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Additional Benefits For 100% Disabled Veterans – Video

Video Transcription

Maura Clancy: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today on Facebook. We are here at Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick. My name is Maura Clancy. I’m an attorney here at CCK. And I’m joined today by Alyse Galoski, who’s also an attorney here at CCK. And, Rachel Foster, who is accredited to represent claimants before the VA. Today, we’re going to be talking about additional benefits that are available to Veterans who have 100% disability ratings.

So, to start we’re going to explain, just to make sure that everyone has the same background. What the significance of a 100% disability rating is and how you get there? But, then we’re also going to be talking about different benefits and programs that are available for disabled veterans and in some cases their family members, if the veteran is in receipt of a 100% disability rating. These programs have a lot of different eligibility requirements in some cases. There’s a lot of different services that are offered, sometimes, under the umbrella of the programs that we’re going to be talking about today.

So, we would definitely encourage you, as we always do, to view any of the related blog posts or articles that we have on our website at cck-law.com. We cover a lot of these benefits in more detail. So, if you are interested in anything that we’re talking about today and you want to do some additional research, I would think that, that’s a good place to start. And, additionally, we will be able to respond to any questions that you leave in the comments feed, next to this video. So, please feel free to leave any questions there. We have a very efficient team, who’s constantly getting back to people.

And so, if you think that that’s going to be useful for you or you’d like to ask a question to get additional information, please feel free to do that. And, we will leave any articles or information that we think is helpful to you in the comments feed as well. So, before get started, like I said, we want to just lay the groundwork, so that everyone understands. Before we start talking about additional benefits available to veterans who have 100% disability ratings, how do you get a 100% rating? We’ve done videos and articles on this topic. There’s kind of two ways to get a 100% rating.

The first is if all of a veteran’s service connected conditions combined to a total scheduler rating of 100%. So, this is done by taking the total of all of the veterans conditions and the percentage evaluation assigned to those conditions and adding them up in a special way that VA does. When those conditions hit 100% total, then the veteran is considered to be scheduler 100 or at a 100% rating. Another different way to get a 100% rating is to be granted entitlement to a total disability rating based on individual unemployability. We sometimes refer to these as unemployability benefits or a total unemployability rating. This is a way to get a 100% rating or to be considered totally disabled, without having to have all of the individual conditions that you have, add up to that scheduler 100 number.

So, if you’re able to prove that the service-connected disabilities that you do have, no matter what percentage is assigned to those conditions and you’re able to show that all of those conditions prevent your ability to work in a substantially gainful capacity, then VA might award you what’s called the total disability rating based on unemployability or TDIU. TDIU and scheduler 100, pay you at the same rate. I believe the payment rate for 100% ratings right now is about thirty two hundred dollars for a single veteran without dependents, even though they’re both different avenues of getting there, those different types of total disabilities, the 100% scheduler or the 100% through TDIU will pay you at the same rate.

And, the programs that we’re going to be talking about today are available to both types of veterans who have that 100% rating, by either of those avenues. Another thing we want to mention is the importance of permanent and total ratings. So, some of the benefits that are available for disabled veterans who are totally disabled or have that 100% rating, are conditioned on the veteran having a permanent in total rating status. So, this is a little bit confusing sometimes because VA doesn’t consistently award every 100% rating with a permanent and total status. It’s unclear sometimes why they do it in some cases over others, but the idea is that, not only is the veteran entitled to the 100% rating but it’s also understood that their condition is not going to improve at all. So, VA has just decided that that rating will be total, will be permanent in the future.

So, they assign that permanent and total or P&T status as we sometimes call it, and that is sometimes one of the parameters that comes into play when we talk about additional benefits that are available for veterans that have total disability ratings. So, with all of that, hopefully that sets the groundwork for the class of veterans that we are discussing, being entitled to these benefits for what we’re talking about today. And, Alyse, oh, actually no, I want to start with Rachel. The first type of benefit we want to talk about has to do with healthcare priority and also additional benefits available related to Emergency Care. Can you walk us through some of those specifics?

Rachel Foster: Yes. So, once a veteran registers for medical care, they are placed in one of eight types of priority groups, according to the Veterans’ Health Administration. It classifies what co-pays vary and co-pays what medical benefits are available to the veterans as well. Veterans who are evaluated, that total combined rating is 50% or higher or if they’re entitled to TDIU because their disabilities result in an inability to work, they are placed in priority 1. So, that is very significant, especially regarding co-pays. So, that means, essentially, they get three urgent care visits a year, without having to pay a co-pay. They don’t have to pay co-pays for inpatient or outpatient services. They also don’t have to pay co-pays for medications, which of course is huge. And, as part of being in priority group 1,  if they’re permanently and totally disabled and in or receipt of TDIU, VA provides for nursing home care for those Veterans as well.

Maura: Great. And, are there any additional benefits available for, specifically, under the umbrella of Emergency Care other than what you’ve already discussed?

Rachel: Yes. So, veterans in priority group 1, that are rated permanent and totally disabling are entitled to emergency care for any disability outside of the VA Health Administration. And, that’s at VA’s expense. All they really have to show is that VA wasn’t reasonably available to provide the care that they needed at the time.

Maura: Good. So, there’s at least that element of flexibility there, too. And, that’s really good to know because I think one of the things that we sometimes get questions about is from veterans who are already getting care through the VA Medical Center, but they’re not a 100% rating. They don’t have that 100% rating, yet. So, it’s definitely good to know that there are additional types of healthcare priority benefits, so to speak, specifically for veterans who are totally disabled. And Alyse, there’s also dental and vision care benefits that are available to Veterans who have a 100% rating or who have TDIU and have the permanent and total status. Can you talk to us about those different types of benefits that might be available?

Alyse Galoski: So, for dental care, it’s veterans who are either rated at a 100% or if they’re in receipt of TDIU. You qualify what for what’s called class 4 dental care that’s essentially going to cover any, sort of, needed dental care. So, that’s going to include scheduled cleanings and x-rays. It includes restorative procedures such as fillings, crowns, bridges. It’s also going to help you with your dentures. Any oral surgeries that you might require, such as tooth extractions, root canals, anything like, or any reconstructive surgeries from a trauma or a serious illness. I should mention that the 100% doesn’t include people who are temporary total. So, if you have a temporary 100% rating from, maybe, a surgery or knee replacement or something like that, that doesn’t qualify you for the dental care. It has to just be a scheduler 100 or the TDIU.

On the other hand, vision care and hearing aids. You actually don’t need to have a hundred percent rating for this. All veterans with any, sort of, compensable rating qualify for a vision care and hearing aids. So, vision care that’s going to include any routine eye exams, preventive testing such as glaucoma testing, cost of eyeglasses which is great, and then also hearing aids. So, for the vision and hearing aids, you only need to have a  compensable rating. For the dental care, you need to have a 100% or TDIU.

Maura: Okay. And, I’m glad that you made that point also about the difference between a temporary total rating and a 100% rating. So, a lot of you may know that if a veteran is receiving inpatient hospital care for a service-connected condition or undergoes a surgery such as, I think Ali’s mentioned, knee replacement, hip replacement, things like that. There are certain rules that allow the veterans who receive a 100% total rating for a temporary time, that is in line with the amount of time that they spent hospitalized or recovering from a surgery such as a joint replacement. So, those temporary total ratings are great because they will provide a veteran with 100% compensation, just in recognition of the fact that they were totally incapacitated during the surgery or during the hospitalization. But, since those total evaluations do have a definite end date, they don’t last forever. You don’t just get to keep them. Then that is not going to be the type of 100% rating when it’s for a temporary period, that’s going to allow you to avail yourself of a lot of the benefits that we’re talking about. So, I’m glad that you made that distinction, Alyse.

Alyse: There is another program, that allows for additional benefits, specifically, for the spouses and children of disabled veterans with 100% ratings. And, that’s the civilian health and medical program of the Department of Veterans Affairs. We call it CHAMP-VA, that’s another VA acronym because that’s a pretty clunky title for a program. But, essentially the CHAMP-VA Program is a Health Care Program in which VA will share the cost of certain covered Healthcare Services that are for the spouses and children of disabled veterans with the 100% disability rating. So, this is, I think, unique in that it’s not just a benefit that’s available to the veteran themselves, for their own medical care. But, it’s also a benefit that they can use to the advantage of their families, which I think is great.

I’m not sure that a lot of people know about this program. We don’t see it a ton, but it’s always something that when we get questions about it’s nice to be able to try to be successful in getting VA to extend these benefits to a disabled veterans family because the type of healthcare services that are covered are pretty broad in range for the dependents. So, it could include ambulatory services, hospice treatment, certain inpatient and outpatient treatments or hospitalizations, family planning type, medical services, also medical equipment cost can be shared, which is good. There’s a whole list of different things that are covered under the CHAMP-VA program.

Again, we would recommend that you look into the VA website, that has a lot of information about these programs. And, also we have some materials on our website at cck-law.com, that will cover a lot of the particulars of the different types of benefits that are available. So, we’re going to switch away from the healthcare world. I think, Rachel and we’re going to now turn to the dependents’ education assistance benefit. This is one that we definitely do see on a pretty routine basis in dealing with our compensation benefits appeals and claims. So, can you tell us what DEA is and how it’s available?

Rachel: Sure. So, DEA stands for dependents’ education assistance. It’s actually part of the GI Bill program that offers Education and Training to surviving dependents and eligible dependents. What determines that eligibility is, of course, the veterans’ rating. So, if they’re rated permanent and total, whether it’s 100 % or through TDIU currently or if at the time that they passed away, they were rated totally and permanently disabled, their surviving dependents could be eligible to receive DEA benefits.

Maura: Great. And these are sometimes awarded as I think, I usually see these most commonly, the DEA involvement, when we are successful in getting a grant of TDIU or a 100% rating and the decision that implements that grant will usually, automatically, if they’ve determined that the veteran is permanently and totally disabled, they’ll usually add that to the decision and indicate that the veteran also entitled to dependents’ educational assistance, which is good to know. That’s also a helpful indicator for us to know that VA has deemed the veteran to be permanently and totally disabled, so it kind of demystifies that process because sometimes that can be a little tricky to know what VA is thinking when it comes to that. Can you tell us also about any type of Vocational Rehabilitation Assistance that’s available for veterans with 100% ratings?

Rachel: Yes. So, kind of in the same vein as the training and education, offered through DEA, eligible dependents can also pursue Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment via VRE Services, essentially. So, what that means is that they can get career counseling, they can get guidance on how to access different and various VA benefits and also personalized and academic counseling, as well. So, if a veteran is entitled or at the time that they passed away, they were entitled to DEA benefits, that also opens up the eligibility for getting Vocational Rehabilitation benefits, as well.

Maura: Okay, great. Thank you. Alyse, can we switch to you now to talk about different types of benefits that are available specifically for things like housing adaptation grants, auto adaptive equipment grants, things like that that are available for veterans with total ratings?

Alyse: Yes, sure. So, just for an example, there are three different grants which veterans that had certain disabilities and who need adaptions, either to their home or maybe their vehicle, can receive if they need those adaptions in order to meet, basically, the needs of their daily lives, to live more independently. Some of those grants are called, like you said, the specially adapted housing, specially housing adaption grant and the automobile adaptive equipment grant. So, each of those goes to different things, but there are only certain disabilities that you can have to be eligible for those grants. This is actually not one of those conditions where you need to have a 100% rating, you actually just have to have a certain service connected disability, but usually those disabilities do result in a 100% rating, anyways.

So, some examples may include the loss of the use of one or more limbs, blindness in both eyes, loss of use of both hands or maybe certain severe burns. Basically, that’s going to require you to have some adoptions on your home and your vehicle, so that you can get around and perform things of daily living.

Maura: Exactly. Okay. And that’s good to know because this kind of reminds me of the way that VA will do the temporary total evaluations for incapacitation and just kind of in line with their whole rating scheme is, that they’re trying to make sure that the compensation that’s awarded is responding to the impairment caused by the veteran service connected conditions. And, as Alyse was mentioning, sometimes a veteran service connected disability is so severe as to require certain changes to their environment, changes to their vehicles, so that they can use it in a safe and convenient way, things need to be set up around the home so that veterans can ambulate comfortably and things like that. So, it’s definitely worth looking in to these types of benefits. If you think you have a condition that severe enough to cause these things, and if that condition is service connected, as Alyse mentioned, there is the ability to get these benefits without having a 100% rating in some circumstances. It’s just going to be about what you are service connected for, VA is going to need to examine the impairment caused by your service connected conditions to decide whether that impairment warrants one of these grants.

So, that’s something helpful to think about, especially for veterans who don’t have the 100% rating, quite yet. I think, probably, my favorite topic of today’s discussion, because I just learned about it when we were preparing for today’s topic, is the Space-A  Flights and certain benefits that come along with that. Alyse, you’ve got to tell me more.

Alyse: So, this is a new change. As of 2019, veterans with permanent and total ratings can qualify for what’s called Space Available Travel or Space-A Flight through the Air Mobility Command. Basically, that means that they’re going to be placed as travel priority 6, so they’re prioritized behind active-duty troops, but they can fly, through the Air Mobility Command. This doesn’t cover their dependents and you do need to have that permanent and total status. But, this is new and if you basically, if you just look up the Space-A Flights, you can see the form right online, how you can apply to that and you can travel that way. Once it’s safe to travel again.

Maura:I know, that’s a good point. Not the most timely way to find out about this benefit since it’s not super relevant or applicable at the current moment with everything that’s going on. But, the name, the Space-A Flights name just kind of reminds me of traveling space. So, it’s cool. I think we’re all going to need to do something like that once we are not homebound, anymore. But, okay. Thank you, Alyse. That’s really good to know. We wanted to wrap up just by throwing out a reminder that while the benefits that we’ve talked about today are VA specific, there are a lot of different programs and benefits available through states and sometimes even municipalities.

So, VA is obviously a federal executive agency, but different states have different types of programs that they put in place, different funding that’s available, grants, things like that. Sometimes, they have taxpayer assistance. They have different types of parameters for applying for even hunting and fishing licenses, vehicle license plates. What am I forgetting? Also, State Park admissions. There’s a whole lot of things that veterans who have 100% disability ratings can apply for, potentially in the state in which they live.

So, I know that there’s probably a variety of social service agencies, hopefully, set up in all of the states across the country that have different rules and have access to different information about programs. But, if you are seeking benefits through the VA, don’t forget that it might also make sense to look into whether your state offers additional things that you might need, that you’re not going to be able to get through the VA. Some of the things that I just mentioned. All the states will vary, so it’s hard to know exactly what you would qualify for, it depends on where you live and what your state offers. But, there can be a lot of different things that go unnoticed. Sometimes people are so focused on working on VA compensation which totally makes sense. But, there are also other things out there that we wouldn’t want you to miss out on so we would recommend looking into that.

I think that’s all we have for today. Rachel or Alyse, did you have anything to add, before we conclude?

Alyse: No. I know, I did kind of just give an overview of all these topics. So, most of the stuff is available right on the CCK’s website. So, I would encourage you to dive deeper into specific topics you might be more interested there.

Maura: Perfect. Thank you both so much and thank you all for joining us today. We really appreciate seeing you all and we hope to see you next time.