What Veterans Should Know About Their Disability Benefits
Depending on the applicant and their situation, VA benefits can make a veteran eligible for an early pension, educational reimbursements or even VA-facilitated nursing home care in addition to their supplemental California social security disability. Read on to learn more about these programs as well as their general expected eligibility requirements in brief.
Who Can Receive VA Benefits?
Generally speaking, most VA benefits programs have two overarching requirements. Firstly, the applicant should have participated in active service. Secondly, if they are no longer serving, they should have been discharged under conditions other than “dishonorable.”
Active military service typically applies to those serving full-time in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard, in Reserve branches or the Army National Guard and who have been activated for duty, or cadets and midshipmen enrolled at official U.S. Military, Air Force U.S. Naval or Coast Guard academies. In addition, in some cases enrollment at a military or Coast Guard academy prep school, service in certain other designated national organizations or even having gone through armed forces training can qualify as active service for purposes of establishing VA benefit eligibility.
Most general discharges, honorable discharges and discharges under honorable conditions can suffice. Every VA program has specific requirements and exceptions, however. Additionally, the VA is often willing to evaluate program eligibility upon a case-by-case basis.
VA Pension Benefits
VA Pension programs grant certain individuals access to monthly cash benefits, provided that they meet certain income thresholds, have served for at least 90 days including one day of active combat service, and are either age 65 or on permanent total disability under the SSA.
Certain individuals may also be eligible to receive Household Benefits and Aid and Attendance depending on their personal and medical needs as well as their financial situation.
Service-Connected Disability Compensation
This monthly cash benefit is payable by the VA to disabled veterans. The disability must have been incurred during active service as described in the first section, and it is often assigned as a percentage based on the perception of functionality lost — i.e. “15% disability.” Certain severe disabilities can make one eligible for Special Monthly Compensation in addition to the normal Service-Connected Disability Compensation.
Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP)
Some individuals may be eligible to receive both a pension and disability payments at the same time if they have both served more than 20 years of active service and incurred a service-connected disability of 50% or more.
Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSP)
Certain military retirees may be eligible for CRSP benefits if they have served at least 20 years or are on medical retirement, have service-connected and combat-related disability and have a 10% or higher total disability rating.
VA Health Care and Nursing Home Care
Most veterans who meet the minimum general requirements can receive VA health care, even if they are being treated for a condition unrelated to service. The only restriction is that individuals who enlisted after September 7, 1980 or who entered active duty after October 16, 1981 must have performed two continuous years of service. Those discharged non-dishonorably for a service-connected disability or hardship may also be eligible.
VA care copays may vary based on coverage and individual treatment eligibility standards. VA nursing home care may also be accessed by any veterans who meet the general eligibility requirements. Priority is typically given to those with service-connected disabilities rated 60% or higher, though.
Establishing Eligibility and Contesting Ineligibility
The VA system can deny eligibility by alleging that a disability was caused by willful misconduct, which refers to any “act involving conscious wrongdoing or known prohibited action.” Additionally, the VA may dispute the nature of a disability given the available documentation or case history.
To protect their rights to VA disability benefits, veterans should therefore look to an experienced California disability attorney. They can present the facts and fight for the compensation their clients are rightfully owed. If you have a dispute or questions about your VA benefits eligibility or a denied claim, do not hesitate to call us or fill out a form. You can receive a free case evaluation and potentially start pursuing benefits today, so act now.