By David Riddle, Presidio of Monterey Legal Assistance OfficeMay 13, 2010
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - In the lawsuit Sabo v. United States, seven plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for disability pay and benefits alleging that a physical evaluation board must initially assign a disability rating of at least 50 percent based on a diagnosis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
The lawsuit also brings the class action on behalf of veterans found unfit due to PTSD, who received less than a 50-percent initial rating for PTSD, and were discharged during the period of Dec. 17, 2002, to Oct. 13, 2008. There are an estimated 3,000 potential Army members of the class. Notice to potential class members was mailed out the week of Jan. 19.
In an effort to reach an alternative resolution, all parties agreed to seek a delay from the court and pursue administrative relief before the Army Board for Correction of Military Records or Physical Disability Board of Review. By a policy exception, these individuals may be eligible for legal assistance on this matter even though they are no longer in the military.
After they have opted into the class, plaintiffs in this lawsuit are now eligible to consult with a legal assistance attorney. This new category of eligible clients includes those former service members who are members of the class action law suit Sabo v. United States. This eligibility is limited to advising them on the exercise of their legal options regarding reevaluation of their PTSD rating as directed in this case. Members of the class who received a medical retirement would already be eligible legal assistance clients.
This exception for the provision of legal assistance does not allow discussion with potential Sabo clients until after they have opted into the class and are covered by the terms of the court's order. Individuals who have questions whether to opt in are referred to the website http://ptsdlawsuit.com. If they have further questions, they should contact class counsel.
The decisions Sabo clients must make on whether to seek expedited review of their PTSD rating and which board to apply to will involve review of their physical evaluation board case. Accordingly, the Presidio of Monterey Legal Assistance Office will direct Sabo clients either to specialized counsel at Fort Lewis, Wa., called MEB Outreach Counsel, or preferably to Soldiers Counsel.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD and fall into any of the mentioned categories, you may contact a legal assistance office to discuss your rights. The Presidio of Monterey Legal Assistance Office is located in building 275 and can be reached by calling 831-242-5084.