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Are you a disabled United States Veteran? Do you know that you may be entitled to some disability benefits from the Veterans Administration (“VA”)? There are a couple of disability benefits available to disabled Veterans that could help to pay for your monthly expenses. Here are the must-know Veterans benefits eligibility requirements.
One such benefit is a service-connected compensation from the VA. A service-connected disability is recognized if the VA determines that the veteran’s injury, disease, or condition was incurred or aggravated as a result of service in the U.S. Military.
There are three criteria to be met before a veteran can receive service-connected compensation from the VA:
- There must be a current disability diagnosed by a medical professional. The veteran is presumed to have been in good health when he or she entered service. If there was a preexisting condition, there is a presumption that such condition was aggravated by the military service.
- There must be evidence of some precipitating disease, injury, or event while in service that is recorded in the military service records.
- There must be a link between the current disability and the in-service disease, injury, or event. The burden of proof is only that “it is as likely as not” that there is a link.
For veterans exposed to Agent Orange, diabetes and certain types of cancer are presumptively service-connected. The same presumption exists for World War II veterans exposed to radiation in the Pacific Theatre.
The second benefit is a non-service-connected benefit called “pension”. One major difference between compensation and pension is that pension benefits are means-tested, with income and asset limits.
The requirements for pension benefits are as follows:
- Wartime service in the military is a requirement for pension benefits. Following are the designated wartime service periods:
- Mexican Border War – May 9, 1916 to April 5, 1917
- World War I – April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
- World War II – December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
- Korean War – June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War – August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975*
- Persian Gulf War – August 2, 1990 to date to be determined by Presidential proclamation or law
*Beginning date is February 28, 1961 for a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period
Eligibility for pension benefits requires 90 days of continuous active duty before 1980 with at least one (1) day served during a declared period of wartime, or 24 months of continuous active duty after 1980, with at least one (1) day served during a declared period of wartime.
There is no requirement that any of the Veterans required active service be in a combat zone or even outside the United States.
- The Veteran (and spouse) cannot have assets in excess of $130,773 (2021), excluding the homestead (as long as the land is 2 acres or less) to qualify for the benefit. The value of the assets can no longer be excluded based on an age analysis. The VA is imposing a penalty period on the transfer of assets within a three-year time frame that can last up to five years.
When seeking disability benefits from the VA, it is important that Veterans consult with and retain an experienced and VA accredited attorney to help understand the must-know Veterans benefits eligibility requirements. The attorneys at Russo Law Group, P.C. are experienced, compassionate, and knowledgeable. Please contact us if you would like us to assist you.