In January 2023, the United States Supreme Court announced a ruling that has sparked outrage among Veterans groups across the nation.
The Supreme Court decided unanimously to deny compensation to Veterans with disabilities stemming from service if they didn’t apply “within one year of their discharge.” Even if the delay occurred because of their disability.
The case revolved around former Navy Sailor Adolfo Arellano, who served from 1977 to 1981. During his time in service, Arellano was nearly swept overboard when his ship collided with a freighter. During the incident the sailor watched several of his friends get killed and has suffered PTSD and other psychological issues as a result.
He was left unable to work, and due to his illnesses he was not aware that he could have received disability compensation from the government.
It wasn’t until 2011 that his brother, who became his legal guardian and caregiver, found out that Arellano was eligible for benefits. At that time, his brother filed for compensation on the sailor’s behalf and requested retroactive benefits for the past 30 years.
The VA denied his request since it was not filed within one year of Arellano’s discharge from the military, and said they would only give him benefits going forward.
The sailor and his brother appealed the decision, and it ultimately landed at the Supreme Court.
Now the Supreme Court has handed down their opinion, which is as follows (via Military.com):
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected a veteran’s argument that his disability compensation should have been made retroactive to his date of discharge because his condition rendered him incapable of filing a claim within the required one-year window after leaving military service.
In a 9-0 opinion announced Monday, the justices rejected the arguments of Navy veteran Adolfo Arellano, saying that his case and others like it don’t meet requirements for an exception from the rule that allows veterans to have their compensation backdated to the date they left service if they file within a year of separation.
A number of Veterans groups have slammed the Supreme Court’s decision as a painful blow to military members who were injured while serving their country.