appeal may seem, Hernandez said, they are asking veterans to come and allow them to help.

Veterans are asked to bring their most recent VA decision for the free evaluation.

Those unable to attend can call Bergmann & Moore toll-free at 877-838-2889 for a free VA disability claim consultation. For more information, call 297-7171 or go to http://www.hotrmhmr.org/veterans-onestop.html.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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