a veteran. What kinds of benefits might I be qualified to receive?
A: You may be eligible for two kinds of
monetary benefits: pension benefits and service-related benefits.
do service-related compensation and pension differ?
A: You may receive service-related compensation
for an injury or disability related to your military service or for a previous disability
that was aggravated during service or during an applicable “presumptive period.”
A presumptive period is a period after military service during which the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will presume that specific disabilities
originated or were aggravated during military service. For example, the VA will
presume that arthritis that initially appeared during the first year after
service is related to service if it is at least 10 percent disabling. The injury
need not be combat-related, but it must be linked to an event, symptom or
diagnosis that first occurred during service or (for presumptive conditions)
during the relevant presumptive period.
For example, treatment for skin cancer caused by an
earlier, service-related sunburn might be compensated. Illnesses such as diabetes,
Parkinson’s disease and certain heart diseases might be covered if you are a Vietnam
veteran and were exposed to Agent Orange. There is no age or income requirement
to qualify for this sort of compensation.
To receive a pension benefit, you must be 65 years old or
older, or you must be totally and permanently disabled. Also, you must have served one day during a
period of war, and 90 days of continuous service, unless you were injured and
required to leave the service.
is a “period of war” for purposes of qualifying for pension?
A: Congress has established time
periods for wars in which the United States has been involved since the 1940s,
including World War II (Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946); the Korean Conflict
(June 27, 1950 to Dec. 31, 1946—and in some cases, to July 25, 1947); the
Vietnam Era (Aug. 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975); the Persian Gulf War, and
subsequent conflicts up to and including the present-day conflict in
Might my family members qualify for any benefits because I am a veteran?
A: Yes. If, for example, you die
leaving family members behind you, your veteran benefits may go to any of your
dependents (including your spouse and dependent children, as well as your
parents, if they are dependent on you).
I receive other benefits aside from pension and service-related compensation?
A: Yes. You can receive “Aid and attendance”
(A&A) in addition to a pension if you can no longer do two or more of certain
basic daily tasks, such as feeding, washing or dressing yourself. A&A is
also available for any qualified veteran who is receiving service-connected
benefits. It may also be available for the spouse of a veteran who has the same
needs, even if the veteran is not receiving A & A.
I apply for veteran benefits, how soon will my claim to be decided?
A: Since veterans’ situations are unique,
claims will take varying amounts of time—anywhere from a few months for pension
to a year or even several years for (service-connected) compensation. Usually,
more complex cases will take longer to be decided.
happens if my claim for benefits is denied?
A: You can appeal your claim through a
Notice of Disagreement (NOD). You must file
your appeal within one year after your claim was denied or partially denied.
Who can appeal?
can write the appeal yourself or you can go through an accredited Veterans Affairs
(VA) agent or certain other agents who are accredited. Accredited agents may be attorneys or members
of service agencies such as Disabled American Veterans. Generally only
attorneys can represent veterans on appeals to the Court of Appeals of Veterans
Q: How much will it cost me to file an appeal?
A: There is no out-of-pocket cost, and no
one is allowed to charge a fee for helping a veteran apply for an appeal,
although a fee can be charged for explaining the law in detail. The person you
choose to represent you may charge a contingent fee, which may be paid directly
by the VA, once your Notice of Disagreement has been filed and you have agreed
to the fee in writing. There may be additional costs, as well. If you lose the
appeal and receive no benefits, your representative will not charge you. If you
win your appeal and receive benefits, the VA will pay the representative’s fee
directly, unless you and your agent agree that you will pay the fee directly.
should I contact to get help in appealing my application for VA benefits?
“Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was
prepared by Akron attorney Betty Groner. Articles appearing in this column are
intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying
this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice
from an attorney.
Labels: benefits, pension, veterans