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The Basics of VA Benefits: Assisting Your Client in Navigating the VA Claims Process

Level: Intermediate
Runtime: 94 minutes
Recorded Date: August 27, 2021
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  • Learn about what it is like to practice law before the VA
  • Determine who does and does not qualify as a veteran eligible for benefits at the VA
  • Obtain a basic overview of the universe of VA Benefits available to veterans
  • Better navigate the procedural process for filing VA claims and appeals under the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) and in the Legacy system
  • Understand the principles of establishing service connection for a disability
Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Recorded: August 27, 2021

For NY - Difficulty: Newly Admitted & Experienced Attorneys (Transitional)


Many veterans across the country depend on their VA benefits to meet their basic needs. Enrollment in VA benefits has increased steadily over the last 15 years. However, the bureaucracy surrounding the process forces many veterans to seek the assistance of attorneys to file a claim for disability compensation or increased compensation.

This seminar will assist attorneys advising clients who wish to start the VA claims process and maximize their benefits. Join seasoned experts as they discuss eligibility for VA benefits, claims procedures, and the VA appeal process.

This program was recorded on August 27th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Maureen Siedor

Legal Director
Swords to Plowshares

Maureen “Mo” Siedor directs Swords to Plowshares’ Legal Services Unit which provides assistance and legal representation to homeless and low-income veterans on their veterans’ benefits and military discharge upgrade cases. She originally joined Swords’ legal team in 2014.

Prior to serving as Legal Director, Mo worked at the Center for Veterans’ Advancement at Public Counsel and the Homeless Veterans Project of Inner City Law Center. She began her legal careers as a staff attorney at DNA-People’s Legal Services providing legal assistance to victims of domestic violence on the Navajo Nation.

She is a graduate of Boston College Law School and Barnard College of Columbia University, and is a member of the State Bars of California and Colorado.

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Judy Donegan, Esq.

Deputy Executive Director
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program

Judy Donegan serves as the Deputy Executive Director for The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program. As lead advisor to the Executive Director, she assists in implementing and carrying forth policy set by the Consortium Board of Directors, including financial management of the organization and adherence to budgetary guidance from the Board. Providing leadership and direction for the Consortium staff, she assists with outreach to foster relationships with and between the four founding national veteran’s service organizations and other stakeholders.

Functioning as Director of Litigation for the Consortium, Judy leads all litigation strategy and support to volunteers in the federal Pro Bono Program. She ensures quality representation of veterans and their qualifying family members, caregivers, and survivors before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“CAVC”), and as appropriate, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

She serves on the CAVC’s Rules Advisory Committee and as an Advisory Board Member for the Stateside Legal Services Program. As a seasoned veterans’ attorney, Judy has spent more than a decade representing U.S. military veterans before the CAVC, the Federal Circuit, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

A graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law, she was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1994. Her appellate work before the CAVC began in 2007, and she became an accredited attorney for practice before the VA the following year. She has participated in more than 2,000 appeals before the CAVC and has been a sustaining member of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates since 2007.

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Michael Lostritto, Esq.

Supervising Attorney
Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, LTD.

Michael joined CCK in September of 2016 as an Attorney, was named Supervising Attorney in 2021, and now serves as a Managing Attorney. His practice focuses on the representation of disabled veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Michael graduated magna cum laude from the University at Albany in 2009 and received his law degree cum laude from Albany Law School in 2014.

While in law school, Michael served as an Associate Editor for the Albany Law Review and was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Rachel L. Kretser in New York’s Third Judicial District. Prior to joining Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick in 2016, Michael worked as a litigation attorney in an Albany, New York law firm.

Since relocating to Rhode Island to join the firm, Michael enjoys spending his free time exploring the New England Coast and relaxing with friends and family. Michael is an avid baseball fan and continues to cheer on his beloved New York Yankees.

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