Benefits - US Department of Veterans Affairs
Forms to process claims or apply for eligible benefits with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are available online at http://www.va.gov/ or with the Cumberland County Department of Veterans Affairs. State and County applications are available in our office at 18 N. Hanover Street, Suite 103, Carlisle, PA 17013-3079.
Information obtained from VA Pamphlet Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents.
- Medical/Pharmacy Services
- Disability Compensation
- Death/Burial Benefits
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Education and Training
- VA Home Loan Guarantee
- Gulf War, Agent Orange and Ionizing Radiation Registry Programs
- Agent Orange and Other Herbicides
- Gulf War Veterans
- Veterans Exposed to Radiation
- Death (Widow’s) Pension
- Dependency Indemnification Compensation (DIC)
- Housebound/Aid and Attendance
To receive health care, veterans generally must be enrolled with the VA. Veterans may apply for enrollment at any time. Enrollment may be accomplished by submitting a VA Form 10-10 EZ along with a copy of your discharge certificate/DD Form 214 to the VA Regional Hospital. VA Form 10-10 EZ is available at our office or by clicking on the form.
Eligibility:Since January 17, 2003 veterans who have a service-connected disability rated at 0%, no service–connected disabilities, or a nonservice-connected disability are not eligible to enroll in the VA health care system unless they fall within a means threshold. It is strongly suggested that veterans apply for enrollment and let the VA determine eligibility. Veterans should contact the County Director of Veterans Affairs for assistance.
Pharmacy services are available on an outpatient basis to eligible veterans. Depending upon the veteran’s priority co-payment of $8 for each 30 day or less supply of medication may be charged.
We assist veterans who are applying for disability compensation for service-connected injuries or illnesses. We can help you organize your claim or reopen an existing claim when your injury or illness worsens. Call us to set up an appointment.
Veterans with low incomes who are permanently and totally disabled may be eligible for monetary support if they have 90 days or more of active duty military service. The discharge must be under conditions other than dishonorable. The permanent and total disability must be for reasons other than the veteran’s own willful misconduct. Payments are made to qualified veterans to bring their total income, including other retirement and Social Security income, to a level set by Congress. Unreimbursed medical expenses may reduce countable income. Veterans of a period of war who are aged 65 or older and meet service and income requirements are also eligible to receive a pension, regardless of current physical condition. Contact us for assistance.
Internment in a National Cemetery- Veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. Spouses and minor children of service members and eligible veterans may also be buried in a national cemetery. Grave sites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. The funeral director or the next of kin make interment arrangements for an eligible veteran or dependent at the time of need by contacting the national cemetery in which burial is desired. Indiantown Gap National Cemetery is located a short drive from Cumberland County adjacent to Fort Indiantown Gap.
Headstones and Markers- Upon request, VA furnishes headstones and markers at no charge for graves in cemeteries around the world for service members who die while on active duty and for eligible veterans. VA also provides headstones and markers for spouses and dependents buried in military, state, or national cemeteries, but not for those buried in private cemeteries. When a veteran is buried in a private cemetery, an application for a government-furnished headstone or marker must be made to the VA. The government will ship the headstone or marker free of charge; but will not pay for its placement. Funeral homes can complete and process the application for a headstone and marker at the time arrangements are made or we can assist with the application in the Veterans Affairs Office. To check the status of an application for headstone or marker, call 1-800-697-6947.
In June 2010, VA announced a new option for marking veterans' graves in private cemeteries. Veterans whose death occurred on or after November 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker may obtain a bronze medallion to attach to the existing headstone or marker. Under Federal law, eligible veterans buried in a private cemetery are entitled to either a government-furnished grave marker or the new medallion, but not both. The medallion is available in three sizes: 5 inches, 3 inches and 1 1/2 inches in width. Each medallion features the image of a folded burial flag adorned with laurel and is inscribed with the word "Veteran" at the top and the branch of service at the bottom.
Presidential Memorial Certificates- Certificates signed by the President of the United States are issued upon request to recognize the military service of honorably discharged deceased veterans. Next of kin, other relatives and friends may request Presidential Memorial Certificates in person at any VA Regional Office or by mail: Department of Veterans Affairs
National Cemetery Administration (403A)
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420-0001
This is no pre-printed form to complete or time limit for requesting these certificates, but requests should have a copy, not the original, of the deceased veteran’s discharge document and clearly indicate to what address the certificate should be sent.
Burial Flags- VA provides a United States flag to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who:
- served in any war
- died while on active duty
- served after January 31, 1955
- served at least one enlistment or had been discharged or released from active duty for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty
- was entitled to retired pay for service in the National Guard or Reserves at the time of death, or would have been entitled to retired pay, but for being under 60 years of age.
Veterans separated from service must have been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses.VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran’s death is service-connected. The person who bore the veteran’s burial expenses may claim reimbursement from the VA. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims in service-connected death cases. VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at the time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. VA will pay a $300 plot allowance when a veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under the U.S. government jurisdiction under the following circumstances:
- the veteran was discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty
- the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been except for receiving military retirement pay
- the veteran died in a VA facility
Additional information about burial and memorial benefits may be obtained at any VA national cemetery, regional office or on the internet at www.cem.va.gov/.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment is an employment–oriented program that assists veterans with service-connected disabilities by offering services and assistance to help them prepare for, find and keep suitable employment.
Eligibility.A veteran must have a VA-established service-connected disability of at least 10 percent with a serious employment handicap or 20 percent with an employment handicap and be discharged or released from military service under other than dishonorable conditions. A service member pending medical separation from active duty may apply, but the disability rating must be at least 20 percent.
Services.Depending on an individual’s needs, services provided by the VA may include:
- an evaluation of the individual’s abilities, skills and interests
- assistance finding and maintaining suitable employment
- vocational counseling and planning
- training, such as on the job and work experience programs
- training, such as certificate, two, or four-year college or technical programs
- supportive rehabilitation services and additional counseling
VA pays the cost of these services and pays a living allowance to veterans who participate in a training program.
Entitlement.Eligible veterans are evaluated to determine if they need vocational rehabilitation services to help overcome barriers to employment.
Period of Rehabilitation Program.Generally, veterans must complete a vocational rehabilitation program within 12 years from their separation from military service or within 12 years from the date VA notifies them that they have a compensable service-connected disability. Veterans may be provided up to 48 months of full-time services or their part-time equivalent.
Work Study.Participants may be paid work-study allowance if they train at the three-quarter or full-time rate. They may elect to be paid in advance a portion of the allowance equal to 40 percent of the total.
Program for Unemployable Veterans.Veterans awarded 100 percent disability compensation based upon unemployability may still request an evaluation. A veteran who secures employment under the special program will continue to receive 100 percent disability compensation until the veteran has worked continuously for at least 12 months.
Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty) The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) (Active Duty) provides a program of education benefits to honorably discharged veterans who entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985. Active duty includes certain full-time reserve and National Guard duty performed after June 30, 1985. To receive the maximum benefit, a participant must serve on active duty for three continuous years.
To participate, service members have their military pay reduced by $100 per month for the first 12 months of active duty. Benefits under this program generally end 10 years from the date of the veteran’s last discharge or release from active duty. Participants must have an “honorable” discharge.
Vietnam Era GI Bill Conversions and other MGIB EnrollmentIndividuals who had remaining entitlement under the Vietnam Era GI Bill when the program ended on December 31, 1989, and served on active duty between October 19, 1984 and July 1, 1985 and continued to serve on active duty on July 1, 1988 or to July 1, 1987 followed by four years in the Selected Reserve, are eligible for MGIB benefits. Those who were not on active duty on October 19, 1984, but served three continuous years on active duty on or after July 1, 1985 or two years active duty followed by four years in the Selected Reserve on or after July 1, 1985 and had remaining Vietnam Era GI Bill entitlement on December 31, 1989 are also eligible for MGIB benefits Individuals who were participants under the Post-Vietnam Era Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) on or before October 9, 1996, who continued to serve on active duty through at least April 1, 2000, had until October 21, 2001 to make an irrevocable election to receive MGIB benefits. Those who elected this conversion must have been discharged or released from active duty with an honorable discharge and had their basic pay reduced by or made a lump-sum payment of $2,700.
Montgomery GI Bill (Selected Reserve)The MGIB (selected Reserve) provides education benefits to members of the reserve elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, and to members of the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. To be eligible a reservist must:
- have a six–year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985 or, if an officer, agree to serve six years in addition to the original obligation.
- complete Initial Active Duty for Training (IADT)
- have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before applying for benefits
- remain in good standing in a Selected Reserve unit.
Benefits generally end 10 years from the date the reservist became eligible for the program and end upon separation from the Selected Reserve. If a reservist is separated because of a disability the period may be extended.
Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)Service members were eligible to enroll in VEAP if they entered active duty for the first time after December 31, 1976, and before July 1, 1985. Some contribution to VEAP must have been made prior to April 1, 1987. The maximum participant contribution is $2,700. Under this program active duty personnel voluntarily participated in a plan for education or training in which their savings were administered and added to by the federal government. A member who participated in VEAP is eligible to receive benefits while on active duty if:
- at least three months of contributions are available, except for high school or elementary school, in which case only one month of contributions is needed; and
- the first active duty commitment is completed.
A veteran is eligible to receive benefits if the discharge was under conditions other than dishonorable on or after January 1, 1977 and served for a continuous period of 181 days or more, or was discharged for a service-connected disability. A veteran has 10 years from the date of last discharge or release from active duty to use VEAP benefits.
Post 9/11 GI Bill
To be eligible service members or veterans must serve at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after September 11, 2001, and remain on active duty or be honorably:
- Discharged from active duty status;
- Released from active duty and placed on the retired list or temporary disability retired list;
- Released from active duty and transferred to the Fleet Reserve or Fleet Marine Corps Reserve;
- Released from active duty for further service in a reserve component of the Armed Forces.
Veterans may also be eligible if they were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability after serving 30 consecutive days after September 11, 2001.
Eligibility expires 15 years from the last period of active duty of at least 90 consecutive days.
Based on the length of active duty service, eligible participants are entitled to receive a percentage of the following:
- Cost of tuition and fees, not to exceed the most expensive in-state undergraduate tuition at a public institution of higher education (paid directly to the school);
- Monthly housing allowance equal to the basic allowance for housing payable to a military E-5 with dependents, in the same zip code as the primary school (paid directly to the service member or veteran);
- Yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1,000 per year (paid directly to the service member or veteran); and
- A one-time payment of $500 paid to certain individuals relocating from highly rural areas.
VA HOME LOAN GUARANTY
VA loan guaranties are made to service members, veterans, reservists and unmarried surviving spouses for the purchase of homes, condominiums and manufactured homes and for refinancing loans. VA guarantees part of the total loan, permitting the purchaser to obtain a mortgage with a competitive interest rate, even without a down payment if the lender agrees. The guaranty means the lender is protected against loss if you or a later owner fails to repay the loan. VA requires a down payment on purchase of a manufactured home, and the purchase of a home or condominium if the purchase price exceeds the reasonable value of the property or the loan has a graduated payment feature. Applicants must have a good credit rating, have sufficient income to support the mortgage payments and agree to live in the property. To receive a certificate of eligibility, complete VA Form 26-1880. Call us or stop by for assistance. The criteria vary depending upon the period of service. Your basic loan guaranty entitlement is $36,000 (or up to $60,000 for certain loans over $144,000). Lenders will generally lend up to 4 times your available entitlement without requiring a down payment, provided your income and credit qualify and the property appraises for the asking price. Generally, VA limits loans to $240,000.
VA has developed registries to help analyze the type of health conditions being reported by veterans who served in the Gulf War (August 2, 1990 to a date not yet established), claim exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War (between 1962 and 1975), served in Korea in 1968 or 1969, claim exposure to atomic radiation, or were treated with nasopharyngeal (NP) radium during military service. These veterans are provided with free, comprehensive medical examinations, including laboratory and other diagnostic tests deemed necessary by an examining physician to determine health status. Other veterans who may have been exposed to dioxin or other toxic substances in a herbicide or defoliant associated with testing, transporting or spraying of herbicides for military purposes also are eligible to participate in the Agent Orange registry program. Eligible veterans do not have to be enrolled in the VA health care system to participate in registry examinations. Veterans wishing to participate in registry examinations should contact the Lebanon Regional Medical Center at 800-409-8771 or 717-272-6621 for an examination.
AGENT ORANGE AND OTHER HERBICIDES
The following diseases are presumed by the VA to be service-related for compensation purposes for veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam between Jan 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975:
- chloracne or other acneform disease similar to chloracne
- porphyria cutanea tarda
- soft-tissue sarcoma (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma or mesothelioma)
- Hodgkin’s disease
- multiple myeloma
- respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea)
- non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- prostate cancer
- acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy
- diabetes mellitus type II
- chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Parkinson's Disease
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- "B" Cell Leukemia
Gulf War veterans who suffer from chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses, medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome) that are defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms, and any diagnosed illness that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines warrants a presumption of service-connection may receive disability compensation. The undiagnosed illnesses must have appeared either during active duty in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations during the Gulf War or to a degree of at least ten percent at any time since then through September 30, 2006. The following symptoms are among the manifestations of an undiagnosed illness: fatigue, skin disorders, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, neurologic symptoms, neuropsychological symptoms, symptoms involving the respiratory system, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal symptoms, cardiovascular symptoms, abnormal weight loss and menstrual disorders. A disability is considered chronic if it has existed for at least six months.
Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation while on active duty may be eligible for disability compensation if they have disabilities related to that exposure. To determine service-connection, factors considered include amount of radiation exposure, duration of exposure, elapsed time between exposure and the onset of the disease, gender and family history, age at time of exposure, the extent to which a nonservice-related exposure could contribute to disease and the relative sensitivity of exposed tissue. Conditions presumed to be service-connected are all forms of leukemia (Except for chronic lymphocytic leukemia); cancer of the thyroid, breast, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary tract, bronchiolo-alveoler carcinoma, multiple myeloma, lymphomas (other Hodgkin’s disease), and primary liver cancer, (except of cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated).
CHAMPVA provides reimbursement for most medical expenses – inpatient, outpatient, mental health, prescription medication, skilled nursing care, and durable medical equipment.To be eligible a person cannot be eligible for TRICARE and must be one of the following:
- the spouse or child of a veteran who VA has rated as 100% permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability:
- the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability, or who, at the time of death , was rated 100% permanently and totally disabled; or
- the surviving spouse or child of a military member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct. In most of these cases, these family members are eligible for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA.
For more information, or to apply for CHAMPVA benefits, visit the CHAMPVA Website www.va.gov/purchasedcare/programs/dependents/champva/, or call 1-800-733-8387 or contact the VA Health Administration Center, P.O. Box 65023, Denver, CO 80206.
Former prisoners of war who were imprisoned for at least 30 days are presumed to be eligible for disability compensation if they become at least 10% disabled from diseases associated with POWs. These presumptive diseases are avitaminosis, beriberi heart disease, ischemic heart disease and conditions where the prisoner of war experienced localized edema during captivity, chronic dysentery, helminthiasis, malnutrition (including optic atrophy), pellagra and/or other nutritional deficiencies, psychosis, anxiety states, dysthymic disorder, depressive neurosis, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease, peripheral neuropathy, residuals of cold injury (including arthritis, neuropathy, and/or skin cancer at the site of the cold injury).
Pensions based on need are available for surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime service. Spouses must not have remarried and children must be under age 18, or under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school. The veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and must have had 90 days or more of active military service, at least one day of which was during a period of war, or a service-connected disability justifying discharge for disability. Contact us for assistance.
DIC payments may be available for surviving spouses who have not remarried, unmarried children under 18, helpless children, those between 18 and 23 if attending a VA-approved school, low-income parents of deceased service members or veterans. To be eligible, the deceased must have died from:
- a disease or injury incurred or aggravated while on active duty or active duty for training
- an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty while on inactive duty or
- a disability compensable by VA
DIC payments may also be authorized for survivors of veterans who were totally service-connected disabled when they died, even though their service-connected disabilities did not cause their deaths. The survivors qualify if:
- the veteran was continuously rated totally disabled for a period of 10 or more years immediately preceding death
- the veteran was so rated for a period of at least five years from the date of military discharge
- the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999 and who was continuously rated totally disabled for a period of at least one year immediately preceding death
The veterans discharge must be under conditions other than dishonorable. Contact us for assistance.
Veterans and surviving spouses who are patients in nursing home or assisted living facilities and determined by the VA to be in need of regular aid and attendance of another person or are permanently housebound, may be entitled to additional benefits. Eligibility is based upon need. Contact us for assistance.