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FAQs »

Veteran’s Disability

1.         What are Service Connected Veteran’s Disability Benefits?

Service Connected VA Disability Benefits are benefits due to a person who was in the US Armed forces who has suffered an injury or physical or mental limitation that was a result of his/her service.

 

2.         Does the award of these benefits depend on my income or assets?

Veterans’ service connection disability is not dependent on the amount of money or income you receive or on any assets you have.

 

3.         Can I collect both Service connected VA Disability and Social Security Disability?

Yes.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  You can collect both simultaneously if you are eligible.

 

4.         Isn’t this “Double Dipping”?

Yes.  You are a Veteran.  You earned it.

 

5.         If I file for Social Security disability, will it help in my VA case and visa-versa?

Yes.  Federal Administrative Law Judges, like the Social security Administration’s Administrative Law Judges and the VA Judges who will decide your respective claims, must give “substantial deference” to the final determinations of another federal administrative agency.  Both the SSA and the VA are federal agencies.  So when you get your award letter from either the VA or the SSA, file it in the case that is still pending.  It will help.

 

6.         Are there other types of VA Benefit Claims that Mike Murburg, P.A. handles?

There are other kinds of veteran’s benefits, other than service connection benefits.  This office only handles service-connected claims.  For information about all Veterans disability claims, please see http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/index.htm.

 

7.         What do I need to have in order to make a claim for VA Disability benefits?

First of all you must have a current medical condition in order have a claim for these benefits.

 

8.         When does this condition need to begin?

You must have a condition that began during your military service or was aggravated by your military service.

 

9.         What about conditions that I notice that have developed after I have left the Service?

You may also claim disability benefits if you suffer from a disability that began many years after you were discharged but was caused by something that happened to you in the service or by something you were exposed to in the service.

 

10        What is a “Presumptive Service Connection”?

This is a presumption in the VA law that says that if a claim is received within one year after separation from active duty it is presumed to have been service connected.

 

11.      What must I show to get these VA Disability Service Connected benefits?

What you must show is (1) you currently have a physical and/or mental disability.  (2) something happened in the service or shortly after your discharge that you think may be the cause of your current disability. (3) There is a link between what happened in the service and your disability, i.e., the disability is connected to your service.

 

12.      What if I am injured in a VA facility or program?

You may also file a claim if your disability or aggravation of your disability is due to medical care received in a VA facility or involvement in a VA vocation rehabilitation program.

 

13.      What is a “Ratings Schedule”?

A ratings schedule is primarily a guide for the VA to use and bi percentage increments, it represents an average impairment of earnings capacity from the condition granted.

For example, simple tinnitus is a 10% disability. Backs and necks by their nature are more complicated.

 

14.      What do you mean?  I have a bad back and I have trouble bending and walking.  How would they try to rate me?

Back and neck strains are functionally rated based generally on limitation of ranges of motion.  The more severe the limitation, the higher the rating.  Please note that that VA regulations require ranges of motion to be rounded up to the nearest 5 degrees.

Lumbosacral, or cervical strain, is also rated based on stiffness, aching, and radiation.  For example, an ankylosis (the stiffness of a joint due to disease, injury surgical procedure, fusion and immobility of the joints) of the entire spine will result in a rating of 100, as it is generally a freezing of the entire spine, and no one would be considered able to work with such a condition.

A limitation of the mid back or thoracic vertebrae where there is ankylosis of 50 degrees of flexion or cervical with 30 degrees of flexion or less is rated at 40%. The same areas where flexion is better results only in a reduction of flexion of 15 degrees or less results in a 30% disability.

A limitation of your thoracolumbar forward flexion at between 30 and 60 degrees and forward flexion of the cervical spine at between 15 to 30 degrees with various combined reduced ranges of motion, abnormal gait, scoliosis (corkscrewing), reversed lordosis (straightening) or abnormal kyphosis (round back, hunch back, slouching, dowager’s hump), yield only a 20%.

Finally, a Vet is eligible for a 10% rating where he has a small limitation in his cervical or thoracolumbar back that causes him/her spasm, guarding or tenderness.

The biggest problem with the back rating is that the “Formula for Rating Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes,” 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a is hardly ever used.

The second biggest problem with VA back and neck ratings is that Vets are usually taking medication for pain when tested.  This skews the results against the disabled veterans.  So, if you go in for your Range of Motions tests, refrain from taking pain medications of all kinds prior to your testing.

This section adds additional disability percentages of between 10 to 40% based on the deviation of incapacitating episodes of back pain of between 2 weeks (10%), 2 to 4 weeks (20%), and over 4 weeks (40%).  This rating system should not be overlooked.  A veteran is well advised to report every episode of being in bed or home ridden and its duration to his/her treating physician and keep a pain diary.

 

15.      Is “Functional Loss” considered?

Yes.  Functional loss is considered and comes into play in deciding your unemployability where there is a loss or limitation of joints and skin, for example.  Similarly, loss and limitation of bones, structures, muscles, adhesions, nerves, atrophy (shrinking), absence of callosity and the presence of fatigue, pain and reduced motion all come into play.  So be sure to report all signs and symptoms to your VA doctor or other physician on presentation.

 

16.      What if I have two evaluations and one is more restrictive than the other?

The higher rating will govern.  This is called “The Benefit of the Doubt” Rule. This rule states that for all things being equal on any material matter the secretary shall give the Veteran the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the interpretation of objective data that is in conflict with each other.

 

17.      Do you have any suggestions about preparing for my VA range of motion tests?

Yes.  Do not be stoic and do not load up on your pain medication.  It would be better to not take it before the test so that you can feel the difficulties you are having with pain and limitation on your range of motion testing.  Save your medication for afterwards, after the test.  You will need it then and the VA will have gotten an accurate picture of what is actually going on with your back.

 

18.      Do you have any other hints or suggestions?

Absolutely.  When you are tested and especially when you are being evaluated by the VA or Board physicians, it will be a long day.  You will wait and wait and then wait some more.  When your test is over, you will literally want to get to your car or ride as quickly as possible or to get home to lie down or take your medication.  Just take it easy.  On numerous occasions we have read statements of the case to find that the claimants are being watched as they sit, walk and especially as they leave the VA.  Their eagerness to get home to their family and easy chair and to get the hell away of a long day of waiting and pain are uniformly interpreted as signs that the Vets were over-magnifying their symptoms.  These observations by your friendly evaluating physician are always written into evaluations.  Your desire to get back to your car as early as you can can and will be used against you.  So just, please take it easy.  They were in no hurry to see you.  Don’t be in any hurry to get out to your car or parking lot.

 

19.      Is the VA rating dependent on my condition getting better or worse?

Not really.  Your rating should be based on your entire history, not its waxing and waning.  The VA will presume that if there are two conflicting evaluations, they will give you the benefit of the doubt and award you based on the higher evaluation.

 

20.      How is my “Total Disability Rating” determined?

Your disability will be considered to exist when there is present any impairment of mind or body which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation, and it is reasonably certain to permanently continue throughout the life of the disabled Veteran.

 

21.      When is “Total Disability” presumed to exist?

Total disability will be considered to exist when there is present any impairment of mind or body that is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation throughout his life. This total disability is presumed when a Veteran has lost both feet or hands or combination of two, has bilateral blindness, or is permanently helpless or bedridden.

 

22.      Well, I understand how if my rating is 100% how I might get a full VA Service connected disability.  But how about if my disabilities add up to something less and I still cannot work.  What then?  Am I out of luck?

No, fortunately, you are not out of luck.  A “Total Disability rating Based on Unemployability” may apply.

 

23.      What is a rating based on “Unemployability” (TDRU)?

This rating is used when the schedule of ratings is less than 100% and where the Veteran has been unable to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation as a result of service connected disabilities.

 

24.      What is the norm for finding total disability based on unemployability outside of the traditional ratings schedule?

The norm for such a disability is a finding that the case presents such an exceptional or unusual disability picture with such related factors as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization to render impracticable the application of regular scheduled standards.

 

25.      Ok, so what if I am not 100 percent and I still cannot work.  What will the VA look at to see if I am entitled to a full award of disability compensation?

If you have one single service connected disability that is 60% or more, you should be determined to be disabled and entitled to 100% of your Disability benefits based on unemployability.

 

26.      What if I do not have a single 60%.  Can I still get the full amount based on unemployability?

Yes.  If you have one disability rating of at least 40% and at least one other disability rating or combination of two or more other disability ratings that, when added to the 40%, yield 70% total or more, then you would be entitled to a 100% unemployability rating.  You can also get individual unemployability benefits with a 70% rating or less if the VA sends you out for “extra-schedular” consideration of your combined impairments.  This is rarely done, so the vet at less than 70% needs to request this consideration in his “IU” claim.  He/she also needs to see if all his/er impairments pursuant to 38 C.F.R. 4.21 – 6.1 have been claimed and addressed by the VA.

 

27.      What if I don’t have one 40% rating?  Can I still get a full disability award?

Yes.  Some disabilities are combined to get 40%, like one or both upper or lower extremities with consideration of bilateral factors affecting them.  Bilateral carpal tunnel or ulnar neuropathy with loss of functional use bilaterally would be such a case.

 

28.      What about if I parachuted, fell or was injured by an explosive device that injured my back, but also affected my sight or arms or legs?  Shouldn’t I be eligible for the 40%?

Yes. A single incident that causes a common etiology may be combined to make an exception to the 40% rule.  An example may be a jump, fall or a back injury that occasioned injury to an ankle, knee, hip, low back, upper back, neck and arms that were broken or injured in a fall or attempt to break the fall or injury.

 

29.      What about other body organs, are they also grouped?

Yes.  Single orthopedic, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular-renal, neuro-psychiatric symptoms are also combined to surpass the 40% threshold.

 

30.      What about where I injured numerous body parts and mechanisms in action?

Yes.  Multiple injuries incurred in an action will be grouped together as one to get you past the aggregate 40%.

 

31.      Are these standards ever set aside for special cases?

Yes.  These standards may be set aside specifically where the evidence clearly and factually shows that the Veteran has been rendered unemployable solely due to service connected disabilities regardless of these individual and combined percentages.  In such cases the VA will submit your case to the Director of the Pension service for “extra-schedular” consideration.

 

32.      Can you give me an example?

Yes.  For example, if you have a low back rating that is over 10% and you have psychiatric problems that keep you form focusing or concentrating on simple one and two step tasks and which would prohibit you from being reliable, punctual and not absent regularly from work.  This might be such a case.

 

33.      What if they say my case is not entitled to such a review?

You may appeal that determination.

 

 

34.      What if my Statement of the Case is silent on this point? 

You should write to the VA and specifically ask for the determination to be made.

 

35.      What if I work for my family because nobody else will hire me because of my service connected disabilities? Is that “Substantial gainful Employment”?

It probably is not.  “Sheltered employment” is not considered substantial gainful employment.  Nor is family employment where it is “marginal.”

 

36.      What do you mean by “Marginal”?

Marginal employment is not considered to be substantial gainful employment because “Marginal” means that amount which is less than the amount established by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census as the poverty threshold for one person.  It can also mean employment in a protective environment, family business or sheltered workshop when earnings even exceed this poverty threshold.

 

 

37.      Is the reason for my leaving employment or termination relevant to my VA claim?

Yes.  38 U.S.C. 501(a) makes the basis for work cessation or termination relevant.  So if you have psychiatric problems and cannot work around or with people and left your job, this would be an adequate reason.  If you suffered repetitive trauma to both your hands that made work impossible for you on a regular sustained basis and you had to leave or were released from your work that would also be relevant to your unemployability claim.  If you quit your job because you were not making enough or had to move, these reasons would not ordinarily support your claim and may lead one to presume that you were not disabled at the time you last worked.

 

38.      What if I was working in a “Special Program”?

Where employment has been provided to the Veteran on account of the disability or with special conditions because of the disability, and the Veteran cannot secure subsequent employment or only intermittent employment or unsuccessful attempts to remain employed, he will be considered to some great measure “unemployable.”

 

39.      When should I file my claim?

Do not wait to file your claim for Veteran’s disability benefits.  You can lose benefits if you wait and make proof of your claim more difficult.  A dated, handwritten note is enough to start your claim.  So file your claim as early as you can to get the earliest possible beginning date for benefits.

 

40.      Who is responsible for filing information to support my claim for benefits?

It is the Veteran’s responsibility to support his or her claim for benefits.  This also includes attendance at physicals and may also entail having to hire your own physician to complete an independent and comprehensive impairment rating for you or your attorney or representative.  The physician performing your consultative medical evaluation (CME) is working for the VA. He/she is there for the VA, not for you.  His/her opinion will be adversarial.  I regularly see CME reports stating that the claimant was observed even walking to his car.

 

41.      If my claim is denied, when should I file my appeal?

A denial of benefits must be appealed within time deadlines.  Make sure you file your appeal within the deadlines or get a representative to do so.  Your substantive appeal must be received within one-year appeal period after your benefits have been denied.  There is a sixty-day period for simultaneously contested claims that also runs. See 38 U.S.C.7105(d)(3).

 

42.      What if I don’t file my appeal within the requisite deadlines?

If you do not file a timely appeal, you may have to start over with the claims process.

 

43.      What are my rights to appeal a VA decision?

After a decision has been reached on your VA claim, If the VA was not able to grant some or all of the VA benefits you asked for and you do not agree with the VA decision, you may:

* Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (the Board) by telling the VA you disagree with the VA’s decision.

* Give the VA evidence the VA does not already have that may lead the VA to change its decision.

 

 

44.      What is an Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, (BVA Appeal)?

An appeal is your formal request that the Board review the evidence in your VA file and review the law that applies to your appeal.  The Board can either agree with your decision or change it.  The Board can also send your file back to the VA for more processing before the Board makes its decision.

 

45.      How can I appeal the decision and how do I start my appeal?

To begin your appeal, write the VA a letter telling the VA you disagree with the VA’s decision.  This letter is called you “Notice of Disagreement.”  If the VA denied more than one claim for a benefit (for example, you claimed compensation for three disabilities and the VA denied two of them), please tell the VA in your letter which claims you are appealing.  Send your Notice of Disagreement to the address at the top of your VA letter.

 

46.      When do I file the Notice of Disagreement?

The Notice of Disagreement must be filed within one-year from the date the VA mails you the Notice of Determination to the claimant, otherwise the agency determination becomes final.

 

47.      What happens after the VA receives my Notice of Disagreement (NOD)?

The VA either will grant your claim or if it does not, it will send you a “Statement of the Case.”  A Statement of the Case describes the facts, laws, regulations, and reasons that the VA used to make their decision. The VA will also send you a VA form 9.

 

 

48.      What is a VA Form 9?

Technically, a VA Form 9 is an “Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals.” with the Statement of the Case. You must complete this VA Form 9 and return it to the VA if you want to continue your appeal.

 

49.      That sounds complicated.  What do I have to write in my VA Form 9 so that my appeal is accepted?

In filling out your VA Form 9, you must specifically and clearly set forth: (1) The Benefit Claimed; (2) A clear and concise statement as to the factual and legal basis of your disagreement with the VA’s earlier unfavorable determination; (3) Errors the VA made in applying the law.

 

50        How long do I have to start my BVA appeal?

You have one year to appeal the VA’s decision.  Your letter saying that you disagree with the VA decision must be postmarked (or received by the VA) within one year from the date of the VA’s letter denying you the benefit.  In most cases, you cannot appeal a decision after this one-year period has ended.

 

51.      So is timing important?

Yes, your VA Form 9 is your substantive appeal of the VA’s action and must be filed within 60 days of the date placed on the “Statement of the Case” or within 1 year from the mailing date of the notification of the unfavorable VA determination being appealed, whichever is the later date.

 

52.      What does “Supplemental Statement of the Case” do to my time to appeal?

The Supplemental Statement of the Case, when furnished to you by the VA, only gives you 30 days to respond.  So be careful of this trap.  Many Vets think they still have 60 days in which to respond.  Unfortunately, it is not so.

 

53.      How does the VA determine that my appeal has been timely filed?

The date that you mail your VA 9 form is the date that your appeal is deemed filed.

 

54.      Do I just send my appeal First Class Mail?

No.  Send it certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy for your records.  Things at the VA get lost all the time.  The only way you can prove that you timely sent your appeal is with the return receipt and copy of your documents.

 

55.      What happens if I do not start my appeal on time?

If you do not start your appeal on time, the VA’s decision will become final.  Once the VA’s decision is final, you cannot get the VA benefit you were denied unless you either:

* show that the VA was clearly wrong to deny the benefit or

* send the VA new evidence that relates to the reason the VA denied your claim

 

 

56.      Can I get a hearing with the Board?

Yes.  If you decide to appeal, the Board will give you a hearing if you want one.  The VA will send you the VA Form 9with the Statement of the Case that has complete information about the kinds of hearings the Board offers and convenient check boxes for requesting a Board hearing.  The Board does not require you to have a hearing. It is your choice. We advise that you request one in most cases.  If you are represented, your representative will most likely check that box.

 

57.      Where can I find out more about appealing to the Board?

You can find a “plain language” booklet called “How do I Appeal” on the Internet at: www.va.gov/vbs/bva/pamphlet.htm. The booklet may also be requested by writing to Hearings and Transcription Unit (014HRG), Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington DC 20420.

You can find the formal rules for appealing to the Board in the Board’s Rules of Practice at title 38, Code of Federal regulations, Part 20. You can find the complete Code of Federal Regulations on the Internet at: www.gpoaccess.gov/crf/index.html. A printed copy of the Code of Federal Regulations may be available at your local law library.

 

58.      What if I am denied my benefits?   Can I get someone to help me with my appeal to the Board?

Yes.  You can have a Veterans’ service organization representative, an attorney-at-law, or an “agent” help you with your appeal.  But you are not required to have someone represent you.  It is your choice.  We believe it is best to have independent representation.

 

 

59.      Do I have to pay someone to help me with my appeal to the Board?

It depends on who helps you.  The following explains the differences:

*Veterans’ service organizations will represent you for free.

*Attorneys or agents can charge you for helping you under some circumstances.

Paying their fees for helping you with your appeal to the Board is your responsibility.  If you do hire an attorney or agent to represent you, one of you must send a copy of any fee agreement to the following address within 30 days from the date of agreement is executed: Office of the General Counsel (022D), 810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20420.  See 38 C.F.R. 14.636(g).  If the fee agreement provides for the direct payment of fees out of past-due benefits, a copy of the agreement must also be filed with us at the address at the top of our letter. See 38 C.F.R. 14.636(h)(4)

 

60.      Can I get someone to represent me for free?

Representatives who work for accredited veterans’ service organizations know how to prepare and present claims and will represent you.  You can find a listing of these organizations on the Internet at: www.va.gov/vso. There is some controversy involving these representatives, as many may be afraid to lose part of their benefits, if they are too zealous a representative on your behalf.

 

61.      Should I hire an attorney?

A private attorney or an “agent” can also represent you.  If applicable, your local bar association may be able to refer you to an attorney with experience in veterans’ law.  VA only recognizes attorneys who are licensed to practice in the United States or in one of its territories or possessions.  An agent is a person who is not a lawyer, but who the VA recognizes as being knowledgeable about Veterans’ law.  Contact us or the VA if you would like to know if there is another VA accredited agent in your area.

 

62.      Can or should I give VA additional evidence?

Yes.  You can send the VA more evidence to support a claim whether or not you appeal to the Board.  If you want to appeal, though, do not forget the one-year limit!

 

 

63.      When should I give the VA my evidence?

If you have more evidence to support a claim, it is in your best interest to give the VA that evidence as soon as you can.  The VA is supposed to consider your evidence and let you know whether it changes its decision.  Please keep in mind that the VA can only consider new evidence that: (1) it has not already seen and (2) relates to your claim.  You may give the VA this evidence either in writing or at a personal hearing.

 

 

64.      What if I choose to present new evidence?

In writing to support you claim, you may send documents and written statements to the VA at the address on the top of the VA letter.  Tell the VA in a letter how these documents and statements should change the VA’s decision.

 

65.      When can I request my local VA hearing?

At a personal hearing you may request a local hearing with the VA at any time.

 

 

66.      Is the VA hearing separate from my Board (BVA) hearing?

Yes.  This hearing is separate from any Board hearing you might ask for later if you appeal to the BVA.  The VA does not require you to have a local hearing.  It is your choice.  At this local hearing, you may speak, bring witnesses to speak on your behalf, and hand the VA written evidence.  If you want a hearing, send the VA a letter asking for a hearing.  Use the address at the top of the VA letter.  The VA will then:

* Arrange a time and place for the hearing

* Provide a room for the hearing

* Assign someone to hear your evidence

* Make a written record of the hearing.

 

67.      What happens after I give VA evidence?

The VA will review the record of the hearing and other new evidence, together with the evidence the VA already has. The VA will then decide if it can grant your claim. If the VA cannot grant your claim and you appeal, the VA will send the new evidence and the record of any local hearing to the Board.

 

68.      When will my VA check be delivered?

A check covering the initial amount due under this award will be mailed within 15 days. Thereafter, checks will be delivered at the beginning of each month for the prior month.

 

69.      What if I get a VA pension because most of my disability was not service connected and my service connected disability increases; can i go from pension to Service connected total disability?

You may be entitled to Service Connected Disability Benefits.  Unemployability for pensions where previously established on the basis for service connected disability and non service connected disability may become a service connected disability when the service connected disabilities have increased in severity.

 

70.      How can I receive additional benefits for dependents?

You may be entitled to additional benefits for your unmarried children if the children are under age 18 or under 23 if attending an approved school, or if, prior to age 18, the child has become permanently incapable of self-support because of mental or physical defect. You may contact VA as shown above for information on applying for this benefit.

 

71.      How can I receive aid and attendance or housebound benefits?

VA may pay a higher rate of pension to a veteran who is blind, a patient in a nursing home, otherwise needs regular aid and attendance, or is permanently confined to his or her home because of a disability.  You may contact the VA as shown above for information on applying for this benefit.

 

72.      How can I receive Hospitalization and Outpatient Treatment?

Veterans who are entitled to pension and/or special monthly pension (aid and attendance or housebound benefits) as determined by the Veterans Benefits Administration are eligible for medical care through the VA health care system.  If you are interested in obtaining VA medical care, you may contact your nearest VA health care Facility or the VA Health Benefits Service Center at 1-877-222-8387.

 

73.      How can certain expanses increase my rate of improved pension?

Family medical expenses and educational and vocational rehabilitation expenses actually paid by you may be used to increase your rate of pension.  Family medical expenses are amounts paid by you for medical expenses for yourself and relatives you are under an obligation to support, including premiums paid for health insurance.  VA will deduct the amount you paid for medical expenses from you countable income if the expenses qualify for exclusion under the formula provided by law.  Educational or vocational rehabilitation expenses are amounts paid for courses of education, including tuition, fees, and materials and may be deducted from the income of a Veteran or the earned income of a child, if the child is pursuing a course of post-secondary education or vocational rehabilitation or training.  Keep track of the un-reimbursed amounts you pay.  Normally these expenses are reported at the end of the year with an Eligibility Verification Report.  Family maintenance (hardship) expense may also be used to increase your rate of pension.  VA can exclude all or part of you dependent child’s income if it is not reasonably available to you, or if it would cause hardship to consider this income in determining your rate of pension.  If VA is not currently excluding your children’s income and you feel that it should be, contact the nearest VA office and complete VA Form 21-0571, Application for Exclusion of Children’s Income.

 

74.      How can I receive information about Government Life Insurance?

If you are paying premiums of Government life insurance (GI insurance) and are unable to work, you may be entitled to certain benefits as provided in your policy.  For complete information about GI Insurance, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs Insurance Center at 1-800-669-8477 or visit the VA website at www.insurance.va.gov.

 

75.      Are my benefits exempt from claims of creditors?

VA pension payments are exempt from claims of creditors. With certain exceptions, the payments are not assignable and are not subject to attachment, levy, or seizure except as claim of the United States.

 

 

76.      Do I report a change of address?

Yes.  Please notify The Department of Veterans office immediately of any change of address.

 

77.      What conditions affect my right to payment?

1.  Your rate of pension depends upon the amount of family income and the number of dependents.  Your benefits may be affected by any changes in the amount of family income and marital or dependency status of you or your dependents.

A.  Change in family income and net worth: You are required to report the total amounts and sources of all income and net worth for you and your dependents from whom you have been awarded benefits.  Some income is not countable.  If you report such income, VA will exclude it when computing your income for VA purposes.  Benefit rates and income limits change frequently; however, you can find out what the current income limitations and rates of benefits are by contacting the VA.

B.  Change in marital or dependency status: You or your survivors must notify the VA of any change in marital or dependency status or upon death.  Examples of changes in marital or dependency status include the death of a dependent, the marriage of you or your dependent child, and discontinuance of a child’s school attendance.

2.  Your benefits may be reduced as shown below if you have no dependents and are furnished hospital, VA domiciliary or nursing home care at government expense.  If you are receiving the aid and attendance allowance, your rate may also be reduced to the household rate as of the first day of the second calendar month following the month of admission.  Benefits at the full rate may be resumed the date of discharge.

Veterans receiving Old Law Pension (pension awarded under the law in effect prior to July 1, 1960): If you have no dependents and are furnished hospital, VA domiciliary or nursing home care at government expense for six months or more, your pension may be reduced to $30.00 or half of the monthly amount payable whichever is greater, as of the first day of the seventh calendar month following the month of admission.  The VA will pay you the withheld amount after an approved discharge by the institution authorities.  If the discharge is for disciplinary reasons or against medical advice, the withheld amount will not be paid for six months from the date of discharge.  If you are readmitted within six months of a prior period of such are and the prior discharge was not approved, the new period of care is considered a continuation of the previous period.  Benefits will be reduced the first day of the seventh calendar month following the prior admission of the date of readmission, whichever is the later date.

Veterans receiving Section 306 Pension (pension awarded under laws in effect from July 1, 1960 and prior to January 1, 1979): If you have no dependents and are furnished hospital, VA domiciliary or nursing home care at government expense your rate of pension may not exceed $50.00 as of the first day of the third calendar month following the month of admission.  If you are readmitted for such care within six months of a prior period of care that lasted two or more full calendar months, the rate of pension may not exceed $50.00 as if the date of readmission.

Veterans receiving Improved Pension (pension awarded under laws in effect from January 1, 1979): If you have no dependents and are furnished hospital, VA domiciliary or nursing home care at government expense your rate of pension may not exceed $90.00 as of the first day of the fourth calendar month following the month of admission.  If you are readmitted for such care within six months of the prior period of care, your rate of pension may not exceed $90.00 as of the first day of the month following readmission.

3.  If your award includes aid and attendance benefits based on nursing home patient status, you must immediately notify the VA when you are no longer a nursing home patient.

4.  Your benefits will be discontinued effective the 61st day of incarceration in a Federal, State or local penal institution following conviction for a felony or misdemeanor.  Your spouse or dependent children may be entitled to benefits at the death pension rate from the date your benefits are discontinued if a claim is received within one year after we notify you of discontinuance of benefits.  Any payments made to your spouse or child will continue until we receive notice that the incarceration has ended.

5.  Monthly payments of your award may be stopped if you fail to furnish evidence as requested or if you furnish the VA, or cause to be furnished, any false or fraudulent evidence.

6.  Information submitted including income information, is subject to verification through computer matching programs with other agencies.

7.  The law provides severe penalties which include fine or imprisonment, or both, for fraudulent acceptance of any payment to which you are not entitled.

Notify the VA immediately if there is a change in any condition affecting your right to continued payments.  Failure to notify the VA of these changes immediately will result in an overpayment which is subject to recovery.

 

78.      If I am receiving VA Disability, should I let my attorney know and give him a copy of my VA Award notice before my case is set or soon after my case is set for hearing?

Yes. The ALJ will consider a favorable decision by the VA to award you benefits as favorable evidence in your case so make sure you provide SSA with written notification of your VA award letter and percentage of disability or unemployability rating.

 

79.      If I am a Disability Claimant, as a Veteran who has applied for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits, must my VA Doctor assist that claimant in completing paperwork helpful to my Social Security Disability or SSI case?

Yes. According to VA Directive, a claimant’s VA Physician is mandated by VA Directive 2008-071 to render assistance to the claimant in completing forms that will assist the claimant in his petition for Social Security Benefits and benefits through other Federal programs.

To view or download a copy of VA Directive 2008-071, click on our website at www.disabilityattorney.net.

 

 

80.      If I have more questions concerning VA Awards, where can I find out more information?

Information concerning Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal, State or local benefits may be obtained form your nearest VA office or any national service organization representative.  You may call VA toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.