According to September 2014 U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs [VA] statistics, in excess of 780,000 veterans reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Arlington County, however, is home for approximately 2,700 veterans who are disabled from injury or illness that originated during active military service.
Admittedly, health care for veterans, as provided by VA, is frequently addressed by media coverage. Important to veterans, without question, generally those veterans who served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable may qualify for VA health care benefits. Enhanced health care benefits are available to certain veterans, for example former POWs, Purple Heart Medal recipients, Medal of Honor recipients, and those veterans who have a compensable VA awarded service-connected disability of 10% or more. In this regard, VA set up Priority Groups 1 – 8, with 1 being the highest, based upon various factors, in an attempt to ensure health care benefits to as many veterans as annual budget constraints permit. Specifics and more details can be found at www.VA.gov.
VA disability benefits, however, which produce a tax-free income stream for veterans who are injured or become ill during military service, are important for both veterans and their current or prospective employers to understand.
· As business leaders, we want to help our veteran population in Arlington County, including their dependents.
· Helping our veterans live fulfilled and economically productive lives in Arlington helps both business leaders and veterans.
Here are the basics regarding VA disability compensation benefits:
· A tax-free monetary benefit, VA Disability Compensation is paid to Veterans with disabilities that result from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service.
· Compensation may also be paid for disabilities that occur after service that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may occur post-service.
· A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee condition, as well as mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
· Generally, the degrees of disability specified impacts the amount of monthly payment, and are set up and intended to compensate for average losses in earning capacity that result from illness or injury incurred during active service.
· According to the degree of the Veteran's disability, the benefit amount is determined by applying a scale of 10 percent to 100 percent, with increments of 10 percent.
· If a Veteran has dependents, an additional allowance may be added if the Veteran’s combined disability is rated 30% or greater.
· Dependents of veterans, in their own right, benefit from certain VA disability compensation benefits. Specifically, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax free monetary benefit generally payable to a surviving spouse, child, or parent of Service-members who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training [weekend drill] or survivors of Veterans who died from their service-connected disabilities.
· To be eligible, a person is required to have performed service in the Uniformed Services on active duty, or active duty for training, or inactive duty training, and the Veteran was discharged under other than dishonorable conditions, and the Veteran is least 10% disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred in or aggravated during active duty or active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
Note: If the Veteran was on inactive duty for training, the disability must have resulted from injury, heart attack, or stroke.
Importantly, the veteran must provide:
· Medical evidence of a current physical or mental disability, and
· Evidence of a relationship between the veteran’s disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship.
Under some circumstances, as noted, diagnosed illnesses are presumed to have occurred during active military service. These aspects and other details regarding VA disability compensation benefits are further explained at www.va.gov and www.kniffenlaw.com.