Author: Prairie State Legal Services
Last updated: December 2006
What It Is: Several different programs to assist veterans and their dependents. Included are financial, medical, educational, and employment programs.
Where To Apply: U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA).
Who May Be Eligible: Veterans and their spouses, children, and parents.
The VA administers many benefit programs for veterans and their dependents. The four major types of benefits are outlined here, but at best, this is a summary of programs. If you are a veteran or the dependent of a veteran and you think you may be entitled to any veterans’ benefits, contact the VA to find out.
A veteran who has a service-connected disability may be eligible for monthly payments if the disability is primarily due to, or aggravated by, an injury or illness incurred during military service. One requirement for receiving this benefit is that the veterans’ separation from the services must not have been under dishonorable conditions.
In addition to monthly benefits for the veteran with a service-connected disability, there are provisions for dependent allowances. The disabled veteran may also qualify for:
These benefits are payable monthly to disabled veterans who served during a period of war. Since these benefits are paid on the basis of need, the VA requires that the veteran’s income not exceed a certain level. Other requirements for eligibility are: wartime military service and separation under conditions other than dishonorable.
Note: If you receive notice that you have received an overpayment, you should contact an attorney immediately to determine if the overpayment can be negotiated or waived.
Death compensation payments are made to the widows, widowers, children, and dependent parents of service personnel who die in service, and to the surviving dependents of veterans whose death was service connected, provided that death occurred prior to January 1, 1957. If the death occurred after discharge, separation from the service must have been under conditions other than dishonorable.
Surviving dependents of veterans who died from service-connected injuries or illnesses after January 1, 1957 are eligible for monthly benefits under a new program known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Surviving dependents of veterans who died of service-connected causes prior to January 1, 1957 may elect to receive benefits under DIC.
Monthly pension benefits are payable to needy widows, widowers, and children of veterans of the Mexican border period, World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict who died of causes not related to service. This benefit is based on need: to be eligible, your income must not exceed a certain level.
A monthly pension is available to eligible widows, widowers, and children of veterans of the Vietnam era even if the veteran dies of causes not related to his or her service. The veteran must have served at least 90 days unless he or she was separated from the service for a service-connected disability.
There are many other benefits and programs available to veterans and their surviving dependents. Among them are:
A recent law called the Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000 requires the VA to assist the claimant in obtaining evidence necessary to substantiate a claim for benefits unless there is no reasonable possibility that such help would do any good. This means the VA has to make reasonable efforts to locate relevant records that the VA as well as other public and private entities may have in their possession. If the claim is for disability compensation, the VA may have to provide for a medical exam or opinion.
If you think that you may be eligible for any of the VA's many benefits, contact:
Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA)
Chicago Regional Office
536 South Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60605-1523
800-827-1000 (toll free)
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is located at:
2001 S. Street, N.W., Suite 610
Washington, D.C. 20099
The Veterans Benefits Manual, 2004 Edition, edited by Stickman, Abrams and Addlestone, is also helpful. The manual was written by the NVLSP staff and is published by Lexis Nexis. It is revised every year and is published in both a paper and CD format.
Printed from: www.illinoisprobono.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_Content&contentID=1376
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