Disability Compensation And Pensions
Military members are exposed to a variety of dangers including combat, traveling to foreign countries, unsanitary environments, and diseases. Sometimes this results in a lifelong medical condition or disability that can interfere with a veterans ability to get and hold a good job.
The U.S. government takes care of veterans who have disabilities and medical conditions that were caused or worsened by military service by providing monthly disability compensation. It also takes care of low-income veterans who are totally and permanently disabled due to non-service-connected medical conditions and disabilities by providing a monthly disability pension. Finally, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a lifelong pension to veterans who have earned our nations highest military decoration the Medal of Honor. Keep reading for more details.
Can You Receive Va Disability And Military Retirement Pay
Yes, you can receive your military retirement pay and VA disability if you served more than 20 years. You must also qualify for Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay by having a disability rating of at least 50%. The total amount you receive will depend on your service-related disability. Still, CRDP benefits cannot exceed the amount you would get as a pension calculated with your years of service.
Disability Benefits For Wounded Warriors
Military service members can receive expedited processing of disability claims from Social Security. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. To see a side-by-side comparison of the two programs, check-out this Fact Sheet.
The expedited process is used for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs.
Below are the answers to the questions most people ask about applying for disability benefits. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you understand the process.
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How Is The Amount Of A Disability Benefit Determined
The amount of a disability benefit you receive will be determined by:
- the degree to which that disability is related to your service and
- the extent of the disability .
Once it is established that your disability is related to your service, the next step is to determine the extent or severity of your disability so that we can assign an assessment level.
To learn more, see the How Benefits Are Determined section.
Mental Health Conditions And Most Common Va Disability Percentages
Not all scars are visible. Many veterans have significant service-connected mental health issues.
PTSD is perhaps the most well-known of them, but there are many others, including:
- Somatic symptom disorder
- Military sexual trauma
Disabling mental health conditions are generally regarded as high-value claims. This is because mental health issues are much more likely than neurological, skin, auditory, or most musculoskeletal conditions to receive a disability rating of 30% or higher. In fact, more than 90 percent of disabled veterans rated for a mental health condition are rated at 30% or higher.
4 out of 10 veterans with a disabling mental health condition receive a rating of 70% or higher.
This makes them much more lucrative to pursue than most other medical conditions: According to the 2018-2019 Veterans Benefits Administration Report to Congress, over 13% of disabled veterans with mental health conditions were assigned a 100% disability rating. Cardiovascular conditions, in contrast, only qualified disabled veterans for a disability rating of 100% just 13% of the time. Respiratory diagnosis only resulted in a 100% disability rating 1.9% of the time.
Additionally, mental health conditions qualified the veteran for a 30% disability rating 23.7% of the time, for a 50% disability rating 25.9 % of the time, and for a 70% disability rating 28% of the time.
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Condition #6 Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is an issue that affects every single human. However, some individuals have a harder time appropriately dealing with it than others. In certain cases, they may even get diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
The military realizes that some anxiety is normal. However, since anxiety is considered a mental health issue it will check your medical background for any perceived risks.
The biggest mental health factor the military assesses is a history of suicidal behavior. Though that is more connected to depression than anxiety, it will also consider previous or current issues.
Some disqualifying conditions include:
- Simple phobias
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Likewise, specific phobias such as a fear of specific animals like spiders, snakes, or dogs , fear of specific environments like heights or thunderstorms , and situational fears like bridges or driving can all be grounds for military disqualification.
Of course, this all depends on the extent of your phobia, and whether or not youve been treated for it in the recent past.
What Information Do I Need
To apply for benefits, you or your representative must provide information and documentation about your age, employment, proof of citizenship, and information regarding all impairments and related treatment. Social Security will make every reasonable effort to help you get the necessary medical evidence.
Important: You should file the application for disability benefits as soon as possible with any documents readily available. Do not delay filing, even if you do not have all the documents mentioned below.
- Original or certified copy of your birth certificate or proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency if foreign born
- Form DD 214, if discharged from military service
- W-2 form or income tax return from last year
- Proof of military pay or workers’ compensation
- Social Security numbers of your spouse and minor children
- Checking or savings account number, if you have one
- Name, address, and phone number of a contact person, in case you are unavailable and
- Medical records that you have or that you can easily obtain from all military and civilian sources.
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Track Your Va Disability Claim Status
Now that your claim has been filed, you can track it with your eBenefits account. The VA will update your dashboard with the status of your claim and any messages they need to send to you. This may include requests for additional information.
You may also be contacted by phone or mail if you are required to have a VA claim exam, also known as a compensation and pension exam.
While youre on your eBenefits account, add your bank account information so that the VA can distribute your compensation by direct deposit.
Can I File A Va Claim Myself
You can file a claim on your own, but the process is time-consuming and complicated.
There are individuals who have training and experience filing disability claims who can assist you with the process and help you avoid common mistakes that could delay your claim or result in a less beneficial outcome for your claim.
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Help Obtaining Va Disability Benefits
The process of qualifying for and receiving disability benefits can be confusing, but an experienced Veterans disability attorney can provide the assistance you need to get the maximum allowable compensation for your service-connected injury or illness. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
Can You Get An Increase In Benefits For A Covid
If your Covid-19 chronic symptoms have exacerbated another service-connected condition, you might be eligible for an increase in benefits.
According to a VA spokesperson, entitlement to compensation for chronic residual conditions can apply to:
- Conditions directly related to service
- Pre-existing conditions aggravated during service
- Secondary conditions to an existing service-connected condition
- Service-connected conditions that increase in severity.
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Technician Service Benefits Eligibility
Military technicians perform jobs for the army or the Air Force. To qualify as a military technician, you must also be a member of the National Guard or reserves. These individuals have similar training schedules as other members of the reserves and the National Guard. After being called to active service, technicians may also qualify for VA disability benefits or other military veteran benefits.
I Do Not Agree With The Department’s Decision On My Application What Can I Do
If you do not agree with the decision you have received regarding your application for disability benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision or request a Departmental Review if you have new evidence. The Bureau of Pensions Advocates and The Royal Canadian Legion both provide free assistance with reviews and appeals.
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Va Education And Training Benefits
If you lost your job due to Covid-19, you might be eligible for benefits under the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program .
VRRAP provides veterans who became unemployed during the pandemic with education and training for high-demand jobs. The program provides 12 months of tuition and fees for eligible veterans, including a military housing allowance at the Post-9/11 GI Bill rate.
But, theres one catch: you cant qualify for VRRAP if youre still eligible for the GI Bill or Veteran Readiness and Employment . You must exhaust your GI Bill or VR& E benefits first.
Additionally, you must:
- Be at least 22 but not older than 66 years old
- Not be rated as disabled because you cant work
- Not be enrolled in another federal, state or federal jobs program
The VA will accept VRRAP applications until Dec. 11, 2022.
Understanding Va Disability Ratings For Covid
Individual VA disability ratings for chronic residual conditions resulting from a Covid-19 infection depend on the severity of your symptoms and how those symptoms impact your daily life.
The VA uses the 38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Rating Disabilities to determine your benefit threshold.
For instance, to receive a 10% rating for a mental health condition related to Covid-19, the VA rating schedule says your condition must cause occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms which decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks.
You could also receive compensation if you were not experiencing these symptoms actively but take medicine to control them.
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The Difference Between Military Retirement And Medical Retirement
Before exploring the differences between DoD Disability Pay and the VA equivalent, its important to know the difference between ordinary military retirement pay and being medically retired/being given Military Disability Retirement Pay.
When a service member reaches military retirement time-in-service , they can file retirement paperwork, leave the military, and begin drawing retirement pay. Service members do not normally have to retire the second they hit the 20-year mark some choose to continue serving as long as military regulations will permit.
But the main thing to remember here is that retiring is the servicemembers initiative and filing the papers means starting the process with an eventual retirement paycheck coming.
Military Disability Retirement is something else it is not selected by the service member but comes as the result of a medical review process a military doctor or team of doctors may determine that a veterans medical condition warrants disability retirement and this can happen at any stage in the servicemembers career.
Disability retirement is not automatic even when it is determined that the patient can no longer perform military duties as expected and must be medically separated or retired. Why?
Remember, this is happening at the DoD level, NOT the Department of Veterans Affairs level. The VA claim process is completely separate from this type of retirement or separation determination.
How To File An Additional Va Disability Claim
Your claims process isnt necessarily over once the VA confirms your disability is service-connected.
You may want to file one of these additional VA disability claims under certain circumstances:
- Increased claim to increase your disability rating or financial support
- New claim for additional benefits, such as a shift to individual unemployability status
- Secondary service-connected disability claim if you develop a new condition that is linked to an existing service-connected disability, such as heart disease caused by high blood pressure
- Special claim for special needs, such as a specially equipped vehicle
Youd make these claims in the same manner as your original claim.
Complete an application for disability compensation and related compensation benefits and submit it online, in person or by mail, along with the required medical evidence.
What If The Applicant Stays On Or Returns To Active Duty
SSA rules state that it is possible to remain on active duty and still receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. This is dependent on whether or not the military member is actually able to perform work.
A permanent change of station move, changes in the recipients military career field specialty, or other factors may require a benefits review. SSA states that in such cases the military member must contact SSA with an update.
Physical Conditions Occurring From Military Service
If your physical conditions were caused by your active-duty service, those impairments may be considered service-connected and you may be able to receive monthly compensation from the Veterans Administration. To receive VA benefits veterans do not have to be injured while serving abroad. Your injuries could have happened while stateside as well.
Many veterans do not know about secondary service-connected impairments. For example, if John Q. Veteran is exposed to Agent Orange, develops diabetes from exposure, his neuropathy may now also be considered service-connected. Because diabetes causes neuropathy, it is considered a secondary service-connected impairment in that scenario.
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A 50% Va Disability Rating You Can Also Receive Full Military Retirement Pay
When the laws changed in 2004, veterans were able to receive both military retirement pay and VA disability compensation at the same time under Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay . When CRPD is reached with a 50% rating or higher, a veteran is eligible to receive full military retirement pay along with full VA disability compensation.
Here is an example of the payment breakdown. You are receiving $2,000 a month in retirement pay. With a 50% VA disability rating, your disability compensation would be $901.83 per month. Unlike the 40% rating example above, you would receive an additional check each month in VA compensation for $901.83, which is also tax-free. Your military retirement pay of $2,000 is still taxable.
At the end of each month, you would receive a retirement check for $2,000 and a VA compensation for $901.83. That brings the total monthly payment to $2,901.83 $2,000 taxed and $901.83 tax-free.
Secondary Service Connection For Mental Health
Tip: Many service-related medical conditions can cause or aggravate a mental health condition. So if youre already rated for another condition, or considering applying for VA disability compensation for another issue, consider filing a claim for the accompanying mental health issue.
For example, your tinnitus may cause you to be unable to sleep, or function during the day. This, in turn, could cause or aggravate depression or anxiety. In this case, your secondary claim depression or anxiety disorder could well result in a more significant disability rating than your primary issue.
The same is true for service-connected back injuries, migraines, knee and ankle injuries, scars, and anything that causes chronic pain or disfigurement.
In recent years, the VA has responded to political pressure to be more understanding of veterans presenting with PTSD and military sexual trauma. If this is relevant to you, consider putting together your documentation and filing a claim.
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Verify If Additional Documentation Is Needed
You may need to submit additional forms or statements.
For example, if you are a National Guard or Reserve member, youll need to submit all your service, medical and personnel records from your unit.
Certain disability claims have additional requirements.
- Auto allowances or an auto adaptive-equipment grants
- Aid and Attendance for nursing home care
You can find the full list on the VA website.
What Are Medical Questionnaires
Medical questionnaires are forms we have developed for your healthcare provider to complete with all of the details of your disability. These standardized forms provide guidance for your health care provider to ensure he or she provides all of the necessary and relevant information we need to make a decision on your application for disability benefits. The medical questionnaires are used, along with other submitted medical information, to confirm your medical diagnosis and determine the impairment rating of your disability.
When you give your health care provider the medical questionnaire, please be sure to also provide your completed and signed Consent for Veterans Affairs Canada to Collect Personal Information from Third Parties form which gives him or her the authority to release your personal medical information to us. If your health care provider does not wish to fill out the questionnaire, they can provide a “narrative report” as an alternative. This report must include the same basic information as the questionnaire. Please do not have a medical questionnaire completed until you have been provided with specific instructions from us regarding the questionnaire required. .
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Am I Eligible For Va Disability Compensation
You may be eligible for VA disability benefits or compensation if you meet both of these requirements.
Both of these must be true:
- You have a current illness or injury that affects your mind or body, and
- You served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training
And at least one of these must be true:
- You got sick or injured while serving in the militaryand can link this condition to your illness or injury , or
- You had an illness or injury before you joined the militaryand serving made it worse , or
- You have a disability related to your active-duty service that didnt appear until after you ended your service
- Qualified dependents