I meet with veterans every day who have served only a couple of years and think that the length of service they served was not long enough to to earn them any "perks" through the V.A. They are quite surprised when I tell them that, because they served for at least 90 days, one day of which was during a "war" time, that they or their widowed spouse may be entitled to benefits that could help pay for care in the home or care in an assisted living facility. See here for more on “Aid and Attendance” – http://ohalllaw.com/2012/02/florida-va-benefits-what-you-should-know/.
However, there are other benefits available to those who may not have served during war time or who do not meet the financial eligibility criteria. These include veterans service connected disability compensation, survivors Dependency Indemnity compensation (DIC), VA health benefits and non-taxable retirement from the Department of Defense.
Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a veteran for a service-connected disability that happened as a result of active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty training or injury from VA healthcare. Compensation can range from $130 up to $8,000 per month. Also, veterans may be entitled to other benefits such as grants for a new automobile or modifying existing vehicles, constructing or modifying homes, clothing allowances, etc. Veterans cannot receive both Aid and Attendance (known as “pension”) and compensation at the same time – they must choose which one they want to receive.
Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is for eligible survivors of a military service member who died on active duty or whose death after services resulted from a service-connected injury or disease. It is also available if a veteran received improper treatment from VA health care or rehabilitation services. If a veteran was permanently and totally disabled for 10 years or more, a surviving spouse is automatically entitled to DIC. It can pay $1,254 per month (in 2016) to a surviving spouse, and there are additional amounts available to dependent children. Also, if the surviving spouse needs the aid and attendance of another person (i.e., home care or ALF), there is additional assistance. DIC can also be available to a parent (which is defined as biological, adoptive, step parent or someone who stood in as the parent prior to the soldier's 21st birthday, and for one year prior to the time the soldier entered into active duty). Because DIC benefits do not rely on a person’s assets, a parent with higher assets could still be potentially eligible for this benefit.
The CHAMPVA health benefit is available to certain spouses, surviving spouses, and dependent children who are entitled to this free health coverage. If the veteran was 100% permanently and totally disabled, spouses and dependent children are entitled to CHAMPVA. Surviving spouses and their dependent children of veterans who were rated 100% permanently and totally disabled at the time of the veterans death or for those veterans who died from service connected disability are also entitled to the CHAMPVA benefit.
If you have other questions about Veterans’ benefits, I would encourage you to speak with your local Veteran’s service office. Click here for Hillsborough County - http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/index.aspx?NID=284. These offices are funded by the State of Florida and their sole job is to help veterans and their families obtain all benefits available to them. Would you like additional guidance from a knowledgeable attorney? Schedule a complimentary phone consultation with Attorney Laurie Ohall by calling 813.438.8503.