The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers a number of programs to help veterans adjust to civilian life after they leave the service. While most veterans are aware of the VA’s disability and healthcare benefits, the spectrum of assistance is much broader and may include programs most veterans have not heard about. Whether you’re a veteran who wants to learn more about what the VA has to offer or you’ve had a claim denied, turn to Patrick, Harper & Dixon.
Different Types of Veterans Benefits
The VA is dedicated to improving the lives of veterans and their families through a myriad of programs. These are only a few of them:
- Health care
- Education, job training, and employment
- Housing assistance
To qualify for most programs, a veteran will need to have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. If you are unsure about your eligibility or need assistance filing a claim, talk to a skilled VA attorney.
What follows are more specific details about the eligibility criteria for the benefits listed above.
The VA’s health care services are arguably among its most well-known. But health care includes more than providing for the servicemember’s physical and mental health. It may also cover preventive care and health education.
If you are a veteran who either enlisted after September 7, 1980, or you entered active duty after October 16, 1981, you may be eligible for the VA’s health care services, provided you served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty. You may also qualify if any of the following apply to you:
- You were discharged for a disability that was caused or made worse by your active duty service
- You were discharged for a hardship or early out
- You served before September 7, 1980
There are different rules for current or former National Guard and Reserve members. For instance, you must have been called to active duty by a federal order and you must have completed the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty. However, you will not qualify if you have active duty status for training purposes only.
The VA’s disability benefits are among its most popular services and one that most veterans already know about. However, veterans often have difficulty qualifying because of complex and confusing eligibility rules, oversights made by claims reviewers, and other problems. To protect your rights and ensure that you properly apply for disability benefits, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced VA disability rights lawyer.
Eligible veterans can receive monthly disability payments if they have an injury or illness caused or aggravated by their active duty military service. The veteran must show that he or she:
- Has a current illness or injury (which is known as a condition) that affects the veteran’s mind or body, and
- Has served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training
The veteran will make one of the following claims:
Inservice disability claim. This is for a veteran who got sick or injured while serving and can connect this condition to the veteran’s illness or injury.
Preservice disability claim. The veteran had a pre-existing illness or injury before entering service that was made worse because of service and not due to the condition’s natural progression.
Postservice disability claim. The veteran has a disability related to his or her active duty service that did not appear until after the end of service.
Some disabilities are presumed, depending on whether certain criteria are met. Ask an attorney for more information about these.
Education, Job Training, And Employment
Adjusting to civilian life may mean returning to school, training for marketable career skills, and applying for jobs. The VA is ready to meet these and related needs by helping cover the costs of tuition, licensing, certification, career counseling, and vocational rehabilitation.
A seasoned VA benefits lawyer can determine which services best fit your particular situation. Every program has its own unique requirements. For example, whether you are eligible could depend on how long your active duty service was, when you were discharged, and your background education.
Monthly VA pension payments are available to qualifying veterans. A veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge and must meet criteria concerning their:
- Net worth
- Beginning date and duration of active duty service
- Nature of disability
- Whether the veteran receives Social Security Disability
The VA has several programs to help veterans purchase, build, refinance, and improve their homes. For instance, the VA loan does not require a down payment like conventional loans do. While the government backs VA loans, private lenders are the ones that issue the funds. Therefore, your credit score will probably determine whether you may qualify for an initial (not refinanced) VA loan.
If you are a veteran, National Guard, or Reserve member, your eligibility will also depend on when you served. You can obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA to show your lender that you qualify based on your service history and duty status. You may also be able to obtain a COE if you’re the surviving spouse of a veteran or the spouse of a veteran who is missing in action or being held as a prisoner of war (POW).
There are other programs available for different housing-related needs, so consult an attorney to learn more.
Appealing A Denied Benefits Claim
Even if you meet the VA’s qualifications, your claim for benefits may be denied due to the sheer number of applications the VA annually processes. There are three main ways to appeal a denied claim:
Supplemental claim. You will be able to submit new evidence to the VA or identify new evidence for the VA’s consideration. A reviewer will look at the new evidence to determine whether it alters the outcome of the claim.
Higher-level review. If you don’t need to submit new evidence, you can request that a more senior officer review your claim. This is a second look that will identify any mistakes made during the initial review or determine whether a different opinion could support your application.
Board appeal. You may ask a Veteran Law Judge to review your claim by appealing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The advantage of this option is that the Veteran Law Judge is an expert in veterans benefits law.
Contact Our Hickory VA Benefits Attorney
The VA’s rules and standards are strict. What can seem like a minor oversight in your application could cause significant delays or even result in your claim being rejected. Let the dedicated VA benefits attorneys of Patrick, Harper & Dixon discuss which programs you may qualify for and help you apply for them. If the VA has denied your claim, we can also assist with an appeal. Give us a call today.