Veterans’ disability benefits: Essential details

If you or someone you know is a veteran with a disability, you should become familiar with all of the benefits that are available to you through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). There are certain eligibility requirements that must be met in order to receive these benefits. Below you can find general information about what the eligibility requirements are to receive VA benefits, the types of benefits available to veterans, how to apply for these benefits and the importance of hiring the services of a disability lawyer to represent you in your claim.

Eligibility Requirements

Before a person can claim VA benefits, a veteran must meet a specific set of basic requirements. These include having (1) been on active service; and (2) received a discharge under conditions that were not dishonorable. Once these two simple requirements have been fulfilled, other requirements that must be satisfied include–

Active military service – there are several types of service that satisfy the requirement of active service. They include:

  • Service in the Reserve, Air, or Army National Guard when this service is activated by the federal government;
  • Full-time service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marine Corps;
  • Cadets in the Air Force, U.S. Military, and Coast Guard academies as well as midshipmen in the U.S. Naval Academy.

There are some instances where VA benefits counts other forms of active service including:

  • Service in some national organizations outside of the Armed forces;
  • Engaging in training for the Armed Forces; or
  • Enrollment at a school in the Coast Guard, Air Force or Military academies.VA Disability Rating - Depressed Veteran talking with psychologist

Discharge Conditions, Not Dishonorable –Even when a veteran meets the requirements for active military service, if they were discharged dishonorably, they cannot recover benefits.

When a veteran is discharged under conditions that are other than honorable, with bad conduct discharges, or undesirable discharges they may not be able to receive veterans’ benefits. This depends, however, on the specifics of the benefit type. Veterans with dishonorable discharges, however, cannot receive any kind of benefits from the VA.

If a veteran is worried that the status of the manner in which they were discharged will affect their ability to recover benefits, they may apply for a correction of their military record, or an upgrade of their discharge.

It is also important to note that a veteran who is seeking veterans’ disability benefits for a disability that was caused by their own misconduct, so long as that conduct was willful, will be barred from receiving benefits. It is the VA’s burden, however, to prove that the disability was caused by the willful misconduct. The VA defines willful misconduct as those actions that are done intentionally and that are in contrast with what is right or permitted.

Types of VA Benefits

There are several types of VA benefits that a veteran may pursue. These include:

Disability Compensation that Is Service-Connected

A service-connected disability (SCD) benefit is a monthly compensation paid to disabled veterans. In addition to the basic eligibility requirements, in order to qualify for this benefit type, the veteran must have suffered an injury or illness that occurred during, or was worsened by, service. Special monthly compensation is also available for certain severe disabilities.

Pension Benefits

VA pension benefits are a form of cash payment that are paid monthly to financially assist those veterans who are retired or disabled.. Eligibility for VA pension includes: (1) at least 90 days of service, including at least one day or service during wartime; (2) low income and assets; and (3) total and permanent disability or age 65 or older.

Some veterans may qualify for improved pension programs such as Aid and Attendance (A&A) or Housebound Benefits.

Concurrent Retirement & Disability Payments (CRDP)

CRDP is a VA program that allows eligible military retirees to receive retirement benefits at the same time as disability benefits. In order to be eligible to receive CRDP a military retiree must have had a service of 20 years or more and have a service-connected disability rated at 50 percent or more.

Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSP)

CRSP is a special program that provides compensation to those who have retired from the military and are otherwise eligible who suffer from combat-related illnesses and injuries. CRSP generally mandates retirees have had at least two decades of service or a medical retirement, a disability rating that is at least or greater than 10 percent, and a combat-related service-connected disability.

VA Health Care Benefits

Unlike other benefit types, a veteran does not have to have a service-connected disability, nor need have served in wartime combat operations, in order to receive healthcare benefits from the VA. Instead, these benefits are available to all, although those who enlisted after September 7, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16, 1981 are only eligible so long as they gave continuous service for a minimum of two years. (Veterans who served prior to the 1980 date do not have to meet a minimum service requirement.) Likewise, veterans who were discharged due to hardship or for a service-connected disability may not have to meet the minimum requirement.

Nursing Home Care

All veterans who meet basic eligibility requirements may be able to receive nursing home care, although this type of care is typically reserved for those veterans who have suffered service-related disabilities and have an impairment rating of 60 percent or higher.

Other Benefits

There are other VA benefits that a veteran may be eligible for include home loan guarantees and education benefits.

Consult with a Louisiana Veterans’ Disability Attorney

If you or someone you know is a veteran that is in need of VA benefits, contact a skilled disability attorney right away. The knowledgeable legal team at Ascend Disability Lawyers LLC have years of experience handling veterans’ disability claims at all phases of the claims process. Call today to schedule your free, initial, case evaluation.

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