Finding Your Way Through the VA Benefits Process

eBenefits.VA.Gov – There are lots of US veterans that have no idea on how they can get veterans benefits. Many veterans think that they don’t have any reason on receiving benefits & others on being discharged prefer to put that life behind.

Plus, the laborious, seemingly endless application process can seem too daunting even to give it a try. But injured or disabled veterans have a right to benefits, and so should look into the process for obtaining them.

Q: How do you know if you could be receiving benefits? Who is qualified to receive benefits?

A: Three main components make up a veteran’s possible eligibility for service connected disability benefits. First, you had to have served in the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, or Air Force. Second, you must have a current disability, either caused by your time in the service or a disability that you had going into the service and it was aggravated or made worse by your time in the service. There is a wide range of these sorts of disabilities, to some types of cancer, to breathing problems, to other disabilities that originated from or were affected by your service. Third, you have to be able to connect your current disability to your time in the service. eBenefits.VA.Gov

An example is, if you were on leave from active duty and vacationing with your family and while skiing you fell and broke your leg or injured your knee. Today, even though many years have passed, the problem caused by that old injury is only getting worse, and you will soon need surgery to have the knee replaced. Though it may not seem like it, this injury itself is service connected, as you were on active duty when the accident or illness occurred, even though you were on leave. And in addition to the surgery, the incident has caused other problems that you need taken care of.

Q: But how will receiving benefits from Veteran Affairs really help me?

A: Like this: if you do obtain benefits, you can receive monthly monetary benefits, as well as eligibility to use the VA hospital and medical facilities. The amount of your monthly benefit will depend on your percentage of service connection granted.

Q: If I am currently service connected and I have hearing loss at 10% and PTSD at 30% why am I only considered 30% service connected?

A: Veteran Affairs uses a rating schedule that uses the severity of your disability to tell them what percentage service connected disability to award you. Rather than using math to determine these percentages, they use a rating chart to give you a total final percentage, or rating. These service connection percentages can be tricky to understand and if you feel that you should be receiving more benefits or a higher percentage then you should look into your disability and the severity or contact a professional that could assist you.

Q: Why does my neighbor receive 70% for the same disability that I have?

A: This happens because Veteran Affairs determines all service connection percentages individually, based on the severity of a veteran’s disability. Again, there is a rating schedule that determines the amount of benefit and the percentage of service connection that each person receives.

Q: If I work at Veteran Affairs, can I still receive disability benefits for my time in service?

A: Yes. Unlike with Social Security Disability, the disability benefits you obtain from Veteran Affairs are not affected by working. If you obtain benefits for a service connected disability, but are still able to work, then you are entitled to keep working and receiving benefits. Your disability benefits are not reduced or annulled if you are earning an income.

Q: Can I obtain benefits from both Social Security Disability and the Dept. of Veteran Affairs? A: Yes. While Social Security Disability does gauge your earned income when determining your SSD benefits, your VA benefits are not considered earned income, and so will not get in the way of your SSD benefits.

Q: My spouse, who was in the service and getting benefits from the VA for a service connected disability, has passed away. Can I receive their benefits? eBenefits.VA.Gov

A: There are benefits for surviving spouses and dependent children. However, every case is different, and you need to be sure to speak to a professional before moving forward.

Q: How do I apply for benefits?

A: Veteran Affairs has laws to follow called “Veteran Friendly Laws.” The VA has the duty to help you file a claim and walk you through the process of obtaining benefits. There are Regional Offices in every state and there are organizations set up to assist the veterans at no cost to you. To locate your local Veteran Affairs Regional Office and any local Veteran Service Organizations, visit the Veteran Affairs website at http://www.va.gov.

Q: Can I hire an attorney?

A: The VA does have laws that tell attorneys when they can represent a client for a fee and when they can not. You can find some lawyers who will represent you for free, or Pro Bono, and others who will require you to sign a contract promising payment for their services. You should contact a local attorney’s office for more information and specifics regarding your claim.

Q: I already get benefits for a service connected ability. Is there any other benefit I can receive?

A: This depends on your situation. If, for instance, your service connected disability has grown in severity since you began receiving benefits, you can apply for an increase in your percentage or rating, which will also increase the amount of your monthly benefits. Veteran Affairs also provides expanded benefits to those veterans who cannot work due to their service connected disability. To apply for these benefits there is a separate form that needs to be filled out and filed with the VA. If you feel you are unemployable and should be receiving higher benefits you should contact a VSO or an Attorney to answer your questions and possibly assist you in obtaining these benefits. The VA also has benefits for those individuals that are unable to care for themselves on a regular basis or those that are unable to leave their home most of the time. These benefits are a homebound compensation. This is an option to consider if you feel you need assistance to care for yourself.

Because each claim is different, getting the benefits that you are entitled to can be a complex and confusing process. The VA’s website has a lot of information on what kind of benefits there are beyond disability benefits and what you can do to receive these benefits. If you are a veteran and you were injured in any way or your disabilities that you had before going into the service were aggravated in any way please look into your options. You served for our country and you may be entitled to veterans benefits.

For more on social security benefits, see http://www.hillandponton.com

Proposed Changes To The GI Bill – How Will They Affect Your Veterans Benefits?

The New Post 9/11 GI Bill has been in effect now for over a year and many returning service members are taking advantage of this well deserved benefit. In the American Council on Education report titled “Service Members in School: Military Veterans’ Experiences Using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Pursuing Higher Education,” approximately 25% of the veterans polled stated that availability of funds from the New GI Bill was a determining factor in their decision to further their education. But despite the popularity of this benefit, legislators continue to seek means for improving and simplifying the sometimes confusing array of benefits created by the original GI Bill legislation.

Efforts are under way to reform and revise veterans educational benefits provided by the GI Bill. Both houses of congress are currently considering bills which aim to improve the current Title 38 – Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits. It is essential that all veterans familiarize themselves with this legislation and support our current and past service members. While this legislation is politically popular, support is beginning to fade due to cost estimates. Because this veterans benefit is considered an entitlement program lawmakers are bound by “pay as you go” rules. Raising additional taxes or cutting other mandated benefits will be a difficult task in the current political environment.

A version of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (S.3447) (H.R.5933) was introduced in the Senate on 5/27/2010 and in the House of Representatives on 7/29/2010. These bills include similar provisions which seek to:

  • Include members of the National Guard and Reserve programs who were left out of the original GI Bill legislation.
  • Expand eligible education options to include non degree granting vocational training programs, apprentice, on the job and flight training.
  • Eliminate the confusion and unfair differences arising from state by state GI Bill benefits calculation for degree granting institutions.
  • Establish national averages for GI Bill benefits paid to non-degree granting institutions which are indexed to inflation.
  • Modify the living allowance rules to also help those that pursue and on-line degree.
  • Provide a book allowance for active duty military and their spouses.
  • Allow veterans with a service connected disability to continue receiving chapter 31 education benefits while also receiving any living allowance from chapter 33 for which they are eligible without having to use one or the other.
  • Modify the calculation of living allowance benefits to match the pace at which the education is pursued.
  • Ensure that one period of active duty cannot be used to determine eligibility for multiple educational programs.

As is always the case, bills are referred to committees which then hammer out the details and provide cost estimates. These bills have been referred to the respective Veterans Affairs Committees where there has been very little discernable action. Given the monumental public support of veterans and the GI Bill, it is certain that lawmakers will give these bills the attention they deserve. Overcoming the “pay as you go” obstacles will be a challenge but not one that is insurmountable. We encourage all who read this to contact their legislators and express support for efforts to improve the GI Bill and expand the opportunities our military veterans deserve.

Armed with this advice, review a list of veterans organizations that you might join to learn more about your GI Bill benefits including education benefits at VeteransOrganization.net. This site as well as the FREE Veterans Benefits Portal will provide all of the information you need to make informed decisions about your post military career.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5505095

Learn How to Get Your Fair Share of Assisted Living Veterans Benefits

Many veterans or their surviving spouse don’t know about or understand how to go about getting Assisted Living veterans benefits.

The simple truth is that most families think that they need to use a veteran’s home or nursing home run by the VA for a place for their aging veteran’ care. With this well-kept VA secret now finally beginning to get out among the general population it is important to know that every single Assisted Living facility is an option for your war-time veteran relative or friend.

This VA benefit often provides funds that help the veteran or their surviving spouse pay 50% up to even 100% of the Assisted Living facilities cost. Who knew that you could get paid a benefit from the VA to help you offset these expensive care costs.

For too long it was commonly thought that you needed to be wounded or have an immediate disability incurred during the veteran’s active duty.

It was too often understood or assumed that a veteran did not qualify for any VA benefits if their disabilities they face as they grow older did not have it’s origin from a documented active duty injury or wound.

This myth has been soundly busted.

WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans are now beginning to experience normal disabilities due to the natural aging process. Some of these difficulties are due to their active duty but many are not.

The non-service connected disability pension benefit from the VA does not require that the difficulties or disability that you are now experiencing be related to your active duty. Again, to be clear…it does not have to be service related.

What is this little-known VA benefit? It is officially called the “Improved Disability Pension Benefit”. Their are three monthly payment thresholds that are defined by:

  1. Income and Assets
  2. Housebound Status
  3. Need for assistance with activities of daily living

The third threshold entitles the recipient to an entitlement commonly called “Aid and Attendance”.A widowed surviving spouse of a qualified veteran (just 90 days of active duty with 1 day during an official stated period of war) is also eligible for this pension benefit.

For widowed surviving spouses it is officially called the “Improved Death Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance Entitlement”.

So, this “new” benefit you may be hearing about called the “Aid and Attendance Benefit” is really either the long-standing VA benefit no one every heard about called either the:

  • Non-Service Connected Disability Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance Entitlement (for veterans)

or the

  • Non-Service Connected Improved Death Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance Entitlement (for un-remarried widowed surviving spouse of an qualified veteran)

Now, here is the best part.The award amount of this VA non-service connected benefit:

  1. A Veteran with a dependent (typically spouse) can get up to $23,388 per year, paid monthly at $1,949
  2. A Veteran with no dependents can receive up to $17,728 per year, paid monthly at $1,644
  3. An un-remarried widow surviving spouse can receive up to $12,684 per year, paid monthly at $1,057

Assisted Living Veterans Benefits QualificationsThere are five qualification criteria:

  1. When the veteran served with at least 90 days of active duty with a least 1 day during a stated time of war. (The veteran does not have to have seen action, serve overseas or be in a combat area to qualify)
  2. Must no longer be able to safely drive
  3. Must need assistance with activities of daily living
  4. Must have liquid assets less than $80 thousand. But, there is no look back if you need to do move assets out of the applicants name to meet this requirement. If you transfer excess assets today you are eligible tomorrow.
  5. The actual amount of the veterans benefit you can receive is based on a simple formula.

This last qualification criteria often confuses families looking to get the Veterans Benefits for Assisted Living.

Luckily, professional help is available to ensure a quick and proper approval from the VA for your loved one. Don’t let your fair share get improperly delayed or denied. Get the help you need. Veterans Care Advisors has developed an Aid and Attendance Handbook that walks families step-by-step through each step of the process. This Assisted Living Veterans Benefits Handbook can be found at VeteransCareAdvisors dot com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4062318