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VA Disability Compensation

Updated on December 6, 2013

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This lens was created to help Veterans understand VA Disability Compensation.  It is dedicated to those who served and continue to serve.

When I was 18, in the Army, and declared "disabled" and retired after a motorcycle accident that happened while on-duty, I was counseled by a women at the Army Hospital who helped me understand the value of VA benefits and the importance of fighting hard for them.  As an 18 year old, the dollar signs that gleamed in my eyes seemed to be calling me versus a long-term benefit.  The lady that counseled me helped me understand that benefits last a lifetime and that settling with the Army was a bad idea.  She was right.

This lens will explore VA Disability compensation. 

Learn more about the VA's "Fully Developed Claims" Program. Fully Developed Claims

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Veteran Disability Compensation

If you are military veteran with a service-connected disability you may qualify for over $2,816 in monthly benefits. These benefits are paid to veterans who have injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service. It is also paid to certain veterans disabled from VA health care. These benefits are tax-free.

VA Disability Compensation Eligibility:

You may be eligible for Disability Compensation if you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

VA Disability Compensation Pays:

The amount of basic benefit paid ranges from $115 to over $2,471 per month, depending on your level of disability.

Note: You may be paid additional amounts if:

* you have very severe disabilities or loss of limb(s)

* you have a spouse, child(ren), or dependent parent(s)

* you have a seriously disabled spouse

How do I know if I am eligible for VA Disability Compensation?

First, you need to establish with the VA that you are disabled because of your of active military service. Service connection for a disability may be established in the following ways:

DIRECT - Service medical records show that the disabling condition was diagnosed during military service and the condition has continued to affect the veteran.

AGGRAVATION - Evidence demonstrates that the disabling condition which existed prior to service was aggravated beyond normal progression during military service.

PRESUMPTIVE - Evidence demonstrates that the disability is one predetermined by the VA to be presumed for service connection by time, place and type of service.

SECONDARY - Evidence demonstrates that the disability developed as a result of, or residual of, another service connected disability.

INJURY AS A RESULT OF VA MEDICAL TREATMENT - This is a disability that the veteran incurred, had aggravated or died from because of medical treatment at a VA Facility.

Agent Orange Drums
Agent Orange Drums

VA Extends Agent Orange Benefits to More Veterans

Parkinson's Disease, Two Other Illnesses Recognized

WASHINGTON - Relying on an independent study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki decided to establish a service-connection for Vietnam Veterans with three specific illnesses based on the latest evidence of an association with the herbicides referred to Agent Orange.

The illnesses affected by the recent decision are B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson's disease; and ischemic heart disease.

Used in Vietnam to defoliate trees and remove concealment for the enemy, Agent Orange left a legacy of suffering and disability that continues to the present. Between January 1965 and April 1970, an estimated 2.6 million military personnel who served in Vietnam were potentially exposed to sprayed Agent Orange.

In practical terms, Veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a "presumed" illness don't have to prove an association between their illnesses and their military service. This "presumption" simplifies and speeds up the application process for benefits.

The Secretary's decision brings to 15 the number of presumed illnesses recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

"We must do better reviews of illnesses that may be connected to service, and we will," Shinseki added. "Veterans who endure health problems deserve timely decisions based on solid evidence."

Other illnesses previously recognized under VA's "presumption" rule as being caused by exposure to herbicides during the Vietnam War are:

· Acute and Subacute Transient Peripheral Neuropathy

· Chloracne

· Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

· Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)

· Hodgkin's Disease

· Multiple Myeloma

· Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

· Porphyria Cutanea Tarda

· Prostate Cancer

· Respiratory Cancers, and

· Soft Tissue Sarcoma (other than Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, or Mesothelioma)

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA's services and programs for Veterans exposed to the chemical are available at

# # #

We Served Too!
We Served Too!

Women Veterans Health Care

Did you know that women are the fastest growing group within the veteran population? Learn more about the changing face of women veterans and what the VA is doing to meet their health care needs.

This web site provides information on health care services available to women veterans, including comprehensive primary care as well as specialty care such as reproductive services, rehabilitation, mental health, and treatment for military sexual trauma.

You can also find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about women veterans health care.

At each VA Medical Center nationwide, a Women Veterans Program Manager is designated to assist women veterans. She can help coordinate all the services you may need, from primary care to medical services to Mental Health and Sexual Abuse Counseling.

Women Veterans who are interested in receiving care at VA should contact the nearest VA Medical Center and ask for the Women Veterans Program Manager.

Gravity Defyer, Comfort Shoes


VA Compensation for PTSD

As with other service-related injuries and diseases, the VA will pay eligible veterans monthly compensation for disability resulting from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For a veteran rated at 10, 30, 50, 70 or 100 percent disabled, compensation payments can range from a few dollars to several thousand dollars a month - depending on the severity of your condition.

To receive VA compensation for PTSD there are two items of evidence that must exist and that must be provided to the VA. One without the other is worthless in establishing your claim to VA compensation for PTSD.

Stressor: Proof of a traumatic event in-service. Called a "stressor," it is the basis on which all PTSD claims are based. In short, no stressor, no claim, end of story. A stressor is generally defined as personal exposure to a life-threatening event such as combat, a serious accident, or rape. For those who hold a combat-related decoration such as an individual valor award, the Purple Heart, or the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the issue of a stressor is conceded by the VA.

Diagnosis: A diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder rendered by a psychiatrist. Counseling reports prepared by Vet Centers may be considered in determining the degree of your impairment; however, there must be a diagnosis of PTSD made by a physician specialized in psychiatry.

Like Vietnam, Afghanistan and especially Iraq have no "front line." Even the most secure places are subject to suicide attacks, mortars, rockets, and sniper fire. Likewise, the simple movement of supplies and troops present an ever-present danger. Being able to prove your presence in a combat situation is crucial in establishing a claim for compensation based on PTSD. Also, detailed information about trauma that you have experienced can be invaluable to those who seek to treat or diagnose your condition.

Get help! PTSD claims are not a do-it-yourself endeavor. It is important that your claim be prepared as well as possible. If improperly prepared or documented, your claim is likely to fail. Depending on why it failed, your claim may damage your ability to successfully appeal a bad decision or to win approval in a subsequent claim. A claim that has been filed incorrectly is as useless to you and your family as a claim that was never filed.

If you have PTSD, your disability may make it unlikely that you can weather the frustration of dealing with the VA and objectively respond to its requests for information. A claim that has been abandoned by a frustrated veteran is as useless to him and his family as a claim that was never filed.

The various veterans service organizations (VSO) provide free claims assistance. Try to find a person to help you who is familiar with PTSD and has handled successful claims for compensation for PTSD.

You can find all kinds of information on preparing to put in a PTSD claim (including a worksheet) at the following link:

V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana
V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana

V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana

DENVER - The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.

A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states.

The policy will not permit department doctors to prescribe marijuana. But it will address the concern of many patients who use the drug that they could lose access to their prescription pain medication if caught.

Under department rules, veterans can be denied pain medications if they are found to be using illegal drugs. Until now, the department had no written exception for medical marijuana.

This has led many patients to distrust their doctors, veterans say. With doctors and patients pressing the veterans department for formal guidance, agency officials began drafting a policy last fall.

"When states start legalizing marijuana we are put in a bit of a unique position because as a federal agency, we are beholden to federal law," said Dr. Robert Jesse, the principal deputy under secretary for health in the veterans department.

At the same time, Dr. Jesse said, "We didn't want patients who were legally using marijuana to be administratively denied access to pain management programs."

The new, written policy applies only to veterans using medical marijuana in states where it is legal. Doctors may still modify a veteran's treatment plan if the veteran is using marijuana, or decide not to prescribe pain medicine altogether if there is a risk of a drug interaction. But that decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, not as blanket policy, Dr. Jesse said.

Though veterans of the Vietnam War were the first group to use marijuana widely for medical purposes, the population of veterans using it now spans generations, said Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, which worked with the department on formulating a policy.

Veterans, some of whom have been at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement, praised the department's decision. They say cannabis helps soothe physical and psychological pain and can alleviate the side effects of some treatments.

"By creating a directive on medical marijuana, the V.A. ensures that throughout its vast hospital network, it will be well understood that legal medical marijuana use will not be the basis for the denial of services," Mr. Krawitz said.

Although the Obama administration has not embraced medical marijuana, last October, in a policy shift, the Justice Department announced that it would not prosecute people who used or distributed it in states where it was legal.

Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, would not comment spefically on the veterans department policy. "What we have said in the past, and what we have said for a while, is that we are going to focus our federal resources on large scale drug traffickers," she said. "We are not going to focus on individual cancer patients or something of the like."

Many clinicians already prescribe pain medication to veterans who use medical marijuana, as there was no rule explicitly prohibiting them from doing so, despite the federal marijuana laws.

Advocates of medical marijuana use say that in the past, the patchwork of veterans hospitals and clinics around the country were sometimes unclear how to deal with veterans who needed pain medications and were legally using medical marijuana. The department's emphasis on keeping patients off illegal drugs and from abusing their medication "gave many practitioners the feeling that they are supposed to police marijuana out of the system," Mr. Krawitz said.

"Many medical-marijuana-using veterans have just abandoned the V.A. hospital system completely for this reason," he said, "and others that stay in the system feel that they are not able to trust that their doctor will be working in their best interests."

In rare cases, veterans have been told that they need to stop using marijuana, even if it is legal, or risk losing their prescription medicine, Mr. Krawitz said.

David Fox, 58, an Army veteran from Pompey's Pillar, Mont., uses medical marijuana legally to help quiet the pain he experiences from neuropathy, a nerve disorder. But he said he was told this year by a doctor at a veterans' clinic in Billings that if he did not stop using marijuana, he would no longer get the pain medication he was also prescribed.

A letter written to Mr. Fox in April from Robin Korogi, the director of the veterans health care system in Montana, explained that the department did not want to prescribe pain medicine in combination with marijuana because there was no evidence that marijuana worked for noncancer patients and because the combination was unsafe.

"In those states where medical marijuana is legal, the patient will need to make a choice as to which medication they choose to use for their chronic pain," Ms. Korogi wrote. "However, it is not medically appropriate to expect that a V.A. physician will prescribe narcotics while the patient is taking marijuana."

Mr. Fox was shocked by the decision, he said.

"I felt literally abandoned," he said. "I still needed my pain meds. I thought they were supposed to treat you. It was devastating for me."

Mr. Fox, who said that at one point he was weaning himself off his pain medication for fear of running out, has held one-man protests in front of the clinic, carrying signs that read "Abandoned by V.A., Refused Treatment."

Veterans officials would not comment on specific cases, citing medical privacy laws.

This month, Dr. Robert A. Petzel, the under secretary for health for the veterans department, sent a letter to Mr. Krawitz laying out the department's policy. If a veteran obtains and uses medical marijuana in accordance with state law, Dr. Petzel wrote, he should not be precluded from receiving opioids for pain management at a veterans facility.

Dr. Petzel also said that pain management agreements between clinicians and patients, which are used as guidelines for courses of treatment, "should draw a clear distinction between the use of illegal drugs, and legal medical marijuana."

Dr. Jesse, the veterans department official, said that formalizing rules on medical marijuana would eliminate any future confusion and keep patients from being squeezed between state and federal law.

Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, which favors the legal regulation of the drug, called the decision historic. "We now have a branch of the federal government accepting marijuana as a legal medicine," he said.

But Mr. Fox said he wished the policy had been extended to veterans who lived in states where medical marijuana was not legal.

He said it was critical that the veterans department make its guidelines clear to patients and medical staff members, something officials said they planned on doing in coming weeks.

Said Dr. Jesse, "The whole goal of issuing a national policy is to make sure we have uniformity across the system."

James Dao contributed reporting.

Senate Examines VA Disability Process

The U.S. Senate Committee recently held an oversight hearing on the existing VA process for presuming service-connection for veterans' disabilities. Looking beyond the recent expansion of Agent Orange-related presumptions, witnesses and committee members discussed potential improvements to the process to be used in connection with possible exposures to future generations. More information about the hearing including statements, testimony and the webcast is available on the website below:

Hearing: VA Disability Compensation: Presumptive Disability Decision-Making

United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Oversight Hearing: VA Disability Compensation: Presumptive Disability Decision-Making.

September 23, 2010

9:30 a.m.

50 Dirksen Ground

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)
Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)

The mission of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is to serve active duty military, their beneficiaries, and veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) through state-of-the-art clinical care, innovative clinical research initiatives and educational programs. DVBIC fulfills this mission through ongoing collaboration with military, VA and civilian health partners, local communities, families and individuals with TBI.

In 2008, DVBIC's mission expanded to include Force Health Protection and Management. This encompasses the following Department of Defense (DoD) programs:

* TBI Surveillance

* TBI Registry

* Pre-deployment neurocognitive testing

* Family Caregiver Curriculum

* 15 year longitudinal study of TBI

* Independent study of automated neurocognitive tests

DVBIC has been named the Office of Responsibility or Executive Agency for these programs.

DVBIC's multi-center network design and collaborations with forward medical commands allows for clinical innovation along the entire continuum of care: from initial injury in the war zone through to medical evacuation, acute care, rehabilitation and ultimately a return to community, family, and work or continued duty when possible.

Please visit for more information.

Use a Veteran Service Officer to Apply for Benefits

A VSO (Veteran Service Officer or Organization) can assist you in retrieving medical records and filing your claim. They can be of great assistance.

Applying online Using VONAPP for VA Disability Compensation

"VONAPP" or Veterans On-line APPLication Website was created to allow Vets to apply for Veterans benefits online.

Who should use VONAPP

If you are applying for Compensation, Pension, or Vocational Rehabilitation:

You should use VONAPP if you are a U.S. military veteran who wants to apply for compensation, pension, or vocational rehabilitation benefits using the Internet. If you are now receiving any of those benefits, don't use VONAPP to apply for the same benefit or an increase in that benefit. Instead, contact the VA Regional Office which handles your benefit by calling 1-800-827-1000. Also, if you have a pending application for any of these benefits, don't apply for the same benefit again using VONAPP without checking with the VA Regional Office working on your application. Also, do not use VONAPP to notify VA about dependency or income changes on your current award. Contact your VA office and ask what they need from you for dependency or income changes.

VA Compensation Benefits

You may apply for VA compensation benefits if:

* You were injured while you were in the service, or

* You are permanently and totally disabled and you believe that it is because of your military service, or

* You were seriously ill while you were in the service, and you believe you have continuing problems, or

* You developed a mental or physical condition that you believe may be related to your military service.

What are compensation benefits:

VA pays veterans Disability Compensation for disability(ies) that are a result of military service. If VA determines that your disability(ies) are 30% or more disabling, VA may pay additional compensation for your spouse, children, and dependent parents. VA will pay a higher amount of compensation for a spouse when the spouse is a patient in a nursing home or is disabled and requires the regular aid and attendance of another person.

Learn more and/or apply using VONAPP

Visit VONAPP Now

If you are unable to file online or need further assistance with the application process

a veteran can write, call, or visit a Veterans Services Representatives at the nearest VA regional office or VA medical center, or a local veterans service organization representative.

VA Form 10-10EZ - Application for Medical Benefits

You can fill out and submit an application for VA health benefits using an online form. You may also use a paper form that you download, save for later submission, print and fax or mail back to VA. If you do not want to use the online form or cannot print at home, VA will mail you an application form. You can request an application or get help with it by calling VA at 1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).


Ramp modification
Ramp modification

Special Adapted Housing Programs

To apply for a Specially Adapted Housing Grant, please take the following steps:

1. Download VA Form 26-4555, Veteran's Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptation Grant.

2. Complete the form and submit it to your nearest VA Regional Loan Center.

If you need more information and would like to talk with a Specially Adapted Housing agent, click here to locate one in your area.

VA Manual M26-12 Specially Adapted Housing Grant Processing Procedure, Loan Guaranty Operations for Regional Office Manual

VA Pamphlet 26-13 Handbook for Design: Specially Adapted Housing

Builder Registration Information

Picture examples of adaptations -

VA Benefits on Amazon

Books that provide help.

What is Individual Unemployability

What Is Individual Unemployability?

Individual Unemployability is a part of VA's disability compensation program that allows VA to pay certain veterans compensation at the 100% rate, even though VA has not rated their service-connected disabilities at the total level.

What Is the Eligibility Criteria for Individual Unemployability?

A veteran must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of his/her service-connected disabilities. Additionally, a veteran must have:

-- One service-connected disability ratable at 60 percent or more, OR

-- Two or more service-connected disabilities, at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.

How Do I Apply?

-- Submit VA Form 21-8940, "Veteran's Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability"

-- Send application to your nearest VA Regional Office. To find the closest regional office to you, go to The application can be downloaded at or call 1-800-827-1000 and request the form be mailed to you.

Can I Work?

Veterans who are in receipt of Individual Unemployability benefits may work as long as it is not considered substantially gainful employment. The employment must be considered marginal employment.

-- Substantially gainful employment is defined as employment at which non-disabled individuals earn their livelihood with earnings comparable to the particular occupation in the community where the veteran resides.

-- Marginal employment is generally deemed to exist when a veteran's earned income does not exceed the amount established by the U.S. Census Bureau as the poverty level for the veteran only. For more information on the U.S. Census Bureau's poverty thresholds, see

What If I Don't Meet the Percentage Criteria?

Special consideration will be given for veterans when the following criteria is met:

-- The veteran is considered unemployable due to a service-connected disability(ies) but fails to meet the minimum percentage standards, OR

-- There is evidence of exceptional or unusual circumstances to impairment of earning capacity due to disabilities (for example, interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization)

Note: Veterans may have to complete an employment questionnaire once a year in order for VA to determine continued eligibility to Individual Unemployability.

For More Information, Call Toll-Free 1-800-827-1000

or Visit Our Web Site at

Getting Your Claim Processed Favorably and Quickly: Some Helpful Hints

After serving for several years in the Air Force, I worked at the Board of Veterans Appeals advocating on behalf of Vets as an appeals representative. In that time, I saw all kinds of claims. As a result, I learned that there were certain truths and methods that many Veterans did not know about. As I talked my Veterans through the process, I often shared some simple truths. And now that I work for the Veterans Benefits Administration at VA, I'd like to share them with you.

Simple Truth #1: Make your claim easy to approve

As a Veterans representative, it was most difficult to move a claim through the process when it was submitted with no evidence to go with it. Sometimes I would get claims for "leg condition" or "back pain," leaving me with nothing but questions: Which leg? What part of the leg? What is the actual condition causing back pain? Too many times, there were no medical records to show a diagnosis, or worse, nothing that would tell VA where to look for medical records. When I would talk with the Veteran, I often found that the Veteran did not understand that he or she needed to submit supporting evidence. That's understandable, because of complex legal requirements for compensation claims. So I often explained that the best way to get a claim granted is to make it easier for VA to grant it, or easier for your representative to help you.

Simple Truth #2: Tell VA where to find evidence

Sometimes I hear people say that VA will develop your claim to the fullest and you just have to file it. But you have to tell VA where to look. If you don't, it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack of Federal agencies, each with its own set of records. And if Veterans don't tell VA where their records are, we may not know where to find them. This becomes even more important if you've received treatment from a private sector doctor.

Simple Truth #3: Often, you can obtain evidence easier than VA

Usually, Veterans can get evidence about their own history more easily than VA can. Private medical records are a good example of this, since VA cannot compensate private medical providers for records. We have a duty to assist the Veteran in finding evidence, but it can take a lot longer. If you do not at least tell them where the evidence is, it becomes much harder to find and less likely VA will be able to obtain it and grant your claim. To put it another way, if it was hard for me as a Veterans representative, it was hard for VA.

Simple Truth #4: YOU MUST GO TO THAT APPOINTMENT (this is true of any claim)

VA sends you for an exam to obtain updated medical evidence or a nexus opinion stating the condition is indeed due to service. If VA does not get this information, it may not give you the correct rating, or worse, deny the claim. We expedite exams for Veterans using the FDC program. However, submitting a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) with your FDC would satisfy the need for an exam and move your claim to the next stage of processing.

Simple Truth #5: Filing a fully developed claim cuts down on waiting time

It was with the four truths above in mind that VA created the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program. The Fully Developed Claims program allows Veterans more control over their claims and to serve as co-advocates with their chosen representatives. When a Veteran files a claim, you submit all evidence that you can easily obtain and then certify that you have no more evidence to submit. The claims form, cleverly called an EZ form, outlines exactly the evidence you should obtain and the evidence VA must obtain on your behalf. Generally, Veterans submit private treatment records and notify VA where other records exist, like VA Medical Center records or Social Security Administration records. VA will go get Federal records and schedule you for an exam.

On average, VA spends 175 days per claim gathering evidence on the Veteran's behalf. That is time Veterans spend waiting to hear about decisions. If that evidence is provided to VA up front, we can reduce wait time.

Trade Secret #1: Filing an FDC claim with a DBQ is like a super fully developed claim

If you have the ability to get your medical provider to fill out the DBQ form, you should. Doing so essentially means that VA only has to gather federal records. But if there are no federal records to collect, your claims will breeze through the staff that develops claims to the staff that rates claims.

Trade Secret #2: FDC can help you avoid lengthy appeals

For Veterans who filed claims the traditional route, FDCs can help us avoid the appeals process. If you get your decision and are not pleased with it, you can work with your representative to get the evidence needed and ask for reconsideration as a Fully Developed Claim. For example, Veterans in Illinois are avoiding lengthy appeals by submitting reconsideration requests as an FDC.

Nothing is more helpful for getting the benefits you earned and deserve than your participation in the claims process. VA owes you a transparent and streamlined process, but that process can be made more difficult and cumbersome without your involvement. With that in mind, here is my final truth: If you want your claim processed in 110 days and to have less of a reason to appeal, participate in the process with your representative and file a Fully Developed Claim.

Cat Trombley is a communications specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration. Prior to working for VA, she was an assistant director with one of the Veteran Service Organizations and represented Veterans before the Board of Veteran Appeals. She is also an Air Force Veteran.

Taken from: VAntage Point - Dispatches from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Who can help you file your claim for Disability Pension?

Veteran Service Organizations

The best advice that I can give a Veteran who is thinking about filing a claim for disability and is not sure where to start is to immediately align oneself with one of the many Veteran Service Organizations (VSO's). This is one of the best assurances that the process will be done efficiently and effectively.

As someone who has been through the "rating" process many times over the past 15-20 years, I understand the process extremely well. My best advice is to work with someone who knows the process. There is NO ONE better than a VSO.

You can find a list of Veteran Service Organizations on the following VA Page:

Veteran Service Organizations

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)

Chapter 31 Basics

President Lincoln indicated the importance of caring for the Nation's veterans with the following:

"To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan."

These words spoken by President Lincoln reflect the philosophy and principles that guide the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service as our endeavors are focused on serving our Nation's veterans and their families.

The Department of Veterans Affair's Veterans Benefits Administration's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) service is vested with delivering timely, effective vocational rehabilitation services to veterans with service-connected disabilities. Enabling our injured soldiers, sailors, airmen, and other veterans with disabilities for a seamless transition from military service to a successful rehabilitation and on to suitable employment after service to our Nation. For some severely disabled veterans, this success will be to live independently, achieving the highest quality of life possible with a realized hope for employment given future advances in medical science and technology. The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment service strives to exceed the service delivery expectations of veterans and their families.

VR&E's primary benefit program is vocational rehabilitation services for veterans who have a service-connected disability. To receive services a veteran must be found both eligible and entitled. The outcome of these services lead to suitable employment that is consistent with their aptitudes and interests, or achieving independence in their daily living.

VR&E also provides the following benefit services. Educational and Vocational Counseling is provided for eligible service members, veterans, and veterans' dependents. The outcome of this counseling is assistance in the selection of an educational or vocational goal and / or assistance in the selection of training institutions where this goal may be pursued. Additionally the VR&E program provides educational and vocational counseling benefits for eligible dependent children of Vietnam veterans born with certain birth defects or children of Vietnam or Korean veterans born with Spina Bifida. In order to be considered for this benefit program, you must be the biological child of a veteran who served in Vietnam or on the Korean

FDC - Approved!
FDC - Approved!

Fully Developed Claims

What Is a Fully Developed Claim?

The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is an optional new initiative that offers Servicemembers, Veterans, and survivors faster decisions from VA on compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims.

Veterans, Servicemembers, and survivors simply submit all relevant records in their possession, and those records which are easily obtainable, such as private medical records, at the time they make their claim and certify that they have no further evidence to submit. VA can then review and process the claim more quickly.

Many Types of Claims

There are many types of claims for disability compensation. For example, if you're filing a VA claim for the very first time, you have an original claim. A reopened claim means you have new and material evidence and you want VA to reconsider a claim it once denied. There are also new claims, secondary claims, and special claims.

To learn more about which type of claim you may have and the evidence and forms you need with your submission, view the Claims and Evidence page. Your claim must meet all the applicable requirements listed to be considered for the FDC program.

Learn more:

Fully Developed Claims information on the VA WWW

Remember Our Fallen Heroes Who Paid The Ultimate Price For Our Freedom
Remember Our Fallen Heroes Who Paid The Ultimate Price For Our Freedom

Independent Living Programs

What is ILP?

What Is The Independent Living Program?

The Independent Living program is to make sure that each eligible veteran is able, to the maximum extent possible, to live independently and participate in family and community life increasing their potential to return to work. Services may include the following:

* Assistive technology

* Specialized medical, health, and / or rehabilitation services

* Services to address any personal and / or family adjustment issues

* Independent living skills training

* Connection with community-based support services

Who May Qualify For ILP?

Veteran's whose service-connected disabilities are so severe they are currently unable to pursue an employment goal.

How Are ILPs Developed?

When a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that employment goals are not currently feasible. An evaluation of the veteran's independent living needs will be conducted. The VRC and veteran will work together to identify the veteran's needs. Together they will determine services required to address the identified needs. An individualized Independent Living Program will be written providing the services necessary to meet the veteran's identified needs. Referral to specialized rehabilitation facilities and / or for consultation with other rehabilitation professionals may be necessary in the development and implementation of a veteran's ILP.

Independent Living Program (ILP) participants must submit an application (VA Form 28-1900) for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services (VR&E), complete a comprehensive evaluation with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) who must determine the applicant is entitled to services and that an ILP program is appropriate.

Team Albany Adaptive Sports / National Games - Stratton VAMC, Albany, NY

Get involved with an adaptive sports program
Get involved with an adaptive sports program

This is a picture taken at a last meeting in July 2010. Just a couple representatives. Us on Facebook Team Albany Adaptive Sports

Important things to know about the VA and terminology used

What is the definition of a veteran in the VA?

A veteran is a person who served in the active military, naval or air service and who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

Who qualifies as a dependent?

A spouse who has been married to the veteran for over one year or given birth to a child if the marriage is less than a year is a dependent. Children are dependents to age 18 or to age 23 if enrolled in school.

What do the terms "Service-Connected" and "Non-Service Connected" mean?

These terms define disability types in the VA system. Service connected means that the veteran is disabled due to injury or illness that was incurred in or aggravated by military service. Non-service connected means that the veteran is disabled due to injury or illness not related to military service.

What is the difference between "Compensation" and "Pension" in the VA system?

Compensation is paid to a veteran with service-connected disabilities. Pension is paid to a war-time veteran who is permanently and totally disabled from non-service connected disabilities and who has very low income.

VA Disability Rating

What is your current VA Disability Rating?

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Employment Survey

How has your service-connected disability affected your employment status?

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VA Voluntary Service - Volunteer through the VA

What are you WORTH??

Volunteers are an invaluable resource for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is impossible to calculate the amount of caring and sharing that VAVS volunteers provide to veteran patients. VAVS volunteers are a priceless asset to the Nation's veterans and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Over 140,000 volunteers gave more than 13 million hours in service to America's veterans. It is impossible to calculate the amount of caring and sharing that these VAVS volunteers provide to veteran patients. VAVS volunteers are a priceless asset to the Nation's veterans and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Please join the VAVS family and make a difference in the lives of America's heroes.

If there is something you were not able to find, or anything you need assistance with, please contact our Web Content Manager."

Laura B. Balun

Director, Voluntary Service Office

Volunteer Now - if you know you want to give your time and talents to support the care of America's veterans, click here to complete a volunteer application and be contacted by a local VAVS representative.

Please feel free to leave a note.

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Great job of explaining rights, but it does veterans no good when the bureaucrats call the veteran a liar when they present the facts of their disability. My Vietnam veteran husband has been appealing his case since 1999. He was provided in-patient therapy for PTSD, yet the poor recordkeeping during the Vietnam era is blamed for his not getting disability for that. As an aircraft mechanic stationed at Tachikawa AFB, he was exposed to Agent Orange while working on planes used to dispense the substance over Vietnam. When he got some of it in his eye and had cataract surgery while in service, he is drawing a 30% disability for that. He has subsequently been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and ischemic heart disease. He has been accused of fabricating the story of being exposed to Agent Orange at Tachikawa AFB as an aircraft mechanic, yet the Blue Water Vets are making headway at getting their disability for it (power to them).

      Then the VA blinded his eye when they tried to implant a lens in the eye, they recently raised his disability by a few dollars a month, but refused to increase his percent. Veterans are finding that unless they have a purple heart, they are basically SOL.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I am submitting a FDC for back, neck, and shoulder pain and PTSD. I've had shoulder surgery, but I have not been treated for the PTSD. Do I need to see a doctor to evaluate my conditions beforehand or should I file and see if the VA requests exams? I am in the Philippines and seeing a doctor is not easy, and I don't have money for expensive tests. I am also waiting for my DD 214. If I add the DD 214 and doctors evaluations after filing, will this cause the claim status to change from FDC to regular status, and thereby delay processing?

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      reverse phone lookup cell free I wish to voice my gratitude for your generosity giving support to individuals gddedcaedfdk

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Excellent Topic.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great lens.

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Great topic to spread. Thanks for the lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @Sufferin: Sufferin I feel your pain! It only took me 48 hours to locate 8 other MPs I was stationed with in the 80s that are sick unbelievable!!!! And outrageous treatment we are reviewing for our service.

      There are tons of Facebook groups re FTMC seek and ye shall find tons of support advice and links 100 autoimmune diseases are now associated with Toxic exposure to PCBs

      Only now I'm hearing of denied claims since HR2052 is still just waiting around.

      Somebody told me last week to find a VSO and take your DD214 down to get on a toxic exposure list which is easier than appeal. Scary crap I'm not sure what's the real deal

      The Dallas VA just opened an assistance center next to the hospital it's 40 miles for me in South Dallas in the hood but I'm on my way next week.

      Holler at me with more questions I'm ready to go waste a day I need help!!! NOW!!!!!

      Fubar011 aka Beth

    • Onemargaret LM profile image

      Onemargaret LM 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens! God bless you and yours!

    • PuttinUpWithSuzy profile image


      7 years ago

      Great info! Thanks for sharing.

    • ndAirborneMedic1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent Lens! Thanks so much for all of the knowledge you shared. I have PTSD, and I am currently getting my claim together for VA. I get 30% disability now, but am adding the PTSD. I will definitely use the info you provided.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      7 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Very important issue. We have similar problems in our country, where on one side we have a lot of people with disabilities and without compensation at all and on the other hand folk who abuse the system for their own profits.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I voted above but didn't realize this was only for veterans. Sorry. Anway, I liked 1 of you lenses maybe you could do the same for me? Thanks. Take care. I hope you get better.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens for veterans and families of veterans. It's good that they have resources to deal with PTSD and have compensation for soldiers who've suffered wounds and trauma on the battlefield.

    • gkygrl lm profile imageAUTHOR

      gkygrl lm 

      7 years ago

      @Sufferin: Sufferin, the diseases mirror the Anniston civilian population. You can read about them here:

      No legislation is law yet so you may encounter some difficulty proving your case to some. You may want to join the VetsForJustice forum as well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @fubar011: Looking for a list of illnesses associated with being at Ft. Mac I have several health issues that are supposedly hereditary but NONE in the family tree back to the early 1900s. at one time saw a list but can find NOTHING now.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Great information! My husband finally received 100%. My best advice: Don't give up! It's really difficult to continue the paperwork fight, especially when you suffer from PTSD. Second best advice: Use the services at the Veterans Service Office. They are a great bunch of people, and know the ins-and-outs of the VA system.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @gkygrl lm: No way to use my county office...I was afraid I would be traveling.

      I was fine while enlisted, 20 years later I spent 2 years in VA care so they know a lot about current stats not all as that was several yrs ago, but I'm thinking that having that additional medical record from the VA will help my claim.


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Need some advice in the right direction...regarding the Ft McClellan Health Registry Act you state to file with state or county Veterans Service Org. Then you talk about watching out for the VSO "clubs" do you consider the DAV to be one of the "clubs" to avoid filing through? I have not yet started my claim and don't want to have any major do-overs by beginning in the wrong place. Please clarify - assist. Thanks!

      Your LENS is fantastic!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a lot of good information. I have PTSD, but it is nowhere nearly as bad as that suffered by veterans. It is great that you are making such a great contribution for those in need even with your own challenges with MS. Thank you:)

    • bikerministry profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for serving our country. You've put together a very thorough article. You are appreciated!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Liked, Nice Lens

    • kwhiting644 lm profile image

      kwhiting644 lm 

      7 years ago

      Really good and helpful information. thank you and thank you for serving.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very useful information. Nice lens. I just did a lens on how to help the troops, so thought I would check out some other lenses. Glad I did.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens! I rolled it on 3 of mine. Semper Fi

    • Gripandflip profile image


      8 years ago

      what an awesome lens. Good work.

    • Gripandflip profile image


      8 years ago

      As a veteran with disability compensation I can say that your lens is highly accurate and very informative. The process can be cumbersome, but it's well worth it in the end. Great job with the information. Keep it coming.

    • joanv334 profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the tips!

    • Mrmakingusmile LM profile image

      Mrmakingusmile LM 

      8 years ago

      I need to file for disability. I was just talking about this last week with some coworkers. Awesome Lens. Thank you for making me smile.

    • CubScouter94 profile image

      Tasha Marie 

      8 years ago from Mahomet, Illinois

      Thank you for serving our country! I am sorry that it ended the way it did in your situation.

      Thanks for the information provided in your lens. I have a brother who will be getting out of the Army very soon due to disability from the job. This was very informative.

      My husband also spent 6 years in the Navy!

      My current lens (I just started here at Squidoo) has been set up to support the Military & Scouting, through Operation Popcorn!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens-very interesting and informative!

    • delia-delia profile image


      8 years ago

      Sorry I was reading another lens when I came here afterwards and thought it was the same Thank You for sharing this lens it will help many Vets, my husband took 43 years to apply for benefits.

    • delia-delia profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm glad you did this lens and I assume your husband got benefits, as the first "Vietnam War Stories" lens made me want to write and let you know about the VA & benefits...thanks for sharing all this for the Vets to get help. My husband waited 43 yrs before applying.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Another disability benefit for non-service connected disabilities is the Aid and Attendance disability pension benefit. Easier to qualify for and can be combined with the disability compensation benefit. For information visit

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      First, I would like to thank you for serving in the US Army as an MP. Then I just want to say congratulations on making this great lens, I just noticed it in the Top 100 list on Squidoo. I will be honored to feature this on a couple of my own lenses and you.

      Best wishes to you and your efforts to still be of service,


    • Sandrastevens LM profile image

      Sandrastevens LM 

      9 years ago

      Excellent lens.. Especially for war veterans who served in Vietnam this can be a good resource. The GOV websites are so hard to understand and the way you've put it in a clean manner is greatly appreciated.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for your informative lens on this important topic. My husband served in Vietnam from 1969-71 and suffers from ptsd and other service-related illnesses. We are in the beginning stage of filing a claim with the VA and it's already looking like it will be an uphill battle. My advice to anyone planning to file, is learn all you can about the VA rules, regulations and policies beforehand. This lens is a great starting point. Please visit our lenses for more about Vietnam veterans. God Bless!

    • Alex-and-Ra profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent lens, a lot of really useful information on veterans compensation benefts. will recommend it to anyone who needs it. Wanted to also send a rec for anyone looking for a veterans lawyer -

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      9 years ago from California

      Excellent lens. I know that it will help numerous people. Bear hugs, Frankster

    • Demaw profile image


      9 years ago

      I am very familiar with the V.A., We all need to be involved with health care be it government or private. 5*

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks, gykgrl. Great lens. Trying to spread the word about a survey for OIF/OEF Vets and families we're doing. We're using the answer to put together a congressional packet about the needs of "new" Vet families. Thanks!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens, congratulations for your efforts which have produced such a wonderful lens. The way you have presented your thoughts on the subject indicates how interested and well versed you are in this field. Thank you for giving us such well organized information on VA Disability Compensation with great resources. I would like to share with you an interesting and informative site about personal loan,people will need a loan now and then during his whole lifetime.

    • sisterra profile image


      10 years ago

      Excellent lens!! Very important info!! Again, excellent!

    • steveffeo lm profile image

      steveffeo lm 

      11 years ago

      Gky sent you a message via Bumpzee great lens I was active duty for a bit:):) Keep helping those who need it.

    • kathysart profile image


      11 years ago


      Sadly I know the VA's treatment of disabled Vets all too well, especially Vietnam Vets. I love our country, I am a patriot, but our Government falls pitifully short on taking care of its own.

      Aloha, Kathy

      Fantasy Art|Artwork in a Butterfly Garden|Legend of Pegasus|Fantasy Poetry:

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 

      11 years ago

      Very glad you made this lens! This is very useful for a lot of people out there who needed some help. As always great stuff you got here..~Hugs, Naiza

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Very informative lens on important disability benefits. Thanks from Denver Colorado. 5*

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great summary of critical benefit resources. I also provide a Free Report for Veterans on their most valuable Veteran Benefit. Check it out at

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Excellent lens. 5/5

    • CrystalDBooth profile image

      Crystal Booth 

      11 years ago from Wellston, Ok

      You are providing a wonderful service with this len. Very informative and well done - 5 stars! Thanks again for joining the group. ~ Crystal

    • ShawnsBidness profile image


      11 years ago

      Another great lens! Did you know that in Florida each county has a Veteran's Services Office? It is free, for all vets and not only helps with disability, but finding jobs, transportation to VA hospitals, etc. 5 STARS!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Thanks for putting this lens together. My husband is a Viet Nam Vet and has been appealing the govts. decision of 10% for 4 years. It's real hard to read that it's taking the Iraq Vets 6 months to get theirs when I have to work a full time job and 2 online while he draws SS waiting. Great resource!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Nice summaries of veterans' services - you did a really good job explaining the links and what vets can find there. I hope vets in need find your lens!


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