If you served in the U.S. military and are disabled, you may be entitled to certain services and resources provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Benefits available affect access to medical treatment, education and training, employment, finance, and social security. The following is an overview of basic VA services available to you as a disabled U.S. Veteran.
VA evaluates each non-related disability on a scale of severity ranging from 0% (no VA-recognized disability) to 100% (totally disabled). The VA disability rating reflects the severity of the Veteran's condition, and it helps determine the compensation the Veteran receives.
As of August 2019, 4.7 million veterans, 25% of all U.S. Veterans, had a service-related disability. Of Veterans with a service-connected disability, 41% reported a disability rating of 60% or higher. Only 29% of veterans had a disability rating of 30% or lower.
Upon applying, you will be assigned to one or more priority groups, of which there are eight. Those who fall into two or more groups will rank higher in priority. Veterans with the highest ranking, which VA determines based on how urgently treatment is needed, will be in line to receive care before lower-ranking members.
Some questions VA will take into consideration when determining disability status for Veterans are:
Group one will be most applicable to disabled veterans. Group one is reserved for veterans who:
Certain priority groups and rankings may also gain access to additional medical services such as dental care. You can learn more about priority groups at VA.gov.
If the VA determines you are eligible for VA health care, you'll be granted access to benefits such as covered checkups with both primary care providers and specialists, geriatric care, and coverage for prescriptions, prosthetics, and medical equipment.
According to The Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, minimum eligibility requirements are as follows: "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 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."
The VA restricts some benefits to veterans who:
VA may also withhold benefits from applicants depending on income level and the VA's disability rating system.
VA health care can cover part of the following services and more. Many (but not all) of these services apply to pre-existing conditions:
In addition to the services listed above, VA may also provide Veteran Caregivers trained in providing care to veterans who are disabled or seriously injured, chronically ill, or otherwise no longer able to care for themselves.
VA has several employment programs designed to help Veterans integrate into the workforce post-service. Four primary education benefit programs cover Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve Veterans and their dependents.
The Post 9-11 GI Bill grants scholarships to Veterans and their dependents pursuing post-secondary education or certification. Scholarships cover the cost of tuition, books, and supplies. It also provides a monthly housing allowance.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) provides education and training to Veterans with service-connected illnesses and injuries. VR&E equips Veterans to secure and maintain competitive employment and connects them with career services including:
You are eligible for VR&E benefits if:
Veterans can only use VR&E services within 12 years from the latest applicable date on this list:
Education Assistance provides scholarships to Veterans pursuing a college degree or eligible certification, education, or training.
Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) financially supports survivors and dependents pursuing similar eligible education or training.
More information about VA education programs can be found at www.gibill.va.gov.
Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans exist for the sole purpose of connecting veterans, including disabled veterans, to employment opportunities. While these agencies cannot guarantee employment, understanding their capabilities and identifying yourself as a disabled American veteran to them may allow you special consideration as a job candidate. In addition, independent living assistance might be available if your disability does not allow you to work.
Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) allows employers to hire veterans without competition. After two years of satisfactory service in VRA, you will automatically be converted to a competitive service. VRA may place members in temporary (up to one-year) or term (at least one but no more than four-year) positions.
You are automatically eligible for VRA if you:
Incentive Therapy (IT) provides Veterans with work experience at VA medical centers. To qualify for the pre-employment program, you must not be actively seeking a job, and you must exhibit severe mental illness and/or physical impairments. Through the IT program, Veterans can work part- or full-time while receiving training and nominal compensation up to half of the Federal minimum wage. The program is offered to Veterans for as long as it is clinically appropriate. Participants will be provided with an individual treatment/service plan, case manager, and treatment team.
Compensated Work Therapy/Transitional Work (CWT/TW) is a vocational program that operates out of VA medical centers, local businesses, and industries. Participants in this program are matched to work assignments on a limited basis. The program is not offered to Veterans indefinitely, but for as long as it is clinically appropriate, similar to the IT program. In CWT/TW, Veterans are supervised by the sponsoring site, under the same job expectations as non-CWT workers. Veterans in the CWT/TW program are not considered employees of either the Federal government or a host company and, therefore, do not receive traditional employee benefits. At a minimum, CWT/TW participants receive federal or state minimum wage for all hours worked. Approximately 40 percent of CWT/TW program participants secure regular employment (and are thus eligible for benefits extended to non-CWT employees) at the program's conclusion. There are several programs within CWT/TW:
Disabled U.S. Veterans are entitled to a range of financial benefits covering everything from home loans to life and automobile insurance. Assuming qualification, you can also receive allowances to be put towards service-connected expenses such as specialized clothing, prosthetics, and mobility accommodations.
Veterans who have a VA disability rating of at least 10% because of disabilities acquired in or made worse during active duty may be eligible for disability compensation. If you were on inactive duty, the disability for which you are seeking compensation must have resulted from injury or cardiovascular issues such as heart attack or stroke. As already discussed, compensation varies depending on the degree of disability. If you have dependents, you may receive additional compensation if your disability is rated at 30% or higher. Compensation may be deducted from military retirement pay, disability severance pay, or separation incentive payments.
You may be eligible for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), to be awarded in addition to the basic rate of compensation if your disabilities include:
Pension is a tax-free monthly benefit paid to Veterans with limited or no income who:
To qualify for a pension, at least one of the following must also be true about your service:
VA can provide you with annual clothing allowance payments if you:
VA may provide you with an allowance to purchase a new or used vehicle to accommodate your service-connected disability. You may also be eligible for compensation to be put toward purchasing adaptive and special equipment necessary to safely operate your vehicle. To qualify for an automobile allowance, Veterans need to have one or more of the following disabilities (caused by their military service):
VA offers several Life Insurance Plans, listed below:
Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI): A low-cost group life insurance program. Coverage can be extended if the Service member is totally disabled. Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) is included in SGLI. TSGLI provides payments to Servicemembers who have suffered amputations, blindness, or paraplegia due to traumatic injuries.
Veterans are entitled to Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI), a lifetime renewable coverage program.
Service-Disabled Veterans' Insurance (S-DVI) provides life insurance coverage for Veterans with a service-connected disability. Totally disabled Veterans are eligible for additional (supplemental) insurance benefits.
Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) provides mortgage protection insurance to disabled Veterans approved for a VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant (more on the Specially Adapted Housing Grant below).
VA provides grants to Veterans with permanent service-related disabilities to purchase an adapted home or reconstruct an existing home to accommodate said disability.
Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant: The SAH grants help Veterans with certain service-connected disabilities live in an accommodating environment. This grant is also rewarded to Veterans who are so severely disabled they are not able to work. SAH grants can be used to:
Note that the SAH Grant extends to houses owned by non-Service members in which the Veteran receiving the grant lives.
VA offers a home loan program that includes features such as no down payment or mortgage insurance premiums. VA also guarantees loans for building, repairing, or improving homes in conjunction with the SAH Grant.
Qualified veterans can apply for Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI), a mortgage protection plan that helps a Veteran's family pay off the Veteran's home mortgage in the event of their death. VMLI is only available to Veterans with severe service-related disabilities who:
Service-Disabled Veterans' Life Insurance (S-DVI) is a life insurance benefit for Veterans who have service-related disabilities. To qualify for S-DVI, you must meet the following criteria:
Your age, type of plan (either term or permanent), and the amount of coverage determines the premium for S-DVI coverage . Totally disabled Veterans with basic S-DVI coverage may apply to have premiums waived.
Given that you receive S-DVI, you may also qualify for Supplemental S-DVI insurance. Supplemental S-DVI is additional coverage for Veterans who meet all the following criteria:
Note that premiums for S-DVI cannot be waived.
There are two types of Social Security benefits disabled Veterans can apply for: Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The latter is a need-based program capped at $783 per month for an individual and $1,175 per month for a couple. However, some income is not counted in this figure, so one could earn more than these amounts and still qualify for SSI.
VA automatically enrolls those approved for SSDI benefits in Medicare after having received SSA payments for 24 months.
VA recognizes a category of disability termed Presumptive Disability. Presumptive disability is compensated to Veterans who served under conditions which may have resulted in specific disabilities. Qualifying conditions of service include:
To find clinical trials that may be of use to you, follow these steps:
You can limit your search to only recruiting studies, or you can search for all studies, recruiting or not.
Suppose a Veteran is suffering from PTSD. In that case, they would want to search for trials specifically for Veterans experiencing PTSD. Using the above search instructions, they might find studies such as "Using Emotion Regulation to Decrease Aggression in Veterans with PTSD," "In-home Exposure Therapy For Veterans with PTSD," or "Improving Functional Outcomes of Veterans with PTSD and Tobacco Dependence."
For more detailed information on all of the benefits mentioned in this article, go to https://benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/benefits-summary/SummaryofVABenefitsFlyer.pdf