Disability Compensation is a monetary benefit paid to veterans because of a service connected disability. The key term here is "service connected", and it is based upon three things:
- Current diagnosis of a problem
- Occurrence of the problem or something associated with the problem during military service
- A link between the items (a) and (b).
Here are some examples of service connected disabilities and non-service connected disabilities.
An individual was diagnosed with Hypertension while on active duty in the Army. The same individual has been out of the Army now for ten years and his Hypertension has gotten much worse. Now he is required to take medication for his disability. This individual has a service connected disability.
An individual broke his ankle on an airborne operation while in the Marines. The same individual has been out of the Marines for thirteen years now and has no problems with his ankle. This individual does not have a service connected disability.
An individual fell off of a 5 ton truck, hit a patch of ice, and broke her shoulder. The same individual has been out of the Navy for four years and she has pain or loss of movement of that same shoulder. This individual has a service connected disability
An individual is diagnosed arthritis in her hip. This individual did not have any record of arthritis while she was in the Air Force or any problem with her hip. This individual does not have a service connected disability.
An individual served in Vietnam and was severely wounded in the left ankle. When he was released from the Army, he was awarded a service connected disability for that same ankle. Now, many years later, this individual has diabetes mellitus (Type 2), which was not diagnosed while he was in service. This individual also suffers pain in his right knee. Does he have additional service connected disabilities? Yes and maybe. This individual has a service connected disability for the diabetes because many Vietnam veterans were exposed to Agent Orange. This individual might also have a service connected disability for his right knee if it is recognized as being caused because of his disability for his left ankle. Perhaps the injury caused him to favor his right leg in such a way as to cause it injury over time.
These are just a few examples to show you how VA looks at service connected disabilities. No two cases are alike since each individual has experienced different circumstances.
NOTE: certain diseases are associated with service in particular areas or exposure to certain substances, such as Agent Orange, radiation, mustard gas, or status as a former POW. These diseases may show up years later and still be service connected.
Specially Adapted Homes
Depending on the service connected disability, an individual may be entitled to a VA grant to build or modify a home in order to meet the needs of their disability.
Depending on the service connected disability, an individual may be entitled to compensation to purchase or modify an automobile in order to meet the needs of their disability
A veteran who is entitled to receive compensation for a service connected disability may be able to receive an annual clothing allowance if he/she must wear a brace, prosthetic, or other device in connection with that disability. An individual, who has a service connected skin disability, and must use a medication which causes damage to clothing, may also be eligible for the clothing allowance.
Allowance for Dependents
If a veteran has a 30% or higher disability rating, she/he is entitled to more compensation. This amount is determined by the number of dependents.
There are restrictions on the amount of disability compensation benefits paid to incarcerated veterans or dependents. However, dependents may receive an apportionment of the reduced benefits for a veteran who is incarcerated.
Disability compensation will not be paid to fugitive felons or their dependents.