On Friday, April 23, 2021, Lex Fori PLLC and Attorney Carson J. Tucker filed a pro bono petition in the United States Supreme Court challenging the State of Michigan’s decision to take a veteran’s permanent and total disabilty pay despite the fact that the Veteran’s Administration, the agency with exclusive jurisdiction over dependency benefits claims, denied the requested apportionment of the veteran’s benefits. In 1988, Congress made all decisions by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs with respect to a claim for benefits by dependents exclusive, conclusive and final. The only way to challenge a decision on such a claim is through the federal court appellate process in the Article I court created by Congress for that purpose. The state of Michigan ignored the VA’s decision denying a claimant’s request for a portion of Petitioner’s disability pay and entered an order requiring Petitioner to make monthly payments for child support. To get around federal law that excludes veteran’s disability benefits as being considered income, the state characterized Petitioner’s disability benefits as income from employment with the VA. It did this even though it knew Petitioner was not an employee of the VA, but rather received disability benefits from the VA because he was totally and permanently disabled. The state then filed contempt proceedings against the Petitioner and had him jailed until he agreed to make payments out of these restricted funds. After years of fighting this on his own, Trinity Advocates and Lex Fori PLLC teamed up to represent Petitioner pro bono and file pleadings in the United States Supreme Court to challenge the state’s actions.
Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, federal law preempts all state law in the area of military benefits because legislation providing veterans with benefits and compensation are authorized under the Constitution’s enumerated “military powers” clauses.
This is the third of three petitions filed in the United States Supreme Court by Lex Fori in the last week on behalf of veterans.