When it comes to veterans benefits, there are many unanswered questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about those benefits and the answers:
What is disability compensation and who qualifies for it?
You may be eligible for compensation if you were wounded, injured or became ill while on active duty in the military. Pre-existing injuries or illnesses which were aggravated by military service are also covered. Although most service-connected disabilities show up during or soon after military service, some conditions may not have appeared at all or appeared but were not too "disabling" until many years after you got out of the service.
How is the amount of disability compensation determined?
The amount of your disability compensation depends on the seriousness of your disability. When you apply for disability compensation, your medical records are reviewed and you usually have a VA medical examination. Your disability is rated and expressed as a percentage. The monthly payment you receive is based on this percentage.
If you have dependents, an additional allowance may be added if your disability is over 30%. An allowance for clothing or transportation is available if certain requirements are met.
What is the pension benefit and who qualifies?
A monthly cash benefit is available if you are a wartime veteran with limited income and a permanent and total disability. The disability does not have to be service-connected but it cannot be the result of your willful misconduct.
How is the amount of pension benefit determined?
The pension is based on need. You must be financially needy as determined by your current income, your savings, and other assets. The amount of your pension will depend on your level of income and number of dependents. The benefit amounts are reduced if you currently have income including any Social Security benefits. The benefit may be higher if you reside in a nursing home, require someone's regular assistance or are permanently homebound.
Can my survivors receive benefits?
Yes, veterans benefits include what is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Your surviving spouse, children under 18, and in some situations your parents may be eligible for compensation when your death results from either a service-connected disability or non-service connected disability.
How do I apply for veterans benefits?
While you can easily apply online at VA.GOV, you can also apply by either downloading an application form, or requesting an application from the VA.
If you need help filling out a benefits application you can get free assistant from any Veterans Service Officer. Veterans Service Officers assist veterans, their dependents and widows in filing claims for all federal VA benefits. Locations and phone numbers may be found under "State Government, Veterans Service Officer" in the Yellow Pages of your phone book. You can also receive assistance from Veterans Service Organizations or Associations like the American Legion, VFW, etc. see our page on How to Pick a Military or Veteran Association, The VA also operates a toll-free number for general questions, 800-827-1000, or TDD 711.
If my application for benefits is refused, can I appeal?
Like other federal benefits programs, decisions of the Veterans Administration concerning benefit eligibility can be appealed. Your initial step is to file a "Notice of Disagreement" form. These forms are available from the VA office as well as a brochure which outlines the appeals procedure. You may also want to contact the legal aid provider in your area. This number is listed in your local telephone directory.
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