Military veterans who got injured or sick as a result of their service may claim for disability compensation at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This monetary benefit is paid monthly and is non-taxable.
A 2018 report by the VA revealed that the average veterans’ disability pay in the US is around $16,173 per annum. It also disclosed that over 4.7 million veterans are currently receiving compensation benefits. This translates to a total annual payment of $76.71 billion. Most of these recipients have served in recent conflicts like the Gulf War and the Vietnam War.
Who Can Claim Veterans Disability Benefits?
According to the VA, a veteran can be eligible for compensation if their disability is:
- a result of a disease or injury incurred during their time in the military
- stems from a medical condition that is aggravated during active military service
- directly related to a disability they got while in the military even though it arises long after their active service has ended
In addition, the veteran can only claim such compensation if:
- they have served under conditions other than dishonorable
- their disability must not be the result of their own misconduct
Factors Affecting Disability Pay
If you’re eligible for disability benefits, you can receive compensation payment anywhere from $142.29 to $3,684. The amount can vary widely depending on these factors:
The VA uses a disability rating system to gauge the severity of a veteran’s medical condition. The rating ranges from 0% to 100% depending on how the disability affected your overall health and ability to function.
Your rating will be based on the evidence you’ve submitted to the VA such as:
- your medical records, test results, etc.
- your VA claim exam results (if necessary)
- additional information from other sources (such as federal agencies)
For veterans with more than one disability, the combined disability rating will be used. Use this table to calculate your combined disability rating.
If your disability already exists before you entered the service, your disability payments will depend on the level of aggravation. Level of aggravation refers to how much the military service has worsened your disability. For example, your pre-existing disability has a rating of 20% and it became 40% while on active duty, then the level of aggravation is 20%.
Another factor that affects the disability payment amount is the veteran’s number of dependents. Veterans without spouses or dependent children receive much lesser benefits.
For example, a veteran with a 30% disability rating and no dependents will only receive $435.69 a month. While those with the same rating but have a spouse and child will receive $525.69.
Aside from the children and spouse, the veteran’s parents may also qualify as dependents.
Cost of Living Adjustment
When determining your monthly disability payments, the VA also takes into account the current cost of living. Thus, the benefit amounts are adjusted periodically to reflect the cost of living adjustment (COLA).
This year, the COLA is at 2.8% – a quite huge jump from 2017’s 0.3%. But for 2020, the rate dropped to 1.6%. (See the veterans’ compensation benefit rates effective Dec. 1, 2019, here.)
How to Apply For Veterans Disability Compensation
The most convenient way of applying for disability compensation is through the VA online portal. You can also submit a paper application by completing this form and mailing it to:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
If you prefer applying in person, you can also visit any VA office nearest you.
To ensure that your disability claim gets approved, it is best to hire an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca. He has already helped thousands of injured workers in Florida throughout his over 23 years of practice.
We can help you gather the necessary documents to support your claim as well as help you figure out which benefits you are eligible for. Contact us now for a free consultation.