Table of Contents
Veterans And Survivors Needing Fiduciary Services
The fiduciary program provides oversight of VA’s most vulnerable beneficiaries who are unable to manage their VA benefits because of injury, disease, the infirmities of advanced age, or being under 18 years of age. VA appoints fiduciaries who manage VA benefits for these beneficiaries and conducts oversight of VA-appointed fiduciaries to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the beneficiaries they serve.
VA closely monitors fiduciaries for compliance with program responsibilities to ensure that VA benefits are being used for the purpose of meeting the needs, security, and comfort of beneficiaries and their dependents. In deciding who should act as fiduciary for a beneficiary, VA will always select the most effective and least restrictive fiduciary arrangement. For more information about VA’s fiduciary program, please visit our website at http://benefits.va.gov/fiduciary/index.asp .
VA’s homeless programs constitute the largest integrated network of homeless assistance programs in the country, offering a wide array of services to help Veterans recover from homelessness and live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible. For more information on VA homelessness programs and services, Veterans currently enrolled in VA health care can speak with their VA mental health or health care provider. Other Veterans and interested parties can find a complete list of VA health care facilities at http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=1&isFlash=0 , or they can call VA’s general information hotline at 1-800-827-1000. If assistance is needed when contacting a VA facility, ask to speak to the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program or the Mental Health service manager. For additional information please visit: http://www.benefits.va.gov/PERSONA/veteran-homeless.asp
VA Health Care For Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program
The HCHV Program provides a gateway to VA and community support services for eligible Veterans. Through the HCHV Program, Veterans are provided with case management and residential treatment in the community. The program also conducts outreach to homeless Veterans who are not likely to come to VA facilities on their own.
Homeless Veterans Supported Employment Program (HVSEP)
HVSEP provides vocational assistance, job development and placement, and ongoing employment supports designed to improve employment outcomes among homeless Veterans. HVSEP is coordinated between VA’s Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Program and the continuum of Homeless Veterans Programs for the purpose of providing community-based vocational and employment services. For more information, please visit: http://www.va.gov/homeless/employment_programs.asp
VA’s Homeless Providers Grant And Per Diem Program
The program provides funds to non-profit community agencies providing transitional housing for up to 24 months and/or offering services to homeless Veterans, such as case management, education, crisis intervention, counseling, and services targeted towards specialized populations including homeless women Veterans. The goal of the program is to help homeless Veterans achieve residential stability, increase their skill levels and/or income, and obtain greater self-determination. For more information, visit: http://www.va.gov/homeless/gpd.asp
Housing And Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program
The HUD_VASH Program provides permanent housing and case management for eligible homeless Veterans who need community-based support to keep stable housing. This program allows eligible Veterans to live in Veteran-selected housing units with a “Housing Choice” voucher. These vouchers are portable to support the Veteran’s choice of housing in communities served by their VA medical facility where case management services can be provided. For more information, please visit: http://www.va.gov/homeless/hud-vash.asp
The Supportive Services For Veterans Families (SSVF) Program
The SSVF Program is designed to rapidly re-house homeless Veteran families and prevent homelessness for those at imminent risk due to a housing crisis. Funds are granted to private non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives that will assist very low-income Veteran families by providing a range of supportive services designed to promote housing stability. To locate a SSVF provider in your community, please visit: http://www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp and look for the list of current year SSVF providers or call VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-888-4AIDVET (1-888-424-3838)
VA Benefits For Veterans Living Overseas
VA monetary benefits, including disability compensation, pension, educational benefits, and burial allowances, are generally payable overseas. Some programs are restricted. Home loan guarantees are available only in the United States and selected U.S. territories and possessions. The Specially Adapted Housing benefit is available outside of the continental United States. Educational benefits are limited to approved, degree-granting programs in institutions of higher learning. Beneficiaries living in foreign countries should contact an office of Veterans Affairs Canada. For information, visit: http://www.benefitsvba.va.gov/persona/veteran-abroad.aspbin/21/Foreign/index.htm .
VA service-connected disability compensation benefits are affected if a Veteran is convicted of a felony and incarcerated for more than 60 days. VA non-service-connected pension benefits are affected if a Veteran is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor and incarcerated for more than 60 days. Disability compensation paid to an incarcerated Veteran rated 20 percent or more disabled is limited to the 10 percent rate. For a Veteran whose disability rating is 10 percent, the payment is reduced to half of the rate payable to a Veteran evaluated as 10 percent disabled. Payments are not reduced for participants in work-release programs, residing in halfway houses, or under community control. Disability, death or survivor pension paid to a Veteran or beneficiary incarcerated following a conviction of a felony or misdemeanor must be discontinued.
Benefits not paid to a Veteran or surviving spouse while incarcerated may be apportioned to eligible dependents. Failure to notify VA of a Veteran or beneficiary’s incarceration can result in overpayment of benefits and the subsequent loss of all VA financial benefits until the overpayment is recovered. NOTE: VA benefits will not be provided to any Veteran, survivor or dependent wanted for an outstanding felony warrant.
The Health Care For Re-Entry Veterans (HCRV) Program
The HCRV Program offers outreach, referrals, and short-term case management assistance for incarcerated Veterans who may be at risk for homelessness upon their release. To locate an outreach worker please visit: www.va.gov/homeless/ . For more information on VA homeless, programs and services, Veterans currently enrolled in VA health care can speak with their VA mental health or health care provider. Other Veterans and interested parties can find a complete list of VA health care facilities at http://www.va.gov , or they can call VA’s general information hotline at 1-800-827-1000. If assistance is needed when contacting a VA facility, ask to speak to the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program or the Mental Health service manager. For additional information on VA Homeless program website please visit: http://www.va.gov/homeless .
The Veterans Justice Outreach Program (VJO)
The VJO Program offers outreach and linkage to needed treatment and services to Veterans involved in law enforcement encounters, seen in the court system, and/or incarcerated in local jails who may be at risk for homelessness upon their release. To locate a Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist, please visit: http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/VJO.asp.
Veterans Of Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraq Freedom, And New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND)
VA has personnel stationed at major military hospitals to help seriously injured service members returning from Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraq Freedom, and New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) as they transition from military to civilian life. OEF/OIF/OND service members who have questions about VA benefits or need assistance in filing a VA claim or accessing services can contact the nearest VA office or call 1-800-827-1000.
Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
TAP consists of comprehensive workshops at military installations designed to assist service members as they transition from military to civilian life. A critical component of TAP is Transition GPS (Goals, Plans, Success); an out-come based, modular curriculum with standardized learning members separating from Active Duty to pursue their post-service career goals. It is designed to help service members depart “career ready” and meet mandatory Career Readiness Standards (CRS), regardless of their branch of service. Retiring service members are allowed to attend Transition GPS up to 24 months prior to retirement, while separating service members can attend up to 12 months prior to separating. VA benefit briefings are comprised of two briefings focusing on benefits and services service members have earned through their service. Additionally, service members have the opportunity to participate in one or more two-day tailored tracks within Transition GPS curriculum to meet their personal career goals: Accessing Higher Education, for those pursuing a college education; Career Technical Training, for those seeking industry-recognized credentials in shorter-term training programs; or Entrepreneurship, for those wanting to start their own business. Service members can also sign up for one-on-one appointments with a VA representative; interested service members should contact their local TAP manager to sign up for this program.
Vow To Hire Heroes Act
The Act made TAP, including attendance at VA benefits briefings, mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status; upgraded career counseling options, focused more heavily on job-hunting skills, and tailored the program for the 21st-century job market. The Act allows service members to begin the post-military employment process prior to separation or retirement from military service. This enhances opportunities to connect transitioning service members to both private-sector employers and Federal agencies seeking to hire Veterans. It also provides disabled Veterans up to one year of additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits. The Act provides tax credits for hiring Veterans and disabled Veterans who are out of work.
Federal Recovery Coordination Program (FRCP)
The Federal Recovery Coordination Program (FRCP) assists severely wounded, ill, or injured service members, Veterans, and their families. Federal Recovery Coordinators (FRCs) are located at both Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) facilities and provide virtual care coordination and advocacy services regardless of client location, medical treatment, geographic location of the injury, place of medical diagnosis, or military or veteran status. FRCs provide client-centric services that assist with coordinating benefits, services, and care that are aligned with client goals for recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration. The program is open to clients who may have one or more of the following problems: Traumatic Brain Injury; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Spinal Cord Injury; Burns; Amputation; Blindness of Visual Impairments; an at risk for psychological complications.
If you think you may qualify, know someone who may qualify or desire additional information, please contact the FRCP at 1-877-732-4456.
Pre-Separation Counseling Through Military Service
Service members may receive pre-separation counseling 24 months prior to retirement or 12 months prior to separation from active duty. These sessions present information on education, training, employment assistance, National Guard and Reserve programs, medical benefits, and financial assistance.
Verification Of Military Experience And Training (VMET)
The VMET Document DD Form 2586, helps service members verify previous experience and training to potential employers, negotiate credits at schools, and obtain certificates or licenses. VMET documents are available only through each military branch’s support office and are intended for service members who have at least six months of active service. Service members should obtain VMET documents from their Transition Support Office within 12 months of separation or 24 months of retirement.
Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program
Recently separated Veterans and those with service-connected disabilities, significant barriers to employment, or who served on active duty during a period in which a campaign or expedition badge was authorized, can contact the nearest state employment office for employment help through the Veterans Workforce Investment Program. The program may be conducted through state or local public agencies, community organizations or private, nonprofit organizations.
State Employment Services
Veterans can find employment information, education and training opportunities, job counseling, job search workshops, and resume preparation assistance by visiting their individual State Department of Veteran Affairs. Many states have Veterans Employment Centers, at state Workforce Career or One-Stop Centers. These offices also have specialists to help disabled Veterans find employment. Additional information and access to services are available at http://www.vets.gov/employment/ .
Veterans who do not begin civilian employment immediately after leaving military service may receive weekly unemployment compensation for a limited time. The amount and duration of payments are determined by individual states. Apply by contacting the nearest state employment office listed in the local telephone directory.
Veterans Preference For Federal Jobs
Since the time of the Civil War, Veterans of the U.S. armed forces have been given some degree of preference in appointments to federal jobs. Veterans’ preference in its present form comes from the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944, as amended, and now codified in Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.). By law, Veterans who are disabled or who specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others when hiring from competitive lists of eligible candidates, and also in retention during a reduction in force. (RIF).
To receive preference, a Veteran must have been discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. armed forces under honorable conditions or received a general discharge. Preference is also provided for certain widows and widowers of deceased Veterans who died in service, spouses of service-connected disabled Veterans, and mothers of Veterans who died under honorable conditions on active duty or have permanent and total service-connected disabilities. Enrolled Veterans can print a copy of their letter from the benefits portal. For more information about Veterans Preference, please visit: www.usajobs.gov , www.fedshirevets.gov .
Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment
Veterans’ recruitment appointment allows federal agencies to appoint eligible Veterans to jobs without competition. These appointments can be converted to career or career-conditional positions after two years of satisfactory work. Veterans should apply directly to the agency where they wish to work. For additional information on Veterans Recruitment Appointment, please visit: http://www.fedshirevets.gov/
VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) helps Veterans interested in forming or expanding small businesses, and helps VA contracting offices identify Veteran-owned small businesses. For additional information call toll-free at: 1-866-584-2344 or visit: http://www.va.gov/osdbu/
Like other federal agencies, VA is required to place a portion of its contracts and purchases with small and disadvantaged businesses. VA has a special office to help small and disadvantaged businesses get information on VA acquisition opportunities. For additional information call toll-free at: 1-800-949-8387 or visit: http://www.va.gov/osdbu/ or write to the:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Office of Small Business (OOSB)
810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20420-0001
Dependents And Survivors Health Care – Civilian Health And Medical Program Of The Department Of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
Under CHAMPVA, certain dependents and survivors can receive reimbursement for most medical expenses – inpatient, outpatient, mental health, prescription medication, skilled nursing care and durable medical equipment.
To be eligible for CHAMPVA, an individual cannot be eligible for TRICARE (the medical program for civilian dependents provided by DoD) and must be one of the following: the spouse or child of a Veteran whom VA has rated permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability or the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran, who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability, or who, at the time of death, was rated permanently and totally and disabled or the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who died on active duty service and in the line of duty, not due to misconduct.
However, in most cases, these family members are eligible for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA. A surviving spouse under age 56 who remarries loses re-establish eligibility if the remarriage ends by death, divorce or annulment effective the first day of the month following the termination of the remarriage or December 1, 1999, whichever is later. A surviving spouse who remarries after age 55 does not lose eligibility upon remarriage.
For those who have Medicare entitlement or other health insurance, CHAMPVA is a secondary payer. Beneficiaries with Medicare must be enrolled in Parts A and B to maintain CHAMPVA eligibility. For additional information please call 1-800-733-8387 or visit: http://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/dependents/champva_eligibility.asp , or write:
Chief Business Office Purchased Care
VA Health Administration Center, CHAMPVA
P.O. Box 469028
Denver, CO 80246
Key Information For Family Members About The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act, also known as the health care law, was created to expand access to affordable health care coverage to all Americans, lower costs, and improve quality and care coordination. Under the health care law, people will have health coverage that meets a minimum standard (called “minimum essential coverage”) by January 1, 2014 or qualify for an exemption, or pay a fee when filing their taxes if they have affordable options but remain uninsured.
VA wants all Veterans and their families to receive health care that improves their health and well-being, Dependents and survivors enrolled in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) or the Spina Bifida Health Care Program meet the requirement to have health care coverage under the health care law and do not need to take any additional steps. The law does not change CHAMPVA or Spina Bifida benefits, access or costs. Veterans’ family members who do not have coverage that meets the health care law’s standard should consider their options through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which is a new way to shop for and purchase private health insurance. For more information about the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit: http://www.healthcare.gov or call 1–800-318-2596. For additional information about the VA and the health care law, visit: http://www.va.gov/aca or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
Dependents And Survivors Benefits – Death Gratuity Payment
Military services provide payment, called a death gratuity, in the amount of $100,000 to the next of kin of service members who die while on active duty (including those who die within 120 days of separation) as a result of service-connected injury or illness.
If there is no surviving spouse or child, then parents or siblings designated as next of kin by the Service Member may be provided the payment. The payment is made by the last military command of the deceased. If the beneficiary is not paid automatically, application may be made to the military service concerned.
Dependency And Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit generally payable to eligible survivors of military service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. DIC may also be paid to certain Survivor of Veterans who were totally disabled from service-connected conditions at the time of death, even though their service-connected disabilities did not cause their deaths. The survivor qualifies if the Veteran was:
- Continuously rated totally disabled for a period of 10 years immediately preceding death; or
- Continuously rated totally disabled from the date of military discharge and for at least 5 years immediately preceding death; or
- A former POW who was continuously rated totally disabled for a period of at least one year immediately preceding death.
For more detailed information, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-dependency_and_indemnity.asp
DIC Eligibility (Surviving Spouse)
: To qualify for DIC, a surviving spouse must meet the following requirements married to a service member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, or validly married the Veteran before January 1, 1957, or married the Veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the Veteran’s death began or was aggravated, or was married to the Veteran for at least one year, or had a child with the Veteran, and cohabitated with the Veteran continuously until the Veteran’s death, or if separated, was not at fault for the separation, and is not currently remarried.
NOTE: A surviving spouse who remarried on or after December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, is entitled to continue to receive DIC.
DIC Eligibility (Surviving Child)
Not included on the surviving spouse’s DIC, AND Unmarried, AND Under age 18, between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school at an approved institution.
NOTE: A child adopted out of the Veteran’s family may be eligible for DIC if all other eligibility criteria are met.
DIC Eligibility (Surviving Parent)
VA provides an income-based monthly benefit to the surviving parent(s) of a Service Member or Veteran whose death was service-related. When countable income exceeds the limit set by law, no benefits are payable. The spouse’s income must also be included if the parent is living with a spouse.
DIC And Aid And Attendance/Housebound Benefits
If a Veteran died on or after January 1, 1993, his/her surviving spouse may receive additional benefits beyond the basic DIC rate if they reside in a skilled nursing facility, require the regular assistance of another person to perform the activities of daily living, or if they are permanently housebound. This additional benefit is referred to as “Aid and Attendance” or “Housebound”.
DIC 8-Year Special Allowance
If a deceased Veteran was considered “permanent and totally disabled” (either by 100% rating or permanent and total individual unemployability) for eight (8) continuous years prior to death, his/her surviving spouse may be entitled to an additional amount of $261.87 monthly on the DIC award. If there are any surviving dependent children under age 18 in the care of the surviving spouse, an additional $266.00 may be further added to the DIC award for the initial two (2) years of entitlement. This additional amount will be automatically terminated two years after the DIC award grant.
Restored Entitlement Program For Survivors
An additional special benefit may be payable to Survivors of a Veteran who died of service-connected causes prior to August 13, 1981. The amount of the benefit is based on information provided by the Social Security Administration.
Survivors Pension is a tax-free benefit payable to low-income surviving spouses or children who have not married/remarried since the death of the Veteran. Survivors Pension is an income-based program, and any benefit payable is reduced by annual income from other sources, such as Social Security. If the Survivor has unreimbursed medical expenses, these costs can be deducted from countable income to increase the benefit amount (such as cost of care at an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility).
To be eligible for Survivor’s Pension, the deceased Veteran must have met the following requirements:
- If the Veteran served on or before September 7, 1980, he/she must have served at least 90 days of active military service, with at least one day during a war time period.
- If the Veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, the Veteran generally must have served at least 24 months or the full tour of duty with at least one day during a war time period.
- Discharged from military service under other than dishonorable conditions.
To qualify as a surviving child of a deceased Veteran, the child must meet the following requirements: under age 18, or under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school, or permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability diagnosed before age 18.
Additional information on pension benefits is available at http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/ . To apply, complete VA Form 21P-534EZ and mail it to the Pension Maintenance Center (PMC) of jurisdiction.
NOTE: Survivors pension provides a monthly payment to bring an eligible person’s income to a level established by law. The payment is reduced by the annul income from other sources such as Social Security.
Survivors Aid And Attendance And Housebound Benefits
Survivors who are eligible for pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for a higher maximum pension rate. These additional benefits cannot be paid without eligibility to pension. An eligible individual may qualify if he or she requires the regular aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required for everyday living, is bedridden, a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, blind, or permanently and substantially confined to his/her immediate premises because of a disability.
To apply for aid and attendance or housebound benefits, submit a VA Form 21-2680, Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance to the nearest Regional Office or PMC.
Please include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician or a nursing home, validating the need for aid and -detail to determine whether there is disease or injury producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to dress and undress, to feed oneself, to attend to sanitary needs, and to keep oneself ordinarily clean and presentable, or whether confined to the immediate premises due to disability.
Children Of Women Vietnam Veterans Born With Certain Birth Defects
Biological children of women Veterans who served in Vietnam at any time during the period beginning on February 28, 1961, and ending on May 7, 1975, may be eligible for certain benefits because of birth defects associated with the mother’s service in Vietnam that resulted in a permanent physical or mental disability.
The covered birth defects do not include conditions due to family disorders, birth-related injuries, or fetal or neonatal infirmities with well-established causes. A monetary allowance is paid at one of four disability levels based on the child’s degree of permanent disability.
Appeals Of VA Claims Decisions
Veterans and other claimants for VA benefits have the right to appeal decisions made by a VA regional office, medical center or National Cemetery Administration (NCA) office. Typical issues appealed are disability compensation, pension, education benefits, recovery of overpayments, reimbursement for unauthorized medical services, and denial of burial and memorial benefits. A claimant has one year from the date of the notification of a VA decision to file an appeal. The first step in the appeal process is for a claimant to file a written notice of disagreement with a VA regional office, medical center or national cemetery office that made the decision. Following receipt of the written notice, VA will furnish the claimant a “Statement of the Case” describing what facts, laws, and regulations were used in deciding the case. To complete the request for appeal, the claimant must file a “Substantive Appeal” within 60 days of the mailing of the Statement of the Case, or within one year from the date VA mailed its decision, whichever period ends later.
Board Of Veteran’s Appeals
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (“the Board”) makes decisions on appeals on behalf of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Although it is not required, a Veterans service organization, an agent, or an attorney may represent a claimant. Appellants may present their cases in person to a member of the Board at a hearing in Washington, D.C., at a VA regional office or by videoconference. Decisions made by the Board can be found at http://www.index.va.gov/search/va/bva.jsp . The pamphlet, “Understanding the Appeal Process,” is available on the website or may be requested by writing: Mail Process Section (014), Board of Veterans’ Appeals, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420.
U.S. Court Of Appeals For Veterans Claims
A final Board of Veterans’ Appeals decision that does not grant a claimant the benefits desired may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The Court is an independent body, not part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Notice of appeal must be received by the Court with a postmark that is within 120 days after the Board of Veterans’ Appeals mailed its decision. The Court reviews the record considered by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. It does not hold trials or receive new evidence. Appellants may represent themselves before the Court or have lawyers or approved agents as representatives. Oral argument is held only at the direction of the Court. Either party may appeal a decision of the Court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and may seek review in the Supreme Court of the United States. Published decisions, case status information, rules and procedures, and other special announcements can be found at http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/ . The Court’s decisions can also be found in West’s Veterans Appeals Reporter, and on the Westlaw and LEXIS online services. For questions, call (202) 501-5970 or write to:
Clerk of the Court
625 Indiana Ave. NW, Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20004