New Amendment Has Harsh Effect on Veterans

The House adopted a budget amendment 232-197 which imposes a seven month moratorium on all legal fees paid under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). This is a law, passed during the Reagan years, which was designed to help people such as low-income veterans and social security recipients, to retain counsel in order to battle Washington with respect to their claims. Although the amendment was aimed at environmentalists, it clearly will have a negative effect on veterans who rely upon EAJA in order to hire attorneys to help them fight for their rights to disability compensation and medical care. Given the system, for a veteran to have any solid chance of success, retaining counsel is very important. Pursuant to an article posted by Veterans for Common Sense, one quarter of all cases in 2009 were dismissed on procedural grounds, but, of the remaining 3270, EAJA backed attorneys were decisive. As many as 2385 applications for fees were granted: that’s about 73 percent of all the cases. As a practical matter, EAJA fees are below market rate for attorneys, however, EAJA enables veterans to retain counsel and enables counsel to be available to assist them with their claims.

Dear Friends and Clients,

In furtherance of our firm’s culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can.

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP