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With all of the information out there concerning Veterans’ Benefits, it can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. After all, too often family and friends hold errant beliefs and even seemingly-reliable internet sources can sometimes lead you astray. With the hope of reducing misconceptions and ensuring those in need have access to trustworthy information, we have compiled the following list of the five most common myths concerning Veterans’ Benefits.
1. Only Those Injured in Combat Qualify for Disability Benefits
You need not have been hurt by an explosion or otherwise injured in combat to gain designation as a disabled veteran to qualify for benefits. Any service-related medical condition, including pre-existing conditions that may have worsened, qualifies you for disability benefits. What is more, the list of recognized health conditions continues to grow and so even those previously denied benefits may now qualify if they reapply.
2. You Don’t Qualify for a Standard VA Pension and So You Qualify for Nothing
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a range of pension programs that provide benefits to veterans. Aid & Assistance, for example, is a program that employs higher annual income limits than the standard VA pension. What is more, Aid & Attendance permits applicants to deduct both monthly recurring medical costs and certain senior care costs from their countable income. Altogether, this means that even if you cannot gain a standard VA pension, it is worth speaking to an attorney to determine if there may be other benefits for which you qualify.
3. The Window to Apply for Disability Benefits Has Passed
Many veterans mistakenly believe they have missed the opportunity to gain the benefits they deserve or have waited too long to appeal a denied claim. This is never true. There is no statute of limitations on filing for VA disability benefits and there is no limit to the number of claims you may file. While it may be easier to file a claim shortly after your time in the military, not everyone will have reason to do so. Certain conditions may not appear until years after your service and those conditions that qualify are subject to regular update, meaning imposing an application deadline or limit would be unfair.
4. VA Disability Compensation Comes at the Expense of Retirement Pay
While it is true that retirees with a VA disability rating of 40% or lower will see their military retirement reduced based on the amount of disability compensation they receive, those with a rating of 50% or higher are eligible for Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay (CRDP).
In connection, it is important to know that disability ratings may change. As your health either improves or deteriorates, you should let the VA know as you may become eligible for increased compensation over time.
5. Only an Honorable Discharge Warrants Benefits
While an honorable discharge facilitates dealing with the VA, those with a general discharge under honorable conditions are just as eligible for service-connected benefits. Moreover, those with an other than honorable discharge qualify for benefits in certain cases.
Naturally, this is not a comprehensive list. Benefits-related myths abound and so even if you do not see your situation addressed in this article, it is worth talking to an attorney experienced in issues affecting veterans to ensure you are not missing out on the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm