What are Veterans Benefits?
Veterans benefits are administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to provide monthly payments to eligible veterans and their dependents.
Depending on the particular benefit being claimed, the injury or disease may or may not have to be connected to the veteran’s military service.
Likewise, whether the veteran served during a period of peacetime or war (which is different than actual combat service) can affect one’s eligibility depending on the type of benefit being claimed. However, for many of the more frequently awarded types of benefits, wartime service is not necessary.
Types of Veterans Benefits
There are a multitude of injuries and diseases that can qualify one for benefits. Some of the types of benefits available for veterans themselves include:
- Disability compensation
- Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU)
- Special monthly compensation for loss (amputation) or loss of use of an extremity or organ
- Disability pension
- Aid and attendance
- Housebound benefits
Veterans Benefits for Dependents
Veterans are not the only ones who may be entitled to VA benefits. Spouses and other dependents, including children and dependent parents, may qualify. Some of these types of benefits include:
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
- Survivors’ (death) pension
- Aid and attendance
- Housebound benefits
Frequently Asked Questions
You can now apply online https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal. The VA recommends this option as an easy way to submit and track your claim. Alternatively, you can visit a VA Regional Office where staff can assist you. Be sure to bring with you any supporting evidence for your claim to avoid any unnecessary delay. You can also complete the application yourself and mail it in to your nearest VA Regional Office.
Each type of VA benefit has its own VA form to be used to apply. You can search and print these from the VA website http://www.va.gov/vaforms/ or call your nearest VA Regional Office and they can mail the forms to you.
Supporting evidence will of course vary depending on the type of benefit for which you are applying. Generally, though, you will at least need:
- Discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent)
- Service Treatment Records if they are in your possession
- Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)
- Dependency records (marriage and/or children’s birth certificate) if applying for dependency benefits
Generally, there is no statute of limitations or other deadline to file a claim for benefits. However, you are only eligible for benefits from the “effective date,” which is the date the VA receives the claim. This is important because it limits how much in retroactive benefits a veteran or dependent can receive; the longer you wait to apply, the more retroactive benefits you are potentially losing.
You must file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VA letting them know that you dispute the decision they reached on all or part of your claim. You have up to a year from the date of the VA’s decision, but it is recommended that you file this as soon as possible to eliminate any unnecessary delay in the appeal of your claim. Once this Notice of Disagreement is filed, Perkins Studdard, LLP may be able to represent you in correcting the errors made in the initial decision so you get the VA benefits you deserve.
Many veterans receive a decision approving them for benefits on only some of their claimed disabilities, or they receive a disability rating at a lower percentage than they feel is appropriate. Even if you “won” on some of the issues, you can still file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on the other issues or the amount of the disability rating for those deemed service-connected. There are other possible errors lurking in the decision, such as a later effective date, meaning you will not receive all the retroactive benefits to which you are entitled. Perkins Studdard, LLP is here to review those issues with you.
Do I have to pay any money up front to hire Perkins Studdard to represent me in my claim for VA benefits?
No. We handle veterans’ disability and pension claims with no up front cost. Your consultation is free and you only pay us if we recover something for you. Perkins Studdard, LLP charges a contingency fee in veterans’ claims, meaning we work for a percentage of what we recover for you from the VA.
I am elderly and need help from another person with certain personal tasks such as dressing, cleaning, or feeding. Am I eligible for any type of VA benefits to help pay for this?
“Aid and Attendance” benefits provide additional monthly benefits to a qualifying veteran or spouse who is housebound, in a nursing home, or requires the assistance of another. Aid and Attendance can be in the form of either Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for those receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities or Special Monthly Pension (SMP) for wartime veterans and their spouses who are totally disabled. These benefits are paid in addition to the underlying compensation or pension and can be a tremendous help to veterans and their dependents later in life.
My service-connected disabilities are less than 100%, but they prevent me from being able to work. Does the VA pay a benefit on account of this?
Yes. Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) is a benefit under the VA’s disability compensation program that pays qualifying veterans at the 100% rate even though the VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at the 100% level. Generally, the veteran must have at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more OR in the case of multiple disabilities have one rated at least 40% with a combined rating of 70% or more. The service-connected disabilities must be sufficient to prevent the veteran from performing the mental or physical tasks required to obtain or keep employment.
I have been diagnosed with a serious disease that I think was caused by Agent Orange in Vietnam. Can I now receive veterans' disability compensation for it?
If your disease is on the list of diseases considered to be the result of Agent Orange, then you likely can receive monthly disability compensation. Or, if you are the dependent of a veteran who dies as the result of one of these diseases, you may be entitled to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). The following is the current list of diseases presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure (38 C.F.R. § 3.309(e)):
- AL amyloidosis
- Chloracne or other acneform disease consistent with chloracne
- Type 2 diabetes (also known as Type II diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes)
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Ischemic heart disease (including, but not limited to, acute, subacute, and old myocardial infarction; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease (including coronary spasm) and coronary bypass surgery; and stable, unstable and Prinzmetal’s angina)NOTE : For purposes of this section, the term ischemic heart disease does not include hypertension or peripheral manifestations of arteriosclerosis such as peripheral vascular disease or stroke, or any other condition that does not qualify within the generally accepted medical definition of Ischemic heart disease.
- All chronic B-cell leukemias (including, but not limited to, hairy-cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy –NOTE : For purposes of this section, the term acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy means transient peripheral neuropathy that appears within weeks or months of exposure to an herbicide agent and resolves within two years of the date of onset. This is a very difficult requirement for any veteran to meet.
- Porphyria cutanea tarda
- Prostate cancer
- Respiratory cancers (cancer of the lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea)
- Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma)NOTE : The term “soft-tissue sarcoma” includes the following:Adult fibrosarcoma
- Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
- Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
- Epithelioid leiomyosarcoma (malignant leiomyoblastoma)
- Angiosarcoma (hemangiosarcoma and lymphangiosarcoma)
- Proliferating (systemic) angioendotheliomatosis
- Malignant glomus tumor
- Malignant hemangiopericytoma
- Synovial sarcoma (malignant synovioma)
- Malignant giant cell tumor of tendon sheath
- Malignant schwannoma, including malignant schwannoma with rhabdomyoblastic differentiation (malignant Triton tumor), glandular and epithelioid malignant schwannomas
- Malignant mesenchymoma
- Malignant granular cell tumor
- Alveolar soft part sarcoma
- Epithelioid sarcoma
- Clear cell sarcoma of tendons and aponeuroses
- Extraskeletal Ewing’s sarcoma
- Congenital and infantile fibrosarcoma
- Malignant ganglioneuroma