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Breaking Down Eligibility for Veterans Benefits

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Are You Entitled to Disability Benefits from the VA? Our New York Veterans Disability Benefits Lawyer Explains

While serving in the military is much more than a job, if you were injured or became sick while serving, you may be entitled to disability benefits similar to employees in the private sector. However, for military veterans, disability benefits are administered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); and, while veterans’ legal rights are clear, it can still be a challenge to collect the benefits you deserve. If you believe that you may be entitled to disability benefits through the VA, there is a lot you need to know. Our New York disability benefits lawyer breaks down some important information about applying for VA benefits.

What Disability Benefits are Available to Military Veterans?

Several different types of disability benefits are available to injured and sick veterans through the VA. Depending on your eligibility, the benefits you may be entitled to receive include:

  • Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSP)
  • Compensation for Claims Based on Special Circumstance (Special Claims)
  • Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP)
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Disability Compensation (DC)
  • Grants for home or vehicle modifications to accommodate your disability
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)
  • VA Pension

What are the Eligibility Requirements for Veterans Disability Benefits?

In order to be eligible for VA disability benefits, you must satisfy certain criteria. While these criteria may seem fairly straightforward, many veterans struggle to prove their eligibility; and, as a result, we recommend speaking with a Long Island veterans disability benefits lawyer before you start working on your claim. The basic eligibility criteria for VA disability benefits are as follows:

  • You served on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty for training;
  • You did not receive an other-than-honorable, bad conduct or dishonorable discharge;
  • You got sick or injured while serving in the military, you had a pre-existing illness or injury that got worse as a result of your service or were have a disability that did not appear until after your service ended

Certain conditions are presumed to be service-connected. These include chronic illnesses appearing within one year after discharge, some illnesses caused by contact with contaminants or other hazardous materials, and illnesses suffered as a prisoner of war (POW). For all other conditions, such as PTSD, you must be able to establish a link between your service and your illness or condition.

Does it Matter in Which Branch of the Military You Served?

No, members of all branches of the military can apply for VA disability benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria outlined above. Those who qualify for eligibility include:

  • Members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard
  • Activated reservists with the U.S. Army National Guard or Air National Guard
  • Cadets at the U.S. Air Force, Coast Guard, Naval, and other service academies
  • Certain other individuals who enrolled in academies and organizations connected to the military
  • Dependents of eligible veterans

What if You Received an Other-than-Honorable (OTH), Bad Conduct or Dishonorable Discharge?

In general, veterans who left the military with an other-than-honorable (OTH) bad conduct or dishonorable discharge are not eligible for VA benefits. However, there are exceptions, and you should speak with an experienced veterans disability benefits attorney to find out if you may be able to qualify.

Are VA Disability Benefits Considered Taxable Income?

No, veterans disability benefits are not considered taxable income. In the words of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “Disability benefits received from the VA should not be included in your gross income.”

Can I File for VA Disability Benefits if I am Already Receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) Benefits?

Yes, if you are currently receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you are still eligible to file a claim with the VA. You can retain your VA benefits eligibility if you receive other types of government benefits or assistance as well. As the VA explains:

“Veterans may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), in conjunction with, or as an alternative to VA disability compensation. They may also use the Medicaid and Medicare health benefits that come with SSI/SSDI to supplement VA health services.”

Documentation Needed for Filing for Veterans Disability Benefits in New York

In order to file a claim for disability benefits with the VA, you must file an application form along with various forms of supporting documentation. The application form, VA 21-526ez, has been streamlined, but it still contains seven pages of instructions and five pages of fillable forms. Examples of supporting documentation you may need to submit with your VA 21-526ez form include:

  • Your military discharge or separation papers
  • Medical records pertaining to your service-connected condition
  • If applicable, proof of dependency

Unfortunately, even simple mistakes can lead to significant delays in processing time, and they could result in your disability benefits claim being denied. A Long Island disability benefits lawyer at Turley Redmond & Rosasco, L.L.P. can help you prepare your application correctly, and we can ensure that you are submitting all of the supporting documentation required in order for you to receive benefits.

What to Do if the VA Denies Your Disability Benefits Claim

If the VA denies your disability benefits claim, the first thing you will need to do is determine why your claim was denied. If it turns out that you are not eligible for VA benefits, then you may need to pursue another source of financial compensation. However, in many cases, Veterans’ will be able to overcome denials through the appeals process. When it comes to VA appeals, one size does not fit all.  Our attorneys can appeal by filing a supplemental claim request for higher level review or request for hearing before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals if necessary.  

Speak with a New York Veterans Disability Benefits Lawyer for Free

Do you have questions about filing for VA benefits? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To speak with a New York disability benefits lawyer at Turley Redmond & Rosasco, L.L.P. in confidence, call 877-693-2529 or request a free consultation online now.

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