Why do I need a Veterans Disability Lawyer?

Veterans served our country in ways that many civilians can never understand or truly appreciate.  While in the service of our country, many veterans suffer unimaginable trauma, both physical and mental. Our country has always tried to support our veterans as they return from overseas and try to assimilate back into civilian life, but for many, that transition is hard and often fraught with mental and physical health challenges.

Veteran’s Disability Law is an extremely complex area of law. Prior to 2006, veterans were not allowed to hire VA disability lawyers to represent them in the Regional Office and the BVA. This law was changed in 2006 when Congress finally recognized that veterans should have the right to hire VA claim lawyers in this very important area of law. In veteran’s disability claims, a VA disability lawyer can help clarify the issues and ensure that the claim is properly supported by evidence so that the claim can be appealed, if necessary.

Because of the complex nature of the law and the VA’s propensity to deny claims to deserving veterans and their dependents, it’s necessary to have people on your side, focused solely on your case and what you need in order to be made as whole as possible.

That’s where we step in.  We strive to make sure that our veterans get the care they need and deserve.  We love veterans and we our proud of the veterans in our own families who have served in every major war the United States has fought in the last 100 years. We decided to pursue VA Disability law because we saw the struggles many of our family members and friends faced as they returned home from the service. While many of them never received the care they needed, we don’t want you to suffer the same fate.

Call the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today to learn how we can help you get the help you deserve.

What is Agent Orange?

Agent Orange was used widely in the Vietnam War to help eliminate vegetation and make it easier to find and track the enemy.  The technical definition of Agent Orange according to the VA is as follows:

“Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide used by the U.S. military for control of vegetation. It was named for the orange band around the storage barrel. The military sprayed Agent Orange and other tactical herbicides during the Vietnam War.”

Approximately three million soldiers from the United States served in the Vietnam War and faced Agent Orange exposure between 1962 and 1971. The Department of Defense had Agent Orange and similar herbicides created for explicitly for combat operations. Millions of square miles were affected by heavy spraying of the defoliant include forests near the borders of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Forests located near demarcation zones, shipping channels located in the southeast region of Saigon, and mangroves located along the far southern peninsula of South Vietnam.

How American soldiers were exposed varied.  Some ingested it through food an drink, others breathed it in as it was aerosolized and sprayed.  Yet more absorbed it through the skin.  There’s a reason why so many people have had so many different reactions to Agent Orange exposure.

Agent Orange was highly carcinogenic and has been linked to numerous cancers and other ailments including, but not limited to the following:

  • Birth defects in future children
  • Chloracne
  • Chronic b-cell leukemia
  • Heart disease
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Prostate cancer
  • Respiratory cancers
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • AL amyloidosis
  • Spina bifida in future children
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Myeloma

Because of the massive levels of exposure to Agent Orange, in 1991, Congress with the backing of World War II Veteran and President George H.W. Bush, passed the Agent Orange Act of 1991. The act provides benefits to veterans who suffer from exposure to Agent Orange. Because of the incredible amounts of the product used, the legislation assumes that any American soldier who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, were exposed to carcinogens in Agent Orange that could chronic health problems.

Under the legislation, anyone who served in the Vietnam war or who was stationed near the Korean DMZ, is presumed to have Agent Orange exposure. Despite that, you must meet one of the following criteria before you can file a claim with the VA. These include:

  • You had definitive Agent Orange exposure while in the military.
  • You served in the Korean DMZ at any point between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971.
  • You served in Vietnam at any point between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. Under the Blue Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, this can also include service on a vessel docked or parked on inland waterways or operating a vessel less than 12 nautical miles from water demarcation lines located in Vietnam or Cambodia.
  • You faced Agent Orange exposure on a Thailand military base between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975.
  • You faced Agent Orange exposure while working with herbicide tests or near an outdoor storage facility in Vietnam.
  • You were present near airplanes containing Agent Orange residue or faced residue exposure while working on an airline crew with c-123 planes that the U.S. military flew after the completion of the Vietnam War.

If you meet these criteria but you have had your claim denied by the VA, call us today to get the ball rolling on an appeal.  Every day you wait could be the difference in hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of VA Disability Benefits.


Return on Investment

A return on investment of more than 2,000% in just 5 months?

Don’t worry, I’m not a used car salesman and I’m definitely not the Wolf of Lewis Street. We’re attorneys and what I’m telling you is absolutely true.

See, I calculated the average cost of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, let’s say its $1,600. I then took the average amount of debt that we get rid of, which is right around $50,000. Then I looked at the average amount of time it takes for a Chapter 7 to run from start to finish. When I ran the numbers, I got a return on investment of 2,600%. That’s a number Elon Musk and Bill Gates would jump all over. In fact, outside of buying a winning lotto ticket, there’s no faster way to legally get that kind of return on investment anywhere.


The biggest benefit of bankruptcy is that you just stop paying any bill that you wish to discharge. No more payments to CREDIT CARD CORP or RIPOFF MED SERVICE. Garnishments? Gone. None. Zero.

Think about how much better your monthly budget would be if you could wipe out hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of payments.

The day you file bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect. That stops all collections against you dead in their tracks, even lawsuits that have already been filed.

This means that unless it’s an auto loan (and you want to keep the car) or a house payment (and you want to keep the house) you don’t have to make another payment.


A Chapter 7 means that within 4-6 months, all unsecured debt will be gone. This will immediately increase your credit score. Don’t believe me, ask the CFPB.

Car loans, mortgage loans and home equity loans are secured by the property, and if you want to keep them, you’ll have to keep making payments.

If you don’t want to keep them, you typically get somewhere between 3-6 months in that property before the bank repossesses it. You get to keep it that long without making a payment. That’s a good deal.

When you look at the total picture, the benefits of filing a Chapter 7 are difficult to put in to words.

The return on investment you get through bankruptcy is one of the best ways you can spend your hard earned money. With a very small investment and the stroke of a judge’s pen, you can find yourself $40,000-$100,000 better off. That friends, is easy money.

Bankruptcy can help get your Suspended Driver’s License Reinstated

Generally, after having an accident while carrying no auto insurance, the other party will obtain a monetary judgment against you, and can suspend your driver’s license until you pay it.  If you file bankruptcy, you will generally be able to get your license reinstated by the DMV. The debt that you owe will either be repaid through your Chapter 13, or discharged through your Chapter 7. However, if the accident resulted from malicious injury or DUI, the debt must be satisfied through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. As long as you make payments according to your Chapter 13, you can get your license reinstated. If your case gets dismissed, your license will be suspended again by the DMV.

Who is the Chapter 13 Trustee?

The Chapter 13 Trustee is an attorney who is responsible for making sure your repayment plan complies with bankruptcy laws and is also the person who collects money from you and disburses it to creditors.

Your first meeting with the Chapter 13 trustee is called the “341 meeting of creditors”. This meeting takes place on the second floor of the Federal Building in downtown Newnan approximately 30 days after your case is filed. The Chapter 13 Trustee will insure that you have listed all your assets, and that your income and expenses are reflected accurately. If he has any objections to your case (which is generally the norm), he will notify both you and your attorney by mail generally within 7 days.

Since you are in chapter 13 for usually 3-5 years, the trustee receives your payments and pays your creditors until your case is completely paid off. The Chapter 13 trustee gets paid by collecting roughly 5.5 percent of the debtors Chapter 13 payment as a fee. The trustee must keep an accurate accounting of all monies received and paid.

Reaffirmation and Redemption in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Reaffirmation is a signed document filed with the Bankruptcy Court that renews your agreement with a creditor. It is typically executed when you file Chapter 7 and you desire to keep your car, house, or other secured collateral. You generally need to be current on your loan payments with the creditor you are reaffirming with. The payment terms and conditions of the loan generally do not change. If you change your mind about reaffirming a debt, you can rescind the reaffirmation any time before the Court issues a discharge, or within 60 days after the agreement is filed with the Court, whichever is later. 

Occasionally, a better option may be to redeem the property, by making a lump-sum payment equivalent to the property’s total value. For example, occasionally my client will have a car worth $18,000, but they owe $35,000 on it. This typically happens when they trade in a car and role over the negative equity into the new car loan. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy allows my client to pay the car creditor $18,000 all at one time (the value of the car), and the Creditor has to release the title in exchange. This essentially saves my client $17,000! Where does my client get the money to do this you might ask. There are finance companies that specialize in loaning the money to Chapter 7 Debtors, and they become the new lien holder on your car. Typically, these finance companies want the car to be no older than 3 years old, and a solid, stable job for the Debtor is also required.

Common Mistakes When Filing Bankruptcy

There are many mistakes I have seen my clients make prior to filing Bankruptcy. These mistakes can be prevented by being honest with your Attorney and with proper planning and discussion with your attorney. Some of the most common mistakes are the following:

1. Leaving out a creditor.  Many clients intentionally leave out a Creditor. Common reasons are being afraid that the Creditor will repossess their property, or that the Creditor has been “good to them” and hoping that they can handle the debt on their own. Failing to list a Creditor always comes back to haunt a client. The law requires that all your creditors be listed, so that all creditors are treated equally. Don’t forget to list any co-signed liabilities you share with another party as well.

2. Waiting until the last minute to file. Don’t wait until your wages are Garnished or your Bank account is levied. If you see the writing on the wall, then the sooner you file, the sooner you can obtain financial relief and regain control.

3. Filing bankruptcy when you are expecting a large tax refund. Tax refunds are as good as cash in the Courts’ eyes. If you expect to get a large tax refund in the near future, be sure to tell this to your attorney before your file your case. Generally your case can be structured to retain the refund, but proper planning must be made ahead of time.  

4. Making large purchases on your credit card before filing. Do not make large purchases on any credit accounts within 90 days of filing. Doing so is generally considered fraud.

5. Transferring assets before filing. Many clients transfer their property to relatives, thinking it will keep the property out of the Bankruptcy Court’s reach.   This is the worst mistake anyone can do. Not only could such a transfer be undone by the Court, or the case dismissed without discharge, but many times the property would have been protected under bankruptcy if the transfer did not occur. Once the transfer occurs, the property actually becomes un-protectable!  

Stopping Foreclosure by Filing Bankruptcy

If you are facing foreclosure, you should immediate schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney.  Filing chapter 7 bankruptcy can delay the foreclosure by several months, giving you extra time to gather your things together and find a new place to live. Filing chapter 13 bankruptcy will permanently stop the foreclosure, and allow you to keep the home, provided you maintain future payments after filing the bankruptcy.

How is a house foreclosed?

For a foreclosure to begin, a homeowner must fall behind on mortgage payments. Typically falling three months behind on your mortgage payments will initiate a foreclosure proceeding with many lenders. The lender begins a process of selling the home at the court house steps in order to get repaid whatever they can towards the loan. Generally, the Lender will hire a Law Office to send you a letter requesting that you catch up the missed mortgage payments, or dispute the debt, within 30 days of receipt of such letter. If after 30 days the missed mortgage payments are not caught up, then the Law Office will send you a “notice of acceleration” and specifically provide you a date of foreclosure. Notice of Acceleration means the Lender will only accept the full payoff amount of the mortgage loan. The process involves placing an advertisement for four consecutive weeks in the local county organ (paper), advertising the sale. In Georgia, all foreclosures occur on the first Tuesday of a given month. Therefore, if you receive a notice of acceleration on July 15th, then that means typically the foreclosure will be scheduled for the first Tuesday of September (because they have to advertise the foreclosure for four weeks, the earliest first Tuesday of a given month would, in this example, be September).

Generally a lender won’t begin the foreclosure process until you’ve missed several payments. Nor will they consider a loan modification until you have missed several payments (usually more than three). Applying for a loan modification, or loan forbearance, will delay the foreclosure proceeding as well for several months, as the lender needs time to analyze your income, expenses, and home value relative to loan amount.

If a Loan modification is denied, or a foreclosure notice has already been received, typically the only thing that can stop the foreclosure at that point is to file Bankruptcy.

The Automatic Stay will delay Foreclosure

When you file either a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court automatically issues an order that directs your creditors to cease their collection activities immediately, including any attempts to garnish your wages, repossess your property, or foreclose on your house. It doesn’t matter if the Creditor knows about your bankruptcy case or not, hence the term “automatic” stay. Therefore, if your house is scheduled to be foreclosed on Tuesday at 10:00 am, and you file your case at 9:59 am, then the foreclosure will automatically be stopped by operation of law.

The Chapter 13 Process

If you’re behind on your mortgage payments and have received a foreclosure notice, or loan acceleration notice, the only way to keep your home is to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets you pay back your mortgage delinquency over a three to five year period. You will be required to pay all future mortgage payments that come due after you file your case, and make the Chapter 13 payment as well, and you will need to show the Court that you have enough income to make the required payments.

2nd mortgages and lien stripping: Chapter 13 can be used to help eliminate your second mortgage or equity loan payments. If your house is worth less than what you owe on your first mortgage, then your second mortgage may be classified as an unsecured debt, allowing you to repay pennies on the dollar in many cases.

After filing Chapter 13

After you file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you will generally have a hearing about 30 days later. The hearing is called the “341 meeting of Creditors”. Your appearance at this hearing is mandatory. The chapter 13 Trustee will put you under oath, and ask you a series of simple questions to insure that everything listed in your petition is true and correct, and that you listed all of your debts and all of your assets. He will also verify your income and employment information, and insure that you are making your chapter 13 payments in a timely manner. The chapter 13 Trustee will send both you and your bankruptcy attorney a list of his objections to your case. Do not let this letter scare or discourage you. Virtually all cases have some sort of objection to work through. Typically most objections are resolved by providing the Trustee with additional documentation, or adjusting your payments, and eventually your chapter 13 case will be confirmed by the Court.

The Chapter 7 Process

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will wipe out and discharge all your mortgage debt. You are free to stay in the house until the creditor actually forecloses on the house, which could take anywhere from 3-12 months after filing your chapter 7 case.   Before a mortgage lender can foreclose on your house when your in Chapter 7, they need to file a Motion with the Court requesting permission to re-initiate foreclosure proceedings, known as a “motion to lift stay”. Because of the expense involved with filing such a Motion, many mortgage creditors chose to wait until your chapter 7 is discharged and completed before re-initiating foreclosure proceedings. This will enable you to save up a substantial amount of money, which can be used to pay for moving expenses and obtain new shelter.

After you file Chapter 7, you will need to attend a hearing, which is generally scheduled about a month after you file the case.   At the hearing, the Chapter 7 trustee will ask you a series of yes and no questions, virtually all of which ask you about your assets. Of typical importance to the chapter 7 trustee is whether you own any real estate, and what type of vehicles you own.   Also many questions will relate to whether anyone owes you money for any reason, for instance, maybe you have a personal injury claim or workers compensation claim pending. Any such lawsuits in which you could obtain money are considered assets that could be used to pay your creditors. Meeting with an experienced Lagrange Bankruptcy attorney will help insure that you keep as many assets as possible when filing chapter 7 bankruptcy.