What is a Service-Connected Disability?
A service-connected disability is any injury or illness you have contracted while on active duty, or that has worsened as a result of active military service. If you are determined to have a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for VA Disability Compensation. These benefits are tax-free. Your County Veteran Service Officer will be able to assist you in evaluating and filing your claim.
Who is Eligible?
You may be eligible for disability compensation if you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. Benefits may be available to those who were exposed to asbestos in the course of their military duty, and who have suffered illness or disability because of that exposure. Medical assistance or compensation for your inability to work and earn an income may be available through the VA.
How Much Does the VA Pay for a Service-Connected Disability?
The amount of compensation the VA will pay for a disability is determined by a percentage rating you are given. It must first be shown that the claimed disability was incurred during military service, and then medical evidence proving the disability must be provided. If your condition was pre-existing, the evidence must show that the disability was worsened during service in the military. You may undergo a physical examination at the nearest VA Medical Center, and the examining doctor would then send a report on your status to a Regional Office for review. A VA compensation specialist would then consult a rating schedule and compare your diagnosis to descriptions given on the various percentages of disability. The percentage that closest matches the physician’s findings is your percentage of disability.
If you are filing a claim for an asbestos-related disease, your military records or other evidence you personally submit must place you where you were exposed. The VA may have records to confirm your presence aboard various ships and in dry docks and will have information on your job duties. It is important to remember, however, that pre-service or post-service asbestos exposure may influence the outcome of an asbestos-related VA disability claim.
How Can I Apply?
Your County Veteran Service Officer can help you fill out VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension or can apply online at http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp You will need to attach copies of:
- Your discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent)
- Your dependency records (marriage and children’s birth certificates)
- Medical evidence (doctor and hospital reports)
If you have already been approved for a service-connected disability and your condition worsens, you can ask for a review of your case. If approved, you may then be given a higher percent on your disability.