Benefits

How To Change VA Disability Direct Deposit


eBenefits.Va.Gov

Veterans Benefits; Medical Insurance for Veterans, VA Home Loans – Disabled US Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), VA Disability Direct Deposit, The American Veterans (AMVETS)..

A common question in my email is:  “how do I change the bank account into which my own disability payments are direct deposited?”  That’s a great question.  Changing direct deposit account info is quick & easy. eBenefits.Va.Gov

va-disability-direct-depositThere are three ways to change your own direct deposit account info:  online, via phone and via the mail.  I strongly recommend that you utilize the VA eBenefits system.  It is your best choice for speedy service.

  • Online, you can create a VA eBenefitsaccount and make changes through the account.  An eBenefit account will also give you 24/7 access to your payment history, GI bill information, and all sorts of other items.  If you receive VA benefits, you should create a VA eBenefits account.  It is be the fastest and most convenientway for you to conduct any business with the VA.
  • Via mail, fill out and send the V.A Form 24-0296.  You could find it here:  http://vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-24-0296-ARE.pdf.  The directions are on the form. eBenefits.Va.Gov
  • Via telephone, by calling 1-877-838-2778.  I have looked at this one and I wonder how they could verify that you’re actually the person calling.  If you find out, please let me know.  I’m curious.

I always love getting emails from readers.  I can’t answer every one, but don’t worry about it, I do try.  Even if I’m unable to personally respond to your e-mail, I use the information from these emails to understand what information will be most helpful to my readers.

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What You Need To Know About Veterans Benefits

eBenefits.Va.Gov – Because you have served your own country, you’re eligible for a number of veterans benefits, including disability pay or pension, educational assistance, and also home loan guarantees, among other benefits. It’s important to be informed about your veteran’s benefits program to maximize their helpful impact upon your return from active service & for the comfort & safety of your own family.

Disability Pay or Pension

Disability compensation is available to any veteran who sustains an injury or disease while on active duty, or if any injury or disease worsened because of the military service. Additionally, some veterans receive disability pay because of illnesses or injuries suffered while under V.A health care. Disability pay benefits are not taxable.

Those veterans discharged under normal conditions, that is honorable discharge or a medical discharge, etc. are eligible for disability pay. Benefit payments vary, based on the extent of the disability & your own family situation. Those with dependents will be paid a larger amount, as will those with a disabled spouse, or those who have extreme disabilities or loss of limbs. There could also be additional amounts for housebound care & aid and attendance under your veteran’s benefits. eBenefits.Va.GovVeteran-Benefits

Pension amounts are figured based on years of service, date of retirement & pay grade at retirement. For instance, an E-6 level with twenty years of service would be eligible for about $1,600 / month, and an officer at an O-6 level, like a Lieutenant Colonel or Navy Commander, would be eligible for about $6,100 per month with the same years of service. eBenefits.Va.Gov

Survivor’s Benefits

Surviving spouses and children of military personnel are entitled to a death pension, VA home loan guaranty, Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance, and medical insurance.

Burial Benefits

Veterans are eligible for death benefits, and there are 2 levels as far as that is concerned. Veteran’s benefits for burial on based on either a service-related death or nonservice-related death. V.A now pays up to $2,000 for burial expenses for deaths after September 11, 2001 vets who died due to some service-related issue. The VA will pay for the cost of transporting the body to a VA national cemetery for burial. For non-service related deaths, the VA will pay up to $300 towards funeral and burial expenses and a $300 additional allowance for plot-interment. If the veteran died while in a V.A hospital or VA affiliated nursing care, a reimbursement for transporting the body is available. eBenefits.Va.Gov

Home Loans

Another of your veteran’s benefits is the VA guaranteed loan program. Veterans, reservists and National Guard members, surviving spouses of veterans who died while in the service & active duty personnel are all eligible for the loan program

Education

The New GI Bill offers a much more comprehensive package of educational assistance than ever before &  offers help to survivors and dependents as well. eBenefits.Va.Gov

Medical Benefits

Medical veteran’s benefits package includes preventive services, outpatient services, emergency services, medical and surgical care, chiropractic care, mental health care, bereavement counseling, and substance abuse counseling. It also provides prescription and over the counter medications and medical supplies.

Denise Gabbard is a Professional Writer & also SEO and Social Media Consultant. She feels strongly that our country must always support our military people, and urges veteranss to become familiar with their veterans benefits.

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Should a Young Veteran Join a Veterans Organization?

eBenefits.VA.Gov – The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a military veteran as an old soldier of long service or a former member of the armed forces. When most of us think of a Veterans Organization we picture the old soldier. We associate these groups with the WWII veteran who is now in his 80s and proudly displays the emblem of his service unit on the tall brim of his cap. The truth of the matter is that the average age of a “former member of the armed forces” is much younger. According to Veterans Administration statistics over 60% of all veterans are under the age of 65. There are many reasons why those younger veterans should belong to a Veterans Organization.

A veterans organization is a community which provides services to former members of the military and their families. While the Veterans Administration does not directly endorse any Veterans or Military Service Organization they do provide a list of over 50 such organizations and encourage membership and cooperation with these veterans groups. Despite this encouragement membership at a veterans organization like the American Legion has steadily declined over the last five decades. From its peak of 3.3 million in 1946, membership has declined to its current level of 2.6 million. While some of these statistics are the result of demographics, all such organizations are seeking ways to become more attractive and relevant to a younger veteran.eBenefits.VA.Gov

In October of 2010 VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki praised the work of Student Veterans of America (SVA), a veterans organization that advocates for Veterans seeking better jobs and better futures through education. SVA like the rest has a stated objective of ensuring that every veteran is successful after their military service. But maybe the most important benefit of belonging to a veterans organization like SVA is their stated objective of providing a peer to peer network. Much like college fraternities, an organization can benefit the young veteran by simply providing a framework for staying connected with other veterans.

Service organizations like the VFW offer member benefits on everything from discounted haircuts to employment assistance. But the biggest benefit a young veteran will see is the relationships he or she can forge with other veterans. As a member of an organization, young veterans will establish important relationships. Returning military service members often find it difficult to transition away from military service and re-connect with the community. A veterans organization can bridge the gap with opportunities to serve the community through civilian service and community events. eBenefits.VA.Gov

All veterans are encouraged to become a member of a veterans organization. By joining forces with other veterans after discharge they will stay connected with their military service and fully reap the benefits they deserve from that service. Friendships or even a mentor relationship can be formed where a younger veteran benefits from the wisdom and friendship of an older veteran. But even if a busy young veteran cannot attend regular meetings they can still profit from the information and advocacy a veterans organization can provide.

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

Guide to the Use of Lay Evidence in a Veterans Benefits Claim

eBenefits.VA.Gov – When a military Veteran files a disability or benefits claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs for compensation due to injuries that occurred in military service, they are not required to rely solely on medical evidence. In fact, since soldiers rarely go on sick call when they are injured – and since service medical records are not always preserved or accurate – Veterans are encouraged to rely on lay evidence or testimony to substantiate their claim.

In fact, when a Veteran introduces lay evidence into the record the VA Regional Office (VARO), Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) must consider the lay evidence.

What is lay evidence? It is a broad category – generally, it is any evidence or testimony that does not come from an expert – medical or otherwise. eBenefits.VA.Gov

Here are some situations when a Veteran can (and should) use lay evidence or testimony:

1) If a Veteran has someone that can describe the symptoms of a particular medical condition or injury, it is permissible to support a subsequent diagnosis by a medical professional. This was essentially the holding in Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007). So, for example, if a Veteran has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he or she can introduce lay evidence of the symptoms of Parkinson’s that other people observed in the past.

2) A veteran can use lay evidence or testimony to identify some medical conditions. These are usually going to be medical conditions that are simple or unmistakeable like a broken leg. Sometimes, lay evidence or testimony can prove a more complex condition – like Parkinson’s disease – because the symptoms are so readily recognizable. Compare that to cancer – a lay witness or lay testimony will rarely be able to prove-up the symptoms of pancreatic cancer – though many of us are familiar with the disease, non-medical witnesses are generally not competent to testify to its symptoms or diagnosis.

3) A veteran can always use lay evidence or testimony to try to prove-up a contemporaneous medical diagnosis. For example, a Veteran can testify that he was diagnosed with a medical condition.

4) A Veteran can – and should – use lay evidence or testimony to prove up factual matters within that witnesses personal knowledge. These are commonly known as “buddy statements”, and are competent evidence to prove that a Veteran experienced pain in service, went on sick call, was placed on limited duty, received physical therapy, etc. The uses are boundless – the key element however is that the witness must have personal, first-hand knowledge. A more in-depth discussion of this use is found in Washington v. Nicholson, 19 Vet. App. 362, 368 (2005).

A common use of Number 4, and the rest of the examples, is to prove up “continuity of symptomatology” – a legal element of direct service-connection in some types of Veterans’ claims.

If a Veteran does provide lay evidence or testimony, neither the VARO or the BVA can exclude or fail to consider this evidence simply because it refers to or discusses medical matters. (Believe it or not, the BVA does this very thing quite frequently). eBenefits.VA.Gov

Instead, the VARO and BVA must:

1) Make a determination as to whether lay evidence is what the law refers to as “competent” (i.e., sufficient to prove what it seeks to prove). If the BVA or VARO decides it is not competent, they will have to include an adequate explanation of that conclusion. This is discussed in Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

2) The VARO or BVA have to weigh the evidence: in other words, they have to put the lay evidence on a scale against the other evidence that is in a Veteran’s record. The purpose of weighing the evidence is to decide whether it is probative or not. Read more about this requirement in Buchanan v. Nicholson, 451 F.3d 1331 (Fed. Cir. 2006).

3) The BVA or VARO may, in certain situations, need to determine whether or not the evidence is credible. Credible doesn’t always mean “true” or “false” – it really just means whether the evidence can be relied upon by the person making a decision on issues of law or fact. For example, someone might tell you that a car accident just happened at the intersection of Main and 1st Street. That may or may not be true – but you might be more likely to believe it is true based on certain factors: who told you, why they told you, where they told you, etc. You’d be more likely to believe something like that is true if the person telling you was covered in blood and 1 block from the intersection. You can read more about this element in Barr v. Nicholson, 21. Vet. App. 303 (2007).

If you find yourself in a position where a VA Regional Office – or the Board of Veterans’ Appeals – has ignored or disregarded lay evidence or testimony that you submitted without given you an adequate reason or basis for its decision, you may have grounds to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

If you are a Veteran and have questions about your VA Benefits claim contact a Veterans Benefits attorney.

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