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Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: Check With The VA

Much of my mail comes from people who served at some point, and are now wondering if they have any benefits from their military service. Most of the time the answer is no, but sometimes the situation warrants a point towards the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA website is really good and answers nearly every question I have.

As always, I expect that my readers may know some things that I don't know.

Here are some questions I've received recently, edited to remove personal information:

Question:

I did not finish basic training, but I was released on a medical discharge. Do I have any benefits?

My answer:

If you were released due to an injury during basic training, it is possible that you may be eligible for medical and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their website is outstanding and you may find answers to your questions there: www.va.gov.

Question:

My mother, age 86, may need to go into an assisted living facility. My father was served in the Navy and Army for 16 years. Is my mother eligible for any assistance?

Answer:

There are no military benefits for service members (and family) who did not remain on active duty to retirement.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handled benefits for disabled veterans and their families, and certain indigent veterans and their families. If your mother's income is very low, she may be eligible for a survivor's pension. More information can be found at the VA's very good website, www.va.gov.

I always encourage people to investigate whether they are eligible for benefits. I don't want to get anyone's hopes up, because many times the individual writing doesn't have a legitimate claim for military or VA benefits. However, it would be silly not to look into the situation thoroughly.

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