Arizona Department of Veterans Services. Presents: Overview of Veterans Benefits

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1 Arizona Department of Veterans Services Presents: Overview of Veterans Benefits

2 Objective Provide an overview of veterans benefits Statistics on Veterans VA Benefits in general Who is a Veteran Basic eligibility requirements Overview of major disability benefits programs Service connected disability compensation Non service connected pension VA & SSA interplay Benefits for survivors

3 Statistics on Veterans 22.5 million veterans currently alive, nearly three of every four served during a war or an official period of hostility. 556,729 in Arizona 2.5% of US Total About 1/4 of the nation's population -- approximately 70 million people -- are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans.

4 What Defines a Veteran? Basic Eligibility Requirements A veteran is defined as a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable Or

5 Discharged due to a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty while on active duty for training, or Guard or Reserve - only if called to serve on regular active duty

6 Character of discharge is important: A veteran must have been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable Military services generally have 5 types of discharges: 1. Honorable 2. Under Honorable Conditions (UHC) (General discharge)* 3. Under Other than Honorable Conditions (OTH)* 4. Bad Conduct discharge (BCD)* 5. Dishonorable discharge or Dismissal (if officer)* *For VA purposes a veterans discharge is either honorable or dishonorable. A General discharge is considered Honorable for VA purposes, but is a bar to education benefits. Certain administrative discharges by the Department of Defense are classified as Uncharacterized. personality disorder pre-existing condition Former service members can seek a discharge upgrade from a Military Discharge Review Board or the Board for Correction of Military Records

7 Wartime versus peacetime service The following are periods of wartime designated by Congress for purposes of VA benefits: World War II December 7, 1941 December 31, 1946 Korean Conflict June 27, 1950 January 31, 1955 Vietnam Era - August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961 if in-country ) May 7, 1975 Persian Gulf War August 2, 1990 date to be determined NOTE: Congress has not enacted legislation that would make other conflicts as wartime. Pensions are available only to veterans that served with at least 90 days with one day wartime service. From September 8, 1980, criteria is two years.

8 Overview of Major Disability Benefits Programs Service-Connected Disability Compensation Disability compensation is a monetary benefit paid to veterans who are disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated during active service. NSC Pension Pension is a monetary benefit paid to permanently and totally disabled (not service-connected) veterans with low incomes. On occasion, a veteran may be entitled to both compensation and pension. The VA is prohibited from paying both benefits concurrently and will pay the veteran the greater benefit.

9 Service-Connected Disability Compensation Service-connected disability compensation is available where disability claimed was either incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, not the result of willful misconduct, and the veteran s discharge was other than dishonorable. The in line of duty requirement is very liberal: Example: A soldier that injures a knee while skiing on leave in Lake Tahoe has just as much right to disability compensation as a soldier who incurs a knee injury jumping from a helicopter into combat in Baghdad.

10 Service-Connected Disability 3 Requirements: Compensation 1. Medical diagnosis of current disability 2. Evidence of in-service occurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury 3. Link or nexus (usually medical evidence) between the in-service occurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury.

11 Once a condition is found to be service-connected, a percentage of disability is assigned for compensation purposes. The evidence of symptomatology determine the exact percentage assigned. Description of Benefit Disabilities are rated on a percentage scale and monthly awards determined according to assigned percentage. Percentages range from 10% to 100%, and monthly awards range from $ to $ per month effective December 1, CONTRAST with Social Security Administration Veterans may be entitled to a 100% rating where veteran is unable to engage in substantially gainful occupation termed total disability based on individual employability (TDIU or IU) May also apply for SS disability benefits. Veterans may be entitled to special monthly compensation amounts for certain severe disabilities. Examples: Aid and Attendance Housebound

12 NSC Pension 5 Basic Eligibility Criteria Veteran must be discharged under other than dishonorable conditions Veteran must have served during a war-time period Veteran must have limited income and net worth If under 65 - Veteran must be permanently and totally disabled Disability cannot be the result of the veteran s willful misconduct, I.E. Substance abuse However, exceptions exist if what would ordinarily be attributable to willful misconduct is secondary or caused by another serviceconnected disability.

13 Determining the Monthly Benefit Veteran s countable income cannot exceed the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) Amount of MAPR varies depending on number of dependents and need for services December 2013 MAPR for single veteran is $12, ($ per month)

14 VA and SSA Interplay A veteran can receive Service-Connected Disability Compensation and SSI concurrently there is NO offset However, a veteran cannot receive Disability Pension and SS concurrently there is an offset Practice Pointer for Low Income Clients: VA pension rates are much more generous than SS rates

15 Benefits for Survivors Main Benefits Programs for Survivors: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Service-Connected Paid to dependents of veterans who died on active duty or whose deaths were caused by service-connected conditions Paid to dependents of veterans Basic DIC monthly rate for 2014 is $ Death Pension Non-service Connected Needs-based pension with eligibility criteria for survivors similar to that of the eligibility criteria for veterans disability pension wartime service and low income However, the MAPR for survivors is much lower than the maximum annual pension rate (MAPR) for veterans. The MAPR for a surviving spouse with no dependents effective 01 December 2013 is only $ ($ per month)

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