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VA Compensation & Pension Benefits Overview: What They Are and How They Differ

LongIsland.com

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The VA's ("Department of Veterans Affairs'") VBA ("Veterans Benefits Administration") provides benefits and services to veterans and their families. The VBA webpage begins at

http://www.vba.va.gov/

- with its Compensation & Pension Benefits pages at

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/

and its "Fact Sheets" at

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Milsvc/benfacts.htm

.

Compensation Programs

There are two types of payments.

-

Compensation

: provides monthly payments to veterans in recognition of the effects of disabilities, diseases, or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service. They also may provide monthly payments to surviving spouses, dependent children and dependent parents. Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR 3.4 (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/#BMC

).
-

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

: is a rate paid in addition to or in place of compensation. To qualify, a veteran must be disabled beyond a combined degree percentage or due to special circumstances (i.e., the need for third party assistance, loss of use of one hand, etc.). Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR 3.350 and 38 U.S.C. 1114 (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/#BMS

).

There are three basic payment categories.

Disability Compensation

: paid to a veteran because of injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or was made worse by active military service.

The benefits are tax-free and income independent

. You may be eligible if you have a service-related disability and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. The amount of basic benefit paid in 2006 ranges from $112 to $2,393 per month. You may be paid additional amounts if you have very severe disabilities or loss of limb(s), or you have a spouse, child(ren), or dependent parent(s), or you have a seriously disabled spouse (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Milsvc/Docs/Compeg.doc

).

DIC ("Dependency & Indemnity Compensation")

: paid monthly to eligible survivors of a Military service member who died while on active duty, or whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease, or whose death resulted from a non service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or was entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling, as defined. The basic monthly rate of DIC in 2006 is $1,033 for an eligible surviving spouse. (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Milsvc/Docs/Diceg.doc

).

Parents' DIC

: income-based monthly benefit for the parents of a military service member or veteran who died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated while on active duty or active duty for training, or an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty while on inactive duty for training, or a service-connected disability. The term "parent" includes biological, adoptive, and foster parents. Annual rates paid in 2006 ranged to a maximum of $9,372. Rates are reduced based on the countable income of the parents. When countable income exceeds the limit set by law, no benefit is payable. Eligible parents must report all sources of income to VA. The income limits for 2006 ranged from $12,034 16,176. (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Milsvc/Docs/DICParents.doc

).

Pension Programs

There are two types of payments.

-

Pension

: provides monthly payments to needy wartime veterans who qualify and are disabled as a result of disability not related to military service. They may also provide monthly payments to needy surviving spouses & dependent children (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/#BMP

).

-

Special Monthly Pension (SMP)

: is paid to qualified veterans who need third party assistance (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Benefits/#BMS

).

There are two basic payment categories.

Disability Pension

: paid to wartime veterans with limited income who are no longer able to work. You may be eligible if you were discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, and you served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time. However, anyone who enlists after 9/7/80 generally has to serve at least 24 months or the full period for which a person was called or ordered to active duty in order to receive any benefits. Your countable family income must be below a yearly limit to receive any benefit. For 2006 the basic yearly limit ranged from $10,579 to $20, 974. VA pays you the difference between your countable family income and the yearly income limit which describes your situation. This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Milsvc/Docs/Pensoneg.doc

).

Death Pension

: paid to eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans. You may be eligible if: the deceased veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, and he or she served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time. However, anyone who enlists after 9/7/80 generally has to serve at least 24 months or the full period for which a person was called to active duty in order to receive any benefits. Your countable family income must be below a yearly limit to receive any benefit. For 2006 the basic yearly limit ranged from $7,094 to $13,529. VA pays you the difference between your countable income and the yearly income limit which describes your situation. This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments (

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Milsvc/Docs/Dpeneg.doc

).
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt