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Applying for Veterans Disability and Pension

Outline: Applying for and receiving disability benefits or a pension from the Veteran's Administration is not always an easy process.

Main Digest

Applying for and receiving disability benefits or a pension from the Veteran's Administration is not always an easy process.

The system can be confusing and discouraging, but don't give up.

You may be eligible for VA benefits if you are: A veteran, A veteran's dependent, A surviving spouse, child or parent of a Deceased veteran, An active duty military service member, A member of the Reserve or National Guard.

Disability Compensation VA can pay you monthly compensation if you are at least 10% disabled as a result of your military service.

What is a VA Pension for veterans

Pension is a benefit paid to wartime veterans who have limited or no income, and who are age 65 or older, or, if under 65, who are permanently and totally disabled. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. These are benefits that are paid in addition to the basic pension rate.

Who is eligible

Generally, you may be eligible if: You were discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable, AND You served at least 90 days of active military service 1 day of which was during a war time period. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty (There are exceptions to this rule), AND your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law (The yearly limit on income is set by Congress), AND you are age 65 or older, OR, you are permanently and totally disabled, not due to your own willful misconduct.

The Process for both Disability and Pension Benefits

Application

In order to receive benefits, you must first file a Application for Benefits with the Department of Veteran Affairs. This application can be found online at vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main. asp. It is a lengthy application, but do not get intimidated. This information is necessary to confirm your service and your eligibility for benefits. Many eligible claimants get rejected or receive reduced benefits at this stage.

Appeal

Once you have either been rejected or believe that the disability level was inappropriate, you must file a Notice of Disagreement. It is at this stage that it is important to have an attorney. The Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) will send what's called a Statement of the Case. This contains the findings of the DVA and the reasons for their actions. At this stage, using the information provided by them, and with information from you, an attorney will help you gather addition information you will need to prove your case. At this point you can either request a hearing before the case is sent to the Board of Veteran Appeals or at the Board of Veteran Appeals, or both.

Sometimes dealing a large bureaucracy can be very discouraging. Don't give up.

Reference: Paul Epstein is of counsel to the Massachusetts law firm of Epstein, Lipsey & Clifford. Attorney Epstein concentrates in Personal Injury, Products Liability, Special Education Law, Veteran's Disability Law and Criminal Defense. He was formerly a supervising Assistant District Attorney, a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School, an Investigator with the Public Defender's Office, and a Police Officer. Please visit www.elclaw.com

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