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What are the types of VA disability benefits that may be available to me?
- Non-service connected pension (“pension”)
- Service-connected disability compensation (“compensation”)
- What is a non-service or pension-related benefit?
- A non-service connected pension “pension” is a monthly payment to a veteran who meets certain minimum wartime service requirements, who became permanently and totally disabled from disability or disabilities that may or may not have been related to military service and who meets certain income and net worth requirements.
The eligibility for a pension is:
a. You served for 90 days one of which had to be during “wartime;” and
b. You are permanently and totally disabled or unemployable, and
c. You have limited income and net worth.
What is service-connected disability compensation or a compensation benefit?
Service-connected disability compensation or a compensation benefit is a disability benefit for a disability that was incurred or aggravated or a death that resulted from a disability that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in active military, naval or air service.
The qualifications are:
a. You are a veteran who served in the active U.S. military, naval or air services,
b. You were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable,
c. There is evidence that you currently suffer from a disability,
d. There is evidence of an incident, injury, or event during your period of military service that could have caused your disability,
e. There is evidence to show a link between your current disability and the incident, injury, or event that occurred during your period of military service that could have caused your disability.
You could have sustained an original service-connected injury or illness or specific war-time service-connected disability such as Persian Gulf Syndrome or a disease linked to herbicide exposure in Vietnam, or substantially aggravated an existing injury during your time served.
How is my disability rated? How much will I receive based on that rating?
The VA uses a percentage rating schedule to a rate service-connected disability on a scale of severity, from 0 to 100 percent. The disability rating is designed to reflect the average impairment in earning capacity. The higher the disability percentage rating granted, the higher your monthly benefit. If you have more than one service connected disability they are combined into a single disability rating. The level of payment is fixed by law. Disability compensation is not taxable.
Percentage Rating Level of Disability = Monthly Benefits
(Veteran Alone with No Dependents)
10% = $129 60% = $1,026
20% = $255 70% = $1,293
30% = $395 80% = $1,503
40% = $569 90% = $1,689
50% = $810 100% = $2,816
If you have a spouse or dependent children they may also be eligible for benefits.
Are there circumstances in which I may be eligible for a total, 100% disability rating even though my combined disability rating is less than 100%?
Yes, if the VA finds that you are unable to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation as a result of your service connected disability they may deem you totally disabled based on Individual Employability. A substantially gainful occupation is one that provides annual income in excess of $11, 945 for a single individual.
Is my surviving spouse, children or parent eligible for benefits from the VA?
Yes, an individual who qualifies as a surviving spouse, surviving child or surviving parent may apply for monthly benefits from the VA for a death that occurred during the veteran’s service, for a service connected death, or for the death of a veteran whose service connected disability was totally disabling prior to death.
Can I receive both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and VA disability benefits?
Yes, disabled veterans can collect both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and VA benefits at the same time. We will review your eligibility for both programs and file applications on your behalf.
Can the VA reduce my disability benefit?
Yes, the VA may choose to re-evaluate a service connected condition and if the severity of the disability has changed, the VA may increase or decrease the percentage evaluation. Before assigning a different percentage of disability, the VA will usually schedule a review examination.
How does working impact my VA disability benefits?
You can work while receiving VA disability benefits, however if you have been deemed to be 100% disabled due to either your disability or due to Individual Unemployability, you could create problems for yourself by working because the VA has considered you to be unemployable. By going back to work, you may jeopardize your disability rating as the VA may consider you able to work and may reduce your disability rating.
Can I continue my military service and still receive VA disability benefits?
You cannot receive military pay and VA disability benefits at the same time. If you choose to continue your military service, your VA disability payments will be suspended during this time.
How soon should I apply for a service-connected disability?
Although there is no time limit for most initial VA disability claims, it is in your best interests to file a claim as soon as possible as your filing date is the date when your benefits will begin. There are time limits to file an appeal if you don’t receive a fully favorable decision by the VA on your claim.
How long is the process after I file a claim?
There is a significant backlog in the veterans disability system, so receiving veterans disability is usually a very long process. On average, it takes about one year for your application to be reviewed and for you to receive a rating decision and be approved for benefits.
How much will you charge to take my case?
The Veteran’s Administration governs attorney’s fees. The maximum fee chargeable under law is 20 percent of the retroactive (back) dollar amount awarded. There may also be additional expenses such as a fee for obtaining medical records.
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