For this post I’d like to focus on some of the basics of Veterans Benefits for Veterans that may not be familiar with the benefits that they are entitled to.
A common question I get by email is “What is VA Disability Compensation?”.
This post seeks to provide a VERY GENERAL overview of “What is VA Disability Compensation”. As always, you should consult with an attorney or a qualified VSO that has your best interests at heart to see if you are entitled to additional benefits.
1. Service-Connected VA Disability Compensation.
When a Veteran has a current disability or disease that is related to his/her military service, the Veteran is entitled to compensation from the VA.
It is important to note the distinction that the Veteran’s current disability or disease need not be caused solely by military service, but instead need only be related to that service. (The most common example is the Veteran who has an injury resulting from the injury that was related to military service, which causes a totally different disability years later).
Compensation is calculated by the percentage of impairment (0% – 100%) resulting from the disease or injury, and is increased each year based on changes in the cost of living.
Veterans with a spouse and children receive higher rates of compensation.
Veterans who have unique disabilities, or who have suffered greater loss (due to loss of limbs, vision, sexual function, etc) are entitled to special monthly compensation.
Depending on many factors, Veterans can receive between $153 and $4,718 (or more) per month. Veterans disability compensation is tax-free, and may qualify the Veteran for state and county benefits (most commonly reductions in state and local property taxes)
2. VA Pensions for Non-Service Connected Disabilities.
In some cases, where a Veteran is not eligible for “service-connected” compensation – compensation for an injury resulting from military service – the Veteran might be eligible for a “Non-Service-Connected” Pension.
Generally, to qualify for a Veterans’ Pension, a Veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least one day during a wartime period.
In addition to meeting minimum service requirements, the Veteran must be:
- Age 65 or older, OR
- Totally and permanently disabled, OR
- A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
- Receiving Supplemental Security Income
The Veteran’s yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Veterans Pension benefit.
When dealing with these types of Pensions, be wary of “Pension Poachers”.
3. Pensions and Compensation for Surviving Spouses of Deceased Veterans.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a benefit paid to a Veteran’s surviving spouse (or, in some cases, a Veteran’s surviving parent or dependent child) when the Veteran dies in the line of duty or as the result of a disability which was or should have been service-connected.
In some situations, survivors may be entitled to Substitute into the VA Claim of their deceased Veteran Spouse and continue to seek benefits which the VA should have granted or paid during the Veterans lifetime.
These are known as Accrued Benefits.
The Survivors Pension benefit, which may also be referred to as Death Pension, is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service.
I hope that helped give you a general idea of “What is VA Disability Compensation.”
Or, if you haven’t started filing your VA Disability Claim yet, take a look at this Training Module – the FIRST of its kind teaching Veterans the Best Practices in Filing their own VA Claim.