The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects veterans with service-connected disabilities. A "disability" is "an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities," according to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Defense show that over 30,000 veterans serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding stations sustained wounds between October 2001 and February 2008 that vary from loss of limbs, vision and hearing, to severe burns and post traumatic stress disorder. Tax-free disability compensation may be paid to eligible spouses.
"A servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service- connected permanent and total disability, and is likely to be discharged for that disability" may acquire up to 45 months of certain education benefits for their spouse, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers benefits which can be used toward attaining a degree, certificate, apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Spouses may also be eligible for correspondence, remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses, according to VA. Benefits discontinue 10 years from the date VA finds the spouse eligible or from the date of the disabled veteran's death. For veterans who receive the "permanently and totally disabled" rating, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating, says VA. The spouse's selected program must be approved for VA training.
"Disability compensation is a benefit paid to a veteran because of injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service," says VA. Disabled veterans may qualify for over $3,100 in monthly benefits depending on their disability rating, and if they are married, have children or dependents. Work-study compensation is available to spouses obtaining education benefits under the DEA program and attending a vocational or professional program 3/3-time or full-time. VA work-study allowance pays the student an hourly wage equal to either Federal or State minimum wage, whichever is greater, for doing VA-related work at their school or a facility in their area.
VA Guaranty Home Loan
"The unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability is eligible for the home loan benefit," says VA. VA-insured mortgages require no down payment and provide the lender with a guaranty in case of default by the borrower. Furthermore, a surviving spouse who received the VA loan with their spouse when they lived, can refinance their loan through the VA to lower the interest rate and payments.
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of VA (CHAMPVA) is a program in which VA shares the cost of certain health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries of veterans. Spouses of veterans (deceased or alive) rated as having a permanent and total service-connected condition may be eligible.