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By Dave Estrovitz

New Rules Help Caregivers:  On Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced new rule changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that would allow more currently serving and veteran family members to take time off from work before, during or after deployments and leave to care for wounded, ill or injured veterans.

The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid (job-protected) leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons such as birth, adoption or placement of a child, care of a family member with a health condition, or the employee’s own health condition

The new rules would extend FMLA leave protections to military families as a whole. Key aspects of the new rules would:

  • Provide up to 26-weeks of caregiver leave to cover family members caring for recently separated veterans with serious line-of-duty injuries or illnesses, including conditions that may surface up to five years after the member leaves the service
  • Allow the spouse, child or parent of an active duty member to take leave to deal with deployment-related issues and events such as financial, legal, child care arrangement, and to attend military events before, during or after a deployment overseas
  • Allow families up to 15 days of leave to spend time with a servicemember during rest and recuperation leave. Some Vets Should Reapply for DisabilityStars and Stripes reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is beginning a phased mailing of information packets on the Physical Disability Review Board (PDBR) to every qualified veteran with a current home address on file at VA. The Physical Disability Review Board (PDRB) has the authority to reexamine the files and, if appropriate, raise disability ratings of up to 77,000 veterans — those medically separated with ratings less than 30 percent between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2009. Eligible veterans can apply now to the PDBR to have their ratings reviewed. For more information, visit the Physical Disability Review Board webpage at www.health.mil/pdbr

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