A person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable may qualify for VA health care benefits. Reservists and National Guard members may also qualify for VA health care benefits if they were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a Federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty.
Veterans who enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, or who entered active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to veterans discharged for hardship, early out or a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
Reservists who serve on active duty establish Veteran status and may be eligible for the full-range of VA benefits, depending on the length of active military service and a discharge or release from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable. In addition, reservists not activated may qualify for some VA benefits.
National Guard members can establish eligibility for VA benefits if activated for federal service during a period of war or domestic emergency. Activation for other than federal service does not qualify guard members for all VA benefits. Claims for VA benefits based on federal service filed by members of the National Guard should include a copy of the military orders, presidential proclamation or executive order that clearly demonstrates the federal nature of the service.
The DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, generally referred to as a “DD214”, is a document of the US Department of Defense (DoD), issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation, or discharge from active duty in the Armed Forces of the US.
Using a SF Form 180, which may be obtained from this office, copies of service members DD-214 (military discharge document) may be requested from:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis. MO 63138
Veterans are encouraged to record their military discharges (DD-214) with the Veterans Affairs Office. The original will be returned to the Veteran and certified copies can be made if needed.
If you are unable to locate a discharge for a WWII Veteran or surviving spouse, we have WWII Roster books with discharge information in our office. This book is only good for WWII Veterans that entered service from South Carolina. The VA will accept the information contained in this book as discharge information.
Characterization of Discharge
When discharged, a service member also receives a “characterization of service” which appears on their DD-214 and usually falls into one of five categories: honorable, general under honorable conditions, other than honorable, bad-conduct, or dishonorable. Generally, in order to receive VA benefits and services, the Veteran's character of discharge or service must be under other than dishonorable conditions. However, individuals receiving undesirable, bad conduct discharges, and other types of dishonorable discharges may qualify for VA benefits depending on a determination made by VA.
Review of Discharge from Military Service
Each of the military services maintain a discharge review board with authority to change, correct or modify discharges or dismissals NOT issued by a sentence of a general court-martial. The board has no authority to address medical discharges.
The Veteran or, if the Veteran is deceased or incompetent, the surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative, may apply for a review of discharge by writing to the military department concerned, using DD Form 293, “Application for the Review of Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States.” This form may be obtained at a VA regional office, from Veterans organizations or online at www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/formsprogram.htm.
However, if the discharge was more than 15 years ago, a Veteran must petition the appropriate Service's Board for Correction of Military Records using DD Form 149, “Application for Correction of Military Records Under the Provisions of Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 1552.” It should be submitted, along with supporting evidence, to one of the review boards listed below. A discharge review is conducted by a review of an applicant's record and, if requested, by a hearing before the board.
Discharges awarded as a result of a continuous period of unauthorized absence in excess of 180 days make persons ineligible for VA benefits regardless of action taken by discharge review boards, unless VA determines there were compelling circumstances for the absence. Boards for the Correction of Military Records also may consider such cases.
ARMY Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA) ATTN: Client Information and Quality Assurance Arlington, VA 22202-4508 Phone: 703-607-1600
NAVY & MARINE CORPS Board for Correction of Naval Records 2 Navy Annex, Room 2432 Washington, DC 20370-5100 Phone: 703-614-1402
COAST GUARD Board for Correction of Military Records (C-60) Room 4100 400 7th Street SW Washington, DC 20590 Phone: 202-366-9335
AIR FORCE Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records 1535 Command Drive EE Wing 3rd Floor Andrews AFB, DC 20331-7002
Military Discharge Upgrade
All branches of the military consider you to have a strong case for a discharge upgrade if you can show your discharge was connected to any of these categories:
For Military Upgrades, DD Form 293 (PDF), Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States, is the form that used to request a military discharge upgrade. It should be submitted, along with supporting evidence, to one of the review boards listed below:
ARMY Army Discharge Review Board Attention: SFMR-RBB 1901 South Bell Street, 2nd Floor Arlington, VA 22202-4508
NAVY & MARINE CORP Navy Discharge Review Board 801 North Randolph Street Suite 905 Arlington, VA 22203
AIR FORCE Air Force Military Personnel Center Attention: DP-MDOA1 Randolph AFB, TX 78150-6001
COAST GUARD Attention: GPE1 Washington, DC 20593
For more information on Discharge Corrections/Upgrades, please visit the respective branch of service websites:
Navy & Marine Corps https://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=161
Coast Guard https://www.uscg.mil/Resources/Legal/BCMR/
Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to Veterans who are at least 10% disabled because of injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. 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). The benefit amount is graduated according to the degree of the Veteran's disability on a scale from 0 to 100 percent (in increments of 10 percent). Compensation may also be paid for disabilities 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 arise after service. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses. If you have dependents, an additional allowance may be added if your combined disability is rated 30% or greater. Your compensation may be offset if you received disability severance pay or separation incentive payments. Military retirement pay for Veterans rated 40% and below, is offset by their VA compensation. Military retirees receiving 50% or higher receive both their VA compensation and full military retirement.
Evidence required to file a claim includes medical evidence of a current physical or mental disability, AND evidence of a relationship between your disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship.
Note: Under certain circumstances, VA may conclude that certain current disabilities were caused by service, even if there is no specific evidence proving this in your particular claim. The cause of a disability is presumed for certain diseases.
A Compensation & Pension Exam is an exam performed by a VA salaried or contracted physician to document the current severity of a condition that is being considered for VA Disability and DoD Disability. It is used to rate disabilities, diagnose conditions, and determine if you have a service-connected disability. After you file your disability claim, the VA may ask you to have a C&P exam in order to process your claim.
The VA presumes that specific disabilities diagnosed in certain Veterans groups were caused by their military service. VA does this because of the unique circumstances of their military service. If one of these conditions is diagnosed in a Veteran in one of these groups, the VA presumes that the circumstances of his or her service caused the condition, and disability compensation can be awarded.
The following diseases and conditions are considered part of this program:
Certain chronic and tropical diseases (for example, multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and arthritis) may be service connected if the disease becomes at least 10% disabling within the applicable time limit following service.
All Veterans who develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, at any time after separation from service may be eligible for compensation for that disability. To be eligible, the Veteran must have served a minimum of 90 consecutive days of active service.
Prisoners of War: For former POWs who were imprisoned for any length of time, the following disabilities are presumed to be service connected if they become at least 10 percent disabling any time after military service: psychosis, any of the anxiety states, dysthymic disorder, organic residuals of frostbite, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, atherosclerotic heart disease or hypertensive vascular disease and their complications, stroke and its complications, and, effective October 10, 2008, osteoporosis if the Veteran has PTSD.
For former Prisoners of War (POWs) who were imprisoned for at least 30 days: The following conditions are also presumed to be service connected: avitaminosis, beriberi, chronic dysentery, helminthiasis, malnutrition (including optic atrophy associated with malnutrition), pellagra and/or other nutritional deficiencies, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease, peripheral neuropathy except where related to infectious causes, cirrhosis of the liver, and, effective September 28, 2009, osteoporosis.
Veterans Exposed to Radiation: For Veterans who participated in radiation risk activities as defined in VA regulations while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, the following conditions are presumed to be service connected: all forms of leukemia (except for chronic lymphocytic leukemia); cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary tract (renal pelvis, ureter, urinary bladder and urethra), brain, bone, lung, colon, and ovary; bronchiole-alveolar carcinoma; multiple myeloma; lymphomas (other than Hodgkin's disease), and primary liver cancer (except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated). To determine service connection for other conditions or exposures not eligible for presumptive service connection, the VA considers factors such as the amount of radiation exposure, duration of exposure, elapsed time between exposure and onset of the disease, gender and family history, age at time of exposure, the extent to which a non-service exposure could contribute to disease, and the relative sensitivity of exposed tissue.
Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides: A Veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in support of military operations. VA presumes the following diseases to be service-connected for such exposed Veterans:
Chloracne or other acneiform disease similar to chloracne,
Chronic B-cell leukemias (including, but not limited to, hairy-cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
Diabetes mellitus (Type 2),
Ischemic heart disease,
Peripheral Neuropathy (acute & subacute; manifested to a degree of 10% or more within a year after last date on which Veteran was exposed to herbicide),
Porphyria cutanea tarda,
Respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea),
Soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma,
Kaposi's sarcoma, or mesothelioma).
Gulf War Veterans with Chronic Disabilities: May receive disability compensation for chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses and/or medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms. Gulf War Veterans who meet the criteria below do not need to prove a connection between their military service and illnesses in order to receive VA disability compensation. VA presumes certain chronic, unexplained symptoms existing for 6 months or more are related to Gulf War services without regard to cause. These presumptive illnesses must have appeared during active duty in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations or by December 31, 2021, and be at least 10 percent disabling. These illnesses include:
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), a condition of long-term and severe fatigue that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other conditions.
Fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread muscle pain. Other symptoms may include insomnia, morning stiffness, headache, and memory problems.
Functional gastrointestinal disorders, a group of conditions marked by chronic or recurrent symptoms related to any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Functional condition refers to an abnormal function of an organ with a structural alteration in the tissues. Examples include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, and functional abdominal pain syndrome.
Undiagnosed illnesses with symptoms that may include but are not limited to: abnormal weight loss, fatigue, cardiovascular disease, muscle and joint pain, headache, menstrual disorders, neurological and psychological problems, skin conditions, respiratory disorders, and sleep disturbances.
For VA Benefit purposes, Gulf War service is active military duty in any of the following areas in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations at any time from August 2, 1990 to present. This includes Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2010) and Operation New Dawn (2010-2011). This theater of operations includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, and the airspace above these locations.
Presumptive service connection may be granted for the following infectious diseases if found compensable within a specific time: Brucellosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella burnetti (Q fever), Malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral leishmaniasis, and West Nile virus. Qualifying periods of service for these infectious diseases include active military, naval, or air service in the above stated Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War period of August 2, 1990, until such time as the Gulf War is ended by Congressional action or Presidential proclamation; and active military, naval, or air service on or after September 19, 2001, in Afghanistan.
Camp Lejeune Health and Disability Benefits: Veterans, Reservists and National Guard members exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987 who later developed one of the following eight conditions:
Aplasic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
Veterans and family members who lived on Camp Lejeune and have certain conditions can get health care benefits, for information visit www.clfamilymembers.fsc.va.gov/.
Veterans rated by the VA to be permanently and totally disabled (100% P&T) by reason of a service-connected disability or disabilities may be eligible for some or all of the following 14 entitlements:
Disabled Veteran Tag or “D” Tag: This plate is a free and permanent license plate and is available to individuals who submit proper certification from the Veterans Administration. Applicants must complete DMV Form MV-37 Application for Military License Plate and provide a letter or other documentation from the U.S., Regional or County Veterans Administration certifying that he or she is a war time disabled Veteran who: (1) is entitled to compensation for the loss of use of one or both legs or arms, or (2) as a permanent impairment of vision in both eyes to a degree as to constitute virtual blindness and is entitled to a special monthly statutory award by reason thereof, or (3) is a SC Veteran classified as totally and permanently disabled due to service-connected disabilities as determined from the medical records on file with the VA. There is a limit of two plates per applicant; either two vehicle plates, two motorcycle plates or one of each. The applicant cannot have four plates. These plates allow for free parking at municipal parking meters (SC Code of Laws 56-5-2585) but DOES NOT allow parking in designated handicapped (wheelchair) parking spaces. In order to be able to park in a designated handicapped parking space, qualified disabled Veterans must have a Disabled Veteran Handicapped plate displaying a wheelchair emblem.
Disabled Veteran Handicapped Tag: To obtain this plate, applicants must ALSO be certified permanently handicapped by a licensed physician on DMV form RG-007A Disabled License Plate and Placard Application and provide a prescription order from a licensed physician. There is a limit of two plates per applicant; either two vehicle plates, two motorcycle plates or one of each. The applicant cannot have four plates. This plate allows free parking at municipal parking meters (SC Code of Laws 56-5-2585) AND ALSO allows parking in designated handicapped (wheelchair) parking spaces.
Vehicle Tax Exemption In accordance to SC Law 56-3-110, no more than two personal motor vehicles owned or leased by a disabled Veteran for which special license tags have been issued by the SC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) shall be exempt from state, county, and municipal taxes. A “D” tag is not required for the vehicle(s) to be tax exempt. The SC Department of Revenue will issue a Certificate of Exemption of Property for each vehicle.
Home Tax Exemption In accordance to SC Law 12-37-220, a dwelling and the lot (up to five acres) on which it is situated is exempt from real property taxes by state, county or municipality. The effective date of the tax exemption is dependent upon the ownership of the property on December 31 of the year prior to the Veteran being rated as permanent and totally disabled. The SC Department of Revenue will issue a Certificate of Exemption of Property and will forward it to the Charleston County Auditor's office.
Unlimited exchange and commissary store privileges in the United States are available to a 100% service connected P&T disabled Veteran or 100% Veterans who have a future exam. The summary of benefits letter must contain the number of dependents that are listed on your award. Military ID cards may be issued to dependents age 10 or older. For locations on where to obtain this privilege, contact our office.
Disabled Veterans rated 0% or greater are offered the opportunity to acquire Disabled Veterans Insurance to a maximum face amount of $10,000. If 100% P&T the maximum face amount is $20,000. A 100% P&T disabled Veteran may have premiums waived as long as the Veteran is under 65 years of age.
The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of Veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. Benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances. You may receive up to 45 months of education benefits, if you began using the program before August 1, 2018. If you began your program on August 1, 2018 or after, you have 36 months to use your benefits. Effective Oct. 1, 2013, some DEA beneficiaries may be eligible for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they use the DEA program in conjunction with an entitlement from other VA education programs. For more information visit their website at: https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/DEA.asp
If you have service-connected disabilities rated 0% to 100% disabling or are unemployable and paid at the 100% rate due to service-connected conditions, then you are eligible for enrollment in VA healthcare. For enrollment you will need to take a copy of your decision letter; DD214; and completed VA Medical form 10-10EZ (Application for Health Benefits) to the nearest VAMC.
If you have service-connected disabilities rated 100% disabling or are unemployable and paid at the 100% rate due to service-connected conditions, then you are eligible for dental care through the VA healthcare system. This benefit is for Class I through Class IV dental care. Benefits include basic dental care, basic & major restorative and orthodontics. To qualify, you must first be enrolled in VA healthcare.
Civilian Health and Medical Program for the Veterans Administration (CHAMPVA) is a healthcare benefits program for: (1) Dependents of Veterans who have been rated by the VA as having a total and permanent disability; (2) Survivors of Veterans who died from VA-rated service-connected conditions, or who at the time of death, were rated permanently and totally disabled from a VA-rated service-connected condition; and (3) Survivors of persons who died in the line of duty, and not due to misconduct. CHAMPVA is a separate healthcare program and is not healthcare at a VAMC. You would need to call the CHAMPVA number at 800-733-8387, to find a list of doctors in your area. Under CHAMPVA, the VA shares the cost of covered healthcare services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries. The administration of CHAMPVA is centralized to the Health Administration Center in Denver, Colorado.
In general, CHAMPVA covers most healthcare services and supplies that are medically and psychologically necessary. Upon confirmation of eligibility, applicants will receive program material that specifically addresses covered and non-covered services and supplies. For more information contact the Health Administration Center at 800-733-8387.
A child of a wartime Veteran, upon application to and approval by the South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs, may be admitted to any state supported college, university, or post high school technical education institution free of tuition so long as his work and conduct is satisfactory to the governing body of the institution provided:
For more information, eligibility requirements and a list of state supported institutions, obtain an application form from this office or write Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Regional Office, 6437 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, SC 29209.
A Veteran rated 100% P&T is entitled to Space-A travel in the continental US and US territories. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 authorizes this privilege. For more information, please visit their website at http://www.spacea.net/faqs/spacea-eligibility.
A Veteran rated 100% P&T is entitled to the use of Armed Forces Recreational Centers in Orlando, Florida and Oahu, Hawaii. There are more facilities in both Germany and South Korea but they require additional eligibility. For more information, please visit their website at www.armywr.com/travel/armed-forces-hotels-resorts.
Types of Loans Forgiven: William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program; Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program; Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program; and TEACH Grant service obligation. Before your federal student loans or TEACH Grant service obligation can be discharged, you must provide information to the US Department of Education (DoEd) to show that you are totally and permanently disabled. The DoEd will evaluate the information and determine if you qualify for a total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge. You can submit documentation from the VA showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability. You can let the Nelnet Total and Permanent Disability Servicer know that you want to apply by phone or email. You can call Nelnet seven days a week at 1-888-303-7818 from 8am to 8pm EST. You can email them at email@example.com.
You will be issued a Golden Access Passport. This pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an entrance or standard amenity. For more information visit the National Park Service on the web at www.nps.gov/findapark/passess.htm.
Any South Carolina resident who is a 100% P&T disabled Veteran may enter any state park at a reduced rate upon presentation of supporting disability documentation. The Veteran may also apply for a reduced fee “Palmetto Passport.” Certain services may require an additional fee. For more information, call South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism at 803.734.0156, or visit them on the web at www.southcarolinaparks.com.
Three additional benefits available to ALL Veterans:
Long-term Care in Certain Facilities
Veterans rated 70% disabled or higher by the VA qualifies for long-term care in certain facilities at no charge. For more information, please contact your VAMC doctor and team social worker.
Use of State VA Nursing Homes
There are three facilities in South Carolina: the E. Roy Stone Veterans Pavilion, which is located in Columbia, the Richard Michael Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson, and the Veterans' Victory House in Walterboro. Admission to these facilities is limited to Veterans who have been separated from the U.S. Armed Forces under general or honorable conditions and qualify as South Carolina residents who are in need of skilled or intermediate nursing home care. For more information, please contact your VAMC team social worker or visit the website at http://va.sc.gov/nursing.html
SC Hunting & Fishing Licenses
Veterans of SC may apply for a disability license by mail or in person at a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Regional office. Offices are located in Columbia, Charleston, Clemson, Florence, York and DNR at the Market located at the SC State Farmer's Market in West Columbia. In order to qualify for a disability license you must be declared disabled and receiving disability benefits from one of the following agencies: Federal Civil Service, Medicaid or Railroad Retirement, SC State Retirement System, Social Security Administration, or Department of Veterans Affairs. In order to qualify for a disability license you must have been a resident of SC for 365 days. DNR must have a completed application, a photocopy of your SC driver's license or SC state issued ID card and current proof (dated within the last 12 months) stating you are disabled and receiving benefits. The license will be valid for 3 years and includes privileges of hunting, big game, WMA permit, migratory waterfowl permit, and fresh and saltwater fishing. To obtain an application visit DNR's website at http://dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/disabilitylicense.pdf. Their contact number for licensing is 803-734-3833. The VA Regional Office (VARO) will provide a summary of benefits letter upon request. You will need to call the VARO at 1-800-827-1000 to obtain this letter prior to applying for these benefits and the letters will usually take five to seven working days. They may also be obtained from ebenefits.va.gov, but you must be enrolled beforehand. You can also request property tax exemption letters for your home and vehicle from our office. These letters are signed by the respective County VA Director with a copy of your current rating decision. The summary of benefits letter must contain your name and current address, the date the VA regional office awarded you 100% P&T benefits, and be signed.
Veterans may receive VR&E services to help with job training, employment accommodations, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching. Other services may be provided to assist Veterans and service members in starting their own businesses or independent living services for those who are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment.
VA's Education and Career Counseling program is a great opportunity for Veterans and service members to get personalized counseling and support to help guide their career paths, ensure the most effective use of their VA benefits, and achieve their goals. Learn more and apply for education and career counseling at https://www.va.gov/careers-employment/education-and-career-counseling/
The VA has two types of pension programs: Non-service connected pension (NSCP) which is for Veterans and Survivors pension (also called death pension) for surviving spouses and un-remarried children (certain criteria apply/see below). Both pension benefits help Veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income. Pension benefits are tax-free monetary benefits payable to low-income Veterans, surviving spouses and certain un-remarried children.
Generally, a Veteran must have at least 90 days of continuous active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period (see below for wartime periods) to qualify for a VA Pension. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least one day during a wartime period, and was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions. In addition to meeting minimum service requirements, the Veteran must be:
1) Age 65 or older, OR
2) Totally and permanently disabled, OR
3) A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
4) Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
5) Receiving Supplemental Security Income Income Requirements
The VA uses your total family income and net worth to determine if you meet the income requirements for the benefit. Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the NSCP benefit. Currently, the 2020 amount for NSCP is $16,805/year for a single Veteran and $21,063/year for a Veteran and spouse. The VA recently changed the way they assess net worth to make the pension entitlement rules more clear. Net worth is the total of your or beneficiary's assets and annual income. Your net worth also includes the net worth of your spouse. You should report all of your net worth. The net worth limit to qualify for a Veterans Pension as of December 1, 2019 is $129,094. In the future, the net worth limit will increase by the same percentage as Social Security cost-of-living increases.
Additional Veteran Pension Allowances
Veterans who are eligible for VA pension and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible for an additional monetary payment. If the Veteran's spouse needs aid and attendance, the costs of their care may also be used to lower the combined income and grant benefits.
The deceased Veteran must have met the following service requirements:
1) For service on or before September 7, 1980, the Veteran must have served at least 90 days of continuous active military service, with at least one day during a war time period.(see below for wartime periods)
2) If he or she entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he or she must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty with at least one day during a war time period
3) Was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions
4) Must be married to the Veteran at the time of their death and be un-remarried since their death.
While an un-remarried spouse is eligible at any age, a child of a deceased wartime Veteran must be:
1) Under 18, OR
2) Under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school, OR
3) Permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability before age 18
The VA uses your total family income and net worth to determine if you meet the income requirements for the benefit. Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the survivors benefit. Currently, the 2020 amount for survivor's pension is $9,224/year for a surviving spouse and $12,072/ year for a surviving spouse with one dependent.
The VA recently changed the way they assess net worth to make the pension entitlement rules more clear. Net worth is the total of your or beneficiary's assets and annual income. You should report all of your net worth. The net worth limit to qualify for a Veterans Pension as of December 1, 2019 is $129,094.
Additional Survivors Pension Allowances
Surviving spouses or un-remarried children who are eligible for survivor's pension and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible for an additional monetary payment.
Housebound/Aid and Attendance Benefits
These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to pension benefits first. Since Aid and Attendance and Housebound allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time. The current 2020 amounts for Housebound are $16,805/year for a single Veteran; $21,063/year for a Veteran and spouse; $9,224/year for a surviving spouse; and $12,072/year for a surviving spouse with one dependent. The 2020 rates for Aid and Attendance are $22,938/year for a single Veteran; $27,194 for a Veteran and spouse; $14,742/year for a surviving spouse; and $17,586 for a surviving spouse with one dependent.
The Housebound increased monthly pension amount may be added to your monthly pension amount when you are substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability.
The Aid & Attendance (A&A) increased monthly pension amount may be added to your monthly pension amount if you meet one of the following conditions:
1) You require the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment
2) You are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities requires that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment
3) You are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity
4) Your eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less
To apply for increased pension based on Housebound or A&A payments, you will need to provide medical evidence, such as a doctor's report, that validates the need for an increased benefit or complete VA Form 21-2680 “Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need For Regular Aid and Attendance”.
Eligible Wartime Periods
Under current law, the VA recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits:
1) Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917 for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters)
2) World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)
3) World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
4) Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
5) Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
6) Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)
To apply for Veterans Pension, you can download and complete VA Form 21P-527EZ, “Application for Pension” from the VA website. To apply for Survivors Pension, you can download and complete VA Form 21-534EZ, “Application for DIC, death pension, and/or accrued benefits” from the VA website. That website is www.va.gov/forms. You may also contact our office directly and we can mail, fax, or email you a packet on the specific benefit. This packet includes all the forms needed to submit the claim, along with a checklist of all supporting documentation for the claim.
Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and service members who die while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, as well as spouses and dependent children (under age 18 and age 18-23 if in school full-time) of Veterans and active duty service members, may be eligible for VA burial and memorial benefits. The Veteran does not have to die before a spouse or dependent child (under age 18 and age 18-23 if in school full-time) for them to be eligible.
Burial in VA National Cemeteries
Burial in a VA National Cemetery is available for eligible Veterans, their spouses and dependents (under age 18 and age 18-23 if in school full-time) at no cost to the family and includes the gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker, and perpetual care as part of a national shrine. For Veterans, benefits also include a burial flag (with case for active duty) and military funeral honors. The VA operates 131 National Cemeteries, of which 72 are open for new-casketed interment and 18 are open to accept only cremated remains. The funeral director or the next of kin makes arrangements by contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling office at 800-535-1117.
Headstones, Markers, and Medallions
Veterans, active duty service members, and retired Reservists and National Guard service members, are eligible for an inscribed headstone or marker for their grave at any cemetery - National, State Veterans, or private. VA will deliver a headstone or marker at no cost, anywhere in the world. For eligible Veterans whose deaths occurred on or after November 1, 1990, VA may provide a government headstone or marker even if the grave is already marked with a private one, or VA may provide a medallion instead of a headstone or marker for Veterans' graves in private cemeteries when the grave is already marked with a privately-purchased headstone or marker. Spouses and dependent children (under age 18 and age 18-23 if in school full-time) are eligible for a government headstone or marker only if they are buried in a National or State Veterans cemetery. Public Law 110-157 enacted December 26, 2007, expanded VA authority to provide a medallion instead of a headstone or markers for Veterans' graves in private cemeteries when the grave is already marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. Claimants will have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker to place on the grave, or a medallion to affix to a privately purchased headstone or marker.
Military Funeral Honors
Upon request, Department of Defense will provide military funeral honors consisting of folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “Taps.” A funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed members of the armed forces, with at least one member from the deceased's branch of service. Family members should inform their funeral director if they want military funeral honors. Department of Defense maintains a toll-free number (1-877-MIL-HONR) for use by funeral directors only to request honors. VA can help arrange honors for burials at VA National cemeteries. Veterans Service Organization or volunteer groups may also help provide honors. For more information, visit www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil/.
The funeral home will be able to assist with the above benefits.
The VA will furnish a United States burial flag to memorialize: Veterans who served during wartime or after January 31, 1955; Veterans who were entitled to retired pay for service in the Reserve or National Guard, or would have been entitled if over age 60; or members or former members of the Selected Reserve who served their initial obligation, or were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or died while a member of the Selected Reserve. The next of kin may apply for the flag at any VA Regional Office or United States Post Office by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes, available at http://vbaw.vba.va.gov/bl/20/cio/20s5/forms/VBA-21-2008-ARE.pdf. In most cases, a funeral director will help the family obtain the flag.
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
The VA will pay a burial allowance of up to $2,000 if the Veteran's death is deemed service-connected. In such cases, the person who bore the Veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from the VA. In some cases, VA will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a Veteran whose death was service-connected to the nearest National cemetery with available gravesites. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims in service-connected death cases.
The VA will pay up to a $700 burial and funeral allowance for Veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled if they were not receiving military retirement pay. Eligibility also may be established when death occurs in a VA facility, a VA-contracted nursing home or a State Veterans nursing home. In cases in which the Veteran's death was not service-connected, claims must be filed within two years after burial or cremation.
The VA will pay up to a $700 plot allowance when a Veteran is buried in a cemetery not under United States government jurisdiction if: the Veteran was discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; the Veteran was receiving compensation or pension or would have been if the Veteran was not receiving military retired pay; or the Veteran died in a VA facility. The plot allowance may be paid to the state for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for Veterans burials if the Veteran is buried without charge. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.
Presidential Memorial Certificates
Certificates are issued upon request to recognize the United States military service of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. Next of kin, relatives and other loved ones may apply for a certificate by mailing, e-mailing, or faxing a completed and signed VA form 40-0247 along with a copy of the Veteran's military discharge documents or proof of honorable military service. The form and eligibility requirements can be found at www.cem.va.gov.
Prior to November 11, 2017, only active-duty; reserve and National Guard members; retirees (minimum 20 years of service); 100% disabled veterans; and the dependent family members of those individuals were eligible to shop online at DoD Exchanges.
Effective November 11, 2017, all honorably discharged veterans have access to online exchanges after first registering at the VetVerify.org website. Veterans who register through VetVerify.org will receive notification of their acceptance as eligible online shoppers or, if their records are incomplete, will receive guidance on the steps they can take to update those records.
The VetVerify.org customer call center toll-free number is 844-868-8672.
Disabled Veterans In Person Shopping Benefit
Effective January 1, 2020, disabled Veterans with a Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) are authorized to access commissary, exchange and MWR retail facilities. The VHIC is issued only to Veterans enrolled in VA Health Care system who have a service-connected disability of at least 0%.
Previously only active-duty, reserve and National Guard members; retirees (minimum 20 years of service); 100% disabled veterans; and the dependent family members of those individuals were eligible to shop in person at DoD Commissaries, Exchanges or MWR Facilities.
Provides a more portable and secure alternative (in lieu of the standard DD-214 form) to document military service. Primarily for those who served the minimum obligated time in service, but did not meet the retirement or medical discharge threshold. You are eligible for a VIC if you served on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the National Guard (including the USCG) AND received an honorable or general discharge.
May be accepted by retailers to obtain promotional discounts.
To request a VIC, visit www.va.gov. Once there, on the bottom right of the page click on “Get Veteran ID cards” and sign in or create an account. You will need a digital copy of your DD-214 and a digital color photo of yourself from the shoulders up.
Mon. - Fri. 8am - 4pm
David J. LeBlanc, Sr.
Melody S. Popovich
Kristyne A. Thomas
Veterans Service Officer
Anne S. Owen
Veterans Service Officer
Kathryn O. Tillman
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