Service Connected Disability Compensation
Service connection may be granted for a disability or disease that was incurred or aggravated while on ‘active military service’. Some important factors about service connection are:
*The veteran must have been discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
*The veteran must NOT have incurred the injury or disease as a result of willful misconduct.
*There is no minimum length of service requirement.
Some ways service connection can be established are:
1. Direct Incurrence. The disability occurred during service (e.g., a combat wound)
2. Aggravation. A disability that existed prior to entering service becomes permanently worse during service (e.g., a knee injury from high school athletics).
3. Presumption. Certain diseases will be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by service and may be service connected. These include chronic, tropical or prisoner-of-war related diseases, or diseases associated with exposure to herbicide agents (e.g., Agent Orange), or environmental hazards in the Gulf War (e.g., undiagnosed illnesses)
Some basic rating facts are:
A veteran may be rated from 0% to 100% disabled, depending on the severity of the disability. To receive payment the disability must be rated at least 10% disabling.
Ratings increase according to the degree of disability (the more severe the disability, the higher the percentage).
A veteran can have several individual ratings - one for each claimed disability that is found to be service connected.
Related Benefits for Service Connected Veterans
Clothing Allowance: Veterans who have a service connected disability that requires:
1. The use of a prosthetic device (including a wheelchair) that wears out or tears their clothing or,
2. Requires a prescribed medication that irreparably damages the outer garments, are eligible for a once-a-year clothing payment from the VA.
Automobile and Adaptive Equipment: The VA may make a one time payment, currently $18,900, toward the purchase of an automobile or other conveyance and, may pay for adaptive equipment which is necessary for safe and efficient operation of the veterans’ vehicle. To qualify the veteran must have a service connected disability which involves one of the following:
Permanent loss, or loss of use of, one or both hands or feet, OR
Ankylosis of one or both knees, or one or both hips, OR
Permanent impairment of vision of both eyes.
Specially Adapted Housing:Veterans who have a permanent and total service connected disability(ies) may be eligible for one of the following housing grants from the VA. The purpose of the grant is to accommodate the seriously disabled veteran in a home that has special features and equipment essential to comfortable living for the veteran.
1. $63,780 Grant: Can be used for building or buying a new home, or for remodeling an existing home to suit the veteran’s needs. It can also be used for reducing indebtedness on a specially adapted home that was already acquired by the veteran without the assistance of a VA grant. The grant covers up to 50% of the cost or $63,780, whichever is less. In order to qualify, the veteran’s service connected disability(ies) must involve any of the following:
*Loss or loss of use of both lower extremities, requiring the use of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair, OR
*A disability that includes blindness in both eyes having light perception only, plus the loss or loss of use of one lower extremity, OR
*Loss or loss of use of one lower extremity together with either (1) residuals of organic disease or injury, or (2) loss or loss of use of one upper extremity as to affect the function of balance or propulsion, making braces, canes, crutches, or a wheelchair necessary.
2. $12,756 Grant:This grant is for adapting a veteran’s home or for purchasing a home which has already been adapted with special features. It covers the actual cost of the adaptations up to the maximum amount of $12,756. In order to qualify, the veteran’s service connected disability(ies) must include one of the following:
*Blindness in both eyes with 5/200 visual acuity or less, OR
*Loss or loss of use of both hands.
Vocational Rehabilitation – Chapter 31: The purpose of the VA vocational rehabilitation program is to provide appropriate training or education to service connected veterans enabling them to overcome employment handicaps which may be caused by their disability. A veteran must have a service connected disability of at least 10% disabling to qualify. Some of the different services and benefits provided by the VA, to those eligible for this program, include:
*Evaluation of abilities and skills through extensive testing,
*Education and training to qualify the veteran for suitable employment,
*Financial assistance and any needed medical care during training.
Click here for more information on this benefit.