What are Veterans Disability Benefits

Beneficios de Veteranos,

Since the ratification in 1789 of the US Constitution, Congress has continued to add laws to protect and help veterans who have valiantly fought for their country and who have retired from active duty.  Collectively these benefits are called Veterans’ Benefits, or VA (Veterans Administration) benefits.

Congress enacted VA benefits for the specific purpose of assisting US veterans in need of medical care, or who suffer from service connected disabilities.  The Veterans’ Benefits Administration is responsible for making sure that veterans get adequate medical care and disability benefits related to service-connected disabilities.

A Brief History of Veterans’ Benefits

At the end of the American revolutionary war, there were a number of wounded veterans who were unable to care for themselves, or provide for their families.  Our founding fathers had these Revolutionary War veterans in mind when, in 1789, they ratified the Constitution of the United States, which included language providing benefits to wounded veterans.  The current laws providing benefits to disabled US Veterans are built on the foundation laid out by our founding fathers in the Constitution of the United States.

Types of Veterans Disability Benefits

Disabled veterans and those retired from active military duty may be eligible for a variety of services and benefits. Some of the types of benefits veterans can receive include the following:

1. Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is only paid to US veterans with service-connected disabilities.  In other words, only veterans’ disabled by injuries or illnesses resulting from their active duty service are eligible for disability compensation through the VA.   While the disability usually must be directly related to their service, it is possible for a veteran to be eligible for benefits resulting from secondary disabilities.

A secondary disability is a condition a veteran is diagnosed with which results from another condition that is already service connected.  For example, a veteran of the Army is service connected for a broken right ankle obtained from a parachute jump.  The ankle was treated while the veteran was in service and later the veteran was honorably discharged.

However, the weakness in the veteran’s ankle has changed the way they walk and now there is right hip pain.  A doctor determines the hip condition is related to the way the veteran walks, which is because of the ankle disability.  The veteran can now file a claim for the hip pain secondary to the service-connected ankle injury.

2. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is not awarded to a veteran, but rather to a veteran’s surviving spouse and/or children after a veteran is killed in active duty or inactive duty training. There’s even a special branch of the VA called the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) committee that administers benefits for the parents of veterans killed in active duty on inactive duty training.

3. Special Monthly Compensation

Special Monthly Compensation was designed to compensate retired, inactive veterans who sustained injuries that disable them from returning to work in the civilian world. This compensation helps veterans either obtain work that takes their disability into account, or compensates the veterans financially, on a monthly basis, if it is determined that they can no longer work as they did prior to their service.

4. Claims Based on Special Circumstances

In some cases, disabled veterans may be eligible for specific services such as dental or doctors’ care, hospitalization coverage, a clothing allowance, and other services/goods that they require.

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