Who is eligible for VA Compensation?
Any Veteran of the U.S. military who had active service and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. 38 U.S.C. 101. This includes all branches of Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
How does a Veteran become eligible for VA Compensation?
A Veteran needs to prove that their disability is “service connected” or that the problem have some nexus to active military service. The disability could either have been directly caused or incurred in service such as in combat. However, it need not be a combat related injury since any medical problem that either started or was exacerbated in service would qualify for service connection.
A condition that was exacerbated in service normally must be a pre existing condition that was noted to exist upon an entrance exam. If such a condition was exacerbated in service then the Veteran can also be compensated to the extent the condition deteriorated in service.
Certain conditions are “presumed” to have incurred service even when the Veteran is unable to prove service connection. Certain cancers are presumed to be connected to military service when Veterans were proven to be exposed to Agent Orange or radiation. Exposure to agent orange is presumed for Vietnam Veterans who had spent any amount of time in the Republic of Vietnam during the armed conflict there. Also certain diseases are presumed to be connected to Gulf War Service. However, it is important to remember that the VA can always rebut these presumptions and often will make these rebuttals.
What types of different claims can a Veteran or dependent make?
Many veterans first need to show that their disability is service connected as explained above. However, once this is done there are different claims that a Veteran can make. A commonly made claim is one for “increase” where a condition that is already service connected deteriorates or increases in severity. Normally, the Veteran would need to show or the VA could assist the Veteran to show that the condition has increased in severity.
Secondary Service Connection–also common is when a service connected causes a different type of impairment. This could occur in many different types of situations such as when a physically related disability may cause a mentally related disability. These are very fact dependent situations and just about any scenario could be plausible so long it is supported by medical facts and/or opinions.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) These are also known as widow’s benefits such as when a Veteran’s death is service connected or when a Veteran dies while receiving 100% service connected benefits. The widow would be entitled to monthly benefits.
How do I apply for VA compensation?
Its likely easiest to apply online by creating a ebenefits account and applying here. Various veteran service groups such as the DAV, American Legion, and others specialize in applying for VA compensation. You can also print and send a VA application here. Our office generally helps Veterans appeal denials for VA compensation either at the Notice of Disagreement phase, Board of Veterans Appeals phase, or even file an appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Please call us when you receive a denial for VA compensation.