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Veterans Law

List of Benefits for Disabled Veterans: What Do You Qualify For?

September 27, 2020

As part of its mission to serve veterans and their families, VA provides disability compensation to eligible veterans who were disabled as a result of their military service.  Veterans may be eligible for additional benefits depending on their combined disability rating.

Benefits Available to All Veterans

VA Disability Compensation

 As mentioned above, veterans are eligible for disability compensation as long as they have a qualifying condition for which they are service-connected.  Disability compensation typically refers to a monthly monetary benefit paid to a veteran who is disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred in or aggravated by active duty military service.

Importantly, if veterans received one of these discharge statuses, they may not be eligible for VA disability benefits: other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge.  However, there are a number of ways in which veterans can receive a discharge upgrade.

VA Clothing Allowance

VA’s clothing allowance involves an annual stipend(s) provided to disabled veterans who have unique clothing needs as a result of a service-connected disability or injury.  Specifically, VA can provide veterans with one or more clothing allowance payments if they:

  • Use a prosthetic or orthopedic device (including a wheelchair) because of a service-connected disability; or
  • Have a service-connected skin condition and use a medication that causes irreparable damage to outer garments

To receive payment(s), veterans must establish eligibility by August 1 of the year for which they are claiming clothing allowance.  Each VA medical center (VAMC) should have a designated prosthetic department.  Veterans can contact a representative in the prosthetic department at their nearest VAMC to apply.

Home Loan Guarantee

VA provides home loan guarantees to help veterans buy, repair, rebuild, or keep a home.  In general, VA home loans are provided by private lenders (i.e., banks and mortgage companies), and are guaranteed by VA so thatveterans or service members can get more favorable terms on their mortgage.  VA has multiple types of home loans, but the overall idea remains the same.  Veterans can enjoy lower interest rates on their loans and may be able to pay lower down payments for their homes as guaranteed by VA.

VA Health Care

When veterans apply for VA health care, VA will assign them to 1 of 8 priority groups.  These priority groups are based on the following:

  • Military service history;
  • VA disability rating;
  • Income level;
  • Whether the veteran qualifies for Medicaid; and
  • Other benefits veterans may be receiving (e.g., VA pension benefits)

To find out more about VA health care and priority groups, please continue reading.

Life Insurance Disabled Veterans Benefits

There are several types of service connection for which veterans may be eligible, including the following:

Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI)

Service-disabled veterans’ insurance (S-DVI) is a life insurance benefit for veterans who have service-connected conditions but are otherwise in good health.  To obtain S-DVI, veterans must meet the following criteria:

  • They were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions on or after April 25, 1991; and
  • They received a VA disability rating for a service-connected condition (even if only 0%); and
  • They are in good health, except for any service-connected conditions; and
  • They apply within two years from the date VA notifies them that they have been approved for a new service-connected condition

The premium amount that veterans pay for S-DVI coverage depends on age, type of plan (term or permanent), and the amount of coverage.  Importantly, only veterans who are rated totally disabled may apply to have premiums waived (see more below).

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

According to VA, life insurance programs were developed to provide financial security for veterans’ families given the extraordinary risks involved in military service.  Veterans may be able to get veterans’ group life insurance (VGLI) if they meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Had part-time Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, and they suffered an injury or disability while on duty – including direct travel to and from duty – that disqualified them for standard premium insurance rates; or
  • Had SGLI while they were in the military and they are within one year and 120 days of being released from an active-duty period of 31 or more days; or
  • Are within one year and 120 days of retiring or being released from the Ready Reserves or National Guard; or
  • Are within one year and 120 days of assignment to the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) of a branch of service, or to the Inactive National Guard (ING). This includes members of the United States Public Health Service Inactive Reserve Corps (IRC); or
  • Are within one year and 120 days of being put on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL)

Veterans can receive between $10,000 and $40,000 in life insurance benefits, based on the amount of SGLI coverage they had when they left the military.

VA Medical Treatment for Disabled Veterans

Veterans have access to their local VAMC for any service-connected condition(s) regardless of the rating percentage.  If veterans receive outpatient treatment for a service-connected condition that cannot be treated at their local VAMC, then they may be eligible for reimbursement from VA; however, this is decided on a case-by-case basis.

VA Vision Care and Hearing Aids

All veterans are eligible to receive hearing aids, glasses, and contact lenses regardless of whether their conditions are service-connected.  Importantly, vision care includes routine eye exams, preventive testing (e.g., glaucoma testing), and the cost of eyeglasses.

Long-Term Nursing Home Care

Finally, all veterans who are enrolled in VA’s health care system are eligible for long-term nursing home care; however, veterans’ disability rating percentages determine the level of care available and the amount of payment coverage.  Visit VA’s website to learn more.

Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grants

Home improvement and structural alteration grants are available primarily to veterans with service-connected conditions (and some with non-service-connected conditions) who require home improvements or alterations for the continuation of treatment.  Here, eligibility requires a medical determination that such improvements and alterations are necessary for effective medical treatment of the veteran’s condition.

Burial Benefits

For service-related deaths, VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001, or up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 11, 2001.  If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased veteran may be reimbursed.

List of Benefits for Veterans 10% Disabled

The following benefits, including those listed above, are available to veterans with 10 percent combined disability ratings:

Vocational Readiness and Employment (VR&E)

Vocational Readiness and Employment (VR&E) is a benefit designed for service members and veterans with service-connected conditions who are looking to increase their likelihood of obtaining employment.  VA will evaluate the veteran’s interests, aptitudes, abilities, and assess how their disability affects their ability to work.  VR&E also provides a range of career services including:

  • Career counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment as job training, job-seeking skills, résumé development, and other work-readiness assistance
  • On-the-job-training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences

Again, to be eligible for VR&E benefits, veterans must be at least 10 percent disabled and have received a discharge other than dishonorable.  In general, veterans must use all VR&E services within 12 years from whichever of the following is the later date: (1) the date they separated from active military service; or (2) the date that VA first notified them that they have a qualifying service-connected disability rating.

Veterans with 10 percent disability ratings are also eligible for VA healthcare priority group 3.

List of Benefits for Veterans 30% Disabled

In addition to the benefits listed above, veterans who are rated at least 30 percent disabled by VA may also add eligible dependents to their VA benefits, thereby increasing the amount of disability compensation they receive each month.  For VA purposes, a dependent is a family member who relies on the veteran financially and meets certain criteria.  Eligible dependents include the following:

  • A spouse
  • Unmarried children (this includes stepchildren, adopted children, and biological children) who are: (1) under the age of 18; (2) between ages 18 and 23 and attending school full-time; or (3) seriously disabled prior to reaching the age of 18
  • Parents in the veteran’s direct care whose net worth and income are below the limit put in place by law
    • Parents (biological, step, adopted, foster, etc.) are defined as those who, for at least one year, “stood in the relationship of a parent to a veteran at any time before their entry into active service”.

VA has a different form to add each type of dependent outlined above.  If the forms listed below are submitted within one year of the veteran’s 30 percent disability rating grant, the effective date of the Veteran’s benefit increase should be that of their original grant of benefits.  The forms are as follows:

Veterans with 30 percent disability ratings are also eligible for VA health care priority group 2.

List of Benefits for Veterans 50% Disabled

Veterans with 50 percent disability ratings are eligible for all the benefits outlined above, as well as the following:

VA Health Care Priority Group 1

VA health care priority group 1 includes the following benefits:

  • Preventive care
  • Inpatient (hospitalization) services
  • Ancillary services
  • Mental health care
  • Geriatrics and extended care
  • Medical equipment/prosthetic items and aids
  • Medication/supplies
  • Dental care
  • Nursing home placement
  • Medically related travel benefits
  • Eyeglasses
  • Hearing aids
  • Automotive adaptive equipment (under certain conditions)
  • Home improvement and structural alteration grants (under certain conditions)
  • Clothing allowance benefits (under certain conditions)
  • Dependents’ health care (if not eligible under TRICARE)
  • Emergency care at a non-VA facility (under certain conditions)
  • Foreign medical care (for service-connected and secondary conditions)

Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay

Concurrent retired and disability pay (CRDP) restores veterans’ service pay by eliminating the VA waiver (i.e., the amount the veteran receives in VA disability compensation subtracted from the amount they receive in retired pay to avoid “double dipping”).  Veterans will not receive a separate check for CRDP.  Instead, the monthly check they receive from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the administrator of military retired pay, will be increased from the docked amount to their full retired pay.  Importantly, there is no application process for CRDP.  If a veteran meets the eligibility requirements, DFAS will automatically eliminate the VA waiver, thus restoring their retired pay.  To be eligible for CRDP, veterans must:

  • Be receiving retired pay and VA compensation;
  • Be a 20-year (or more) retiree; and
  • Have a service-connected condition rated 50 percent or higher

List of Benefits for Veterans 100% Disabled

Along with all the benefits listed previously, veterans who are totally disabled (i.e., rated at 100 percent) are eligible for the following:

Dental Care Benefits for Veterans 100% Disabled

With a 100 percent disability rating or TDIU (i.e., total disability based on individual unemployability) status, veterans may be eligible to receive some or all of their dental care through VA.  Eligibility for VA dental care is categorized into classes.  The class the veteran is in determines the benefits they will receive.

Veterans with 100 percent disability ratings are categorized into Class IV.  Importantly, these veterans are eligible for any needed dental care, such as scheduled cleanings and X-rays.  It also includes restorative procedures such as fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures.  Any oral surgeries that veterans might require, such as tooth extractions, root canals, and reconstructive surgeries due to trauma or serious illness are covered as well.

Civilian Health and Medical Programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)

CHAMPVA is a health care program in which VA will share the cost of certain covered health care services that exist for the spouses and children of disabled veterans with 100 percent disability ratings.  Examples of covered health care services under CHAMPVA include ambulatory services, hospice treatment, certain inpatient and outpatient treatments or hospitalizations, family planning, medical services, and medical equipment costs.

Specially Adapted Housing Program Veterans Benefits for Veterans 100% Disabled

The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program offers grants to veterans with certain severe service-connected conditions (typically rated 100 percent disabling, but not always).  The grants assist with building, remodeling, or purchasing an adapted home.  This can allow for independent living that might not otherwise be possible.  The current maximum grant amount is $90,364.  To be eligible for SAH grants, veterans must be entitled to disability compensation due to:

  • Loss or loss of use of both legs;
  • Blindness in both eyes, plus loss or loss of use of one leg;
  • Loss or loss of use of one leg, and (1) residuals of organic disease or injury; or (2) loss or loss of use of one arm, affecting balance and ability to move without aid;
  • Loss or loss of use of both arms at or above the elbows; or
  • Severe burn injury

Dependents Education Assistance Program

The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally (i.e., 100 percent) disabled due to a service-connected condition, currently receiving TDIU benefits, or who died while on active duty, or as a result of a service-connected condition.  DEA benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

Read our blog for more: Additional Benefits for 100 Percent Disabled Veterans.