Our firm regularly assists clients with obtaining benefits available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for assistance in paying for long term care benefits. The VA requires that attorneys be accredited by the VA in order to represent veterans before the VA relative to their benefits. This author is so accredited.
In helping our veteran clients and their surviving spouses, we have learned that there is much confusion about VA benefits and their availability. In this Primer series, we will outline basic features of these benefits that should be considered by a prospective VA benefits recipient.
WARNING: This Primer series is for educational purposes only and is only a general discussion of the topics. It is not a substitute for personalized legal advice based upon one’s individual circumstances and goals. For such advice, it is wise to consult with a qualified and experienced elder law attorney who is accredited by the VA.
The VA is an agency of the federal government that provides a variety of benefits and services to our country’s veterans. Three divisions of the VA are: 1.’The Veteran’s Health Administration – which provides medical services; 2. The National Cemetery Administration – which offers benefits relative to final services and internments; and 3. The Veteran’s Benefits Administration which administers certain disability benefits. The focus of this Primer series will be this third division.
The VA offers two basic disability programs: 1. “Compensation” – for veterans who have service connected disabilities; and 2. “Pension” – a benefit for certain wartime veterans who do not have a service connected disability.
The Compensation benefit is largely based upon the severity of the service connected disability measured in terms of percentages. For example, a veteran with a 100% disability rating will receive certain benefits not available to a veteran with a 10% rating as well as a priority in certain benefit programs over those with lower ratings. While the disability must have occurred while the veteran was on active duty, it does not have to be a wartime injury. The primary issues in obtaining Compensation benefits are establishing the the disability is service connected and establishing the percentage of disability which is based upon medical information and tests.
The Pension benefit, which does not require a service connected disability, is available to certain wartime veterans and their surviving spouses. There are, however, a number of other requirements that must be satisfied to obtain this benefit.
In the remaining Parts of this Primer, we will discuss the various requirements of the Pension benefit and effective strategies that can be used to lawfully obtain this important benefit.