Disability

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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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.

disabled american veterans – Home Adaption Grants

eBenefits.Va.Gov

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

This article provides a brief description of the Disabled American Veterans Association (DAV), the services they offer to veterans & also  other info that may be of use to a veteran or their family &  friends.disabled american veterans

The DAV is committed to serving military veterans disabled during service and their dependents and survivors. The DAV has 88 offices throughout the U.S & also in Puerto Rico with approximately 260 National Service Officers who represent veterans and their families making claims for benefits from government departments. A veteran does not have to be a member to get assistance with claims to the Dept of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense or other agencies. This assistance is offered free of charge to all veterans. eBenefits.Va.Gov

The DAV announced in Oct 2010 that the Veterans Association has adopted a rule which woud expand eligibility for specially adapted housing and special home adaption grants to permanently and totally disabled veterans and armed service members. eBenefits.Va.Gov

The new rule means that those who have suffered extensive burns or have limited movement in two or more limbs or at least one limb and the trunk. It also makes special home adaption grants available to permanently and totally disabled veterans & service members who lose use of both hands, those with severe burns and those with inhalation injuries.

Of particular interest is the home adaption grant that can be up to $13,000 for permanently or totally disabled veterans with loss or loss of use of both hands, deep burns that limit motion and residuals of an inhalation injury including pulmonary fibrosis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This grant is able to be applied to any house modification; however the bathroom is often the focus point for many veterans and their families as they try to make living easier. It is not always possible to fully convert a standard family home bathroom into a disabled access bathroom due to building constraints; however there are many bathroom aids on the market that can make life for a veteran living with a disability easier. There are non slip mats to give people confidence when moving on wet and slippery flooring, grab bars, access ramps and shower benches that can be sat on in the shower to reduce the risk of falling over. eBenefits.Va.Gov

To ensure a safe and secure bathing experience, disabled veterans should consider using a shower chair with a bath or shower transfer system. A shower chair with transfer system enables a person with restricted mobility to transfer from their bed into a mobile shower commode chair. The chair is then wheeled into the bathroom, through a standard sized door, and clipped onto a bath transfer bench which enables the chair and the user to slide over the bathtub lip and into the tub to bathe. The person remains safely in the seat during the entire bathing process.

eBenefits.Va.Gov

For more info searching “shower chair” in Google will bring up numerous options that offer a mobile transfer system from the bed to bathroom and over the tub. While you could purchase a low cost shower bench or bath chair, a strong and sturdy, non rusting, mobile transfer shower chair more durable, safer with a higher level of comfort. eBenefits.Va.Gov

Barry is a freelance writer specializing in bathroom safety and products that assist such as shower chairs for elderly

Additional Benefits When Rated 100 Disabled By The VA

eBenefit.VA.Gov – A veteran can be rated 100% “Total” without being “Total and Permanent” (T&P). This usually happens when VA considers a disability may improve. You can tell if a 100% grant is Total and Permanent as the decision will approve “Dependents Educational Assistance” and “Chapter 35 Benefits”.

1) VA Co-Pay Reimbursement:

If you have been paying Co-Pays & your new Rating Decision is retroactive then you can ask VA to reimburse you for those payments back to the date of the rating.

2) Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA):

This first proves that VA has deemed your disabilities to be “Total and Permanent” (T&P). It allows your spouse and children to be eligible for certain educational benefits.

A child is authorized 45 months of accredited schooling. VA presently pays a monthly stipend of around $805.00 for a fulltime student. They can receive guidance counseling, tutors, etc.

If VA deems it needful, a student may receive an extension on the initial 45 months.

A qualified student is usually 18-26 years of age, but I’ve seen some using the benefit up to 32. Usually the latter is based on a large retroactive benefit granted to the veteran.

If a child has been in school & then the veteran receives a retroactive benefit that includes that school dates, then the student can file for reimbursement for the months that he/she qualified on the retroactive date.

A spouse can also qualify for schooling.

Keep in mind that this is the student’s or spouse’s benefit drawn on the veteran’s grant. The student/spouse must handle all of the paperwork.

3) ChampVA Health Insurance for the Spouse and Dependent Children:

This is an excellent benefit for the spouse/children. Veterans must receive our care at the VA, but our dependents can receive their care in the private sector. Please DO NOT delay on applying.

ChampVA is located in Denver, CO and they are very easy to work with. ChampVA is the spouse’s benefit so she will have to coordinate with them.

Of course any parent can coordinate for dependent children. The spouse will use the veteran’s Claims File number (in upper right hand corner of the VA Rating Decision letter) in order to make the initial ChampVA application request.

VERY IMPORTANT: If a spouse/children have had any out-of-pocket medical expenses during the time of the veteran’s retroactive grant period they can submit them to ChampVA after being approved and ChampVA will reimburse the expenses. This can be a substantial amount if there have been health issues with the spouse and/or children.

NOTE: ChampVA does not cover Dental, Eyeglasses and Electives.
eBenefit.VA.Gov
VA Health Administration Center
CHAMPVA
P.O. Box 65023
Denver, CO 80206-9023
(800) 733-8387 Fax: (303) 331-7804
Email: [email protected]

Here is their website where can look over the benefits:

www.va.gov/hac

ChampVA has a “Meds by Mail” program that is very good.

A new law was passed awhile back that gives the spouse “ChampVA for Life“. There are stipulations if a divorce is involved.

4) Dental Coverage:

All 100% service-connected veterans are allowed dental care.

Note: Veterans going through Vocational Rehabilitation are also eligible for some dental care.

5) VA Insurance:

When a veteran is deemed 100% Schedular or TDIU then VA will grant a $10,000.00 insurance policy and “waive” the premiums. VA criteria states that you must have been granted a “NEW” service-connected condition in the past 2 years to qualify. It cannot be an increase of an existing condition. You have only two years from the time of the decision to apply. Note: VA is now offering this to 70% veterans. The VA insurance division will determine if you qualify.

The key on the application is to write “WAIVED” in the monthly premium amount box when applying for the 10K amount.

VA also offers other small policies, but I hear they are not very competitive.

Call this number and tell them your new rating and that you would like to file for the insurance. It is in Philadelphia:
(800) 669-8477

You can file online:
www.insurance.va.gov

6) Uniformed Services Identification Cards:

The veteran, spouse and children can apply for this card. They are very similar to our old military I.D. cards. They are issued by the Department of Defense and allow you to access military facilities.

If VA did not attach a letter/application then call your VA Regional Office and ask them to send you a Cover Letter stating simply that you are “100%Total or Total and Permanent”. Be sure they understand that it cannot say anything less than 100%. At the same time ask them for the “Uniformed Services I.D. Card Application“. I would suggest that you do not try filling the application out as it’s one of the most complex one’s I’ve ever seen. Just take it with you when you apply.

VARO: 1-800-827-1000

Once the application and Cover Letter arrives make copies of it so that you will have some extras to provide for other benefits.

Call the administrative department at your nearest Military Base and ask when they do the I.D. cards. I recommend not filling out the application that is provided. It is very complex. Simply take the application and your DD-214 (You), Marriage License (Spouse) and Birth Certificates (Dependent Children). They will make the I.D. cards.

The veteran’s is “PERM” and is for life. The spouse/children I.D.’s are “TEMP” and must be renewed every 5 years.

These cards will say “MWR” on them. This means “Morale, Welfare and Recreation“. You can use facilities at military bases to include: Exchanges, Commissaries and Recreation facilities. The latter can include Tickets for concerts, boating, weight room, etc. You can even rent items like boats, BBQ’s, lawn mowers, rototillers, etc.

eBenefit.VA.Gov

To find lots of information on MWR go to:

www.google.com

Then type in MWR.

You can also use the card for hotels/motels. I usually ask them what the rate is for AARP, AAA, etc. When they commit then I ask them for the “Government Rate“. It’s usually a few dollars less.

We are authorized to fly “Space A” on USCG transportation. There are bills in Congress to authorize all services, but it cannot seem to receive enough sponsorship to pass.

You can stay at “Bachelors Enlisted/Officer Quarters” (BEQ/BOQ) on military bases for $15-30 a night or you can use their “Lodging” which can run $45-75. They are nice facilities.

7) Free or discounted Hunting and Fishing License/Tags:

Check your State using the link below:

http://www.va.gov/statedva.htm

8) Property Tax Break:

Check your State using the link below:

http://www.va.gov/statedva.htm

9) Golden Access Passport:

The name of this pass has been changed, but the benefits are very similar. If you have the old pass then you can use it as the Federal government will not give you a new one.

The new pass is called “America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass“.

The pass allows for 50% off Camping/recreation in Federal Parks. Some State and County Parks will honor it. Here is a link. Be sure to take your Rating Decision letter:

www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm

Oregon allows disabled veterans (10) free days per month at our State Parks. Some counties have chosen to do the same. Check with your State to see if this is offered.

10) To check for additional State benefits where you live click on this link:

www.va.gov/statedva.htm

11) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):

The DIC “Clock starts Ticking” once a veteran is rated 100% “Total” or “Total and Permanent“. This allows his spouse and dependent children under 18 years of age to receive a monthly benefit if:

a) The veteran passes of a “service-connected” disability within the first 10 years of being rated 100%.

b) If the veteran lives the full 10 years then he can pass of any disability.

Currently the monthly payment for DIC is approximately $1,400.00, so this gives the spouse about 1/2 of the veteran paycheck when he was alive.

12)  Travel Pay: (41.5 cents per mile)

All veterans are allowed travel reimbursement for scheduled VA appointments if they are rated 30% service-connected or higher.

VA will also pay travel pay on a “needs basis”. This means if a veteran is under a certain income level then he/she will be paid for scheduled visits.

VA will pay for travel to “Claims and Pension” (C&P) examinations.

As I said, this is not exhaustive.  We do our best to not only acquire the benefits that are due you, but also to pass along the benefits to other fellow veterans who may not be in the know because VA is not forthright.

13)There is a little known benefit called the “Independent Living Services Program” (ILSP). It is design to assist any disabled veteran to live a better quality of life despite their service-connected disabilities.

The program shows up briefly on the Vocational Rehabilitation Form 28-1900. I believe that VA has changed the wording on the form to further disguise the program. In fact, they changed the name to “Independent Living Program”. Here is a link to the VA Form 28-1900:

http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-28-1900-ARE.pdf

You’ll note on the instructions under “Rehabilitation Services” is states the following:

If training is appropriate, VA will provide medical and dental care treatment, employment assistance to get and keep a suitable job, and other services you may need. If a vocational goal is not currently feasible for you, VA may provide services and assistance to improve your capacity for living independently.

The key sentence is in red. There used to be more references, but VA has removed them from the form.

Here is a link to the Independent Living Program on the VA website:

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/ilp.htm

The Independent Living program is to make sure that each eligible veteran is able, to the maximum extent possible, to live independently and participate in family and community life increasing their potential to return to work. Services may include the following:

  • Assistive technology
  • Specialized medical, health, and / or rehabilitation services
  • Services to address any personal and / or family adjustment issues
  • Independent living skills training
  • Connection with community-based support services

eBenefit.VA.Gov  Source: VA Benefits