Veteran’s Disability Benefits – Overview of Requirements

Service Connected Veteran’s Disability Benefits

Former members of the United States armed forces who suffer from injuries or aggravation of injuries, physical or mental, during their active military service may be eligible for service connected disability benefits.  In order to be eligible, a veteran must meet the following criteria:

Member of the armed forces:

A Veteran must have been an enlisted member of one of the branches of the armed forces:  Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines.  The veteran is not required to experience combat.

Proper Discharge:

A Veteran must receive at least an “other than dishonorable” discharge from the military in order to be eligible for benefits.  Wilful misconduct is a bar to compensation.

Disability:

A Veteran must suffer from a disability that is chronic or permanent.  The Veteran must suffer from a disability at the time of applying for benefits.

A Veteran can receive compensation for a secondary injury or condition if it is the result of a service-connected condition.

Service Connection:

In order for a Veteran to receive service connected disability benefits, the Veteran must prove:

  1. The disability began or was incurred during their military service time;
  2. The Veteran suffers from a current disability;
  3. There is a nexus between their current condition and their military service time.
  4. For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a Veteran must also prove a stressor occurred during their military service time.  The stressor can be combat related or just a traumatic event, such as a sexual assault.

There are several ways to establish service connection, including statutory presumptions.

 Ratings:

Social Security Disability benefits are an all-or-nothing proposition.  Either a person is disabled and unable to work or they do not get benefits.  Veterans service connection benefits are not the same.  Once a Veteran is determined to have suffered a service connected disability, then they are given a rating pursuant to rating tables.  Based upon the type of disability and the limitations from such disability, a Veteran can receive a rating as low as 0% and as high as 100% with various percentages in between.  So, it is possible a Veteran is deemed to suffer from a disability, but receives no money because they receive a -0- rating.

If a Veteran suffers from more than one disability they do not add the ratings together.  There is a combination rating table used to reach an overall rating.

A Veteran can receive pay at the 100% level even though their overall rating is less than 100% if they are deemed totally unemployable.