Attention All Veterans: Let’s Talk About VA Benefits, Disability Compensation, and Who is Entitled to Them!

There was a question posed on Facebook recently asking:
“So how does someone who only spent 3 months active duty, never leaving the USA get a 100% disability.”
The correct answer would be:
They don’t! At least not very often does that happen! There would have to be extreme situations involved for a person to exit or be separated from the military with circumstances such as that. Apparently the person asking the question must not be a Veteran themselves, or know how the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Veteran Hospitals work.

Since I have a lot of Veteran followers, I thought I would explain briefly how benefits work! There is a lot of information out there so please follow the links for more information on these topics! Many Veterans do not know or are unaware of the benefits they can receive. I have taken the text directly from the websites, and I am leaving the links at the end of each section, so they are readily accessible for those who wish to follow them for more information instead of hyperlinking as I normally do in my blogs. Being a Service Connected Disabled Veteran and a Service Officer myself, I feel that this is a very important topic!

Getting benefits is not a piece of cake as one would like to think! Often Veterans are forced to fight for the benefits that they feel they are entitled too and many are found ineligible by the Veterans Administration. You also can be fighting the system for years to obtain the benefits you are entitled too depending on your situation and circumstances.

Let’s start off with the basics. Many people do not know that VA Hospital Care and being a Service-Connected Veteran receiving monetary compensation are 2 separate things! I will go over both today!

To be qualified to be seen at your local VA Hospital and receive care at your local Veteran Hospital you need to meet these basic requirements:

Basic Eligibility:

If you served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well.

Reserves or National Guard members with active duty for training purposes only do not meet the basic eligibility requirement.

Minimum Duty Requirements:

Most Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to Veterans who were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, for a hardship or “early out,” or those who served prior to September 7, 1980. Since there are a number of other exceptions to the minimum duty requirements, VA encourages all Veterans to apply so that we may determine their enrollment eligibility.

Enhanced Eligibility

Certain Veterans may be afforded enhanced eligibility status when applying and enrolling in the VA health care system. Veterans who:

  • Are a Former Prisoner of War (POW)
  • In receipt of the Purple Heart Medal.
  • In receipt of the Medal of Honor.
  • Have a compensable VA awarded service-connected disability of 10% or more.
  • In receipt of a VA Pension.
  • Were discharged from the military because of a disability (not preexisting), early out, or hardship.
  • Served in a Theater of Operations for 5 years post discharge.
  • Served in the Republic of Vietnam from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975. U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with military service in Vietnam
  • Served in the Persian Gulf from August 2, 1990 to November 11, 1998.
  • Were stationed or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.
  • Are found by VA to be Catastrophically Disabled.
  • Previous years’ household income is below VA’s National Income or Geographical-Adjusted Thresholds.
    http://www.tucson.va.gov/patients/eligibility.asp

Enrollment

VA operates an annual enrollment system that helps to manage the provision of health care. VA applies a variety of factors during the application verification process when determining a Veterans’ eligibility for enrollment, but once a Veteran is enrolled, that Veteran remains enrolled in the VA health care system and maintains access to certain VA health benefits.

Once your application is successfully processed, you will be assigned an enrollment Priority Group. Certain Veterans may be eligible for more than one Enrollment Priority Group. In that case, VA will always place you in the highest Priority Group that you are eligible. Under the VA Health Benefits Package, the same services are generally available to all enrolled Veterans. Once enrolled, you will receive a personalized Veterans Handbook, which will detail your VA health benefits and provide important information concerning your access to VA health care.
http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/veterans.asp

One of the biggest topics for Veterans would be the Disability Claims area on the site. You don’t just simply say you have a disability and get money. There is a process that you must go through in order to claim monetary benefits. You must be rated by the Department of Veteran Affairs by their system which means you must be rated anywhere from 10 to 100 percent to receive any type of monetary compensation for a disability.

There are requirements in order to qualify and you must be considered eligible in order to claim compensation benefits for any and all conditions! You must go through a rigorous process to prove your conditions stem from your time in the military while on Active Duty. You can not just say you have a disability to get money and it is incredibly hard to fake your way through this process. After filing your claim via the internet or by paper filing, you may be required to provide medical records (especially if they are from non-VA Facilities or Military Installations) to prove your conditions and support your claim, and go to your local VA for a medical examination. Also, depending on how many disabilities you are claiming will determine how many medical examinations and trips to the local VA you will have to take. This process can take quite a while, especially if you do not have all your own records readily accessible.
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/evidence.asp

Let’s go over the Basics of Compensation Claims:
What is Disability Compensation and what are the requirements?

Disability Compensation is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to Veterans with disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Compensation may also be paid for post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses.

Eligibility Requirements

Compensation benefits require that your disability be service-connected. You must also have separated or been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.

Disability Compensation:  Your disability must be the result of an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated while on active duty or active duty for training; or from injury, heart attack, or stroke that occurred during inactive duty training. A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, as well as mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/

There are many places that can help you file your claim with the VA. Many VSO (Veteran Service Officer) are located right at your local VA Hospital! Veteran Clubs such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion have CSO’s (Chapter Service Officers) that are available at their Chapters and Posts. The Wounded Warrior Project, the American Red Cross, Iraq Afghanistan Vet­er­ans of Amer­ica (IAVA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the AMVETS also have people who can assist you with filing for your benefits as well.

These organizations are not a part of the VA System and they do not have anything to do with the way you are rated.  So when you hear people claim that they are a “DAV Service Connected Veteran” or claim any other Veteran Service Organization as far as a Service Connection to the Veteran Administration as far as benefits go, you can simply dismiss them; or you can correct them and point them in the right direction! Any organization that have CSO’s or VSO’ outside of the Department of Veteran Affairs simply exist to assist you in filing your paperwork, making sure you have all the paperwork and support items needed to file your claim, and making sure that you file everything in a timely manner so your claim does not get thrown out simply because you missed a deadline!

There are many other places that can help you with filing; you just have to do a Google Search! There are also specialized Attorneys who have dedicated lawyers who help you if you are willing to pay for their services! There are many reasons to research the Department of Veteran Affairs website, if you are indeed a Veteran. They provide information, forms, and applications for services which include General Benefit Information, Disability Compensation, Pensions, the G.I.Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Rehab Services and much more!

You can find more information on the Department of Veterans Affairs Website found here: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/veterans.asp

I would encourage every Veteran to look up as much information on getting the benefits that they are entitled to!
To every Veteran of our US Military….
Thank you for your service and God Bless!

Copyright 2015 The Last Civil Right – All Rights Reserved

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