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Scroll Down Please DEPARTMENT OF INDIANA SERVICE OFFICERS TRAINING MANUAL Mike Miller, 2011-2012 DEPARTMENT COMMANDER (Revised July 17, 2011) Acknowledgments Thanks go to American Legion Department of Indiana past and current department commanders and members of the Department Executive and Finance Committees. Their commitment to veterans‟ services and resources provided the Service and Rehabilitation Department make this publication possible. Please direct questions or comments concern regarding manual to John Hickey, Director of Rehabilitation and Department Service Officer, The American Legion, Department of Indiana Service and Rehabilitation Office, 575 N. Pennsylvania Street, Room 325, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204; Phone Number (317) 916-3605; toll free phone number, 1- 888-723-7999 extension 1, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you also for setting aside time to read and study this training material, and for your obvious commitment to veterans‟ services. John W. Hickey Director of Rehabilitation and Department Service Officer TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Numbers Table of Contents i-iii Introduction IV-V Topic 1 Topic Section Page Numbers American Legion Service Officer Organizational Information 1 Suggested Duties and Responsibilities for American Legion Post and District Service Officers 1.1.1-1.1.2 District Service Officers Assignments 1.2.1 American Legion Post and District Service Officers Code of Ethics 1.3.1-1.3.2 Service Officers Interaction with the American Legion Department of Indiana, Rehabilitation Program 1.4.1 Homeless Veterans Assistance Program 1.5.1 Topic 2 American Legion Membership 2 American Legion Membership 2.1.1 Topic 3 Veterans Service Legislation 3 Veterans Service Legislation 3.1.1-3.1.2 Topic 4 Service Officer Tools 4 Claims Forms List 4.1.1-4.1.4 Common Mistakes Service Officers Should Avoid 4.2.1 Newly Discharged Veterans Consultation Checklist 4.3.1 Replacing your DD Form 214 4.4.1-4.4.2 Topic 5 Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits 5 VA Claims and Representation 5.1.1 Supporting Documents 5.2.1-5.2.2 Disability Compensation 5.3.1-5.3.2 Compensation Benefits for Children with Birth Defects 5.3.2 Non Service Connected Pension 5.4.1-5.4.2 Survivors Compensation or Pension 5.5.1-5.5.2 Burial Benefits 5.6.1-5.6.3 American Legion Emblem Inscription on Grave Markers 5.6.2 Cemeteries 5.6.2 Burial Flags 5.6.2 Military Funeral Honors 5.6.3 Special Entitlements 5.7.1-5.7.3 Clothing Allowance 5.7.1 i. Automobile and Adaptive Equipment Allowance 5.7.1-5.7.2 Special Adapted Housing and Special Home Adaptation Grants 5.7.2 Special Benefits for Blind Veterans 5.7.3 Medal of Honor Entitlements 5.7.3 Education Assistance 5.8.1-5.8.5 Old G.I. Bill (Chapter 34) 5.8.1 VEAP (Chapter 32) 5.8.1 Montgomery G.I. Bill (Chapter 30) 5.8.2 Selected Reserve/National Guard 5.8.2 Reserve Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 1607) 5.8.3 Post/911Education Assistance 5.8.3-5.8.4 John David Fry Post/911 Scholarship: 5.8.4 Vocational Rehabilitation (Chapter 31) 5.8.5 Dependents and Survivors (Chapter 35) 5.8.6 Veterans Insurance Programs 5.9.1-5.9.3 Service Disabled Veterans Insurance 5.9.1 Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance 5.9.1 Servicemen‟s Group Life Insurance 5.9.2 Veterans Group Life Insurance 5.9.2 VA Insurance Payments for Traumatic Injuries 5.9.3 Special Provisions 5.9.3 – 5.9.4 VA Loan Guaranty Benefits 5.10.1-5.10.2 VA Medical Benefits 5.11.1-5.11.9 In-Patient Veterans Status Requirements 5.11.1 1996 Changes 5.11.1 Enrollment & Priority Levels 5.11.2 Eligibility for OEF/OIF Combat Veterans 5.11.3 Hospital & Outpatient Care 5.11.4 Assessment of Income & Net Worth 5.11.5 Medical Care Cost Recovery 5.11.5 Beneficiary Travel 5.11.5 Prescription Drugs 5.11.6 Out-Patient Dental 5.11.6 Prosthetic Appliances 5.11.6 Domiciliary Care 5.11.7 Nursing Home Care 5.11.8 Blind Veterans Services 5.11.8 Special Services for Persian Gulf, Agent Orange, and Ionizing Radiation Veterans 5.11.8 VA Registries 5.11.8 Reimbursement or Payment of Unauthorized Medical Expenses 5.11.9 CHAMPVA 5.11.9 General Information 5.11.10 Appeals 5.12.1-5.12.3 Waivers and Compromises 5.13.1-5.13.2 ii The Combined Rating Table and Rate Charts 5.14.1-5.14.2 Topic 6 State Benefits 6.1.1-6.2.2 Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs 6.1.1 Bonus Programs 6.1.1 Burial Allowance 6.1.1 Remission of Fees 6.1.2 Special Veteran License Plates 6.1.2 Property Tax Deductions 6.1.3 Miscellaneous State Benefits 6.1.4 Indiana Veterans Cemetery 6.1.4-6.1.5 Tuition Grants for National Guard Members 6.1.5 Indiana Military Family Relief Fund 6.1.6 Indiana Veterans Home 6.2.1-6.2.2 Topic 7 Veterans Employment 7.1.1-7.1.4 VRA 7.1.1 Disability Discrimination 7.1.1 Reemployment 7.1.2 Affirmative Action 7.1.2 SBA 7.1.3 (SBA) Patriotic Express Program: Employment Preference 7.1.3 Topic 8 Department of Defense (DOD) Issues Discharge Review and Correction Boards 8.1.1-8.1.2 Concurrent Receipt & Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) 8.2.1- 8.2.2 Commissary Privilege Cards 8.2.2 National Personnel Records Center (NPRC): Medals, Corrections, Rumors, Fees: 8.2.3 Topic 9 Social Security Benefits 9.1.1-9.1.4 Retirement 9.1.1 Disability 9.1.2 Dependents 9.1.2 SSI 9.1.3 Medicare 9.1.3 Medicaid 9.1.3 Appeals 9.1.4 Additional Information 9.1.4 Appendices A.1-A.2 Other Resources A.1 Addresses For Other Resources A.2 Web Site Resources A.3- A.4 iii AMERICAN LEGION, DEPARTMENT OF INDIANA SERVICE OFFICERS TRAINING MANUAL INTRODUCTION American Legion Department of Indiana veterans services grow stronger each year. In addition to supporting a well staffed professional service department, the Department of Indiana encourages district and post appointments of service officers to assist members with veterans service related issues. Member veterans selected to serve as district and post service officers are dedicated individuals willing to offer cost free services to exceptional people - - American Legion members, veterans and their dependents. This manual will help post and district service officers better perform their duties, and offer useful advice to Indiana‟s county veterans service officers. The manual describes when and how to apply for various Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. It also explains ways service officers may assist veterans with other service related issues, i.e., military affairs, employment, legislation, state benefits, etc. Post and district service officers are not required to decide the merits of individual cases before advising veterans or their dependents about possible benefit entitlements. This manual is therefore written in a straight forward, easily understood format without inclusion of complicated provisions of law associated with adjudication of claims. The manual contains a summary of each veterans benefit and entitlement program. It also contains electronic links to claim forms. Each claim form has information concerning various benefits and instructions for making application. Although we no longer advise volunteer post and district service officers to assist with completing claim forms, post and district service officers can learn more about what is needed to apply for and win benefits by reading – at least once -- the instructions on each claim form. You will also find a list of additional reference material in the appendix of this manual. All service officers should also obtain and read our national organization‟s The American Legion Post Service Officer Guide. http://www.legion.org/documents/legion/pdf/psog.pdf . Post service officers may also simply refer claimants to a county or department service officer for obtaining information about benefits and for completing benefit claim forms. This is acceptable. All service officers should, however, at least read this American Legion Department of Indiana Service Officers Training Manual so they may know when a veteran should apply for benefits and when referrals are appropriate. Post, district, and even county service officers may apply for a "Certificate of Completion" from the Department of Indiana after reading The American Legion Department of Indiana Service Officers Training Manual. Service Officers applying for the certificate must also complete the Department of Indiana Service Officer Workbook and Test issued with this manual. County Veterans Service Officers will not need to complete topics 1, 2, or 3 in the workbook before obtaining their certificate since those topics relate mostly to American Legion organizational issues. IV Information in this manual will enhance training of officers and improve services to veterans and their dependents throughout the State of Indiana. Remember though, the manual is simply a training tool; it is not an official government publication of veterans benefit statutes and regulations and it should not be used as such. Although I sincerely believe the information provided is 100% correct, please contact The American Legion Department of Indiana Service and Rehabilitation Office if you believe you have found an error. Thank you for your commitment to veterans‟ services. Please do not hesitate to contact The American Legion Department Service Office using the following contact information whenever veterans service problems or questions arise: The American Legion Service Office, 575 North Pennsylvania, Room 325, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204; phone number, (317) 916-3605, fax number (317) 226-6645; toll free phone number; 1-888-723-7999, ext. 1; e-mail; email@example.com ; or the Director‟s cell phone number; 317-850-1240. V TOPIC 1 AMERICAN LEGION SERVICE OFFICER ORGANIZATIONAL INFORMATION 1 SUGGESTED DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR AMERICAN LEGION POST AND DISTRICT SERVICE OFFICERS 1. Study and learn veterans benefit programs: A. Read thoroughly The American Legion Post Service Officer Guide. B. Attend local Veterans Service Seminars and veterans events. C. Attend and/or organize American Legion Service Seminars. D. Complete the Department of Indiana Service Officers Correspondence training. E. Communicate with the Department Service Office when veterans service questions arise. F. Read and share with post members information from monthly Department of Indiana Service and Legislative Update articles. II. Inform claimants about filing claims: A. Offer information about filing claims to your post or district members. B. Offer information about filing claims to other veterans in your community. C. Visit post and district members when they are hospitalized, and let them know if they might be entitled to pension or compensation benefits. D. Help claimants obtain evidence to support their claims. E. Let the County Service Officer know who you are and offer your assistance. 1.1.1 III. Help develop and promote veterans legislative issues: A. Listen to concerns about veterans service issues and develop ideas for solutions. B. Help posts develop veterans benefit resolutions to present to their district and the department. C. Keep posts informed about the importance of "grass roots" legislative issues. D. Communicate the Legion's wishes to elected public officials when necessary. IV. Discuss the importance of membership at every gathering in which you speak. V. Help American Legion hospital and nursing home chairpersons find volunteers for their programs. VI. Assist with other post and district service activities, such as, decorating veteran's graves and providing financial assistance to needy veterans and their survivors. 1.1.2 DISTRICT SERVICE OFFICERS ASSIGNMENTS District service officers coordinate veterans service activities within their districts. In doing so, district service officers should pass veterans service information along to posts. The department service office supplies veterans service information to all posts on a monthly basis by means of the Service and Legislative Update report. District service officers should stress the need for posts to distribute that information to their members. The district service officer may also want to present service information at district meetings, publish veterans service articles in the district newsletters, or both. District service officers should also encourage post service officers to promote active veterans service programs in their posts. District service officers should also coordinate at least one American Legion, Department of Indiana, Veterans Outreach and Service Seminar in their Districts per year. Department Service Officers will visit any post or district upon request to conduct a service seminar. District service officers should also attend and encourage their post service officers to attend American Legion Post Service Officers training sessions. These sessions are conducted at Department Fall Conferences, and on Department Organization Day the Sunday immediately following each Department Convention. You can find more detailed post and district information in the Department of Indiana Directory available from the Department Headquarters through your district commander. 1.2.1 AMERICAN LEGION POST AND DISTRICT SERVICE OFFICER CODE OF ETHICS 1. Maintain a reputation for honesty and integrity with claimants, other service officers, and government agencies, including the VA. 2. Always maintain confidentiality when providing veterans' services. Claimants' cases, claimants' physical or mental conditions, or anything else learned through the service officer/claimant relationship is never for publication and should never be discussed with other than authorized officials. 3. Service officers have an obligation to their claimants to keep current with changing veterans' entitlement programs and veterans service issues. 4. Service Officers should never attempt to answer questions for which they do not know the answers. Veterans benefits are too complex to expect service officers to know all the answers all the time. When faced with a difficult question, the service officer should simply inform the inquiring person that he or she will provide an answer following proper research. 5. Do not solicit a veteran to change his or her Power of Attorney from another organization to the American Legion. When other service organizations hold the Power of Attorney and the veteran has a claim pending, professional courtesy requires us to encourage the claimant to continue with the organization presently holding power of attorney -- at least until VA completes the processing of the pending claim or appeal. 1.3.1 6. American Legion Service Officers should never imply to a claimant that he or she may perform a better job than another American Legion Service Officer, or imply to a claimant that another American Legion Service Officer is incompetent in his or her duties. 7. While performing official duties and while attending veterans events, American Legion Service Officers must remember that they are representatives of the organization and conduct themselves accordingly with the absence of any conduct that would soil the Legion's reputation. 8. At meetings and social functions, all the organization's guests should be treated with respect and dignity regardless as to if their views are contrary to our own -- anything less would serve only as a bad reflection on this organization. 9. Service officer's must show respect and courtesy to all claimants. A service officer may provide claimants with facts, but should never engage in an argument with a claimant. 10. Service officers must never demand membership or accept money or any other form of gratuity for services. This does not mean that service officers are prevented from offering membership to qualified veterans; in fact, this is encouraged. 1.3.2 SERVICE OFFICERS' INTERACTION WITH THE AMERICAN LEGION DEPARTMENT OF INDIANA REHABILITATION PROGRAM The American Legion, Department of Indiana Rehabilitation program is funded through donations received from individual members, as well as Legion posts and districts. Those funds are then allocated to appointed American Legion Rehab Program Volunteers who purchase comfort items and arrange social activities for veteran patients in VA hospitals, private hospitals, and nursing homes. Rehab funds also supply comfort items to veterans visiting Vet Centers and VA Clinics. Department Rehabilitation funds also assist veterans at homeless shelters throughout the State of Indiana, and provide limited direct emergency financial assistance to needy veterans. Funds are also allocated for use at the Lafayette, Indiana Veterans Home. Approximately $78,000 will be set-aside for this purpose in the 2011-2012 American Legion, Department of Indiana fiscal year. The dollar amount placed in the Rehab program depends upon how much the department collects in rehab fund donations each year. No doubt, the generosity of Legionnaires has favorably touched the lives of many veterans. American Legion post and district service officers may also participate in the "Rehab" program by encouraging post and district rehab donations Legion service officers should also encourage members to assist appointed rehab chairpersons who often experience manpower (or womanpower) shortages. Additional volunteers are always welcome and needed for things such as patient visitations and assistance with social activities. Post and district service officers should therefore communicate regularly with appointed Rehabilitation Chairpersons and discuss their needs at district and post meetings. Legionnaires are always willing to help one another and share kindness to those in need; however, willing volunteers will never be found if service needs are left unexpressed. By announcing specific needs for services during American Legion post and district gatherings, Legion service officers can help fill voluntary service needs and brighten the lives of medically confined veterans. Service officers can find a listing of appointed rehabilitation chairpersons in The American Legion Department of Indiana Directory. 1.4.1 The American Legion, Department of Indiana Richard R. Quattrin Homeless Veterans Shelter Program This program will award $50.00 each time a documented not-for-profit shelter in the State of Indiana provides a homeless veteran lodging and shelter for at least two nights. As of August 1, 2003, cumulative awards to an individual homeless shelter between August 1 and July 31 of each year cannot exceed $500. The veteran must provide a copy of his or her DD form 214 showing discharge from active duty service under conditions other than dishonorable. Homeless Shelters may FAX requests for DD Forms 214 directly to the NPRC by using the following FAX number, 314-538-4898. The veteran must provide a copy of his or her DD Form 214 showing discharge from active duty service under conditions other than dishonorable. Veterans may now request copies of their DD Forms 214 over the Internet by using the following Internet address: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/. Veterans may also access the website by typing “eVetRecs” in a computer search engine. We understand that the turn around time for these electronic requests are usually only a few days. If the homeless shelter does not have access to the Internet, the shelter may still help the veteran request a copy of his or her DD Form 214 by using the hard copy Standard Form 180 (available at our office upon request). Both hard copy and electronic requests require the veteran‟s signature, so the shelter will want to make sure to assist the veteran with filing for a DD Form 214 before the veteran leaves the shelter. The American Legion Department of Indiana will issue the $50.00 award to the homeless shelter organization. The American Legion Department of Indiana will issue no more than one award under this program to any one shelter for services to any one veteran between August 1 and July 31 of each year. The homeless organization may, though, apply as many times as it wants each time it provides qualifying services to individual veterans until the shelter receives the cumulative $500 maximum grant. To apply, the homeless shelter organization must complete the “Homeless Veterans Service Certification” application and return it to the address noted on the application form. An official of the homeless shelter must sign the application, and so must the veteran receiving services. The application must have a copy of the veteran‟s DD form 214 attached. The homeless shelter must also attach a copy of the official document showing its not-for-profit tax status with the first application filed between August 1 and July 31 each year. This program has limited funding and funds will be distributed on a first-come-first-service basis. If an application is rejected due to lack of funding, the homeless organization may apply again for services provided after August 1 of the next year. This program will not provide funding after July 31 of each year for services provided before August 1 of that year if the application was not received at the American Legion Department Service Office before August 1. The American Legion Department of Indiana‟s Director of Rehabilitation has full discretion for approval or rejection of award applications. This program was initiated under the leadership of the late 1997-1998 Department Commander Richard R. Quattrin. Funding is possible through donations made to The American Legion Department of Indiana Rehabilitation Fund. 1.5.1 TOPIC 2 AMERICAN LEGION MEMBERSHIP 2 AMERICAN LEGION MEMBERSHIP As with most, if not all, not-for-profit veterans organizations, the existence of The American Legion depends upon membership. Without membership, the organization could not sponsor and administer its many important programs, such as, Americanism, Children and Youth, Economics, Foreign Relations, National Security, and Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation. In addition to the nation, state, and community's loss following a breakdown of Legion programs, veterans would also lose. Elected government officials would no longer feel the need to sponsor or support veterans legislative issues, and veterans benefit programs would easily give way to demands of the federal Office of Management and Budget and its state government counterparts. Also, eligibility requirements for VA medical care would become even stricter, and hospitalized veterans would no longer receive visits from American Legion rehabilitation volunteers. Further, individual veterans having a disagreement with VA benefit decisions could no longer turn to the American Legion service office for assistance and representation with their appeals. These are only a few of many reasons why every legion member, including district and post service officers, should encourage all eligible veterans to join The American Legion or renew their American Legion membership. American Legion service officers should never decline assistance or representation to non-members, but service officers should offer all eligible non-members an opportunity to join. Article IV of The American Legion National Constitution indicates any United States citizen who served in the U.S. armed forces or entered an associated government's armed forces while a citizen of the United States during one of the following periods is eligible for American Legion membership if the individual was released from active duty with an honorable discharge or continues to serve on active duty honorably during any one of the following dates: August 2, 1990 to the cessation of hostilities as determined by the U. S. Government December 20, 1989 through January 31, 1990 August 24, 1982 through July 31, 1984 December 22, 1961 through May 7, 1975 June 25, 1950 through January 31, 1955 December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946 April 6, 1917 through November 11, 1918 For membership purposes, service in the armed forces includes active duty service in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. National Guard or Reserve service also qualifies for membership if the guardsman or reservist had at least one day federal service in a period of war. Essentially, one may state a U. S. citizen is eligible for American Legion membership if he or she received an honorable discharge after serving federal duty in the armed forces during a period of war or continues to serve honorably having served during wartime service. American Legion service officers must remember though, wartime service dates for American Legion membership purposes are more inclusive than wartime service dates for many federal and state benefit programs. 2.1.1 TOPIC 3 VETERANS SERVICE LEGISLATION 3 VETERANS SERVICE LEGISLATION Laws authorizing various veterans benefit programs often have their beginning at the "grass roots" level. In the American Legion, this means resolutions initiated at American Legion Posts at the recommendation of one or more of its members. Service officers often become aware of injustices within laws and regulations controlling the current veterans benefit system. Sometimes these injustices occur simply through the VA's misinterpretation of laws or regulations that could be corrected through the administrative appeals process. The administrative appeals process will prove inefficient though, if legislative action is necessary to change a law before correction of the injustice. This is when American Legion service officers should develop resolutions to initiate change of laws, and then process those resolutions through appropriate channels. Several steps are necessary prior to the American Legion supporting a resolution. Many posts have committees that review various resolutions prior to recommending them to their posts for passage. If the post passes the resolution it may be presented to the district for consideration. Once passed at district level, a resolution may be presented to the department convention through the department headquarters. When a resolution involving state matters is passed at the department convention, it becomes a directive of the American Legion, Department of Indiana. Resolutions involving national issues must also be presented and passed at the national convention before becoming a national directive or policy of The American Legion. Successful department resolutions have the full support of approximately one hundred thousand American Legion members within the State of Indiana, and successful national resolutions have the support of approximately 2.7 million American Legion members nationwide. Members of The American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion also support American Legion resolutions. With this support, congresspersons and state legislators seriously consider American Legion recommendations. Before resolutions are presented to the originating body, the subject matter should be properly researched and the resolution itself well written. No one and no post wants to appear ill advised or misinformed when their resolutions are reviewed at the next level. This can easily happen if the proposed resolution is detrimental to established veterans benefit programs, already law, or against the policies of The American Legion. American Legion service officers are therefore advised to discuss their idea for improving veterans benefits with The American Legion department service officer (Director of Rehabilitation) before the resolution is written. In addition to offering advice and guidance the department service officer could provide research assistance. Service officers may find directions for writing resolutions within section four of The American Legion Officers Guide and Manual of Ceremonies as expressed in The American Legion May 1960 national resolutions numbers 20 and 21. 3.1.1 The legislation process is an important function of The American Legion and warrants service officer participation to present informed proposals for improving veterans benefit programs or simply maintaining those benefit programs now available. 3.1.2 TOPIC 4 SERVICE OFFICER TOOLS 4 CLAIM FORMS LIST FORM NUMBER USE 10-10EZ VA medical care enrollment application 10-10EC Claim for Extended VA Medical Care Services, i.e, Nursing Home Care 10-10d Application for dependents entitlements to CHAMPVA 10-583 Claim for VA payment of unauthorized medical care 10-8678 Clothing allowance application 10-1394 ( R ) Application for Adaptive Equipment [only] for Motor Vehicle 20-572 Changes of address at the VARO 20-5655 Financial report for use with waiver requests 21-22 Power of Attorney (for veterans organizations) 21-526 Pension or compensation application (original) 21-526c Pre-service discharge compensation claim 21-526b For Veterans seeking increased benefits for conditions already determined by VA to be service-connected 21-526EZ and FDC Certification For submitting with "Fully Developed Claim compensation claims 21-527EZ For submitting with "Fully Developed Pension Claims 21-527 Pension application (used only after a VA Form 21-526 has been previously filed) 21-530 Burial and plot allowance application 21-534 Survivor‟s DIC or pension application (widow or dependent child) 21-535 Dependent parent‟s DIC application 4.1.1 21-674 Application to extend dependency allowance when a child 18 years of age or older continues to attend school 21-686c Application to clarify dependency allowance 21-0512V-1 EVR form (veterans) Section 306 pension 21-516-1 EVR form (veteran with a spouse) improved pension 21-0517-1 EVR form (veteran with children) 21-0518-1 EVR form (surviving spouse without children) improved pension 21-0571 Application to exclude child‟s income for pension purposes 21-0779 Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance Benefits 21-792 Fiduciary Statement in Support of Appointment 21-0845 Authorization for VA benefits offices to disclose personal information to a third party (other than the accredited representative) 21-0847 Request for Substitution of Claimant Upon Death of Claimant 21-2680 Aid and Attendance or Housebound application (Must be completed by physician) 21-4138 Statement in support of claim 21-4142 Medical release consent 21-4502 Application for automobile allowance and adaptive equipment 21-8940 Individual Unemployability application (for compensation purposes) 22-1990 Application for veteran‟s education benefits 22-5490 Dependents survivor‟s education assistance application 28-1880 Application for determination of VA Home Loan Entitlement 4.1.2 26-1817 Application for determination of Home Loan Entitlement for the surviving spouse 26-4555 Special Adapted Housing and Special Home Adaptation Application 28-1900 Vocational Rehabilitation application SGLV 8713 Serviceman‟s Group Life Insurance (SGLI) application for retired reservists SGLV 8714 Veterans‟ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) application SGLV 8721 SGLI or VGLI Life Insurance, beneficiary change 29-336 Government Life Insurance beneficiary change (VA) 29-357 Government Life Insurance, total disability benefits application (VA) 29-889 Insurance, change of address form (VA) 29-1546 Insurance cash surrender and loan application (VA) 29-4125 Government Life Insurance lump sum payment form (VA) 29-4364 Service disabled Veterans‟ Life Insurance application, VA 40-247 Presidential Memorial Certificate Request Form 40-1330 Government headstone or marker application 90-2008 Burial Flag Application 3288 Consent to release information from veterans records file. (Use when veteran wants copies of records from his VA claim file) State Form 32534 (R5/ 4-01) Indiana State Special Veterans License Plate State Form 20234 (R11/6-04) Indiana State Fees Remission Application (to apply for free college tuition benefits for children of service connected disabled wartime era veterans) State Form 48554 Application for Burial/ Indiana Veterans Cemetery 4.1.3 No Number Application for Reduced Fee Hunting and Fishing License for (Service Connected) Disabled veterans Standard Form 180-106 Request for copies of military records and/or a replacement DD From 214 DD Form 2510 Application for a POW medal DD Form 149 Application for correction of military records DD Form 293 Application for discharge review Form SSA-7004-PC-OPA Social Security request for earnings and benefit estimate statement http://www.va.gov/vaforms/search_action.asp VA Internet Forms Access Page Address http://www.in.gov/dva/ Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs Forms 4.1.4 COMMON MISTAKES SERVICE OFFICERS SHOULD AVOID 1. Never inhibit the filing of a claim if a claimant believes he or she may be entitled to benefits. (Unless you know the claimant wants to file a fraudulent claim.) 2. Don't forget to advise veterans of risks involved with reopening a disability claim, such as, reduction of compensation ratings or severance of service connection. 3. Never advise claimants to under report income considered in calculating non-service connected pension benefits. 4. Never advise claimants to over report un-reimbursed medical expenses considered in calculating non-service connected pension benefits. 5. Make sure to advise all claimants that they must initiate action to file an appeal if they are dissatisfied with a VA decision. 6. Make sure claimants understand they only have 180 days to file for a waiver of most VA debts. 7. Don't advise claimants they must request a VA hearing to appeal a VA decision. 8. Don't change a claimant's Power of Attorney if there is currently an appeal pending. 9. Make sure the veteran knows to notify the VA and his or her service organization when there is a change of address. 10. Make sure surviving spouses know they must reassign a Power of Attorney. 11. Never inhibit the filing of a claim or assigning of a Power of Attorney because the veteran does not belong to a service organization. 12. Never guarantee a claimant that he or she will receive benefits for which the application is made. 13. Make sure claimants know that their signature on a VA form certifies the report given is true and correct to the best of their knowledge. 14. Make sure claimants understand when they must report changes in income and dependency status. 15. Make sure you are covered by liability insurance prior to transporting veterans. 16. Make sure claimants know the date of filing claims and other documents with VA is normally the date VA actually receives those documents, and not the date the claim is completed at a county veterans service office, the post mark date, or even the date the claimant‟s accredited representative receives those documents. 4.2.1 NEWLY DISCHARGED VETERANS CONSULTATION CHECKLIST 1. Determine if a VA disability claim needs filed. Supporting documents may include: A. Certified copy of DD Form 214 B. Service Medical Records C. Copy of marriage certificate D. Copies of children's birth certificates E. Copies of private medical records or signed medical information release forms F. Copies of documents showing dissolution of prior marriages of veteran and spouse G. Supporting lay or doctors' statements H. Copies of documents showing entitlement to military awards or citations I. Have veteran complete and sign a Power of Attorney form (VAF 21-22) Note: To establish the earliest effective date possible, the claim may be filed without waiting for supporting documents. The supporting documents may be filed at a later date if necessary. 2. Advise veteran to file for dental care 3. Advise veteran to apply for reemployment 4. Discuss conversion of Serviceman's Group Life Insurance to Veterans Group Life Insurance 5. Discuss possible education assistance programs 6. Discuss VA Medical Care benefits 7. Discuss G.I. Loan Guaranty benefits 8. Discuss State Veterans benefits 4.3.1 REPLACING YOUR DD FORM 214 (Active Duty Separation Document) If you have served on active duty in the armed forces, your DD Form 214 is a very important document. You could be entitled to various veterans benefits and assistance programs. You will find, though, qualifying for these benefits require proof of your veteran‟s status. If you are lucky, the government will carefully store and safeguard your DD Form 214 – but don‟t count on it! Many veterans (even those having years of military service) have been denied benefits because of the loss of their DD Form 214 and their inability to prove their veterans status. If you have lost your DD Form 214, you might be able to find a replacement at one of the following resources. The County Recorders Office in the county that you returned to immediately following your active duty discharge. Your DD Form 214 will be at the County Recorders Office only if you had it recorded there following your service discharge. Once the County Recorder‟s Office records the DD Form 214, it often becomes a matter of public record. If your DD Form 214 is at the County Recorders Office, you should be able to receive a certified copy on the day of your visit. The State Department of Veterans Affairs may have a copy of your DD form 214 or be able to get a copy for you through the State archives. If you lived in Indiana immediately before entering active duty service or if you had ever filed for a State of Indiana Veterans Bonus, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) might have a copy of your DD Form 214. You may reach IDVA by calling 317-232-3910, or by writing to IDVA, 302 West Washington Street, Room E-120. Receiving a copy of the DD Form 214 from IDVA may take several days to two weeks from the date of your request if IDVA has a copy on file. The Privacy Act covers receiving copies of the DD Form 214 from IDVA, so the veteran or someone that has provided written authorization from the veteran to receive a copy must make the request. IDVA may therefore require the completion of a formal application before issuing a DD Form 214. A Veterans Service Organization may have a copy of the DD Form 214 on file if the veteran was ever a member of the service organization and the organization required the veteran to provide a copy of the DD Form 214 before accepting the membership. Many organizations, such as, The American Legion, keep copies of their members' DD Forms 214 on file at their local posts or chapters. Most posts will issue a copy only to the veteran or to someone the veteran has authorized in writing to receive a copy. Not all service organizations keep copies of DD Forms 214 on file and when they do, it is done at the local post or chapter. If the local post has a copy of the DD Form 214, the post could usually supply a copy as soon as the post commander is contacted. 4.4.1 The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may have a copy of the veteran's DD Form 214 on file at the VA Regional Office in the State of the veterans residents or last known Sate of residents if the veteran had ever file a VA benefit claim. The request should be made to the VA Regional Office in writing and signed by the veteran, the veteran‟s legal guardian, or the veteran‟s next-of- kin if the veteran is deceased. A response from the VA may take several weeks. The veteran may receive a quicker response if he or she makes the request in person at the VA Regional Office. The address for the VA Regional Office in Indiana is: VA Regional Office, 575 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204. You may call the nearest VA regional office anywhere in the United States by dialing 1-800-827-1000. The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132- 5100 may have a copy of the DD Form 214 on file if the veteran has been discharged from active duty for at least three and often six to seven months. Application to the NPRC should be made on a government Standard Form 180. These forms are available at VA Regional Offices, most County Veterans Service Offices, or The American Legion Department of Indiana Service Office (317-226- 7918). These requests are also protected by the privacy act explained on the Standard Form 180. NPRC may not respond to the request for several months. The National Personnel Records Center will also now accept electronic requests for personnel records including a replacement DD form 214, at: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/standard-form-180.html. Electronic request are usually filled much sooner than a mailed request using a SF 180. Actually, a copy of a DD form 214 from the NPRC will be a DD Form 215, but the DD Form 215 is accepted anywhere for benefits purposes the same as a DD Form 214. The Service Branch for Active or Current Reserve Members may still have a copy of the DD form 214 on file under the following circumstances: (1) when the veteran had more than one period of active duty and is still on active duty; or (2) when the veteran is in the reserves or still has a reserve obligation; or (3) when the veteran has been discharged from active duty for only a short time -- 3 to 7 months -- and the records have not yet been sent to the NPRC. The specific address for requesting a DD Forms 214 from the Service Branch are listed on the Standard Form 180 that should be used for making the request. Standard Forms 180 are available at the VA regional office, most county veterans service offices, and the American Legion Department of Indiana Veterans Service Office (317-226-7918). 4.4.2 TOPIC 5 DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS BENEFITS 5 VA Claims and Representation The VA claims section of this manual will provide service officers information about what is needed for completing and filing appropriate claim forms. Simplified eligibility requirements are discussed for each type of claim. Photocopies of claim forms are also included unless you are using an electronic copy of this manual. Field service officers should familiarize themselves with the instructions within each claim form to learn more about what information is needed to process various claims. Please do not use the example claim forms in this manual for filing claims; many of them they have been inverted for easier reading and may not be acceptable by VA. Service officers will not want to cause veterans to lose benefits. If a claimant already has service connection established for a disability, make sure to advise the claimant that the law does not protect continuation of the "Service connection status" until after the disability has been service connected for at least ten years. Also advise the claimant that the law does not protect disability percentage ratings until after the ratings have been in effect for twenty years or more. Beware, protection of the disability's "Service connection" after ten years does not protect the rating; the rating is protected only after rated continuously for twenty years or more. The decision to reopen a claim is solely the claimant's, but make certain the claimant is aware of the risks involved if either service connection or the rating is unprotected by these ten and twenty year rules. To protect yourself, you should also note in your records that you have discussed protection and severance rules with the veteran. Before The American Legion may assist anyone with a VA claim, the claimant must complete and sign a VA form 21-22. This form is normally referred to as a "Power of Attorney." VA Forms 21-22 no longer have a place for a claimant to assign a Field (Post, District, or County) Service Office to receive information concerning the claim. The field service officer should therefore ask the claimant to also complete the form entitled “RELEASE OF INFORMATION BY ACCREDITED REPRESENTATIVE TO COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE OFFICE OR AN AMERICAN LEGION POST OR DISTRICT SERVICE OFFICE.” This will allow The American Legion Service Office to keep that specified field service office updated on the veteran's claim. If a claimant signs any form with an "X," it must be witnessed by two people who must also note their address with their signature. If the claimant is assigning The American Legion to represent him/her with a government insurance matter, a separate VA form 21-22 must be returned for filing with the VA Insurance Center. The VA form 21-22 (Power of Attorney Form) only needs filed once. The assignment will then remain in effect until the claimant either informs the VA that The American Legion is no longer authorized as his/her representative or the claimant assigns another service organization or attorney as his/her representative. If, however, the veteran claimant dies and his or her spouse wants to assign The American Legion as his or her representative in claims for survivors benefits, the surviving spouse must supply a completed and signed VA form 21-22 of his or her own. Claimants may now authorize third parties, including county veterans service officer, direct access to the claimant‟s VA information by completing, signing and submitting a VA Form 21-0845 to the VA regional office. This form, however, does not appoint the third party as the claimant‟s representative. 5.1.1 RELEASE OF INFORMATION BY ACCREDITED REPRESENTATIVE TO COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE OFFICE OR AN AMERICAN LEGION POST OR DISTRICT SERVICE OFFICE ________________________________________ _______________________________ NAME OF VETERAN DATE __________________________________ ________________________________ VA FILE NUMBER SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER _______________________________________________ _________________________________ NAME OF CLAIMANT (IF OTHER THAN VETERAN) RELATIONSHIP TO VETERAN _________________________________________________________________________________ ADDRESS I have appointed The American Legion as the service organization to representative me with issues, claims or other matters before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by properly completing and signing a VA Form 21-22. The American Legion is also authorized to disclose information concerning my VA matters to the County Veterans Service Office and/or the American Legion Post or District Service Office named below. I also authorize The American Legion to release to that Service Office, information or access to records protected by 38 U.S.C. 7332, that relate to the diagnosis, treatment, or other therapy for the condition(s) of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), or Sickle Cell Anemia. I further understand that this authorization will continue indefinitely unless I provide the American Legion Department of Indiana Service Office a written, signed letter revoking such release of information. _________________________________________________________________________________ COUNTY AND/OR AMERICAN LEGION POST OR DISTRICT VETERANS SERVICE OFFICE [Name of county, or American Legion Post or District, not the individual(s) name(s)] AND ADDRESS _____________________________________________________ ______________________ SIGNATURE OF CLAIMANT DATE SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION When an original claim or a reopened claim is filed, the VA will often want supporting documentation, e.g., marriage license, birth certificates, receipts, medical evidence, etc. Although it's good to provide all this information when the claim is filed, it's not always practical and waiting to obtain the information could cause the claimant to lose months of retroactive benefits. By law, the effective date of a VA award is usually the day following discharge from active duty if the claim is filed within one year after active duty discharge; otherwise, the effective date of the award is the first day of the following month after the claim is filed. When considering this VA regulation you can see that waiting a few days to obtain supporting documents before filing could cause a claimant to lose a month or sometimes up to a year or more of retroactive benefits. The general rule is -- file an informal claim, then obtain and file the formal claim and supporting documents. In many cases the VA will allow additional benefits in the form of dependency allowance. Claimants must first submit copies of their marriage license and/or children's birth certificates. The custodian of records holds such documents. In Indiana, the custodian of records would include the Board of Health for birth certificates and the County Clerks Office for marriage licenses. The VA will now accept non- certified copies of birth certificates or marriage licenses. If a claimant's dependency status changes (divorce, marriage, birth, etc.) after the original claim has been filed, a VA form 21-686c needs completed and submitted along with the appropriate documents. When claimants need the VA to obtain supporting medical evidence, they should use a VA form 21- 4138 to note the date and place of treatment and for asking the VA to obtain those medical treatment records. A VA Form 21-4142 (Authorization for Release of Medical Information) also needs completed, but only when asking the VA to obtain medical records from non-government sources. The VA regional office, however, also requires receipt of a completed and signed VA form 21-4142 before it requests copies of VA Vet Center records. Although the “Veterans Claims Assistance Act” requires VA to assist veterans with obtaining supporting evidence, claimants still have a responsibility to participate in efforts to obtain evidence. When a claim for service connection of a disability is filed, the VA is most interested in obtaining medical evidence that may show the development of a chronic disability during or closely following the veteran‟s active duty service. When a claim is filed for an increased disability rating, the VA has more interest in obtaining medical evidence showing the current severity of the disability. 5.2.1 In non service connected pension cases, VA will allow claimants to report un-reimbursed medical expenses for the purpose of reducing countable income for pension purposes and increasing their pension award. This is usually done following the end of a calendar year by using a VA Eligibility Verification Report (EVR) form and VA Form 21-8416. VA will not normally request medical receipts, but they may; therefore, please encourage claimants to save their receipts. If for any reason VA has reason to believe a claimant has over reported medical expenses in an effort to obtain additional pension benefits, VA will require that claimant to provide receipts. If that claimant cannot show receipts for the claimed medical expenses, VA will likely require the claimant to provide receipts for his or her claimed medical expenses for the next three years. Sometimes items sent to VA are lost either in the mail or by the Department of Veterans Affairs itself. Service officers should therefore encourage claimants to copy and save evidence, forms, and other documents being filed with the VA. Local service officers actually assisting with the filing of a claim should also keep copies of those documents in a file marked with the claimant's name and VA claim number. Veterans seeking increased compensation ratings for service connected disabilities simply need to supply VA a signed statement indicating a belief that the service connected disability has become worse. The veteran would also need to note a request for a higher compensation rating. VA would then likely schedule the claimant for a compensation examination to help determine the severity of the service connected condition for rating purposes. A person attempting to reopen a previously disallowed claim for service connection will need to provide more than a personal statement of contentions to reopen a claim. In this case, the claimant would need to supply new and material evidence. New and material evidence consists of evidence that the VA has not previously considered that would at least show a possible link between the claimed disability and the veteran's service in the armed forces. Prior to the Veterans Claims Assistance Act being signed into law on November 9, 2000, VA required veterans to provide evidence sufficient enough to “well ground” claims before VA would help find supporting evidence. VA denied many claims based upon them not being well grounded. Claimants had until November 8, 2002, to ask VA to reopen claims previously denied between July 14, 1999 and November 9, 2000 based upon prior decisions that those claims were not “well grounded.” If the claimant had failed to make a timely request for re-adjudication of the issues denied as not well grounded, the claimant will now need to supply “new and material” evidence to reopen the same claims. Service officers having questions pertaining to the development of supporting evidence should contact the American Legion Department Service Office. 5.2.2 DISABILITY COMPENSATION Disability compensation is a monthly VA benefit paid to veterans who have been discharged from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions, and who have incurred a chronic disability coincident to such service. Disability compensation is paid only after VA establishes service connection for the disability. Service connection is granted when a disability is: 1) Directly incurred in service; 2) Aggravated by service; 3) Presumed to have been incurred in service; 4) Caused by a previously established service connected disability; or 5) A service connected disability totally or substantially impairing a bodily organ or extremity and the remaining bodily organ or extremity is also totally or substantially disabled from other than service connected reasons. VA disability compensation is also payable for disabilities incurred because of VA vocational rehabilitation training, or additional disability coincident with VA medical care or the lack of medical care and attention VA should have reasonably given. This is called a 38 United States Code 1151 claim. In most cases, the original compensation claim -- and only the original compensation claim -- is filed on a VA form 21-526. VA, however, has recently established a new form (VA Form 21-526c) for filing original compensation claims for veterans getting ready for but not yet discharged from active duty service, and VA Form 21-526EZ for veterans filing fully developed ready to rate original compensation claims. A VA form 21-4138 or simply a letter from the claimant is used to file all subsequently reopened disability compensation claims. Veterans may also use a newly established VA Form 21-526b when asking for a higher compensation rating for a medical condition that VA has already service connected. When completing a VA form 21-526, please answer all questions to the best of the claimant's knowledge with the exception of non-military income and net worth questions that are only required in non-service connected pension claims. If available, a certified copy of the veteran's active duty separation document (DD form 214) should also accompany the original disability compensation application. Veterans should not normally concern themselves with obtaining service medical records for their VA claims. The Department of Veterans Affairs will request all available service medical records from the appropriate branch of service immediately upon receipt of the veteran's original claim for disability compensation benefits. Claimants should, however, submit all original service medical records they have in their possession after copies are made. Also, veterans should not obtain copies of medical records already in the VA file and resubmit them to the Department of Veterans Affairs: this will only thicken the veteran's VA claim file and add to the confusion. The amount of VA disability compensation paid is based upon the current severity of the service connected disability or disabilities. As the disabilities become worse, the veteran should apply for an increased compensation rating. Caution is necessary, however, if the veteran's rating is not yet "Protected from reduction." (See the section in this Manual entitled VA Claims and Representation). 5.3.1 The severity of the disability is evaluated in increments of 10 ranging from 0% to 100% disabling. When there are two or more service-connected disabilities, the veteran is paid based upon the "Combined" disability rating. The combined disability rating is calculated by using VA's Combined Rating Table and not by adding together the separate disability ratings. Very severely disabled veterans may also receive special monthly compensation (SMC) benefits that could pay greater monthly compensation awards than the 100% rating offers. Examples of SMC cases include service-connected disabilities causing loss or loss of use of one or more extremities, blindness, or total deafness. Additional information pertaining to special monthly compensation benefits may be found within the 38 Code of Federal Regulations Section 3.350 and 38 United States Code Chapter 11 Section 14 (referred to as Section 1114). Please ensure veterans understand and sign their compensation application prior to sending the application to the American Legion Department Service Office. Compensation Benefits for Children with Birth Defects Children having birth defects of Vietnam veterans and some Korean demilitarized zone veterans can file for and often receive disability compensation, education assistance, and medical services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. For children of women Vietnam veterans the covered birth defects include any birth defect identified by VA as a birth defect associated with the service of women in Vietnam from February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975, and that has resulted, or may result in, permanent physical or mental disability. This does not include birth defects due to a familial (inherited) disorder; birth related injury; or fetal or neonatal infirmity with other well established causes. Congenital malignant neoplasm chromosomal disorders, or developmental disorders are also not covered. Also, conditions not resulting in permanent physical or mental disabilities are not covered birth defects. Children having Spina Bifida of both male and female Vietnam Veterans who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, or of veterans that had service at the demilitarized zone in Korea between September 1, ,1967 and August 31, 1971 are also entitled to VA compensation, education and medical benefits. Of course, the child would have had to have been conceived after the veteran entered the required area of service. Benefits are paid regardless of the child‟s age or marital status. The qualifying child may apply by using VA Form 21-0304. 5.3.2 NON SERVICE CONNECTED PENSION VA offers a non service connected pension to wartime era veterans who have served 90 days or more active duty in the armed forces, were discharge under other than dishonorable conditions, and who have a disability or a combination of disabilities that "permanently" preclude them from engaging in a gainful employment activity. VA will now concede that the veteran meets the permanent and total disability requirement if the veteran is a patient in a nursing home, has been determined totally disabled by the Social Security Administration, or is at least 65 years of age. This non-service connected pension benefit guarantees the veteran an annual income that is usually increased each year with a cost of living adjustment (COLA). Most all of the veteran's family income from other sources reduces the non-service connected pension benefit dollar-for-dollar. The total amount of the veteran's un-reimbursed family medical expenses over 5% of the basic pension benefit is used to reduce the amount of income from other sources counted against the non service connected pension benefit. All expenses the claimant must pay toward the cost of nursing home care (over the 5% deduction) may subtract from the countable income for VA pension purposes. VA will also allow the costs of assisted living facility expenses or home care expenses as reducing the claimant’s countable income for VA pension purposes if VA can find the claimant meets the disability requirements for entitlement to VA Special Monthly Pension (SMP) Housebound or SMP Aid and Attendance benefits, but the same is not true for veterans entitled to only the basic VA pension. VA manual provisions M21-1 Part IV 16.31 b (1)(a) and (10) make this possible. Once the pension is calculated, VA normally pays the benefit in twelve monthly installments. . Non-service connected pension is adjusted upwardly when the number of the veteran's dependents increase and downwardly when the veteran loses dependents. A dependent includes a spouse, child, or stepchild. The child or stepchild must be under age 18, or under age 23 and attending school. The stepchild must have acquired that status before the age of 18 while living as a member of the veteran's household. Copies of the veteran's marriage certificate and the children's birth certificates should also be submitted if not already within the VA claim file. The veteran should also supply documents proving the termination of all prior marriages of both the veteran and his or her current spouse. VA will normally waive the document copy requirement if the claimant can give the exact dates and places of all marriages, and divorces or deaths of previous spouses. Shortly before a dependent child's 18th birthday, the veteran should complete and return a VA form 21- 674 if the child will remain in school after becoming 18 years of age. This will allow the claimant to keep the child as a dependent for VA purposes until the child either stops attending school or reaches the age of 23. 5.4.1 If the non service-connected pension applicant has never filed a VA compensation or pension claim before, VA form 21-526 is for use. The income and net worth portion of the VA form 21-526 must be completed when filing for non service-connected pension benefits. If the non service-connected pension applicant has previously filed a VA compensation or pension claim, the claimant may use VA form 21-527 to reapply, or VA Form 21-527EZ to reapply if the claim is fully developed and ready to rate. Higher non-service connected pension allowances are also paid when veterans are either housebound or in need of aid and attendance from another person because of disability. Entitlement to special monthly pension (SMP) aid and attendance benefits is assumed if the veteran is a patient in a nursing home. To apply when the veteran is a nursing home patient, a letter from the nursing home noting the veteran is a patient and stating the daily cost of nursing home care should also accompany the veteran's application for pension benefits. The nursing home letter should also note if Medicaid is paying the veteran‟s nursing home expenses. If the veteran is not a nursing home patient but otherwise thought eligible for SMP, the veteran may apply for the additional allowance by having a doctor complete a VA form 21-2680. Of course, the VA form 21-2680 should also either accompany the application for non service connected pension benefits or be supplied to the American Legion Service Office shortly after filing the non-service connected pension application. Periodically, you will find a veteran receiving a pension benefit from one of the prior VA programs in which the monthly rate has been "Frozen" at the rate payable when the veteran decided to remain on the old pension program instead of switching to VA's new "Improved pension" program. The veteran would have done this because the old pension program paid more than what he or she would have received by participating in the improved pension program. Veterans may choose to switch to the improved pension program at anytime, but once veterans opt to switch and cash the first improved pension benefit check they cannot later return to the old pension program. Because of the complexity of these cases, service officers should consult with an American Legion Department Service Officer before advising a veteran to switch pension programs. A veteran might meet the eligibility requirements for both a non service-connected pension and VA disability compensation; however, regulations restrict concurrent payment of both benefits. Veterans are entitled to only the higher of these two VA benefits. Unlike the restrictions associated with switching between non service-connected pension programs, the veteran may opt to return to VA compensation at any time if doing so would pay more than remaining on a non service connected pension. The VA should automatically return the veteran's compensation benefit if it would pay more than the non-service connected pension entitlement. Some veterans believe if they choose to receive the non-service connected pension they will lose other entitlements associated with receiving disability compensation benefits. Their beliefs are unfounded. Veterans continue to receive all entitlements associated with their service-connected status even though they may choose to receive a non-service connected pension, which could possibly pay a higher monthly benefit. 5.4.2 SURVIVORS COMPENSATION OR PENSION VA compensation or pension benefits die with the veteran: They are not transferable to the surviving spouse, or anyone else after the veteran's death. It is very important that all veterans and their families know this fact before the veteran's death so the family may adequately plan for their future financial needs. In some cases; however, a surviving spouse, children, and dependent parents may apply for VA survivors benefits. There are two types of monthly VA survivors benefits. They consist of a survivor‟s non-service connected pension, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). A survivor‟s pension guarantees a claimant an annual income that is reduced by all other family income less unusually high medical expenses. It works much like the veteran's non-service connected pension, but the amount of guaranteed annual income is much less. A non-service connected survivors pension is payable to survivors of wartime era veterans. The deceased veteran must have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions and served at least 90 days active duty in the armed forces with at least one of those days served during a period of war. The 90-day requirement will not apply if the veteran was discharged from active duty service with less time because of service- connected disabilities. Unlike the veteran‟s non-service connected pension, though, the surviving spouse does not have to meet disability requirements. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits are payable to survivors of veterans who have either died of service related causes; or who had died of a non-service connected cause and had been rated 100% disabled from service connected disabilities at the time of their death and for at least 10 consecutive years before death, or 1 year before death of a former Prisoner of War (POW). The POW provision took effect for deaths after September 30, 1999. Unlike non-service connected survivors pension benefits, DIC benefits are not reduced by other income. Prior to October 1, 1993 eligible survivors were paid a monthly DIC benefit based upon what the veteran's rank was during active duty. For service connected deaths occurring on or after October 1, 1993, all eligible survivors are entitled to a set monthly benefit regardless of what the veteran's rank was during service. The monthly DIC benefit is increased by the number of dependent children in the surviving family. Effective January 1, 2005, VA may now pay an additional $260 DIC allowance per month to a surviving spouse with one or more minor children on the DIC award if: (1) original entitlement to DIC was granted within the last two years, and (2) one or more children under age 18 are on the surviving spouse‟s award. This $260 “transitional” DIC allowance is payable for only two year. There is an exception to the rule that DIC benefits are not reduced by income. DIC benefits for low- income dependent parents work much like a VA pension, but DIC dependent parent benefits are reduced by other income on a sliding scale basis instead of a dollar-for-dollar offset. Both non-service connected pension and DIC claims are filed on a VA form 21-534. If there is the slightest chance that the claimant may be entitled to DIC as opposed to survivors pension, check the 5.5.1 "Yes" in box number 10 on VA form 21-534 to claim service connection for the cause of death. The income and net worth sections of VA form 21-534 need not be completed if the claimant does not want the VA to consider a claim for non service connected survivors pension benefits. For non-service connected survivors pension applications received by VA after September 30, 1984, the effective date of an award of death benefits is the first day of the month in which the veteran died, if the death occurred prior to December 10, 2004, and the claim was filed within 45 days after the date of death. Otherwise, entitlement will be from the date of receipt of claim. If the veteran‟s death occurred on our after December 10, 2004, the effective date is the first day of the month of death when the claimant‟s application is received within one year of the date of death; the 45 day rule no longer applies for deaths after December 9, 2004. Until recently, remarriage of the surviving spouse following a veteran‟s death after October 31, 1990, would bar DIC benefits indefinitely even if the disqualifying marriage terminated. As of June 9, 1998, the law allows reinstatement of DIC benefits after the disqualifying marriage ends. Also, a new federal law restores DIC benefits for surviving spouses that had re-married after the age of 57. Surviving spouses who remarried after reaching age 57 and who file claims for restoration of benefits during calendar year 2004 are entitled to benefits from January 1, 2004. Surviving spouses who remarried after turning age 57 prior to the enactment of this legislation have one year from the date of the law‟s enactment (December 16, 2003 ) to apply for restoration of DIC benefits. The new law does not allow for reinstatement of a non-service connected survivor‟s pension even following the end of a disqualifying marriage. Surviving dependents of veterans may also be entitled to a lump sum Social Security benefit. Form SSA-24 is used for this purpose. Survivors may also be entitled to a special monthly pension (SMP) benefit if they are severely disabled. To apply, the applicant should ask their doctor to complete VA form 21-2680. The completed VA form 21-2680 may be returned along with the VA form 21-534 or after the VA form 21-534 is filed. The veteran's former power of attorney (POA) form does not automatically assign the American Legion as the survivor's representative. Please have surviving claimants complete and return a new POA (VA form 21-22). Do not forget to have the surviving spouse also complete the “RELEASE OF INFORMATION BY ACCREDITED REPRESENTATIVE TO COUNTY VETERANS SERVICE OFFICE OR AN AMERICAN LEGION POST OR DISTRICT SERVICE OFFICE” form so we may also provide your office information concerning the claim. DIC Rate Link: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/comp03.htm 5.5.2 BURIAL BENEFITS Burial Allowances The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers two types of burial allowances: service connected and non-service connected. Both benefits reimburse or pay part of the expense of a veteran's burial. Neither burial benefit will pay more than the expense incurred, and the maximum amount payable under both programs is limited. The service connected burial allowance is the higher allowance paid between the two benefit programs. This benefit will up to $2,000.00 for partial reimbursement of the costs of burial, plot, and funeral expenses following a veteran's death. The death must have been associated with a service-connected disability. In addition, VA will reimburse some or all the expense of transporting the body for burial in a National Cemetery. If a veteran doesn't pass away of a service connected condition, he or she may still be entitled to a VA non-service connected burial allowance. This benefit is payable when the veteran was receiving VA disability compensation or pension at the time of death. This non-service connected benefit pays a maximum $700.00 burial allowance and a $700.00 plot allowance for deaths on or after 10-1-11, but pays only a $300 burial allowance and a $300 plot allowance for deaths before 10-1-11. Also, the VA will pay the plot allowance for burial of indigent veterans or of a veterans who died while properly hospitalized at a VA Medical Center. There is no time limit for applying for service connected burial benefits but non-service burial benefit claims must be filed within two years of the burial or cremation. VA form 21-530 is used for this purpose. A certified copy of the veteran's death certificate should also accompany the burial benefit application. The funeral director will usually be willing to file this claim and wait for payment directly from VA. If, however, the claimant has paid the burial expense, the claimant will want to file the application along with receipts for reimbursement. Burial Markers or Headstones The VA will provide a burial marker or headstone for "Unmarked" graves of most veterans who were discharged from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions and died before September 11, 2001. If the death occurred on are after September 11, 2001, the otherwise eligible veteran may received the government grave marker or headstone even if the grave is already marked with a non- government marker. Eligibility now includes reservists or national guardsmen with 20 years or more service. The VA offers a variety of marker types and will also pay the cost of basic marker inscriptions and for transporting the marker to the gravesite. The VA does not pay the cost of placement of the stone in a private cemetery; however, the State of Indiana will help with this cost (See the State Benefits section of this manual). 5.6.1 Application for government headstones or markers is made on VA form 40-1330. Service Officers should make sure applicants know exactly what type of stone or marker they are ordering and exactly what inscriptions they are asking the VA to place on the stone or marker. The VA will correct any mistakes VA makes free of charge, but the VA will not accept responsibility for delivering another headstone or correcting inscription errors caused by mistakes made on the claimant's application. VA no longer provides partial reimbursement for the cost of a privately purchased headstones or markers for deaths occurring on or after November 1, 1990. The VA will though, provide partial reimbursement for private headstones or markers if the veteran's death occurred before November 1, 1990. VA form 21-8834 is used to apply for this benefit, and a receipt for the privately purchased headstone or marker should accompany the application. American Legion Emblem Inscription on Grave Markers Authorization is necessary from The American Legion National Adjutant before placing an American Legion emblem on a Legionnaire‟s grave marker. Family members interested in having the Legion emblem placed on the deceased legionnaire‟s grave marker may initiate the request by contacting the post adjutant at the deceased member‟s last post. After obtaining the necessary information, the post adjutant forwards it to the department adjutant who then forwards an official authorization request to the national adjutant. Further details concerning this subject are available at The American Legion Department Headquarters or Service Office. Cemeteries All veterans discharged from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions are eligible for burial in a National Cemetery. This also includes the veteran's spouse or dependent children. National cemeteries in Indiana are located in Indianapolis, New Albany, and Marion, but the National Cemetery in Marion is the only one in Indiana with burial space available. Some veterans are eligible for burial at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., but other requirements must be met in addition to being an honorably discharged veteran. For example, the Arlington National Cemetery will accept the remains of veterans retired from active duty with a 30% or more service connected disability, or the remains of veterans who had received various military citations for valor. Application for burial in a National Cemetery cannot be made until following the veteran's death. The funeral director should assist with making National Cemetery burial arrangements. Burial Flags United States flags are provided for draping caskets of most veterans discharged from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions. Reservists and National Guardsmen with 20 years of duty are also eligible for a burial flag. Following the burial, the flag is presented to the next-of-kin. Burial flags may be issued at the nearest VA facility or any first class post office on application of relatives or the undertaker. VA form 90-2008 is used for this purpose. 5.6.2 Military Funeral Honors Effective from January 1, 2000, law requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide military funeral honors to eligible veterans upon request of the veteran‟s family. This service is arranged with DOD by responsible funeral directors through a toll free telephone number. The basic military honor consists of the folding and presentation of the flag and playing of taps. A funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed members of the armed forces, with at least one member from the service in which the deceased veteran served. DOD had provided registered funeral homes a military funeral honors kit and information on how to contact the appropriate military organization to perform the honors ceremony. DOD recorded and distributed a “Military Honors” video to highlight an appropriate honors ceremony. DOD has also recorded a video on how Veterans Service Organizations and military representatives can provide joint honors ceremonies. DOD also should soon publish regulations concerning reimbursement to Veterans Service Organizations in joint honor ceremonies. Questions or comments concerning the DOD military funeral honors program may be sent to the address listed below. A military funeral honors web site is located at www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil. Department of Defense Directorate for Public Inquiry and Analysis Room 3A750, The Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1400 American Legion Service Officers having questions concerning any burial benefits should also not hesitate to contact the American Legion Department Service Office for assistance. 5.6.3 SPECIAL ENTITLEMENTS Eligible veterans have several special entitlements. Among them are clothing allowance, automobile allowance, adaptive equipment allowance, special adaptive housing, special home adaptation grants, special benefits for the blind, and a medal of honor pension. Clothing Allowance An annual clothing allowance (currently $716 for the period ending December 1, 2008) is awarded to veterans who have a service-connected disability requiring the use of prosthetic or orthopedic appliances that have a tendency to abnormally wear or tear clothing. This includes such prosthetic appliances as an artificial limb, metal brace, a wheelchair, etc. Veterans are also entitled to an annual clothing allowance if they have a service connected skin condition requiring treatment with medication that damages outer clothing. The clothing allowance is payable after August 1st of each year and an application must be filed prior to August 15th of each year if the veteran has a "non-static" disability. A non-static disability is one that is subject to change or improvement, unlike that of, for instance, a leg amputation. The Department of Veterans Affairs will inform the veteran after an original claim is filed, if his or her qualifying disability is considered static in nature. A VA form 21-8678 is used to file for the clothing allowance. The US Court of Appeals for The Federal Circuit reversed a December 21, 2007 Department of Veterans Affairs Decision that limited only one payment of clothing allowance to veterans with multiple service connected disabilities requiring the use of multiple orthopedic devices. If now, for instance, a veteran is service connected for disability of both knees requiring braces for both knees, the Federal Circuits decision requires VA to pay clothing allowance benefits for each knee doubling the veteran‟s annual clothing allowance benefit. Automobile and Adaptive Equipment Allowance A veteran or an armed forces member is entitled to a one time automobile allowance if that person has a service connected loss or loss of use of one or both feet, loss or loss of use of one or both hands, or permanent loss of vision to a correctable degree of 20/200 or less in the better eye, or severely limited peripheral vision. The automobile allowance was increased to $11,000 on December 16, 2003, and will be increased to $18,900 October 1, 2011 by PL 111-275 signed by the president on October 13, 2010. This benefit may be used toward the purchase of an automobile or other conveyance. A veteran should seek VA approval before making a contractual agreement to purchase. To apply, the claimant will need to complete and file a VA form 21-4502. A veteran with the above listed service connected disabilities may also be entitled to adaptive equipment so he or she may safely operate his or her vehicle in spite of service connected impairments. Veterans with service connected ankylosis of one or both knees or hips may also be entitled to the VA 5.7.1 adaptive equipment allowance. This allowance is also extended to veterans currently participating in a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program when VA determines the adaptive equipment is needed for the veteran's achievement of vocational goals. This benefit entitles a qualified veteran to two vehicle adaptations within a four-year cycle without consideration of the circumstances involved. Under extraordinary circumstances, the veteran may apply and receive more than two adaptive equipment allowances within the four-year cycle. Application for adaptive equipment is made on VA form 10-1394. VA will also pay for repairs of adaptive equipment and provide special driver‟s training when necessary for veterans in receipt of this adaptive equipment benefit. Special Adapted Housing and Special Home Adaptation Grants The VA will provide a benefit to help eligible disabled veterans build, buy, or remodel adapted homes, or pay indebtedness on those homes already acquired. As of July 30, 2008, the benefit equals 50% of the costs up to a maximum of $60,000.00. This benefit is also subject to periodic cost of living increases. Veterans eligible for this special adaptive housing benefit include those who have suffered a service connected loss or loss of use of both lower extremities precluding locomotion without the aid of an appliance or wheelchair; loss of sight equaling light perception only or worse in both eyes plus loss or loss of use of one lower extremity; loss or loss of use of one lower extremity combined with the residuals of organic disease or injury or loss or loss of use of one upper extremity effecting balance or propulsion precluding locomotion without a brace, cane, crutch, or wheelchair; or having a permanent and total service connected disability due to the loss of, or loss of use of both upper extremities such as to preclude use of the arms at or above the elbows, or, as of, July 30, 2008, those who have permanent and total service-connected disabilities the result of severe burn injuries. A recent law also expanded eligibility to the $60,000 Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to veterans with permanent and total service-connected disabilities due to the loss of, or loss of use, of both upper extremities such as to preclude use of the arms at or above the elbows. In addition the law now includes eligibility for any veteran that has suffered the qualifying medical condition as the result of VA hospitalization, medical or surgical treatment. Veterans entitled to adaptive housing grants are also entitled to purchase VA mortgage life protection insurance up to $90,000.00 without undergoing an examination. (PL 111-275 signed by the president on October 13, 2010 increased this to $150,000, and increases it again $200,000 on January 1, 2012. Although not entitled to the special adaptive housing grant, veterans meeting other eligibility requirements are entitled to a special home adaptation grant. The grant effective from July 30, 2008 is $12,000. This benefit is also subject to periodic cost of living increases. The eligibility criteria for this grant involves veterans rated with a service connected blindness within both eyes equaling 5/200 or less, or veterans with a service connected anatomical loss of both hands. Both special adapted housing and special home adaptation grants require permanent and total VA evaluations for the disabilities previously described. The VA will not combine both grants. VA form 26-4555 is used to apply for the special adapted housing or special home adaptation grant. 5.7.2 Special Benefits for Blind Veterans Blind veterans receiving service connected compensation for any condition, or blind veterans in receipt of special monthly pension are entitled to additional VA services. Those services include trained Seeing Eye dogs, and electronic or mechanical aides for the blind. All blind veterans or low vision handicapped veterans may be entitled to admission to the VA Blind Rehabilitation Center or Clinic. The nearest VA Blind Rehabilitation Center to Indiana is located at the Hines, Illinois VA Medical Center. The VA determines blindness for these benefits when the best corrected visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye, or the peripheral vision is limited to 20 degrees or less. Veterans interested in applying for this benefit should contact the Visual Impairment Service Coordinator at their local VA Medical Center. Medal of Honor Entitlement Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to a monthly Medal of Honor pension. The pension was established at $10.00 a month in 1916, raised to $100.00 a month in 1961, raised to $200.00 per month in January of 1979, raised to $400.00 a month in December 1993, raised to $600 a month on December 1, 1998, raised to $1,000 a month effective from November 1, 2003, $1,027 effective from December 1, 2004, $1069 effective from November 1, 2005, $1,204 effective December 1, 2006, $1,129 effective December 1, 2007, and $1,994 effective December 1, 2008. When the veteran is discharged from active duty, the Service Department will notify the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay this monthly benefit if said veteran is a recipient of the Medal of Honor award. 5.7.3 EDUCATION ASSISTANCE Over the years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has administered several education assistance benefit programs. Such programs are now available for veterans, active duty service persons, National Guard and reserve personnel, and, in special circumstances, dependents and survivors of veterans. The GI Bill, 38 United States Code Chapter 34 Education Assistance Program The American Legion was instrumental in the development of the old GI Bill Veterans Education Assistance Program. This program helped educate and train thousands of veterans who served on active duty between January 31, 1955 and January 1, 1977. Veterans had 10 years from date of active duty discharge to use their GI Bill entitlement. On December 31, 1989, all entitlement to this program ended. Post Vietnam Era Veterans' Education Assistance Program (VEAP), 38 United States Code Chapter 32 Benefit Following the end of the old GI Bill program, veterans serving on active duty on or after January 1, 1977 and before July 1, 1985 could enroll in VEAP. After enrollment, service personnel were asked to contribute from $25.00 to $100.00 of their monthly pay for a twelve-month period. The Department of Defense would add two dollars for each dollar of the service person's contribution. Before the benefit is made available for use, the veteran must have usually served at least 180 days of active duty. In addition, the veteran's service must have been under honorable conditions. Further, VEAP must be used within ten years of the veteran's release from active duty unless the VA determines physical or mental disability prevented use of the benefit within that ten-year period. VA form 22-1990 is used to apply for VEAP entitlement. If a VEAP enrollee decides against using this education entitlement, he or she may apply for a refund of his or her contributions. A VA Form 4-5281 is used for this purpose. 5.8.1 The Montgomery GI Bill, 38 United States Code Chapter 30 Benefit The VEAP program ended on June 30, 1985, and entitlement for the new Montgomery GI Bill began the following day July 1, 1985 for those serving on active duty. Full time National Guard persons who first performed duty after November 29, 1989 are also eligible to participate in the Montgomery GI Bill. The Chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill program remains in effect today. Participation in the Montgomery GI Bill is not automatic. The serviceman must agree to enroll. Enrollees have $100.00 per month withheld from their military pay for 12 months. The program is set up to pay increased benefits to those who commit to longer active duty and Reserve or National Guard enlistment. Usually, veterans have no more than ten years from date of active duty discharge to use this Education Assistance benefit. The benefit paid is base upon the type and number of credit hours of training. The full time institutional training rate, however, is raised to $1,368, per month effective October 1, 2009. You will find a training rate chart at the end of this brief summary of VA education assistance benefits. Persons entering service should use caution in making sure they plan to use this benefit before enrolling; the government does not refund the veteran‟s Montgomery GI Bill contributions. Also, this is the only VA program that requires a fully honorable discharge. Anything less than a fully honorable discharge (i.e., a general discharge under honorable conditions) will bar entitlement and the refunding of contributions. Application for the Montgomery G I Bill benefit is made on VA from 22-1990. Selected Reserve/ National Guard Education Assistance, (Chapter 1606) This benefit is provided to Reservist or National Guard personnel who enlisted for at least a six-year obligation after June 30, 1985. Completion of high school and the initial period of active duty for training are also prerequisites of Chapter 1606 enrollment. Unlike the VEAP and Montgomery GI Bill programs, monetary contributions are not required. This program allows Reservist or National Guard persons entitlement to 36 months of educational assistance. The full time Institutional rate pays $329 per month effective October 1, 2008. You will find a training rate chart at the end of this brief summary of VA education assistance benefits. To use the benefit, individuals must continue to participate satisfactorily in their Reserve or National Guard unit and use their entitlement within ten years from the date basic eligibility began. VA form 22-1990 is also used to apply for this Education Assistance program. 5.8.2 RESERVE EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (REAP) Chapter 1607 This education benefit for Activated Reservists -- H.R 4200 authorizing the creation of REAP was signed into law on October 28, 2004. The new benefit, Chapter 1607, makes certain individuals who were activated after September 11, 2001 either eligible for education benefits or eligible for increased benefits. Effective August 1, 2008, the maximum monthly REAP education assistant benefit is $1,056.80. Under the newest provisions, National Guard and Reserve members who accumulate three years on active duty, regardless of breaks in service, may be eligible for the maximum payment. Additionally, some REAP-eligible National Guard and Reserve members may make an extra contribution to the Department of Defense to increase their monthly benefit rates. Serve members receive an additional $5 per month for each $20 contributed. With the maximum $600 contribution, this option can add up to $5,400 to a member‟s total 36-month education benefit package. The Secretaries of each military service, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security (Coast Guard) will determine eligibility. The law requires DoD to give servicemen and veterans written notification of eligibility for REAP. A member of a reserve component who serves on active duty on or after September 11, 2001 under title 10 U.S. Code for a contingency operation and who serves at least 90 consecutive days or more is eligible for chapter 1607. National Guard members also are eligible if their active duty is under section 502(f), title 32 U.S.C. and they serve for 90 consecutive days when authorized by the President or Secretary of Defense for a national emergency and is supported by federal funds. Individuals are eligible as soon as they reach the 90-day point whether or not they are currently on active duty. DoD will fully identify contingency operations that qualify for benefits under chapter 1607. REAP applicants may file with the VA by using VA Form 22-1900. POST/911 GI BILL The Post-9/11 GI Bill is for individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. The veteran must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Post-9/11 GI Bill became effective for training on or after August 1, 2009. This program pays eligible individuals: tuition & fees directly to the school not to exceed the maximum in-state tuition & fees at a public Institution of Higher Learning. See: http://www.gibill.va.gov/gi_bill_info/ch33/tuition_and_fees_2010.htm a monthly housing allowance based on the Basic Allowance for Housing for an E-5 with dependents at the location of the school. an annual books & supplies stipend of $1,000 paid proportionately based on enrollment. a one-time rural benefit payment if the veteran lives in a county having 6 persons or less per square mile and meets other travel or relocation requirments to attend school. This benefit is payable only for training at an Institution of Higher Learning (IHL). If the veteran enrolls exclusively in online training he or she will not receive the housing allowance. If the veteran is on active duty he or she will not receive the housing allowance or books & supplies stipend. This benefit provides up to 36 months of education assistance, generally benefits are payable for 15 years following the veteran‟s release from active duty. 5.8.3 Veterans who served on or after September 11, 2001 and who have entitlement remaining from another VA education assistance program may make a irevocable election to use the Post/911 benefit. Veterans should be very careful before making the election becaue the Post/911 benefit does not cover some education programs authroized by other VA education assistance benefits. See: http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/Benefit_Comparison_Chart.htm The post/911 assistance benefit is also transferable to the service member‟s dependents when the service member has at least 6 years of service and is reenlist for at least 4 more years. Up to 36 months of benefits are transferable. The sponsor (service member) may transfer entitlement only while serving as a member of the armed forces. The sponsor may modify or revoke entitlement at any time. The spouse may use transferred benefits immediately, but the child may use transferred benefits only after the sponsor has completed 10 years of service John David Fry Scholarship: Public Law 111-32, the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship, amends the Post-9/11 GI Bill (chapter 33) to include the children of service members who die in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001. The benefit is effective 1 AUG 09; the same day the Post-9/11 GI Bill took effect. Eligible children attending school may receive up to the highest public, in-state undergraduate tuition and fees, plus a monthly living stipend and book allowance under this program. Children of an active duty member of the Armed Forces who has died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001, are eligible for this benefit. A child may be married or over 23 and still be eligible. Eligible children: Are entitled to 36 months of benefits at the 100% level . Have 15 years to use the benefit beginning on his/her 18th birthday. May use the benefit until his or her 33rd birthday. Cannot use benefit before age 18, even if he or she has completed high school. Are not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program Rules for eligible children serving, or who have served, in the Armed Forces: If the child is eligible under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve, and/or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), then he or she must relinquish eligibility under one of those programs to receive benefits under Post-9/11 GI Bill. A child‟s character of discharge from his or her own service does not impact eligibility resulting from the line of duty death of a parent. A child on active duty will receive benefits at the active duty benefit rate (eligible for unlimited tuition and fees but not eligible for monthly housing allowance or books and supplies stipend). A child who meets the service requirements to transfer entitlement under Post-9/11 GI Bill may be eligible to transfer up to 36 months of entitlement to his or her dependents. VA must begin issuing payments under this benefit no later than 1 AUG 10. This includes retroactive payments for eligible children enrolled during the period of 1 AUG 09 through 31 JUL 10. VA will begin accepting applications for this benefit 1 MAY, and will begin issuing payments to eligible children by 1 AUG 10. Children enrolled from1 AUG 09 through 31 JUL 10 may receive retroactive payments for that time. [See: http://www.gibill.va.gov/documents/factsheets/fry_scholarship.pdf ] 5.8.4 VA Vocational Rehabilitation, 38 United States Code Chapter 31 Benefits Veterans with service-connected disabilities causing an employment handicap are encouraged to file for VA Vocational Rehabilitation benefits. One normally has 12 years to file for and complete Vocational Rehabilitation training after receipt of the Department of Veterans Affairs notice that service connection has been established for a disability. The establishment of service connection for a subsequent condition could begin another twelve-year period for obtaining VA Vocational Rehabilitation entitlement. The VA offers up to 48 months of Vocational Rehabilitation benefits to veterans believed to have service-connected disabilities effecting their ability to obtain or retain substantially gainful employment. A veteran must have a VA established service–connected disability rated 10 percent disabling with a serious employment handicap or at least 20 percent with an employment handicap. VA Vocational Rehabilitation benefits are not available to veterans with service-connected ratings of only 0%. Once determined eligible for VA Vocational Rehabilitation training, the VA will pay the total cost of the veteran's education or training including, tuition, books, supplies, tools, etc. In addition, the veteran will receive a monthly subsistence allowance during training and for two months after completion of training. The monthly subsistence allowance for a single veteran was increased to $547.54per month effective from October 1, 2009. Veterans with dependents are paid more. Also, participation in this program will not affect the veteran's monthly compensation benefit. You will find a training rate chart at the end of this brief summary of VA education assistance benefits. If a veteran with a 100% Individual Unemployabilty service connected disability rating participates and successfully completes VA vocational rehabilitation training, VA cannot propose reduction of the 100% rating based upon the veteran‟s ability to return to work until the veteran has worked continuously for at least 12 months. Interested veterans may use VA form 28-1900 to apply for VA Vocational Rehabilitation. When necessary, you may find more information about VA‟s Vocational Rehabilitation Program at: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/index.htm 5.8.5 Dependents and Survivors Education Assistance 38 United States Code, Chapter 35 Benefits Dependents of veterans are also sometimes eligible for up to 45 months of VA education assistance benefits. This monthly education assistance allowance is available to the spouse or surviving spouse, and dependent child under the age of 26 of a veteran or deceased veteran when one of the following circumstances exist: 1. The veteran has a total and "Permanent" service connected disability rating, 2. The veteran had a total and "Permanent" service connected rating at the time of death, 3. The veteran died of a service connected cause, or 3. The service member has been listed as currently missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force, or detained or interned by a foreign government or power for more than 90 days. The Chapter 35 full time institutional rate is $925 per month effective from October 1, 2009. You will find a training rate chart at the end of this brief summary of VA education assistance benefits. The child may use his or her entitlement between the ages of 18 and 26, or before the age of 18 or before the age of 31 when there are extenuating circumstances. Marriage of the child does not bar entitlement. The spouse has 10 years to use this benefit from the date he or she is found eligible or from the date of the death of the veteran. The period of eligibility is 20 years for a spouse of a serviceperson who dies on active duty or has a permanent and total service connected disability rating within 3 years after active duty discharge. Divorce permanently severs the spouse's entitlement. Remarriage following the veteran‟s death will also terminate the surviving spouse‟s entitlement, but effective from November 30, 1999, entitlement may be restored upon termination of the remarriage. VA form 22-4590 is used for making Chapter 35 benefit application. VA Education Assistance Program Rate Charts: http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/rates.htm 5.8.6 VETERANS INSURANCE PROGRAMS The Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office and Insurance Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania administers all government Life Insurance programs. The field operating office at the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office and Insurance Center in St. Paul, Minnesota ceased operations on March 1, 1999. There are eight insurance programs controlled or supervised by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but only four of those programs are still open for new enrollment. They include, the Service Disabled Veterans Insurance (SDVI), the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI), the Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI), and the Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI). Service Disabled Veterans Insurance (Policy Identification Prefix RH) Service Disabled Veterans Insurance (RH) is available to service connected disabled veterans. The disabled veteran must file for RH Insurance within two years of the date of the official VA letter notifying him or her that service connection had been established for a disability. If service connection is established for a subsequent disability at a later date, the veteran has another two-year period to file for enrollment in the service Disabled Veterans Insurance Program. The qualifying individual may purchase up to $10,000 life insurance coverage at regular premium rates even if that individual has been rejected for insurance by a commercial company or offered a policy at higher premium rates because of disability. RH Insurance premiums are waived if the veteran incurs total disability for a period of six months or more. Veterans may purchase up to $20,000 (increased to $30,000 via PL 111- 275 signed by the president on October 13, 2010) additional RH Insurance coverage when waiver of premiums for the first $10,000 of coverage becomes effective. Premiums cannot be waived for the additional coverage over $10,000. VA form 29-4364 is used to file for Disabled Veterans (RH) Life Insurance. Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance Veterans who were entitled to and received a VA special adapted housing grant are also entitled to Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI). The maximum amount of VMLI may not exceed $90,000.00 or the amount of the current mortgage loan balance if the balance is less than $90,000.00. VMLI coverage is automatically effective on the date the veteran's special adaptive housing grant is approved provided the veteran is obligated under a mortgage loan on a housing unit at that time. This insurance is payable at the veteran's death only to the holder of the mortgage loan. No insurance is payable if the mortgage is liquidated prior to the veteran's death. To ensure coverage, the insured must report all changes of status promptly to the Department of Veterans Affairs. 5.9.1 Servicemen's Group Life Insurance The Service Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program is operated under an arrangement with commercial insurance companies through the Office of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (OSGLI). This program provides up to $250,000.00 in life insurance coverage for individuals performing full time active duty or active duty for training under calls or orders that do not specify periods of less than 31 days. Maximum SGLI coverage increased to $400,000 from $250,000 on September 1, 2005. The increase was automatic for all service members unless they opt out of SGLI or elect lesser coverage. Members opting for the maximum SGLI coverage of $400,000 saw their monthly premiums increase from $16.25 to $26.00. Part time coverage is available for Reservists while serving on active duty or active duty for training under calls or orders specifying periods of less than 31 days. Coverage continues for 120 days after a veteran is separated from active duty or active duty for training under a call or order not specifying a period of less than 31 days. Previously, SGLI coverage could be extended up to one year beyond the 120-day period for members with full time coverage who are totally disabled for insurance purposes at the time of their separation or release from active duty. On October 13, 2010, the President signed P.L. 111-275, permanently extending that free coverage period under the SGLI Disability Extension from one year to two years. As a result of this change, service members who have a SGLI policy and are totally disabled from the time they separate from service can now keep their SGLI coverage for up to two years at no cost to them. The total disability SGLI extension is not automatic. To make application for the disability extension, the applicant must apply by sending a completed Form SGLV 8715 to the OSGLI along with medical evidence to substantiate total disability. This should be done within 120 days following active duty separation. The Office of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance address is as follows: 213 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey 07102. You may download a SGLV 8715 application with this link: http://www.insurance.va.gov/sglisite/forms/forms.htm. Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) Upon separation from active duty, veterans may convert their SGLI coverage to the Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) program. Coverage is also extended to members of the Individual Ready Reserve and the Inactive National Guard in five-year term periods that are renewable as long as the individual is still a member of the Reserve or National Guard. This program, like SGLI, is supervised by the Department of Veterans Affairs but administered by the Office of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance. VGLI is a five-year renewable term insurance policy. VGLI is issued in increments of $10,000.00 up to a maximum equaling the amount of SGLI the veteran had in force at time of separation from active duty. Individuals who have VGLI in force at the end of a five-year term period have the privilege of converting it to an individual policy of life insurance with a participating commercial company. PL 111-275 signed by the president on October 13, 2010 now allows veterans to increase VGLI coverage by $25,000 every five years until the age of 60. An eligible veteran should submit an application to the Office of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance with the required premium during the 120-day period following separation from active duty or assignment to the Individual Ready Reserve or the Inactive National Guard. If a veteran fails to make application during this period, he or she may still do so for up to one year after SGLI coverage terminates providing he or she submits medical evidence of insurability. Applications for VGLI are filed on VA form SGLV8714. 5.9.2 VA Insurance Payments for Traumatic Injuries American troops and their families now have more financial security, thanks to the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) new Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) program. Prudential Financial Inc., the insurer under the program, makes payments under this new program. The TSGLI payments, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, are made to service members who have suffered certain traumatic injuries while on active duty. The new insurance program became effective December 1, 2005, and is designed to provide financial help to military families through extended periods of medical care and healing. Benefits are also payable retroactively to October 7, 2001 for service members and veterans who suffered certain traumatic injuries while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. PL 111-275 signed by the president on October 13, 2010, extended the October 7, 2001 retroactive coverage to all veterans who incurred qualifying traumatic injuries on or after October 7, 2001 regardless of where the injuries occurred. VA reports working to identify eligible service members and veterans. Veterans with eligibility questions can visit VA's website at www.insurance.va.gov or to call the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance at 1-800-419-1473 for more information. Special Provisions Service officers will find that many veterans with VA insurance policies may have a waiver of premium and/or a total disability benefit. Veterans with a waiver of premium provision within their insurance policy will not have to pay premiums if total disability is incurred for a period of six months or more. Eligible veterans who are totally disabled may claim this benefit by completing and returning to the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office and Insurance Center in Philadelphia a completed VA form 29-357 along with medical evidence showing proof of total disability. Veterans with VA insurance policies that include a Total Disability Insurance Provision (TDIP) are also entitled to a monthly benefit based upon the face value of their insurance policy if a total disability is incurred for six months of more. Application for this benefit is also made on the VA form 29-357 and submitted to the Philadelphia VA Regional Office and Insurance Center. Veterans have the option to change insurance beneficiaries at any time without the consent or notification of the present beneficiary. This may be done on a VA form 29-336. Service officers beware! After helping a veteran complete a VA form 29-336 (Designation of Beneficiary), we recommend that the completed form be given back to the veteran with instructions for him or her to send it directly to the appropriate Department of Veterans Affairs Insurance Center. If a Service officer accepts the responsibility for mailing the beneficiary change application and the veteran dies prior to the VA Insurance Office's receipt of that beneficiary change application, the service officer may become involved in litigation and be held responsible for the new beneficiary‟s loss of insurance benefits. A copy of the application can be faxed to the Insurance Center to help insure the timely change of beneficiary. You should still, however, advise the veteran to also immediately mail the Insurance Center a hard of the beneficiary change application. If a veteran wants to change beneficiaries on a VGLI or SGLI policy, the service officer should help him complete a form SGLV-8721 and then instruct the veteran to send it to the Office of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance, 212 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey, 07102. 5.9.3 Veterans may contact government insurance offices directly with questions concerning specific policies. The VA insurance office phone number is 1-800-669-8477, and the phone number for the Office of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance is 1-800-419-1437. The American Legion also provides representation with government insurance matters at the VA Insurance Center in Philadelphia. To obtain this representation, claimants should contact the American Legion Department Service Office. A separately completed and signed Power of Attorney form (VA form 21-22) is required for American Legion Government Insurance representation. Life Insurance Program Web Site: http://www.insurance.va.gov/ 5.9.4 VA LOAN GUARANTY BENEFITS A VA guaranteed home loan is most often not a direct loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but simply a process in which the VA guarantees partial repayment to a private lending institution if there is a loan default. Changes in the law now allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to now use a locality-based approach in raising ceilings on its no-down payment home loans from the current $417,000 to as much as $729,000.The previous ceiling was $359,650. With VA guaranteeing part of the loan, veterans can receive a good interest rate without having to make a down payment. The law also allows for loan limits to keep pace with rising home values. The new law also allows VA to guarantee one-year adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and it extends, through 2008, VA's "hybrid ARM program," which allows veterans to lock in a favorable interest rate for at least three years. With this guarantee, private lending institutions are more willing to approve veterans' loans. The VA will charge a funding fee ranging from 1/2 of a percent to 3 percent to all veterans except those in receipt of VA disability compensation benefits. Most all veterans since WW II meet the basic eligibility requirements for a VA home loan guaranty. Wartime era veterans who have at least 90 days active duty and who have been discharged under honorable conditions meet eligibility requirements. Peacetime era veterans must have at least 181 days of active duty service in the armed forces and also have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. Veterans of enlisted service that began after September 7, 1980, or officers with service beginning after October 16, 1981, must have served at least two years active duty service, or the full period for which they were called to serve in addition to meeting the 90 day wartime era or 181 day peacetime era requirements. Recent legislation also allows loan guaranty entitlement to those who have completed at least six years honorable service in the Reserve or National Guard. If a veteran dies of a service related cause, the surviving spouse may also participate in the VA home loan guaranty program. It‟s never too late to file for a VA home loan Certificate of Eligibility. If you have never used it, you still have full entitlement. If you have paid off your prior VA loan and disposed of the property, you can have your used eligibility restored for additional use. Also, on a one-time only basis, you may have your eligibility restored if your prior VA loan has been paid in full but you still own the property. Several changes to the VA loan guaranty program have been made within recent years. VA now allows a buyer to negotiate interest rates with a lender. Also, the cost of energy efficient improvements up to $6,000 can be added to most VA guaranteed loans. Veterans are encouraged to file for interest rate reduction refinancing loans when the current interest rate is substantially less than the interest rate of the veteran's existing mortgage. For loans made on or after March 1, 1988, VA must make a "Release of Liability" determination if someone assumes the veteran‟s mortgage. This will prevent the veteran from being charged with the mortgage debt at a later date if the subsequent buyer's loan goes into default. 5.10.1 Veterans will need a VA Certificate of Eligibility when applying for a VA guaranteed home loan with a private lending institution. A Certificate of Eligibility may be obtained by filing a completed VA form 26-1880 and a copy of the veteran's active duty discharge document (DD 214) with the VA. An un- remarried surviving spouse of a veteran who passed away of a service connected disability must file a VA form 26-1817 to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility. New Certificates of Eligibility may be processed at the Indianapolis VA Regional Office, but replacement Certificates of Eligibility must be processed at the VA Regional Office Loan Guaranty Eligibility Center, 251 North Main Street, Winston-Salem North Carolina; phone number: 1-888-244- 6711. A new Certificate of Eligibility can usually be processed in a few days (or the same day if the veteran applies in person) at the Indianapolis VARO, but a veteran can expect to wait as long as two or three weeks to get a replacement or updated Certificate of Eligibility processed at the Winston-Salem Office. Veterans with VA loans are encouraged to contact VA immediately if they anticipate getting behind on mortgage payments. VA has several different ways to help veterans avoid foreclosure. Veterans living in Indiana needing to speak with a VA home loan financial counselor should contact: Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Regional Loan Center, 1240 East Ninth Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44199; Phone: 1- 800-729-5772; http://www.vba.va.gov/ro/cleveland/index1.htm. More information about VA home loan benefits is available on the Web at: http://www.homeloans.va.gov/ 5.10.2 VA MEDICAL BENEFITS Veterans Status Requirements for VA Medical Benefits Individuals must first meet veterans status requirements for VA Medical Benefits before VA will consider the veteran‟s eligibility status. Veterans status is met if the individual served on active duty and received an other than dishonorable discharged issued prior to September 8, 1980. If the person enlisted in service after September 7, 1980, he or she must have been discharged from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions and: (1) Served at least 24 consecutive months, or (2) Served the total time called to active duty, or (3) Been released from active duty due to a service-connected disability. Military reservists and National Guardsmen who have never served on federal active duty are not considered veterans for VA medical benefits purposes unless they are service-connected for a disability. Discussion Concerning 1996 Changes The Veterans Healthcare Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-262) became effective on October 9, 1996. It established a single set of eligibility rules for both in-patient and outpatient care. VA medical services are now provided only within “available appropriations” set by Congress each year. Although the healthcare eligibility reform act liberalized many previous eligibility restrictions, it discontinued cost free hospitalization for non-service connected conditions when veterans only have non-compensable service connected disabilities and have income over a certain limit. Public Law 104- 262 simplified the rules for providing veterans healthcare by eliminating the distinction between out- patient care and hospital care, allowing VA to provide medical services in the most clinically appropriate setting, allowing VA to participate in disease prevention services, and giving VA more flexibility in using its limited resources. 5.11.1 Healthcare Enrollment and Priority Levels After October 1, 1998, most veterans must be enrolled to receive VA healthcare services. There is no deadline for enrollment, and any veteran may enroll when he or she seeks services for the first time. Veterans are advised, though, to enroll before they experience an urgent need for healthcare services since they often have to wait months for there first regularly scheduled VA medical appointment. Once a veteran applies for enrollment, his or her application will be verified for legal and administrative eligibility. Based upon that veteran‟s specific status, VA will assign him or her a priority level. Depending on congressional appropriations and available resources, VA will determine what priority levels it will enroll each year. The VA will not enroll more veterans than it can provide services. If resources drop, the VA will enroll fewer veterans. The priority levels are as follows, ranging from one though eight with one being the highest priority for enrollment. The same services are available to all enrolled veterans. Priority Group One: Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 50% and above. These veterans are not required to submit an enrollment application but are encouraged to do so. Priority Group one veterans do not have to pay a co-payment. Priority Group Two: Veterans with service connected disabilities rated 30% or 40% disabling. Group two veterans must pay a $8.00 co-payment for each 30-day supply of medication provided for non- service connected conditions unless their income is below the maximum non-service connected pension rate. Group two veterans do not have to pay an outpatient or in-patient co-payment. Priority Group Three: (1) Veterans who are former POWs; (2) Veterans discharge from service for a disability that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; (3) Veterans with service connected conditions rated 10 or 20% disabling, (4) Veterans Awarded special eligibility classification under 38 USC 1151 for a disability caused by VA hospital care or VA Vocational Rehabilitation services, and: (5) Purple Heart Recipients. Group three veterans must pay a $8.00 co-payment for each 30-day supply of medication provided for non-service connected conditions unless their income is below the maximum non-service connected pension rate. Priority Group Four: (1) Veterans who are receiving aid and attendance or housebound benefits, and (2) Veterans who have been determined by VA to be catastrophically disabled. Priority Group Five: Non-service connected veterans and service-connected veterans rated 0% disabled who are unable to defray the expense of healthcare. This means the veteran‟s annual income and net worth are below the means test threshold. The means test threshold changes each year, and the current amount may be obtained by calling the nearest VA Medical Center and asking for the Enrollment Services Department. Group five veterans must pay a $8.00 co-payment for each 30-day supply of medication provided for non-service connected conditions unless their income is below the maximum non-service connected pension rate. Priority Group Six: All other eligible veterans not required to make co-payments for their care, including: (1) WWI and Mexican Border War veterans; (2) Project 112/SHAD participants; (2) 0% compensable service connected veterans; (3) Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation during atmospheric testing or during the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and (4) Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after 11-11-98 as follows: 5.11.2 Veterans discharged from active duty on or after 1-28-03, who were enrolled as of 1-28-08 and who apply for enrollment after 1-28-08, for 5 years post discharge; and Veterans discharged from active duty before 1-28-03, who applies for enrollment after 1-28-08, until 1-27-11. Priority Group Seven: Veterans must agree to pay specified co-payments with income and/or net worth above the VA Means Test threshold and income below the HUD geographic index. o Sub-priority a: Non-compensable 0% service connected veterans who were enrolled in the VA health care system as of January 16, 2003 and who have remained enrolled since that date o Sub-priority c: Non-service connected veterans who were enrolled in the VA health care system as of January 16, 2003 and who have remained enrolled since that date o Sub-priority e: Non-compensable 0% service-connected veterans not included in Sub- priority above. o Sub-priority g: Non-service connected veterans not included in Sub-priority c above Priority Group Eight: Veterans must agree to pay specified co-payments with income and/or net worth above the VA Means Test threshold and the HUD geographic index. o Sub-priority a: Non-compensable 0% service connected veterans enrolled as of 1-16-03 o Sub-priority c: Non-service connected veterans enrolled as of 1-16-03 o Sub-priority e: Non-compensable 0% service connected veterans applying for enrollment after 1-16-03 o Sub-priority g: Non-service connected veterans applying for enrollment after 1-16-03. The calendar year 2006 co-payments for veterans enrolled in priority group 8 are $15 per primary care out-patient visit, $50 for a specialty care visit, $1,024 for the first 90 days of inpatient services during a 365 day period, $512 for inpatient care for each additional 90 days of care during a 365 day period, plus a $10 per day inpatient per diem charge. Veterans with income above the VA means test threshold but found entitled to VA healthcare due to the HUD geographic index must may qualify for a 80% reduction of inpatient co-pay charges. In addition to this priority grouping for continued VA healthcare services based upon available VA appropriations, veterans rated 50% or grater for a service-connected disability also have appointment scheduling priority over other veterans for any medical condition, and veterans having a service connected disability have priority scheduling for treatment of their service connected conditions. The 2009 and 2010 Means Test Thresholds are: Veterans without Dependents: $29,402 Veterans with One Dependent: $35,284 Veterans with Two Dependents: $37,304 Dependent threshold amount increases above two dependents are $2,020 per dependent. As of June 30, 2009, VA began enrolling veterans whose income is no more than 10% of the VA means test and HUD geographic index thresholds. VA will consider veterans for enrollment under this new rule if the veteran files or re-files an enrollment application on or after January 1, 2009. 5.11.3 Eligibility for OEF/OIF Combat Veterans: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2008 was signed by President Bush on January 28, 2008. This Act extends the period of enhanced health care eligibility provided a veteran who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998 (commonly referred to as combat veterans or OEF/OIF veterans) as follows: Currently enrolled veterans and new enrollees who were discharged from active duty on or after January 28, 2003 are eligible for the enhanced benefits, for 5 years post discharge. Veterans discharged from active duty before January 28, 2003, who apply for enrollment on or after January 28, 2008, are eligible for the enhanced benefit until January 27, 2011. As before, veterans included in this authority may be enrolled in Priority Group 6, if not eligible for a higher Priority Group placement, and may be charged copays for medication and/or treatment of conditions that are clearly unrelated to their combat service (e.g. common cold, broken bone). These veterans, while not required to disclose income, may do so to determine their eligibility for a higher priority status, beneficiary travel benefits and exemption of copays for care unrelated to their military service. There is no change to VA‟s policy of continuing enrollment of veterans who enroll with VA under this “Combat Veteran” authority after their enhanced eligibility period ends. At the end of the enhanced eligibility period, VA will reassess the veteran's information and make a new enrollment decision. If the veteran was in Priority Group 6 and no other eligibility factors apply then he/she will continue enrollment in either Priority Group 7 or Priority Group 8 depending on their income level and will be required to make applicable copays. Hospital and Outpatient Care Although there are eight enrollment priorities, there are still two basic eligibility categories for VA hospital and outpatient care. They are referred to as “mandatory” and “discretionary” categories. VA “shall” provide hospital and outpatient care for mandatory category veterans to the extent Congress appropriates funds. VA “may” furnish hospital and outpatient care to discretionary category veterans if resources and facilities are available and the veteran agrees to make co-payments. The mandatory category is composed of the following: veterans in need of care for a service connected condition; veterans who have a compensable service connected disability; veterans whose discharge or release from military service was for a disability that was incurred or aggravated in line of duty; veterans who are former Prisoners of War; veterans of the Mexican Border Period or WW I; veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, ionizing radiation, or environmental hazards of the Persian Gulf; and veterans whose annual income and net worth are below the “means test” threshold. As noted, the means test threshold is adjusted annually and announced in January of each year. The discretionary category comprises of all other veteran‟s including non-service connected veterans with income and net worth above the “means test” threshold, and 0% service connected veterans needing care for any non-service connected disability. These veterans must agree to make a co- payment. VA holds these patients responsible for the Medicare deductible ($1,100 effective January 1, 2010) for the first 90 days of care during any 365-day period. For each additional 90 days of hospital care, the patient is charged one-half of the Medicare deductible ($550 effective from January 1, 2010). In addition to these charges, the patient is charged $10.00 a day for hospital care. For outpatient care, 5.11.4 the co-payment is $15 for a primary care visit and $50 for a specialty care visit. If a veteran has more than one VA visit on the same day, VA may only charge for one visit; $15 if all the visits were for primary care, or $50 if at least one of the visits were for specialty care. In addition, the law authorizes VA to make payments for non-VA emergency medical care on behalf of uninsured VA medical care enrolled veterans who have received VA medical care within two years of the emergency service date. VA will act only as the payer of last resort. VA will not pay any part of the non-VA emergency visit if another provider pays anything. Assessment of Income and Net Worth The veteran‟s income for VA medical care eligibility purposes is based upon income received during the previous calendar year. Excessive income waivers may be possible if an estimate of the veteran‟s current calendar year‟s income is substantially less than the income eligibility threshold. Also, the VA considers net worth of $80,000 or more excessive for the means test threshold. In calculating the veteran‟s net worth, VA medical centers do not count the value of the veteran‟s home, but will include the veteran‟s annual income as part of his or her net worth. Income and net worth assessments are done when the veteran first applies for VA healthcare benefits by filing a VA form 10-10EZ. VA will also ask the veteran to report his or her income and net worth annually. The veteran does not need to report his annual income and net worth if he agrees to pay the co-payment, but the veteran will still need to complete and return the annual VA healthcare enrollment application, including information, such as, private medical insurance. Medical Care Cost Recovery VA will bill medical insurance companies for treating non-service connected disabilities. VA may do this even if the veteran is rated 100% service connected if the service given was for a non-service connected condition. VA does not make the veteran responsible for insurance deductibles. The VA Medical Center uses medical insurance collections to improve its medical services. This makes it important that all veterans having private medical insurance report it to the VA when applying for VA medical care. Beneficiary Travel VA will provide partial reimbursement for the cost of travel to and from VA medical center appointments when the veteran: (1) is rated 30% or more for a service connected condition; (2) is rated less than 30% for a service connected condition, but needs treatment for the service connected disability; (3) receives VA pension; (4) reports for a compensation or pension examination; (5) has income less than the annual aid and attendance pension rate; or (6) needs a special mode of transportation if unable to defray the cost and travel is pre-authorized, or travel is necessary for a medical emergency. In November 2008, VA announced it had raised its travel reimbursement rate to $0.41.5 per mile subject to a deductible of $7.77 for a one-way trip and $15.54 for a round trip with a $46.62 monthly 5.11.5 deductible cap. As of January 9, 2009, the deductible amount will be only $3.00 for each one-way trip and $6.00 for each round trip – with a calendar cap of $18, or six-one-way trips or three round trips, whichever comes first. Veterans traveling to VA for compensation or pension examinations and traveling by special modes of transportation, such as, an ambulance or specially equipped van are not subject to the travel reimbursement deductible. Veterans should apply for their travel reimbursement allowance at the VA Medical Center travel reimbursement office on the day of their visit before leaving the VA. Prescription Drugs VA provides cost free prescription drugs for: (1) treatment of a service connected condition; (2) treatment of any disability for veteran‟s rated 50% for more service connected disabled, (3) treatment of any condition for veterans whose annual income does not exceed the basic veteran‟s non-service connected pension rate, (4) veterans in receipt of VA Special Monthly Pension Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits, and (5) to all former POWs. Copayments for VA outpatient medications paid by nonservice-connected Veterans with higher incomes enrolled in Priority Groups 7 and 8 increased to $9.00 for each 30-day prescription as of July 1, 2010. All other veterans must pay an $8.00 co-payment for each 30-day supply of each prescription drug. The medication co-payment charge has an annual maximum of $960 for all but priority seven and eight veterans. Prescription drug co-payment threshold in 2009 and 2010 are: o Veterans with no dependents -- $11,830 o Veterans with one dependent -- $15,493 o Add $2,020 for each additional dependent Outpatient Dental Treatment VA may provide dental care for: (1) Compensably rated service connected dental conditions; (2) Dental conditions not treated within 90 days prior to the veteran‟s active duty discharge if the veteran applied at a VA medical center for dental care within 180 days [increased from 90 day to 180 days by The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2008 was signed by President Bush on January 28, 2008] of service discharge (VA will provide dental care only once under this provision); (3) Former POWs may receive care for any dental condition; (4) 100% service connected disabled veterans may receive dental care for any condition; (5) Non-service connected dental conditions associated with or aggravating a service connected condition, and (6) Preparing veterans for in-patient medical services if the dental condition is complicating a medical condition now under treatment. VA may also provide a veteran dental care while hospitalized at a VA medical center for a different condition if a VA doctor determines the veteran needs dental care to improve the patient‟s overall medical health. This care may be continued until completed even if it is necessary to provide outpatient dental care following the veteran‟s hospital discharge. Be careful, we have worked several cases in which VA has claimed that follow-up dental care dose not include dentures even if the veteran had all his teeth removed while hospitalized at a VA Medical Center. Prosthetic Appliances VA will furnish prosthetic appliances, equipment, and devices, such as, artificial limbs, orthopedic braces and shoes, wheelchairs, crutches and canes, to veterans receiving VA care for any condition. 5.11.6 VA, however, provides hearing aids and eyeglasses to only veterans who: are service connected for the hearing or vision impairment; receive increase pension based on the need for regular aid and attendance or being permanently housebound; receive compensation for a service-connected disability; receive compensation for a medical condition caused or worsened by VA healthcare; are former prisoners of war; received the purple heart medal; who incurred a hearing or vision problem associated with another medical condition being treated by VA, or a hearing or vision problem caused by VA treatment for another medical condition; have medical conditions causing deficiencies in performing activities of daily living, or have vision or hearing problems interfering with their ability to actively participate in their own medical treatment plan. Prosthetic appliances provided by the VA may be repaired or replaced when necessary, except when damage was caused by the veteran‟s negligence. VA may issue prosthetic appliance repair cards that allow repair by a private vendor. Prosthetic appliances damaged by accident caused by compensably rated service connected disabilities may also be repaired or replaced by the VA. VA prosthetic services may also authorize invalid lifts for veterans in receipt of special monthly pension aid and attendance benefits. Domiciliary Care Domiciliary care provides rehabilitative and long-term health-maintenance care for veterans who require minimal medical care but who do not need the skilled nursing services provided in nursing homes. VA may provide domiciliary care to veterans whose annual income does not exceed the maximum annual rate of VA pension or to veterans the VA determines to have no adequate means of support. In October 2008, VA open a new Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Unit in Indianapolis at the Blue Triangle Residence Hall, 725 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204. This is a 50-bed therapeutic residential facility for homeless veterans with the region. VA‟s Dom will coordinate a wide variety of therapies and skills training to address issues keeping veterans from living independently. Services include: living skills, substance abuse, vocational rehabilitation, spiritual support, and personal development all provided by specialists. During an expected stay of 90 to 180 days, veterans will have an opportunity to work on their own goals while utilizing VA‟s staff and resource for recovery. In order to benefit from the domiciliary program, the veteran must: (1) be homeless without permanent housing, or at an immediate risk for homelessness; (2) have a disabling condition; (3) be medically and emotionally stable; (4) have an ability to perform normal activities of daily living (ADL) without assistance; (5) be motivated and committed to remaining sober and developing a drug-free lifestyle; (6) must be able to function independently if wheelchair bound; and (7) have a desire to participate in activities that will lead toward independent community living, including securing income and housing goals developed as a part of the recovery plan and preparing to transition into the community after domiciliary discharge within three to six months. Veterans may apply by asking their VA primary care provider. For more information, please call 317- 988-1641 or use the following e-mail address: Robin.Whitfield@va.gov. 5.11.7 Nursing Home and Extended Care Services Essentially, veterans eligible for VA hospital care are also eligible for nursing home care at VA expense, but usually on a limited basis. VA must provide nursing home care for all veterans requiring such care for service-connected conditions. A recent change in law also mandates VA to provide nursing home care to veterans as long as it is needed when the veteran has service-connected disability or disabilities rated at least 70%. VA will require certain veterans to pay co-payments for extended care services. This includes non- service connected veterans with incomes above the basic annual non-service connected pension rate having been determined to have “available resources” for paying the co-payment. When determining “available resources,” VA considers the veteran and spouse‟s assets and income after subtracting expenses like a mortgage, car payment, insurance, taxes, medical bills, and providing a $20 a day allowance for the veteran and a $20 day allowance for the spouse. Unlike before, veterans no longer have to be transferred directly from a VA hospital to a nursing home before VA will consider paying the cost of long term care. Unless the veteran is exempt from enrollment, the veteran must, however, first enroll into the VA healthcare system by completing and submitting a VA form 10-10EZ and then apply for extended care by filing a VA Form 10-10EC. Co- pays for Long-Term Care start on the 22nd day of care during any 12-month period – there is no co-pay requirement for the first 21 days. Actual co-pay charges will vary from veteran to veteran depending upon financial information submitted on VAF 10-10EC. Maximum long term care charges are: Nursing Home Care/Inpatient Respite Care/Geriatric Evaluation .. $97 per day; Adult Day Health Care/Outpatient Geriatric Evaluation Outpatient Respite Care.. $15 per day; Domiciliary Care.. $5 per day. Blind Veterans Services VA may offer special services for blind veterans and veterans with a low vision handicap. This could include admission at a VA blind rehabilitation center. Also, blind veterans entitled to VA compensation may receive additional equipment, training, talking books, home adaptations, guide dogs, and other necessities to help overcome the handicap of blindness. Veterans with a low vision handicap or blindness should contact the Visual Impairment Services Coordinator at their local VA Medical Center concerning these services. Special Services for Persian Gulf, Agent Orange, and Ionizing Radiation Veterans VA may provide these veterans comprehensive medical examinations. The VA will then notify the veteran of the results and enter those results in computerized registries. Also, veterans may receive treatment for disabilities possibly associated with Persian Gulf environmental hazards, Agent Orange exposure, or radiation exposure. VA Registries Veterans may be eligible to be placed on one or more of the VA Registries. The Registries are administered at VA Health Care Systems – NOT at VA Regional Offices. Registries are generally administered through the Office of Occupation & Safety Hazards. 5.11.8 The Veteran must “REQUEST” to be placed on the respective Registry(s). The Eligibility Office should be able to direct you to that office. The advantage of being on a Registry is the potential for treatment(s) of legislated ailments & diseases, under that Registry – at NO COST. Applicable medications may also be provided at no cost. Being on an applicable Registry and being treated for Registry ailments/ diseases could assist in a future claim. The following register is maintained by the VA: • Agent Orange http://www.va.gov/AgentOrange For more info on Registries go to http://www.va.gov - then to the applicable Registry info. Reimbursement or Payment of Unauthorized Medical Expenses VA may provide reimbursement or payment of unauthorized medical expenses when a medial emergency caused the need for medical care when VA facilities were not feasibly available. The treatment must have been given for a service connected condition, a condition associated with a service connected disability, or for any medical condition of a veteran rated 100% service connected disabled. Claimants should try to get the emergency medical facility to note the emergent need for medical treatment in treatment records. Also, the veteran, or someone on his behalf (preferably an official at the non-VA hospital), should notify the admitting physician at the nearest VA medical center that the veteran was hospitalized on an emergency basis and is willing to be transferred to the VA medical center when the condition stabilizes. This notification should be done within 72 hours after the veteran is admitted at a non-VA facility for emergency services. The caller should also record the time and date of the call and the name of the VA official that was notified. Claims for unauthorized medical expense payment or reimbursement must be filed within two years of the date of the medical service. These claims may be filed on VA Form 10-583. A complete claim should include a bill received for the medical services and medical records showing the services performed. The VA Form 10-583 and supporting documents should be forwarded to the VA Fee Processing (or Fee Basis) Department of the VA Medical Center. If the veteran has an accredited representative, such as, The American Legion, the claim should be sent to the representative‟s office for review before the representative forwards it to the appropriate Fee Processing Office. CHAMPVA CHAMPVA benefits are provided to the spouse or child of a total and permanent service connected disabled veteran, the spouse or child of a veteran rated as having a total and permanent service connected disabled at the time of death, or the spouse or child of a veteran who has died of a service- connected disability. The individual must not be eligible for TRICARE. The spouse‟s entitlement is lost upon remarriage, but can now be reinstated if that marriage ends. The child is entitled until reaching age 18 or 23 if attending school. The benefit pays 75% of reasonable medical expenses after a deductible of $50 for one person or $100 for two persons or more. A recent change of law allows otherwise eligible persons to CHAMPVA coverage or continued CHAMPVA coverage after reaching 65 years of age. Individuals who reached age 65 before June 5, 5.11.9 2001, and only have Medicare Part A, will be eligible for CHAMPVA without having to have Medicare Part B coverage; those who have Medicare Parts A and B must keep both parts. Individuals who had become 65 years of age on or after June 5, 2001, must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to keep or obtain CHAMPVA after age 65. Once the veteran‟s status meets the eligibility requirement, dependents may apply for CHAMPVA benefits by completing and filing a VA Form 10-10d. CHAMPVA applications are processed by the VA Health Administration Center, PO Box 65023, Denver, CO, 80206. The Processing Center‟s phone number is: 1-800-733-8387. Of course, if the dependent has a representative, such as, The American Legion, the CHAMPVA application should be sent through their office for review and appropriate filing with the CHAMPA Center in Denver, CO. General Information Veterans being denied medical care or a medical benefit for which they believe they are eligible, should immediately contact the Patient Representative at the VA Medical Center. If the VA Patient Representative fails to resolve the problem, the veteran should then contact The American Legion Department Service Office. The American Legion can not dictate the type of medical care a VA physician should provide, such as, medication used, dosage of medication prescribed, which medical procedures are necessary, etc.; however, The American Legion can assist veterans with obtaining all medical care benefits for which they are statutorily entitled. The American Legion can also assist the patient in asking for a clinical review of medical treatment determinations subject to review by other VA medical professionals including the Chief Medical Director at the VA Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) Office. 5.11.10 Appeals When a VA Regional Office or VA Medical Center makes a benefits decision, that decision is referred to as a decision from the "Agency of Original Jurisdiction" (AOJ). Most AOJ decisions except medical treatment plan determinations, are subject to appeal at the claimant's initiative. Because of the complexity of VA statutes, regulations, and operating policies, AOJ decisions are not always correct. Claimants who have received unfavorable AOJ decisions and who believe they are rightfully entitled to the benefits they are seeking should, therefore, appeal. All VA claimants should assign an accredited veterans service organization, such as, The American Legion, to represent them before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This is especially true if an appeal is contemplated. The American Legion Department Service Office would not only provide advice on how to initiate an appeal and develop supporting evidence, but will also provide representation and guidance at appeal hearings and formulate formal appeal statements on the claimant's behalf. This often proves very beneficial to the appellant. American Legion Department Service Officers work in the veterans benefits business full time, continuously study VA law and regulations, usually have years of experience, and regularly attend training seminars and classes offered through the American Legion National Headquarters and the National Veterans Legal Services Program. Indeed, attempting to appeal a VA decision without the services of an accredited veterans service organization representative would be much like attempting to win an appeal in court without an attorney. After obtaining representation, the first step in initiating the VA administrative appeal process is to file a Notice of Disagreement. A Notice of Disagreement simply consists of a statement over the appellant's signature (letter) specifically noting the issues that the claimant wants to appeal. A VA form 21-4138 is normally used for this purpose, but the appellant may supply his or her written Notice of Disagreement on any stationary and in any form as long as the VA can determine what issues the claimant wants to an appeal. The Notice of Disagreement should also inform VA if the appellant would like a Decision Review Officer (DRO) review. This is a process between VA‟s official decision notification letter and the VA Statement of the Case (SOC). A DRO review is usually recommended because it allows VA to review the case and revise the decision if necessary before sending the claimant a Statement of the Case. The claimant has only 30 days from the date of the VA notification letter to ask for a DRO review. Asking for a DRO review is optional, but a Notice of Disagreement must be filed within one year after the date of VA's official letter of notification or the claimant forfeits his or her right to appeal. Once the Agency of Original Jurisdiction (AOJ) receives the Notice of Disagreement, the VA will review the case again and assist with the development of additional evidence if thought necessary. If the VA confirms their previous denial of benefits, VA will send the claimant a Statement of the Case (SOC). The SOC should give a detailed explanation of VA's decision including facts and evidence considered, applicable laws and regulations, and a discussion as to why relevant facts and evidence combined with regulation and law resulted in denial of the benefits sought. 5.12.1 With the Statement of the Case, the claimant will receive a Substantive Appeal form, VA form 9. If the claimant wants to continue the appeal after reading the SOC, he or she must complete, sign, and return the VA form 9 within 60 days after the mailing of the SOC or the remainder of the one year period from the AOJ's mailing of its original decision, whichever is later. On the VA from 9, the appellant should list the issues he or she wants to appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). Appellants should also note in their own words (or with the assistance of their representative) on the VA form 9 why they believe entitlement to the benefits sought is warranted. The VA form 9 will also ask if the appellant wants a personal hearing before a member of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). Since it sometimes requires several months to schedule BVA hearings and more than a year to obtain a BVA decisions, the American Legion Department Service Office advises appellants to request a hearing at the local VA Regional Office before the Hearing Officer in lieu of a personal hearing before a member of the BVA. A Hearing Officer hearing can normally be scheduled within a few weeks, and a Hearing Officer decision is usually rendered within two to three months following the hearing. If the Hearing Officer's decision is not favorable, the claimant will still have an opportunity to have the appeal reviewed by the BVA in Washington, DC. Claimants may also now ask for a BVA videoconference hearing. BVA videoconference hearings can usually be scheduled sooner than either a BVA traveling board hearing or a BVA hearing in Washington DC. We still, though, do not normally recommend a BVA videoconference hearing since it removes the review of the local hearing officer and a decision is usually not made for many months after the BVA videoconference hearing. A personal appearance before either the BVA or the Hearing Officer is not required for the appeal to continue, but is a right for which the claimant may request. The claimant's assigned accredited representative will assist at the VA hearing if one is requested. The claimant's appeal will be placed on the BVA's docket after the VA's receipt of the completed VA form 9 whether a hearing is requested or not. If the issues are not resolved in the claimant's favor at the Agency of Original Jurisdiction, the accredited representative will review the evidence of record once again and provide a formally written appeal statement on the claimant's behalf prior to the case being sent to the BVA in Washington, DC. Once the case is received in Washington, DC, an American Legion National Appeals Officer will present the case to the Board. The Board of Veterans Appeals can remand the case for further development, affirm the AOJ's denial, or grant the issue or issues on appeal. For a short time, the BVA could develop cases to find additional evidence. A precedent court decision no longer permits BVA to develop cases. BVA is an appellant body that cannot make original decisions. BVA may, however, remand the case for further development to a special office in Washington DC instead of having the case returned to the AOJ for further development. The DC claims development office (Appeals Management Center) would then collect the additional evidence and either grant the case or issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case explaining why that office failed to grant the issue or issues on appeal. The denied case would then be returned to the BVA for its review and final VA decision. BVA's decision is the final VA decision. If the case is denied at the BVA, a claimant has only 120 days to file a Notice of Appeal with the United States Appeals Court for Veterans Claims. The American Legion does not normally provide representation before the Court, and the Court does not accept all cases unless they are persuaded that the BVA possibly made an error that might have changed the outcome of the case. Appellants are therefore advised to obtain the services of an attorney if they wish to appeal to the United States Appeals Court for Veterans Claims. 5.12.2 In lieu of an appeal to the United States Appeals Court for Veterans Claims, claimants may reopen previously denied claims by submitting new and material evidence to the Agency of Original Jurisdiction. Evidence is considered new if not previously considered by the VA, and material if it presents a reasonable possibility of a valid claim. Claimants should always work through the Service Office of their assigned accredited service organization when dealing with the VA, especially when an appeal is being initiated or processed. This would be the American Legion Department Service Office if the American Legion were the veteran's "Power of Attorney" for VA purposes. The VA limits claimants to only one Power of Attorney, but claimants may also assign a County or Post Service Officer to assist them with the development of their case and communicate with the claimant's Power of Attorney. Link to How Do I appeal Pamphlet: http://www.bva.va.gov/docs/Pamphlets/010202A.pdf 5.12.3 Waivers and Compromises The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will sometimes pay more VA benefits than claimants are entitled. This happens most often in income base benefit programs such as VA non-service connected disability pension and survivors benefits. VA overpayments are usually the result of claimants misreporting or not reporting countable income for VA benefit purposes. Overpayments and VA debts can though, also occur in other VA benefit programs for different reasons, such as, a VA guaranteed home loan default. When a VA overpayment or debt is charged, the VA will expect and request payment. If good cause is shown, beneficiaries may request and receive waiver of such debts and overpayments. Debts and overpayments may also result from VA errors, and it is important to distinguish what caused those debts or overpayments before waiver requests are made. If it's determined that a VA debt or overpayment was the result of a VA administrative error, the debt or overpayment will be erased as if it never occurred. The same is not true in case of a waiver. The debt need not be repaid if a VA waiver is granted, but taxes may still be owed on the amount waived and other VA benefit programs may be effected. For instance, a waiver of a VA education assistance overpayment will reduce future VA education assistance benefits, and a waiver of a home loan debt will prevent future entitlement to a VA guaranteed home loan until the debt is repaid in full. Also, a waiver of a VA debt does not prevent record of loan defaults from appearing on credit reports. Claimants should therefore file a Notice of Disagreement with the creation of the debt in addition to a waiver request if they believe a VA administrative error may have caused the debt. A VA form 21-4138 or any other stationary may be used for filing a Notice of Disagreement. If a claimant believes a VA debt was created unjustly, the claimant only has one year to file after receipt of the VA's official letter of debt notification. The VA will consider granting a waiver upon request only if the claimant did not intentionally misrepresent himself or herself or try to defraud the government. Fault on the beneficiary‟s part no longer bars VA consideration of a waiver, but the degree of fault is for consideration as well the claimant's ability to pay. A request for a waiver may be made on a VA form 21-4138 or any other stationary. The claimant should make it absolutely clear that he or she is requesting a waiver, explain how he or she had little or no fault in the debt's creation, and note that payment would create a "Severe financial hardship." To show evidence of financial hardship, a completed and signed VA form 20- 5655 (Financial Status Report) should also accompany the waiver request. Beneficiaries have only 180 days to file waiver requests following official notification of the VA pension, compensation, or education overpayments. Also, only 180 days is allowed to file a request for waiver of VA Medical Center debts, such as, waiver of $8.00 co-payment charges. Unlike other waiver requests, up to one year after official notification is allowed for filing requests for waiver of VA home loan debts. 5.13.1 VA may also accept a compromise offer if successful collection of the entire debt is thought improbable. A compromise offer should consist of a written statement from the claimant indicating how a partial lump sum payment could be made now if the balance of the debt is forgiven. The claimant should also note the amount of the compromise offer, and why payment of the full debt would most likely prove impossible. A VA form 20-5655 should also be supplied with the written compromise request. A refused compromise offer is not appealable, but VA will consider subsequent compromise offers made in good faith. Service Officers having questions concerning VA waivers or compromises are encouraged to contact the American Legion Department Service Office. 5.13.2 The Combined Rating Schedule And Rate Charts Veterans often have more than one service connected disability. If VA would simply "add" together each disability rating, some veterans would receive a total disability rating equaling more than 100%. For instance, a veteran's disability rating would total 120% if he or she has individual ratings of 60%, 30%, and 30%. Because VA believes no one can be more the 100 percent disabled (except in special monthly compensation cases), VA does not find the "combined rating" by adding together each individual compensation rating. Instead, VA uses its Combined Rating Table. You will find a copy of the Combined Rating Table on the following pages. It uses the 100% able- bodied person concept. Meaning that if a person has no disabilities, he or she is 100% able-bodied. If though that person has a 60% disability, he or she is only 40% able-bodied (100 - 60 = 40). If that person then has another separate disability rating (say 30 percent), that 30 percent would no longer be combined from a 100% able-bodied person but only a 40% able-bodied person (30% of 40 equal 12%). The combined rating at that time would be 72% (60 + 12 = 72). Then say the same person has another separate disability rating at 30%. VA would then calculate 30% of a 28% able-bodied person (100% able-bodied -72 equal 28). 30 percent of 28 would then equal 8.4%. Then the VA would subtract 8.4% from the 28 to find that the person is now only 19.6% able bodied, rounded to 20% able-bodied (VA rounds to the nearest number divisible by 10). Finally in this example, VA subtracts the 20% remaining able-bodied person from the beginning 100% able-bodied person to show a final combined rating of 80%. The easiest way to calculate the combined rating is to use the VA Combined Rating Table. To use the table, you start with intersecting the highest disability rating and then work your way down to the lowest disability rating. Using the Combined Rating Table can become very complicated due to other rules such as bilateral factor and the amputation rule. You may therefore want to contact the American Legion Service Office if the veteran's combined rating that you calculate does not equal the same combined rating VA calculated. Also, more information about the Combined Rating Table and bilateral factors may be found in part 4 of 38 Code of Federal Regulations, paragraph 25 and 26. The dollar amount of the veteran's monthly compensation benefit can be found by comparing the rating or combined rating with the compensation rate chart. If a veteran has a disability rating of 30% more, he or she will be entitled to dependency allowance. The amount of his or her compensation benefits can therefore be found by intersecting the row showing the dependency status (V = veteran, S = spouse, C = child, P = dependent parent) with the column showing the veteran's disability rating or combined disability rating. Also, additional dependency allowances are usually paid to veterans with a child over 18 but under 23 still attending school, or when the veteran has a spouse meeting the requirements for Aid and Attendance. 5.14.1 VA non-service connected pension rates may be found by using the pension rate chart. The rate paid will be based upon the type of pension the person is entitled (improve, section 306, old law, or a type of survivor's pension). The number of dependence is also a factor in calculating non-service connected pension rates. Unlike compensation rates, non-service connected pension rates are reduced by the claimant's income received from other sources. You may access the VA Combined Rating Table at: http://www.purpleheart.org/ServiceProgram/Training2009/Wed%20PM%20Matuszak%203%20VA% 20Math.pdf You may access VA compensation rate charts at: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/ Both, compensation rates and pension rates normally change on December 1st of each year due to cost- of-living adjustments (COLAs). VA did not, however, increase 2010 compensation rates. Since VA pays benefits a month behind, COLA increases are not actually paid until the first benefit payment made in January. 5.14.2 TOPIC 6 STATE BENEFITS 6 STATE BENEFITS Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs In addition to veterans benefits administered by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the State of Indiana also provides veterans benefits. Some State veterans benefits are well known; however, several are little known and often misunderstood. The purpose of this section of the training manual is to familiarize American Legion Service Officers with State benefits, and, hopefully, clarify any confusion concerning those entitlements. Once understood, service officers should remember State benefits whenever discussing veterans benefits programs. Although the VA is often used to verify qualifying factors (e.g., period of service, type of discharge, combat wounds, etc.) for State benefits purposes, VA isn't the administrating authority for State benefits. The benefits themselves were authorized by the Indiana General Assembly and are administered by the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA). IDVA also helps to oversee training of Veterans County Service Officers and the services they provide to claimants within their respective counties. One may contact IDVA at the following address and phone number: Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs, 302 W. Washington Street, Room E-120, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204; phone number (317) 232-3901. Bonus Programs The State of Indiana had provided State bonuses to veterans of WW II, Korea, and Vietnam, but the filing date for those programs all have ended. June 30, 1953 was the expiration date for the WW II bonus, April 1, 1957 was the expiration date for the Korean War bonus, and the original expiration date for the Vietnam War Bonus was March 28, 1976. The State of Indiana had since reopened the Vietnam War Bonus Program, but the second enrollment period for this bonus program ended as January 1, 1992. For whatever reason, the State of Indiana has yet to authorize State war bonuses for Persian Gulf Veterans, or serviceperson now fighting the war on terrorism. Burial Allowance County Governments are authorized to pay up to $1000.00 for burial costs of a veteran or the veteran‟s spouse including up to $100.00 for the setting of a Government headstone in the County of burial. Service Officers should contact their County Auditor concerning application forms and filing procedures. 6.1.1 Remission of Fees Children of wartime era service connected disabled veterans with a disability rating of 0% or more and children of war veterans who received the Purple Heart award are entitled to free tuition and other mandatory fees at State supported colleges. For the purpose of this program the wartime era requirement is also satisfied if the veteran “performed duty equally hazardous that was recognized by the award of a service or campaign medal of the United States.” The veteran must also have been a resident of the State of Indiana for not less than 3 consecutive years during his or her lifetime. The child must also meet the resident tuition rate requirement at the state educational institution. This benefit provides up to 124 semester credit hours. It may be used either on a full-time or part-time bases for undergraduate or graduate level work, but graduate level is credit hours are only paid at the undergraduate rate after July 1, 2008. Age or marital status of the student is not a factor. If a child was born before or during the time his parent was detained as a POW or declared a MIA after January 1, 1960, that child is also entitled to free tuition at State supported learning institutions. Remissions of Fees applications are available at the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs office or the American Legion Department Service Office. Completed applications should be returned to IDVA. Once IDVA has provided verification, the application will be returned to the student who should then present it to the school's financial aid office. The student should obtain verification and file with the school's financial aid office before enrollment since fees are not remitted for academic terms completed before fee remission benefits are authorized. Also, the State now requires students to file a “Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),” as a prerequisite for obtaining approval of the child of a disabled veteran‟s remission of fees application. Special Veterans License Plates Disabled veterans license plates allow free parking in metered spaces and parking in handicapped spaces within the State of Indiana. This plate is issued to veterans who: (1) receive VA compensation for service connected loss of sight in both eyes; (2) suffered service connected loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands or feet; or (3) have a service connected physical condition that precludes walking without pain or difficulty. The applicant may obtain up to two disabled veterans plates, but no person other than the veteran is entitled to use his or her parking privilege. A recent agreement arranged by IDVA also allows the International Wheelchair symbol displayed on Disabled Veterans License plates. POW license plates for former Prisoners of War and Purple Heart license plates for those recipients of the Purple Heart Award are also available. Although these plates do serve to recognize combat wounded and ex-POW veterans, there are no other privileges associated with the POW or Purple Heart plate. The same is true for the plate entitled Hoosier Veteran that includes a purchase fee. 6.1.2 To apply for Purple Heart, POW, or disabled veterans license plates, one must complete the appropriate form obtainable from the IDVA or American Legion Department Service Office. Once the application is returned to IDVA, that State agency will verify the veteran's status with the VA then return the approved application to the veteran for presentation to the license branch when purchasing plates. The Hoosier Veteran license plate may be obtained simply by presenting a copy of the veteran's active duty discharge or DD form 214 to the license branch when plates are purchased. Property Tax Deductions Effective January 1, 2005, veterans with a wartime era service connected compensably rated disability are entitled to a $24,960 property tax deduction. This deduction is increased by an extra $12,480 if the qualifying veteran is totally disabled, or becomes 62 years of age and his or her real property evaluation does not exceed current limitations of $143,160. Veterans without service connected disabilities but in receipt of non-service connected pension will also qualify for the $12,480 tax exemption if their real property evaluation does not exceed current limitations of $143,160. After the property tax deduction is made, any unused veterans property tax benefit may be applied to excise taxes. In this case, the veteran should ask the County Auditor each year to provide him or her with the appropriate form to supply the license branch when purchasing plates. A veteran's surviving spouse may also continue to claim the property tax deduction if the veteran qualified for the exemption at the time of his or her death and the veteran would be eligible for the deduction if he or she were alive. WW I veterans and a surviving spouse of a veteran who served before November 12, 1918 may file for a property tax exemption. To apply, the veteran or surviving spouse should obtain a tax abatement form from the VA and supply it to their County Auditor's office. Once a property tax deduction is filed, it need not be filed again unless the veteran's VA status or his property ownership status changes. The veteran does, though, need to provide proof of his or her age to the County Auditor's office when filing for the additional 62 years of age and over property tax exemption even though he or she had previously filed for the $24,960 veteran's tax exemption. 6.1.3 Miscellaneous State Benefits There are other miscellaneous state benefits including: (1) free copying and verification of documents held at State agencies necessary for obtaining veterans benefits; (2) copies of active duty discharge papers, (3) the Indiana Veterans Home, discussed in more detail in another section of this manual; and (4) State veterans and disabled veterans employment assistance also discussed in more detail in another section of this manual. Much like VA benefits, state benefits sometimes change. This is why American Legion Service Officers must communicate regularly with the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs and County Service Officers. The more we know and understand State benefits, as well as VA benefits, the better equipped we are to properly assist those we serve. Indiana State Veterans Memorial Cemetery The Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery (IVMC) is located in Madison, Indiana. It officially opened on December 1, 1999. The first interment took place on December 6, 1999. Persons eligible for burial in this cemetery include the following if they also meet Indiana residency requirements: 1. Any Indiana resident who is a veteran under the rules established by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and was separated under other than dishonorable conditions; 2. Any reservist/National Guard member who was eligible for retirement pay at the time of death, or would have been entitled to retired pay but for the fact that they were not at least 60 years of age; 3. Any Indiana resident who, as a member of the US Armed Forces or a reserve component of the US Armed Forces, died in the line of duty while on active duty or active duty for training; 4. An eligible veteran‟s spouse may be interred in the same plot as the veteran; and 5. The veteran‟s dependent (unmarried, under age 21, or life-long dependant of the veteran shown by documentation). The veteran must meet Indiana residency requirements. Only those veterans who were legal residents of Indiana at the time of death, or were legal residents of the State at the time they entered the US Armed Forces, or for a period of at least 3 years during their lifetime (proof of residency may be 3 years of Indiana State tax records or an affidavit from the county auditor showing 3 years of Indiana taxes paid) will be eligible for burial at IVMC. When a discharged veteran was a legal resident of Indiana for less than 3 years, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs, or its designee, may determine whether there are compelling reasons for waiving the 3-year residency requirement. Legal residents of Kentucky and Ohio can be buried in the IVMC. Residents of these states must comply with the requirements of state residency as outlined in paragraph 6 above. An “at cost” share will be levied for interment in the IVMC. 6.1.4 There is no charge for the gravesite or use of the Chapel for interment services for an eligible veteran. There is charge for the interment of a veteran‟s eligible immediate family member of the opening and closing of the grave. Costs: 1. Eligible veteran -- no cost. 2. Spouse/dependent -- $300 opening and closing fee. 3. The Indiana County of residence pays the veteran‟s headstone setting fee. 4. The cost for interment for Kentucky and Ohio veteran residents and spouse/dependent who meet the requirements will be set “at cost” for interment. (Initial interment, either veteran or spouse, will be charged the cost of the grave liner. The second interment will be charged $300 for opening and closing of the grave.) Unlike Burial at National Veterans Cemeteries, veterans may reserve burial space at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Burial application and additional information are available from the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA). You may also contact the following persons concerning specific cemetery information: Will Short, Superintendent, or Susan Demaree, Administrative Assistant by phone at 812-273-9220, or by fax at 812-273-9221. Tuition Grants for National Guard Members Indiana National Guard members are eligible for tuition grants at Indiana State supported post secondary schools. The grants are called National Guard Supplementary Grants. The State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana administers them. The grants may be used for full-time (12 credit hours or more per semester) or part-time (less than 12 credit hours per semester) training. They must be combined with the federal tuition Assistance program and with the state Higher Education Award. When combined with the other two programs, the National Guard Supplementary Grant will guarantee that 100 percent of tuition and mandatory fees will be paid by the State. The award is paid directly to the school and the student is not required to pay any portion of it back. While the Federal Tuition Assistance program is restricted to tuition only, the State programs (Higher Education Award and the National Guard Supplementary Grant) may be used to cover certain other mandatory fees approved by the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana. Full-time students can receive no more than 4 years of aid under this program, and it must be used within 10 years of first accepting the award. Part- time awards count as half of a full-time award toward the 4 years of eligibility. The National Guard Supplementary Grant is designed to be the finishing stroke in paying for a bachelor's degree for Guard members. The student must apply for all federal and State aid available to them first, and then the National Guard Supplementary Grant is applied to pay the remainder. For this reason, it is extremely important that the student work closely with the school's financial aid department to get the maximum benefit for available programs 6.1.5 Indiana Military Family Relief Fund Indiana National Guard and Selected Reserve families who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the deployment of the service member can now receive help in the form of grants from the State. The State‟s Military Family Relief Fund open for applications in April 2007. The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs states County Veterans Service Officers have been training on the application process. Applicants can call their local County Veterans Service Officer and set up an appointment to complete the application. In most cases the applicant is expected to be spouse of the service member. The applicant must show that the service member had been deployed for over 30 days and that the reason for the financial difficulty is a result of the deployment. The fund is financed through the sale of the "Support Our Troops" license plate as well as the "Hoosier Veteran" license plate. Twenty dollars from the sale of each "Support Our Troops" plate and fifteen dollars from the sale of each "Hoosier Veteran" plate is placed in a special account by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The State may also provided matching supplements to the fund up to $350,000. The account is controlled by the state Department of Veterans Affairs and, unlike most money budgeted to state agencies, the money left over in the account at the end of the fiscal year will not revert back to the general fund. It will remain in the fund and will accumulate for each successive year. Donations to the fund will also be accepted. Annual grants of up to $2,000 are available for items such as food, housing, utilities, medical services, transportation and other essential family support expenses that were caused by the mobilization of the service member. Grants will also be awarded for families still suffering hardships for up to six months after demobilization. Indiana National Guard and Selected Reserves members or spouses can obtain an application from their local County Veterans' Service Officer or can download an application from the Department of Veterans Affairs web site at http://www.in.gov/dva/2329.htm . Applications and assistance can also be obtained by calling the State Military Family Relief Fund Coordinator, Cheryl Phillips, at 317-232- 3922 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The telephone number of the local County Veterans' Service Officer is also available on the web site or by calling Cheryl. 6.1.6 INDIANA VETERANS HOME The Indiana Veterans Home is a State Home for Indiana wartime era veterans - men, women, widows and married couples who are disabled and/or destitute and are in need of nursing home or boarding home care that they are unable to provide for themselves. The Home houses several hundred members. There are several eligibility requirements. The applicant should have been a resident of Indiana for at least 3 years immediately prior to the date of admission (the 3 year requirement may be waived to 1 year when compelling medical or financial needs exist). The veteran must have been honorably discharged. The veteran must have served at least 90 days active duty service with at least one of those days being served during a period of war; or have served in any of the authorized campaigns of the United States and have an adjudicated service connected disability. The eligible veteran's spouse and surviving spouse may also reside at the Lafayette Veterans Home. Applications for admission may be obtained by contacting the American Legion Department Service Office, or the Veterans Home directly. The applicant must complete all sections of the application, and have their personal physician complete a medical history and physical evaluation examination report. You may write or call the Home at: Indiana Veterans Home, 3851 N. River Rd., West Lafayette, IN. 47906-3762; phone: (765) 463-1502. The Lafayette Veterans Home provides nursing and residential care. They have nurses, attendants, laboratory technicians, and a dietitian on staff. Single rooms are provided, but veterans are required to make their own beds and tidy their own rooms daily; although, the Home's housekeeping unit will offer a helping hand when necessary. The Indiana Veterans Home is a full service facility. Its cost covers all the necessary expenses residents may incur, such as, nursing services, social work services, recreational services, physical and occupational therapies, podiatry, optometry, dentistry, audiology, etc. The Home uses VA hospitals for emergencies and surgical procedures. There is also an outpatient VA clinic on the grounds. 6.2.1 Residents are responsible for their full per capita cost. This cost is determined annually and residents are billed monthly according to an agreement executed at the time of admission that may be revised as income changes. The agreement is based on the member's ability to pay. Members are not required to liquidate their assets to gain admission to the Home nor are they required to convey property to the State to gain admission. Members are however, required to certify that they will secure approval from the Indiana Veterans Home for disposing of any real or personal property possessed at the time of admission or inherited or acquired after admission to the Indiana Veterans Home. When only one member of a married couple is applying for residency, income of the one remaining in the community is not assessed for care of the person being admitted. The Indiana Veterans Home stresses that each case in individually evaluated and assessed on its on merit, and anyone having questions pertaining to admittance should contact the Home's Superintendent. 6.2.2 TOPIC 7 VETERANS EMPLOYMENT 7 VETERANS EMPLOYMENT There are several employment benefits for veterans. Among them are Veterans Readjustment Appointments (VRA), Disability Discrimination Regulations, Preference in Federal Hiring and Affirmative Action, Veterans Reemployment Rights, Small Business Administration Preferential Veterans Services, and State Veterans Employment Preference. Veterans Readjustment Appointments (VRA) A Veterans Readjustment Appointment (VRA) is a special authority by which Federal agencies may, if they wish, appoint eligible veterans without competition under a two-year excepted service appointment. The VRA is used to fill professional, administrative, and technical jobs through the GS- 11 level (promotion potential of the position is not a factor). After satisfactory completion of the two- year service period and education/training, the VRA appointee must be converted to a permanent career or career-conditional appointment without competition. The VRA appointment authority covers Vietnam-era Veterans with active duty service between August 5, 1964 (or February 28, 1961, for those who actually served in the Republic of Vietnam) and May 7, 1975. These veterans may be appointed within 10 years of their last discharge or separation. The VRA authority also covers Post-Vietnam-era Veterans whose initial service was after May 7, 1975. Since December 31, 1999, these veterans must have a 30 percent or more service-connected disability. Disability Discrimination Regulations Federal regulations require Federal Agencies to make "reasonable accommodations" for physical or mental limitations of qualified handicap applicants or employees unless the agency can demonstrate that the accommodations would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its program. Reasonable accommodations may include, but not be limited to, making facilities readily assessable to and useable by handicapped persons, job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations, and other similar actions. 29 CFR 1613 dictates a Federal Agency "Shall not discriminate against a qualified physically or mentally handicapped person." Infractions of this rule may be reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Congress has also passed the Americans With Disability Act. This provides disabled persons the same protection as certain classes of minorities now have within the private sector of the work force. On and after July 26, 1994, most employers with 15 or more employees must also make reasonable accommodations to employ and retain the handicapped. Employers discriminating against the rules of this act may also be reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 7.1.1 Veterans Reemployment Rights Veterans should file with the Indiana State Employment Office (WorkOne Office) immediately after release from active duty if they do not return to work. The State Employment Office maintains local veterans employment representatives and disabled veterans outreach personnel who will offer priority employment services to veterans and preferential employment services to disabled veterans. If necessary, newly discharged veterans are also entitled to unemployment compensation immediately following discharge from active duty. Newly discharged veterans also have a right to return to their pre-service job. Veterans reemployment rights are available if: the pre-service employment was other than temporary; the veteran left that job to enter active duty; the veteran served on active duty for no more than four years, unless at the request and convenience of the Federal Government, served an additional year but no more than five years; the veteran was discharged under honorable conditions; and the veteran reapplied for employment with his or her previous employer within 90 days after leaving active duty service. A member of a reserve component of the armed forces ordered to an initial period of active duty for training of not less than twelve consecutive weeks must apply for reemployment within 31 days after release of active duty. Employers must also grant an employee leave of absence for time required to perform active duty for training or inactive duty training in the armed forces of the United States, but such persons serving less than twelve consecutive weeks of active duty service must return to work at the beginning of the next regularly scheduled work period after expiration of the last calendar day necessary to travel from the place of training to the place of employment following release from armed forces duty. Affirmative Action An affirmative action program dictates that employers with federal contracts of $50,000.00 or more must set up a program to enhance employment and advancement in employment for qualified special disabled veterans and veterans of the Vietnam era. Special disabled veterans include those who have a service connected disability rating of 30% or more, or service connected disability ratings of 10% or 20% and have been determined under the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation Program to have a serious employment handicap. Non-compliance complaints should be filed with the Secretary of Labor who, by law, must promptly investigate such complaints and take appropriate corrective action. The Office of Federal Contracts Compliance may be reached at 317-252-4701. 7.1.2 Small Business Administration The Small Business Administration (SBA) employs a Veterans Affairs Officer to help veteran entrepreneurs obtain business loans and management advise. A Vietnam era or disabled veteran who meets SBA's credit criteria and is otherwise eligible may qualify for a direct SBA loan if they are unable to obtain financing from commercial financial institutions or other lenders. You may reach the Small Business Administration Veterans Affairs Officer at 317-226-7272. Small Business Administration (SBA) Patriotic Express Program: Patriotic Express is a new Small Business Administration venture to make business ownership easier for all veterans. Assistance under the new SBA program for veterans ranges from help writing a business plan and managing a business, to obtaining financing and learning how to export goods. Participants may also qualify for loans between 2.25 percent and 4.75 percent over the prime interest rate. Patriot Express is open to veterans, reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of eligible personnel, the surviving spouses of service members who die on active duty, or spouses of veterans who die from a service-connected disability. More information about the SBA program is available at http://www.sba.gov/patriotexpress. (Source: 6-13-07 VA News Release) Veterans Employment Preference Veterans‟ employment preference is available in both federal and state employment. The federal government adds 10 points to federal employment applications of service connected disabled veterans, or veterans entitled to the Purple Heart award. If the eligible veteran is unable to work because of service connected disability or if the eligible veteran is deceased, the veteran's wife, or un-remarried surviving spouse may use this 10-point employment preference benefit. Certain veterans not qualifying for the 10-point employment preference may qualify for a 5-point federal employment preference if service was performed on or after December 7, 1941. More information concerning the 5-point veterans preference requirement is found in The American Legion Post Service Officer Guide. The State of Indiana also offers preferential employment to veterans and disabled veterans. When veterans pass Indiana State Employment tests their names are placed at the top of the employment eligibility lists and considered first to fill job vacancies. Veterans interested in these programs should discuss them at a State Employment Office with a local Veterans Employment Representative. Disabled veterans should ask to speak to a disabled veterans employment representative. 7.1.3 The Department of Labor‟s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP) and Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) has also developed an online, interactive system called the Veterans‟ Preference Advisor to help veterans understand: Whether or not they are eligible to receive veterans „ preference, The type of preference to which they may be entitled, The benefits associated with the preference, and The steps necessary to file a complaint due to the failure of a Federal Agency to provide those benefits. The Advisor leads the inquirer through a series of questions to determine eligibility and provides specific information and instructions for filing a complaint. It is important to note that the tool is intended to be a first step and to provide general information, but it does not offer definitive advice regarding an individual‟s veterans‟ preference entitlement. The Veteran‟s preference Advisor can be accessed at the Department of Labor‟s website under Advisors: www.dol.gov/elaws/vets/vetpref/choice.htm. (source: Veterans Preference Pamphlet published by VETS, US Dept. of Labor) Because of possible legal consequences, Field Service Officers should only relay this information to veterans and not become actively involved in representing claimants with employment issues. Those veterans interested in filing compliance complaints may first want to discuss their case with an American Legion Department Service Officer. 7.1.4 TOPIC 8 Department of Defense (DOD) Issues 8 DISCHARGE REVIEW AND CORRECTIONS BOARDS The American Legion provides representation before the Armed Services‟ Discharge Review Boards and Corrections Boards in Washington, DC. Many veterans with other than fully honorable discharges or with mistakes or injustices appearing in service records should take advantage of this service. Interested veterans may contact the American Legion Department Service Office to seek representation before either Board. The Discharge Review Board (DRB) will consider applications filed only within 15 years after the veteran's active duty discharge. DRBs' may review any discharge except those involving disabilities or resulting from a general court martial sentence. Applications for Discharge Review Board upgrades are made on DD form 293. If a veteran doesn't ask for a DRB hearing and his application is denied, the veteran may re-file by submitting another completed DD form 293 and noting his or her willingness to appear in person before the Discharge Review Board. The claimant may also ask the Board of Corrections of Military Records to review discharges upgrades if the Discharge Review Board fails to grant the claim. Unlike the Discharge Review Board, the Board of Correction of Military Records (BCMR) has authority to correct or remove any injustice found in any military record including records involving disabilities and general court martial sentences. Veterans planning to file with the BCMR are required to file within three years after becoming aware of errors or injustices in service records. The three-year filing period is expandable if good cause is given for waiting more than three years to file. BCMR claims can be filed using a DD forms 149. Along with application to either Board, the veteran should submit a well-written statement describing how he or she believes an error or injustice was made within service records. Claimants should also submit as much supporting evidence with their application and statement as possible. Depending upon what Board action is requested, supporting evidence could consist of lay statements, employment records, school records, voluntary service records, private or VA medical records, military service or medical records, or anything else relevant to the claim. Unless filing deadlines forces the claimant to file immediately, its best to obtain supporting evidence before filing a DRB or BCMR claim. Claimants may obtain copies of their service personnel records by competing and filing a Standard Form 180 with the Records Storage Unit in St. Louis, Missouri. If a disability compensation claim has not been filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), service medical records may also be requested on the Standard Form 180 from the St. Louis Records Storage Center; otherwise, those service medical records must be requested from the VA Regional Office with use of a VA form 3288. In making decisions, the Board's will also often consider evidence attesting to the claimant's good citizenship following release from service, and this is where lay statements, work records, volunteer service records, etc., become important. 8.1.1 The claimant's chances for a favorable decision are increased depending upon on well he or she presents his or her claim and the quality of supporting evidence accompanying said claim. The chances of a favorable decision are also increased if the veteran asks for and later reports to a personal hearing. VA forms 21-22 are not used to designate DRB or BCMR representation. If claimant's desire American Legion representation before these boards, the American Legion should be named as counsel or representative on the DD form 149 or DD form 293. Although DRB and BCMR applications should be submitted through the American Legion Service Office in Indianapolis, the following American Legion address is for use on those applications since DRB and BCMR matters are processed in Washington, D.C.: The American Legion, 1608 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20006. Each of the military service departments: Army, Air Force, Navy / Marine Corps and Coast Guard are converting to electronic service records. As a result, the Military Discharge Review Boards (MDRB) and Boards for Correction of Military Records (BCMR) are making ongoing changes to the way they transfer service records and process applications. These changes and computer security and privacy issues are limiting The American Legion‟s ability to access records. The Legion must therefore also make some changes in the way we file and process military corrections and discharge review claims. All former service members who now wish to have The American Legion represent their case at the MDRB or BCMR must request their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) before applying. If they are filing an issue relating to physical disability, they also need to request their Medical Records. These records should be included in their application package. As noted above, the request for military personal records can be made using a Standard Form 180. Request for copies of service medical records can also be requested using the Standard Form 180 unless the veteran has ever filed a VA disability compensation claim. The veteran will need to write the VA regional office for a copy of service medical records if he or she has ever filed VA claim for disability compensation benefits. Claimants should receive notice of the Board's receipt of the application within one to two months after filing; however, actual decisions from the Boards may take as long as two to three years. Service officers should also know that certain types of other than honorable discharges would bar entitlement to VA benefits. This should not, however, prevent the filing for VA benefits since in many cases, the Department of Veterans Affairs may make their own character of discharge determination for VA purposes. Questions concerning discharge upgrades, correction of military records, or VA character of discharge determinations may be presented to the American Legion Department Service Office. 8.1.2 Concurrent Receipt & Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC) Effective January 1, 2004, military retirees begin receiving both their retired pay and, if they are disabled, their VA compensation. Combat-related disabilities Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) laws were paying only for disabilities which were rated by VA as 60% or higher disabling and were caused by combat conditions, or simulated combat conditions (such as training), or for disabilities which resulted in the award of the Purple Heart medal, regardless of the rating. Effective January 1, 2004, CRSC begin paying for any combat- or training-related disabilities rated anywhere from 10% to 100% . Retirees must apply to their parent service for CRSC payments. The eligible person‟s retired pay will still be reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount received in VA disability compensation, but, in its place, eligible retirees will get a tax-free Combat-Related Special Compensation payment equal to their retired pay reduction. Non-combat related, service connected disabilities Those military retirees who have service-connected disabilities rated at 50% to 90% which are not combat- or combat training-related, but were incurred or aggravated while serving in the military, will receive 100% of their VA compensation, but only a percentage of their military retired pay until the year 2014, when they will get full concurrent receipt. Effective January 1, 2004, they began to receive their full VA disability compensation, but the amount of retired pay they will draw depends on their VA disability rating. Veterans rated as 100% service connected disabled originally begin receiving $750 of their monthly retired pay plus all their VA compensation benefits. Effective January 1, 2005 retirees with a 100 percent service-connected disability rating began receiving their full military retired pay from the Defense Department in addition to full disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The original amount of current receipt pay for the other ratings were: Veterans rated 90%, $500; 80% disability, $350 per month; 70% disability, $250 per month; 60% disability, $125 per month; and 50% disability, $100 per month. No concurrent receipt for retirees rated 40% or below. Each year for the next 10 years, the amount of their retired pay they received in addition to their VA disability compensation will increase thusly: In 2005, the retirees will receive an additional 10% of the remaining offset in their retired pay. In 2006 the retiree would get an additional 20% of the remaining offset in his retired pay. In 2008 an additional 40% and so on until January 2014 when retirees receive their full military retired pay. A service member who is 50% service-connected disabled and retires in the year 2008 starts out at the $100 per month and the additional 40% of the offset immediately, not the 10%. A service member who is 50% service-connected disabled and retires in the year 2014 will get full VA compensation for the 50% rating and full military retired pay. National Guard and Reservist career retirees will be treated the same as active duty retirees and are included in both programs. 8.2.1 Disabled retirees who qualify for both programs would have to choose between one or the other program. Retirees cannot draw compensation from both programs. Because the CRSC program provides full payment immediately, rather than the 10-year phase-in, legislators plan to allow an annual election option for the CRSC-eligibles. This recognizes that a retiree who is 100% disabled, but only 60% of that is due to combat-related conditions, may find it advantageous to elect CRSC payments for a few years until the concurrent receipt payment rises to a level that exceeds the CRSC payment. Because CRSC payments are tax-free and retired pay is not, this could also figure into the qualifying retirees decision of which pay to accept. Special Compensation from the Department of Defense Discontinued With the signing of the new concurrent receipt law, effective January 1, 2004 the special compensation program for disabled military retirees was discontinued. This had program awarded money to service-connected disabled military retirees if they were rated 50% or higher by VA within 4 years of the date of their retirement. Although they lost a dollar of their retirement pay for every dollar they received from VA, they were reimbursed at the rate of $300 per month if they were rated at 100% disabled; $200 if rated 90% disabled; $100 if rated 70% or 80%; $50 if rated 50% or 60% disabled. Since the new concurrent receipt law, signed by President Bush in November, covers these same 50% or higher service connected military retirees, there is no longer a need for this program. Commissary Privilege Cards Military Commissary Privilege ID Cards make it possible for veterans and their families to shop at military commissaries the same as military retirees. Non military retirees may receive a military commissary privilege ID card if they have a service connected VA scheduler 100% or Individual Unemployability rating. The spouse of the qualifying veteran, and his never married children under the age of 21 living in the veteran‟s household may also obtain a military commissary privilege ID card. The applicant would need the following to apply: (1) a Commissary and Exchange Privilege letter from the VA regional office; (2) a government issued photo identification; (3) an original social security card; (4) an original marriage certificate if married; (5) birth certificates for children; and (6) adoption records for adopted children. Applicants may apply at the nearest active duty military installation. The cards are valid indefinitely if VA assigns permanency to the 100% service connected rating; otherwise, the card is only good until the date of the veteran‟s next VA reevaluation examination. The spouse‟s card must be renewed every four years, and cards for unmarried children must be renewed in four year increments from age 10 until age. 8.2.2 National Personnel Records Center (NPRC): Medals, Corrections, Rumors, Fees: According to their website the NPRC is one of the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) largest operations. It houses 70 million records, responds to roughly 160,000 inquiries a month and can process several kinds of requests. The most common are requests for DD Form 214s (Report of Separation), Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) and Service Treatment Records (STR). The NPRC is also authorized to assist with medal requests and clerical corrections to the DD Form 214. A locate, clarify and validate approach elaborated on below works well for these requests. Locate: There are two primary ways to request individual military service information: NARA‟s electronic request system eVetRecs and Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records: SF-180. Veterans and next-of-kin of decreased veterans can use eVetRecs or SF-180 to locate their records. Everyone else must use SF-180. Clarify: Since the NPRC can process multiple requests clarifying the individual request is a must. This can be done by indicating the specific request in Step 3: Comments of eVetRecs or attaching a written statement to SF-180. Validate: All requests have to be validated either by the records the NPRC has or by supporting documentation provided to them. Medals: Requests for the issuance or replacement of military service medals, decorations, and awards should be directed to the branch of the service in which the veteran served. This Chart shows where the request should be sent, where the medals will be sent from and where to write if there is a problem or if an appeal is necessary for each of the services. The Army and Air Force can use eVetRecs or SF-180. The Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard must use SF-180. The specific medals, decorations or awards being requested needs to be clarified in Step 3: Comments of eVetRecs or in a written statement attached to SF-180. Available supporting documentation validating the request should be sent with the signature verification page or SF-180. Corrections: The NPRC can make clerical corrections of errors on the Report of Separation such as misspelled name, missing information, incorrect birth date, social security number, etc. Again, the specific correction request should be detailed in Step 3: Comments of eVetRecs or in a written statement attached to SF-180 and supporting documentation validating the request should be sent with the signature verification page or SF-180. Rumors: Contrary to recent rumors DD Form 214s, Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) and Service Treatment Records (STR) are not available for viewing online. Aside from the enormous cost that would be involved, Federal Law [5 USC 552a(b)] requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing, signed and dated. Fees: The NPRC is authorized to charge fees for many of their services. For now, none of them apply to former service members or next of kin of deceased veterans requesting records relating to benefits or correction of their military record. Therefore, it is important to clarify that the reason for the request in Step 3: Comments of eVetRecs, clearly on SF-180 or in a written statement. Non-benefit and archival requests for records of veterans that were discharged, retired or died in service 62 or more years ago probably will be subject to a service fee. In those instances, the NPRC provides a breakdown of the cost to the individual or organization making the request. (Source: Ray Spencer, Supervisor, Military Review Boards, VA&R, The American Legion National Headquarters) 8.2.3 TOPIC 9 SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS 9 SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS There essentially are two Social Security Trust Funds. One is used for retirement and survivors‟ benefits and the other is used to finance the Social Security Disability Program. Medicare also has two funds, one for hospitalization insurance, and another for medical insurance. The Social Security Administration also administers the Supplemental Security income (SSI) Program, but those funds are derived from general tax revenues and not social security taxes. American Legion Service Officers should become familiar with these various programs so they may advise veterans as to when and where to file. Social Security Retirement One may be entitled to Social Security Retirement at retirement age if they have earned sufficient social security credits during their working years. Forty credits are needed for most people, but fewer credits are required for younger individuals. One may earn up to four social security credits per year. Social security methods for calculating retirement benefits are somewhat complex. For example: the Administration first calculates the wage earner's base earnings for a thirty-five year period for people born after 1928 and retiring during or after 1991. An adjustment for inflation is made and an average adjusted earnings figure is calculated. This adjusted earnings figure is then multiplied by formulas specified by law. This formula provides an annual social security retirement benefits approximating 42% of the person's average adjusted earnings, but a higher percentage is paid for lower income individuals and a lower percentage is paid for higher income individuals. Pervious wage earners with sufficient social security credits will be eligible for full social security retirement benefits at age 65 if they were born before 1938. For people born in or after 1938, the age at which full benefits are payable will increase in gradual steps from 65 to 67 years of age. Individuals may also opt to retire at age 62, but the social security benefits are reduced 5/9 of 1% for each month before full retirement age. Also, beneficiaries are entitled to higher social security retirement benefits for each year retirement is delayed after reaching the age when full social security retirement is otherwise payable. Receipt of social security retirement benefits will affect a veteran's non-service connected pension entitlement, and those funds should be reported to the Department of Veterans Affairs as soon as social security awards benefits. The award of social security retirement benefits will however, have no effect on the veteran's entitlement to monthly VA disability compensation benefits. 9.1.1 Social Security Disability Benefits Previous wage earners with sufficient social security credits are entitled to social security disability benefits when the Social Security Administration determines they have a total disability. Total disability for social security purposes is defined as a physical or mental impairment that is expected to result in death or expected to preclude a substantially gainful work activity for at least one year. Although totally disabled individuals are not entitled to social security disability benefits until the beginning of the 6th full calendar month after disability commenced, claimants should be encouraged to file a social security disability claim as soon as they are aware that such disability may exist as defined under social security regulations. Social security disability benefits may continue until the beneficiary is able to return to work or the condition improves. Social security disability benefits do affect veterans non-service connected pension benefits, and those veterans in receipt of pension must report receipt of social security disability benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans in receipt of VA disability compensation benefits though, may receive social security disability benefits concurrently with VA compensation without an offsets to their VA disability compensation award or social security disability benefit. Dependents Family members of those entitled to receive social security retirement or disability benefits may also be entitled for payments. Those persons include: (1) a spouse if he or she is 62 years of age or older unless collecting a higher social security benefit of their own; (2) a spouse of any age if he or she is caring for the beneficiary's disabled child or child under 16 years of age; and (3) unmarried children under 18, or under 19 but in elementary secondary school as a full-time student, or 18 or older and severely disabled before the age of 22. An ex-spouse may also be entitled to social security benefits if the ex-spouse is at least 62 years of age and had been married to the beneficiary for at least 10 years, and the ex-spouse is not otherwise eligible for a social security benefit equal to or more than the beneficiary's social security entitlement. Although the ex-spouse may be entitled to receive benefits based upon the beneficiary's social security credits, the ex-spouse's entitlement does not affect the beneficiary's monthly award. A surviving spouse age 60 or older may also be entitled to social security retirement benefits based upon their deceased spouse's entitlement. The same is true if the surviving spouse is totally disabled and at least 50 years of age. A surviving spouse of any age may be entitled to social security benefits on the deceased wage earner's social security record if she or he is caring for a child under 16 or a disabled child who is in receipt of Social Security benefits. Surviving child are entitled if under 18 years of age, or under 19 but in an elementary or secondary school as a full time student, or 18 or older and severely disabled prior to the age of 22. Parents may also be entitled if at least half their support was depending upon assistance from the deceased wage earner. Social Security Administration will also provide a special one-time payment of $255.00 if the deceased wager earner had sufficient working credits. 9.1.2 Supplemental Security Income SSI Individuals 65 years of age or older or totally disabled individuals under social security standards as discussed above who do not have sufficient social security working credits may be entitled to SSI benefits. SSI is an income base program for low income retired or totally disabled individuals. In addition to meeting the age or disability requirements, SSI applicants must also meet strict income and net worth limitations. Service Officers should also remember that individuals entitled to SSI might also be able to get food stamps and Medicaid assistance. SSI benefits do not count against non-service connected pension, but must be reported to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The veteran must also report receipt of either non-service connected pension or VA disability compensation to the Social Security Administration when applying for or receiving supplemental security income benefits. Although SSI benefits do not offset either VA pension or compensation benefits, VA pension and/or compensation benefits could reduce SSI benefits. Medicare Medicare is a national health insurance benefit for individuals 65 years of age or older or persons determined totally disabled under social security regulations. Medicare Part A provides hospital insurance, and Medicare Part B provides outpatient doctors‟ care insurance. Individuals are usually automatically entitled to Medicare Part A upon turning 65 years of age if they are eligible for social security or railroad retirement benefits. It is also possible to be entitled to Medicare Part A on a qualifying spouse's record, or for government employees not covered by social security who pay the Medicare part of a social security tax. Social security disability recipients are not entitled to Medicare Part A until they have been receiving the benefits for at least 24 months. Persons with permanent kidney failure that require dialysis or a kidney replacement also qualify for Medicare Part A if they have sufficient working credit or if they are a spouse or child of a social security insured worker. Medicare Part A is provided without cost following retirement or disability. Medicare Part B is an optional program that requires payment of a monthly premium. The monthly premium effective December 1, 2008 is $96.40. As noted above, this benefit assists with payment for doctors‟ services, outpatient hospital care, and other medical services. If one opts not to enroll in Medicare Part B but later decides to do so, a higher monthly premium is charged. Medicaid Medicaid is a State run health insurance welfare program for low-income individuals with limited assets. Applications for Medicaid are available at County Welfare Departments. 9.1.3 Social Security Appeal Process Not all social security claims are granted immediately upon receipt. This is especially true when pertaining to social security disability benefits. If a person's social security claim is denied, the claimant may ask for Social Security's reconsideration of that claim. If the previous denial is confirmed, the claimant may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Many social security disability claims are granted at the Administrative Law Judge level, but an appeal may be initiated to the Social Security Appeals Counsel in many cases if the Administrative Law Judge denies the benefits on appeal. Finally, some appeals may be filed in Federal Court after a Social Security Appeal Counsel denial. The American Legion does not provide representation with appeals before the Social Security Administration; however, social security claimants are encouraged to obtain representation if an appeal is necessary. The Social Security Administration has a list of organizations that may provide representation. Many attorneys will provide social security appeal representation on a fee or contingency basis. Additional Information Wage earners may request an estimate of social security retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration by completing Social Security form SSA-7004-SM OP-7. Veterans may contact the American Legion Department Service Office for this application. Further, specific questions pertaining to social security benefits may be answered by calling the following Social Security Administration toll free number: 1-800-772-1213. 9.1.4 APPENDICES A. OTHER RESOURCES The American Legion Post Service Officer Guide Available free of charge at the Department Service Office (if currently in supply) Available at National Emblem Sales, cost $5.00. 38 Code of Federal Regulations Available for review at local public or law libraries. For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office. 38 United States Code Available for review at local public or law libraries. For sale by the U. S. Government Printing Office. The National Veterans Legal Services Veterans Benefits Manual Available at cost from the National Veterans Legal Services Project. West's Veterans Appeals Reporter This is a set of books used to record Court of Veterans Appeals Cases. They are available for review at law libraries. The Veterans Advocate a veterans law and advocacy monthly Available at cost from the National Veterans Legal Services. State of Indiana Veterans Benefit Pamphlets Available from the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs. A Summary of Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Available from the VA Regional Office. CHAMPUS Handbook Available from CHAMPUS Public Affairs Branch Aurora, CO 80045-6900. A.1 OTHER RESOURCES The American Legion Department of Indiana Service and Rehabilitation Office 575 North Pennsylvania Street, Room 325 Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-1519 Phone Number: (317) 916-3605, FAX (317) 226-6645 email@example.com The American Legion Department of Indiana State Headquarters 777 North Meridian Street Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 Phone Number: (317) 630-1300, FAX (317) 237-9891 The American Legion National Headquarters 700 North Pennsylvania Street Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 Phone Number: (317) 630-1200 VA Regional Office 575 North Pennsylvania Street Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-1519 Toll Free Phone Number: 1-800-827-1000 Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs 302 W. Washington Street, Room E-120 Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2738 Phone Number: (317) 232-3910, FAX (317) 232-7721 U. S. Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents Mail Stop: SSOP Washington, DC. 20402-9328 National Veterans Legal Services Project 2001 S. Street NW, Suite 610 Washington, DC. 20009 Understanding the Appeal Process (VA Pamphlet 01-95-1) April 1995, Depot Stock No. P92422 Board of Veterans' Appeals (Code OIE) Department of Veterans Affairs 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20420 Indiana County Veterans Service Officers: http://www.in.gov/dva/2370.htm A.2 Web Site Resources Center for Minority Veterans http://www1.va.gov/centerforminorityveterans/ Center for Women Veterans http://www1.va.gov/womenvet/ Compensation Rate Tables, 12-1-03 http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/comp01.htm Department of Veterans Affairs Home Page http://www.va.gov/ Directory of Veterans Service Organizations http://www1.va.gov/vso/index.cfm?template=view Disability Examination Worksheets Index, Comp http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/exams/index.htm Electronic Code of Federal Regulations http://www.gpoaccess.gov/ecfr/ Emergency, Non-emergency, and Fee Basis Care http://www.nonvacare.va.gov/ Environmental Agents http://www1.va.gov/environagents/ EVALUATION PROTOCOL FOR GULF WAR AND IRAQI FREEDOM VETERANS WITH POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO DEPLETED URANIUM (DU) http://www1.va.gov/gulfwar/docs/DUHandbook1303122304.DOC and http://www1.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=1158 See also, Depleted Uranium Fact Sheet http://www1.va.gov/gulfwar/docs/DepletedUraniumFAQSheet.doc EVALUATION PROTOCOL FOR NON-GULF WAR VETERANS WITH POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO DEPLETED URANIUM (DU) http://www1.va.gov/gulfwar/docs/DUHANDBOOKNONGW130340304.DOC Forms and Records Request http://www.va.gov/vaforms/ Geriatrics and Extended Care http://www1.va.gov/geriatricsshg/ Guide to Gulf War Veteran's Health http://www1.va.gov/gulfwar/docs/VHIgulfwar.pdf Gulf War Subject Index http://www1.va.gov/GulfWar/page.cfm?pg=7&template=main&letter=A Gulf War Veteran's Illnesses Q&As http://www1.va.gov/gulfwar/docs/GWIllnessesQandAsIB1041.pdf Hearings http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/admin21/m21_1/mr/part1/ch04.doc Homeless Veterans http://www1.va.gov/homeless/ HSR&D Home http://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/ Index to Disability Examination Worksheets C&P exams http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/benefits/exams/index.htm M21-1 Table of Contents http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/M21_1.html Mental Disorders, Schedule of Ratings http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/regs/38CFR/BOOKC/PART4/S4_130.DOC Mental Health Program Guidelin es http://www1.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=1094 My Health e Vet http://www.myhealth.va.gov/ NASDVA.COM http://nasdva.com/ National Association of State Directors http://www.nasdva.com/ Neurological Conditions and Convulsive Disorders, Schedule of Ratings http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/regs/38cfr/bookc/part4/s4%5F124a.doc Parkinson's Disease and Related Neurodegenerative Disorders http://www1.va.gov/resdev/funding/solicitations/docs/parkinsons.pdf Peacetime Disability Compensation http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi- bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+38USC1131 Prosthetics Eligibility http://www1.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=337 Publications Manuals http://www1.va.gov/vhapublications/publications.cfm?Pub=4 A.3 REQUEST FOR AND CONSENT TO RELEASE OF INFORMATION FROM CLAIMANT'S RECORDS http://www.forms.va.gov/va/Internet/VARF/getformharness.asp?formName=3288-form.xft Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses April 11, 2002 http://www1.va.gov/rac- gwvi/docs/Minutes_April112002.doc Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses http://www1.va.gov/rac-gwvi/docs/ReportandRecommendations_2004.pdf Title 38 Index Parts 0-17 http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text- idx?sid=1b0c269b510d3157fbf8f8801bc9b3dc&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title38/38cfrv1_02.tpl Part 18 http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text- idx?sid=1b0c269b510d3157fbf8f8801bc9b3dc&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title38/38cfrv2_02.tpl Title 38 Part 3 Adjudication Subpart AÃƒÂ¢ÃƒÂ¢,Ã‚Â¬"Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text- idx?c=ecfr&sid=1b0c269b510d3157fbf8f8801bc9b3dc&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title38/38cfr3_main_02.tpl Title 38 Pensions, Bonuses & Veterans Relief (also ÃƒÆ‟,Ã‚Â§ 3.317 Compensation for certain disabilities due to undiagnosed illnesses found here) http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text- idx?c=ecfr&sid=1b0c269b510d3157fbf8f8801bc9b3dc&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title38/38cfr3_main_02.tpl Title 38 PART 4--SCHEDULE FOR RATING DISABILITIES Subpart B--DISABILITY RATINGS http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text- idx?c=ecfr&sid=ab7641afd195c84a49a2067dbbcf95c0&rgn=div6&view=text&node=38:184.108.40.206.5.2&idno=3 8 Title 38 ÃƒÆ‟,Ã‚Â§ 4.16 Total disability ratings for compensation based on unemployability of the individual. PART 4ÃƒÂ¢ÃƒÂ¢,Ã‚Â¬"SCHEDULE FOR RATING DISABILITIES Subpart AÃƒÂ¢ÃƒÂ¢,Ã‚Â¬"General Policy in Rating http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text- idx?c=ecfr&sid=1b0c269b510d3157fbf8f8801bc9b3dc&rgn=div8&view=text&node=38:220.127.116.11.5.1..96.11&i dno=38 U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims http://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/ VA Best Practice Manual for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) http://www.avapl.org/pub/PTSD%20Manual%20final%206.pdf VA Loan Lending Limits and Jumbo Loans http://valoans.com/va_facts_limits.cfm VA National Hepatitis C Program http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/ VA Office of Research and Development http://www1.va.gov/resdev/ VA Trainee Pocket Card on Gulf War http://www.va.gov/OAA/pocketcard/gulfwar.asp VA WMD EMSHG http://www1.va.gov/emshg/ Vet Center Eligibility - Readjustment Counseling Service http://www.va.gov/rcs/Eligibility.htm Veterans Benefits Administration Main Web Page http://www.vba.va.gov/ Veterans Legal and Benefits Information http://valaw.org/ VHA Forms, Publications, Manuals http://www1.va.gov/vhapublications/ VHA Public Health Strategic Health Care Group Home Page http: // www.publichealth.va.gov/ Vocational Rehabilitation http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/ VONAPP online http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp WARMS - 38 CFR Book C http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/bookc.html Wartime Di sability Compensation http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi- bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+38USC1110 Welcome to the GI Bill Web Site http://www.gibill.va.gov/ A.4
"DEPARTMENT OF INDIANA"