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VA Disability Benefits

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Veterans afflicted with a service-connected disability may be eligible for monthly monetary compensation, free health care, and education programs. According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, one in four Americans is potentially eligible for VA benefits because he is a veteran or a family member of a veteran.

Eligibility

To be eligible for most benefits, veterans must have a service-connected disability. "Service-connected" simply means that the disability must have started or been aggravated while the person was serving active military duty.

A dishonorable discharge disqualifies a veteran from any benefit entitlement.

Compensation

Veterans with a service-connected disability can file a claim with the VA for disability compensation. A team of medical professionals will review the claim to determine if the issues are service-connected and, if so, how dramatically they impact the veteran’s quality of life. Veterans will be assigned a disability rating percentage, in increments of 10 percent.

Some conditions carry an automatic percentage. Sleep apnea, for example, automatically grants a veteran 30 percent disability, or 50 percent if a breathing apparatus is prescribed.

Monthly compensation amounts increase exponentially as percentages increase. As of 2009, a 10 percent disability rating paid $123 each month. A veteran rated 100 percent disabled, however, would receive $3,100.

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The amount can increase if the veteran has dependents, has suffered a loss of limbs, or has a disabled spouse.

Health Care

The VA provides complimentary health care to qualified veterans.

While enrolling in the health-care program, veterans are assigned a priority group. Priority groups are determined by disability rating, income levels, military awards, other health insurance, and other standards. Priority Group One is the highest priority, while Priority Group Eight is the lowest ranking.

Priority One is reserved for veterans who exceed a 50 percent disability rating and are deemed unemployable due to service-connected conditions. Priority Eight, on the other hand, includes every veteran who does not exceed a designated income threshold.

Travel Reimbursement

Veterans who are required to travel extensively to reach the nearest VA medical facility may be eligible for travel reimbursement. These veterans must live outside of a designated service area and must have a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or greater.

The reimbursement is only available if the veteran is traveling to the medical center to receive treatment for a service-connected condition or a scheduled compensation examination. Veterans who receive an income in excess of a maximum rate are not eligible for reimbursement.

Education

Veterans who were discharged after Sept. 11, 2001, due to a service-connected disability are eligible for the full benefit package under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. This education program became effective on Aug. 1, 2009, and offers numerous benefits that were unavailable under previous G.I. Bill programs.

For 36 months, an eligible veteran will receive a monthly housing allowance, a periodic book allowance and paid tuition at the eligible institution of her choice. The housing allowance is based on the current military allotment for an E-5 with dependents in the zip code in which the school is located. The veteran will receive $1,000 throughout the year for books. The VA pays all fees and tuition charged by the school, as long as those fees and tuition do not exceed a set maximum threshold.

About the Author

Nicole Thelin has more than a decade of professional writing experience. She has contributed to newspapers such as the "Daily Herald" of Provo, Utah, and now writes for several online publications. Thelin is pursuing a bachelor's degree in education from Western Governors University.

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