VA Service-Connected Compensation
Disability compensation is a monetary benefit paid to Veterans who are determined by VA to be disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities are considered to be service connected. To be eligible for compensation, the Veteran must have been separated or discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Monthly disability compensation varies with the degree of disability and the number of eligible dependents. Veterans with certain severe disabilities may be eligible for additional special monthly compensation (SMC). Disability compensation benefits are not subject to federal or state income tax. Detailed compensation rate information can be found at http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/resources_comp02.asp.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
You may be eligible for disability compensation if you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. The payment of military retirement pay, disability severance pay, and separation incentive payments, known as Special Separation Benefit (SSB) and Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI), may affect the amount of VA compensation paid to disabled Veterans. For additional details on types of disability claims and how to apply, go to http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/.
HOW MUCH DOES VA PAY? The amount of basic benefit paid ranges, depending on how disabled you are.
Veterans with disability ratings of at least 30 percent are eligible for additional allowances for dependents, including spouses, minor children, children between the ages of 18 and 23 who are attending school, children who are permanently incapable of self-support because of a disability arising before age 18, and dependent parents. The additional amount depends on the disability rating and the number of dependents.
HOW CAN YOU APPLY?
You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-526 EZ, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension. If you have any of the following material, please attach it to your application: • Discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent) • Dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates) • Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports) You can also apply online through eBenefits.
It is best to contact your local VA office in the county of residency. They can help you with the process of how to file a claim, and make it much easier for you. Remember, if you cannot tie it to service the chances are you will not get service-connected compensation.
This benefit is not based off of income; only your disability(s) from service.
WHAT IS INDIVIDUAL UNEMPLOYABILITY (IU)?
IU is a part of VA’s disability compensation program that allows VA to pay certain Veterans compensation at the 100% rate, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at the 100% level.
WHAT IS THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR INDIVIDUAL UNEMPLOYABILITY?
A Veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of his/her service-connected disabilities. (marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial gainful employment for VA purposes). Additionally, a Veteran must have:
• One service-connected disability ratable at 60 percent or more, OR
• Two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.
HOW DO I APPLY? • Submit VA Form 21-8940, Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability. There is also a form that prior employers need to fill out to verify your employments dates.
WHAT IF I DON’T MEET THE PERCENTAGE CRITERIA? Special consideration will be given for Veterans when the following criteria are met: The Veteran is considered unemployable due to a service-connected disability(ies) but fails to meet the minimum percentage standards, or disabilities.
Warning: Do not quit your job thinking the VA will pay for you to be unemployed. Do not depend on the VA for a pay check. That is not the purpose of the programs. Get a doctor involved, and get a medical opinion that your health (what you are service-connected for) is hindering your ability to work. Some people have no choice, but to leave their place of employment due to health issues caused by their service-connected disability.