LAW OFFICE OF THOMAS J. KNIFFEN
VA Disability Compensation and Pension Benefits
Helping Veterans and Dependents of Veterans
A tax free monetary benefit, VA Disability Compensation is paid to Veterans with disabilities that result from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Compensation may also be paid for disabilities that occur after service that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may occur post-service. A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee condition, as well as a mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Generally, the degrees of disability specified impact the amount of monthly payment, and are set up and intended to compensate for average losses in earning capacity that result from illness or injury incurred during active service.
According to the degree of the Veteran's disability, the benefit amount is determined by applying a scale of 10 percent to 100 percent, with increments of 10 percent. If a Veteran has dependents, an additional allowance may be added if the Veteran’s combined disability is rated 30% or greater. A Veteran’s compensation benefit, however, may be offset if the Veteran receives military retirement pay, disability severance pay, or separation incentive payments.
Actual Dollar Amounts
As of December 2014, the actual monthly dollar amounts range from $133.17 to $3,447.72, the specific amount dependent upon numerous factors such as the percentage degree of disability, the number of parents, dependents and the combinations of percentage degrees of disability for more than one disability. You can find the most recent Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables at http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/resources_comp01.asp.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax free monetary benefit generally payable to a surviving spouse, child, or parent of Service-members who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training or survivors of Veterans who died from their service-connected disabilities.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is an additional tax-free benefit that is available to Veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses and parents. For Veterans, SMC is a higher rate of compensation paid on account of unique and special circumstances, for example the need of aid and attendance by another person or a specific disability, such as loss of use of one hand or leg. For spouses and surviving spouses, SMC is typically categorized as aid and attendance and is paid based on the need of aid and attendance by another person.
Other Benefits: VA provides additional Compensation Benefits that pertain to housing, housing adaptation, automobile and automobile adaptation and clothing allowance.
Basic Eligibility Requirements
1. Service in the Uniformed Services on active duty, OR
2. Active duty for training, OR
3. Inactive duty training, AND
4. The Veteran was discharged under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
5. The Veteran is least 10% disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred in or aggravated during active duty or active duty for training, or inactive duty training
Note: If the Veteran was on inactive duty for training, the disability must have resulted from injury, heart attack, or stroke.
a. Medical evidence of a current physical or mental disability, AND
b. Evidence of a relationship between the Veteran’s disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship.
Note: Under certain circumstances, VA may conclude that certain current disabilities were caused by service, even if there is no specific evidence proving this in the Veteran’s particular claim. The cause of a disability is presumed for the following Veterans who have certain diseases.
-Former prisoners of war
-Veterans who have certain chronic or tropical diseases that becomes evident within a specific period of time after discharge from service
-Veterans who were exposed to ionizing radiation, mustard gas, or Lewisite while in service
-Veterans who were exposed to certain herbicides, such as by serving in Vietnam
-Veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War
A Veteran or dependent, who is dissatisfied with the decision of VA in connection with an application to VA for VA Disability Compensation Benefits, is permitted to request VA to re-examine the claim based upon evidence that the Veteran or dependent submits, which is asserted to be new and material to the filed claim. If VA, however, also denies this claim, the Veteran or dependent may Appeal the decision of VA.