Sabo v. United States
OIF & OEF Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sabo v. United States is a class action lawsuit brought by NVLSP on behalf of seven veterans from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. The seven veterans were discharged from military service as a result of a finding by a Physical Evaluation Board ("PEB") that they were unfit for continued active duty service due, at least in part, to PTSD, and were assigned a disability rating for PTSD of less than 50%.
NVLSP’s lawsuit alleged that the military services violated the law by failing to assign a 50% disability rating to those discharged for PTSD – a disability rating that entitles the veteran to disability retirement benefits.
As a result of the class action and the settlement, the U.S. military agreed to pay lifetime disability retirement benefits to 1,029 veterans with PTSD who were denied these benefits upon discharge from the military following wartime service in Iraq or Afghanistan. To remedy the violations, these veterans received through the settlement:
- entitlement to lifetime military disability retirement payments (which may result in the veteran receiving monthly payments from the military above what the veteran is receiving from the VA) retroactive to the date of discharge.
- eligibility to apply for Combat-Related Special Compensation (which may increase the veteran’s monthly disability payments further).
- lifetime military healthcare (TriCare) for the veteran, his or her spouse, as well as their children until at least age 18.
- lifetime commissary and military post exchange privileges.
- eligibility to purchase life insurance coverage through the Survivor Benefit Plan.
- reimbursement for expenses paid for the medical treatment of the veteran, the veteran’s spouse, and the veteran’s minor children, from the date of the veteran’s separation from military service.
This is what the settlement has meant to some of the veterans we serve:
Aimee Sherrod, Air Force (Jackson, Tennessee)
U.S. Air Force veteran Aimee Sherrod served three deployments from 2001-2005, with service in both Iraq and Pakistan. She was under frequent mortar attacks and saw the horrors of war firsthand. She was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and separated from the military without the benefits to which she was entitled.
Under the settlement, she and her husband will receive healthcare benefits for life and their children will receive healthcare benefits until age 18 or longer. She is entitled to reimbursement of health expenses incurred for herself and her family from 2005 to 2011, eligible to apply for combat-related special compensation, can participate in the Survivor Benefit Plan, and can use the military commissary and post exchange. Two years after her discharge, Sherrod was one of seven named plaintiffs filing the class action lawsuit, Sabo v. United States, on behalf of thousands of veterans with PTSD who were wrongfully short changed on their benefits.
Timothy Martin, Army (Sparta, Tennessee)
Veteran Timothy Martin served in the U.S. Army for 9 years. In his role as a Bradley gunner in Iraq, Martin was in multiple firefights and his vehicle was struck by improvised explosive devices. He was told he could no longer serve in the military due to his PTSD, but was separated from the military without retirement benefits and a low disability rating, well below what the law stipulated. Martin is a single father with two children. “My family struggles to make ends meet,” said Martin in a sworn declaration filed with the court.
Under the settlement, Martin and his children will receive healthcare benefits through TriCare. He is also eligible for monthly disability benefits, entitled to reimbursement for health expenses incurred for his family since 2006, eligible to apply for combat-related special compensation, can participate in the Survivor Benefit Plan, and can access the military commissary and post exchange.
Anthony Koller, Army (Little Elm, Texas)
U.S. Army veteran Anthony Koller served in Iraq for 14 months, where he was part of 300 missions and witnessed several traumatic events. His squad was ambushed in Fallujah in 2005 and he witnessed the death of one of his friends. Due to his PTSD diagnosis, Koller was separated from the military in 2006 with a low disability rating for PTSD and without the benefits to which he was entitled. He is now attending college to learn a new trade. Koller has a wife and three children under age 5, including a newborn baby. Due to strained finances, the family went without any health care coverage from June-September 2010. His wife and daughter were in a car accident that cost thousands of dollars in medical bills.
“TriCare and the benefits of permanent disability retirement would help my family tremendously right now as we live on a month-to-month basis. Healthcare for my family as well as the opportunity to apply for Combat Related Special Compensation are both benefits we need,” said Koller in a declaration intended for the court. Under the settlement, Koller’s wife and children will receive healthcare benefits under TriCare. He is eligible for monthly disability benefits and will be able to apply for Combat Related Special Compensation. The family can apply for their thousands of dollars in medical bills to be reimbursed. They will also be eligible for post exchange and commissary privileges, as well as the survivor benefit plan.