When seeking financial support for the VA, a veteran has several options for what type of benefits they may be eligible for. Over the next two posts, we will discuss the two most common types of financial relief most veterans can seek: compensation benefits and pension benefits. Disability pension benefits are a dollar amount awarded to veterans who served their country during congressionally defined wartime and are permanently and totally disabled from a cause that is not solely related to their military service. This will be discussed in more detail in our next post. Compensation benefits are a tax-free, monthly monetary amount paid to veterans who have service–connected disabilities. Compensation benefits are not income-based, and are related solely to the severity of a veteran’s disability along with his or her ability to work.
Many consider compensation benefits the most important benefits paid by the VA. This is because it is the VA’s best way of showing support for our veterans; especially those who were injured in the line of duty. Compensation benefits can provide the largest payment amounts available to disabled veterans which other benefits, including pension benefits (discussed in our next post) do not provide. Currently, a veteran with a 100% disability rating, with no other factors accounted for such as Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) or Dependent Benefits, will prove a disabled veteran around $2,906.83 per month.
Under the law, a veteran can be eligible to receive compensation benefits if:
- The veteran was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable;
- The veteran’s disease or disability was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; and
- The veteran’s disability is not a result of their own willful misconduct or abuse of alcohol or drug.
If a veteran meets all of these elements, than compensation benefits are likely available, and it is important the veteran applies for these benefits as soon as possible to begin receiving the deserved benefits. By filing as soon as possible, a veteran will also be able to preserve their effective date should the veteran appeal a VA rating decision regarding the veterans request for benefits.
There are several important factors to be aware of regarding the above requirements. With regards to what is considered discharge under conditions other than dishonorable, at a basic level, this means that most veteran’s eligible for compensation benefits received either an honorable or general discharge. A more thorough discussion of discharge conditions can be found here. When determining whether a veteran’s disability occurred in the line of duty, the clearest indicator is whether the disability occurred during active service. This can include any time the veteran is under commission, including authorized leave. For example, if the veteran is injured while driving his or her own vehicle for personal reasons, but is still under active duty, those injuries will be eligible for compensation benefits. This is because the VA is aware that “a service member’s workday never ends.” Finally, a veteran’s disability cannot have occurred because of the veterans own willful misconduct or abuse of alcohol or drug. For example, if the same veteran were injured because of DUI, then that veteran would most likely be ineligible for any compensation benefits for injuries incurred from the accident.
If you are a veteran who was injured during active duty or have developed a disability connected to your years of service for our country, it is important that you file a claim right away, and begin receiving the compensation benefits you rightly deserve. In the next post, we will discuss Disability Pension benefits for veterans with non-service connected disabilities. Thank you for your service.