What Are Veterans Disability Benefits?
Disability benefits paid to veterans of military service are for injuries or diseases that occurred while on active duty or made worse by active military service. These benefits are free from federal and state income tax.
The benefits range from $133 to over $3,300 per month, depending on the level of disability and the number of dependents. Additional amounts may be paid if any of the following criteria are met:
- You have a severe disability or loss of limb(s)
- You have a spouse, child(ren) or dependent parents
- You have a seriously disabled spouse.
How Do I Obtain My Veterans Disability Benefits?
For the fastest service when applying for your veterans’ disability benefits, you should submit your application and all pertinent information online through VONAPP (Veterans Online Application). When you submit your application, your information should be a “fully developed claim,” meaning all of your supporting documentation should be included with your application for veterans benefits. This package should include all of the medical evidence, both military and civilian, including doctor and hospital reports; you should also include copies of DD214 or separation documents; dependency records, which include marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates. When in doubt, submit any document! All records can possibly help your case.
Am I Entitled to Get Travel Reimbursement?
Yes, travel reimbursement may be paid to vets with service related disabilities that are rated at 30% or more, for vets traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition, vets receiving a VA pension, vets traveling for scheduled compensation or pension exams and vets whose income does not exceed the max VA pension rate.
Mileage reimbursement is 41.5 cents per mile. There is a deductible mileage amount of $3 one way and $6 per round trip. This mileage deductible is subject to a monthly cap of $18, and when you reach $18 in deductible travel payments for the month, the remainder of that month will be free of deductible charges. Deductible mileage reimbursement can be waived if you are: 1.) in receipt of a VA pension, 2.) traveling for a scheduled compensation and pension exam, or 3.) meet certain income levels.
What Factors Can Alter My Payment of Veterans Disability Benefits?
Benefits paid varies with the degree of disability and the number of eligible dependents. Vets with certain severe disabilities may be eligible for SMC-additional special monthly compensation, which is also tax-free.
Payment of military retirement pay, disability severance pay and separation incentive payments, known as Special Separation Benefits (SSB) and Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) may affect the amount of compensation paid to disabled vets. To be eligible, the vet must have been separated under conditions that are other than dishonorable.
Note: The Department of Treasury mandates that all recurring federal benefits be paid either through EFT (electronic funds transfer) or Direct Express Debit MasterCard.
Can My Disability Benefits Be Reduced or Terminated?
Some vets have Protected Benefit Rates, and while they may have to go for periodic medical re-examinations, it is very hard for the VA to reduce or terminate the disability rating, therefore, reducing the benefit for someone receiving disabled veterans benefits. If your rating is in effect for 5 years or more, (with the same rating) the VA cannot reduce the rating unless your condition has improved on a sustained basis. All medical evidence is considered, not just the re-examination results, and they must support that your improvement is more than temporary. If your rating is in effect for 20 years or more, the VA can’t reduce your rating unless it finds that the rating was based on fraud, which is highly unlikely.
If you are in a 100% rating situation, it must be proven that your mental and/or physical condition has materially improved. If a private doctor (non-VA) gives an opinion that the condition has not improved since the rating was given or continued, this will help the rating from being reduced. You may still be protected, if you have experienced improvement to your disability, if you are still unable to work due to a service-connected disability. This 100% disability rating falls under the heading of “individual unemployability.”
If you do not have a protected rate, the VA cannot reduce your rating after a re-examination unless there is actual improvement in your disability, improvement creates an increased ability to function in life and work, the re-examination report is thorough and the entire medical history of the disability has been reviewed.
If your benefits have been in place for ten years or longer, you have a special protection against termination. Only if you committed fraud or the VA made a “clear and unmistakable error” (CUE) by granting benefits with a disqualifying type of discharge— meaning dishonorable, or if you had not met the minimum service requirements. If this is determined to be the case, you have the right to a hearing and an appeal. Contact an attorney immediately if you receive a notice that your benefits will be reduced or terminated. Ascend Disability Lawyers LLC is always available to help you in your benefits case!
Can My Benefits Be Reduced or Terminated If I Go to Jail?
If you are jailed for a felony, your veterans disability benefits will be reduced after the 61st day you are incarcerated. If you rated at 20% disability or higher, your payment will be reduced to 10%. If you are rated at 10%, your payment will be cut in half. Remember, your rating is not reduced, the monthly disability payment is reduced.
After your release, your payment will be reinstated. If you are jailed for 60 days or less and you have 1.) completed your sentence, 2.) been paroled, or 3.) sent to a halfway house or work release program, your benefits will not be reduced or terminated. If you are in the New Orleans area and feel your rights have been violated or that you are not receiving the proper amount for your particular disability, please do not wait to contact our office. We will fight to protect your rights and see to it you get the benefits you deserve for the injuries or illness you suffered in service to the country. If you have any questions about veteran disability eligibility, contact an experienced disability lawyer today.
If your disability benefit payment has been reduced (or your pension terminated), your family can apply to have the benefit payments paid to them instead. This procedure is called apportionment. You can learn more about this option, and about all your options for disability benefits by contacting the experienced attorneys at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC in New Orleans, Louisiana.