My fellow Troopers, I asked Mike to add this information to the D Troop website that I thought all us Veterans knew already. I was wrong.
During the last two years I have reunited with three of my fellow Troopers and talking with them learned all three were due compensation from VA that they were unaware of. All three applied and were rated 30%, 80% and 100% disabled and has been life changing and a real blessing for them all.
If you are diagnosed with any diseases listed below, it is very important you file a claim immediately, as it could benefit you and your spouse both. This is especially true of Ischemic Heart Disease which can kill you quickly, and if you die without filing a claim your spouse will lose significant benefits due her. Most claims are now being handled in 6 months or less and are paid retroactively from the date the claim was filed so file immediately and then work on the required paperwork needed. Worse that can happen is the VA says no and you appeal, or your surviving spouse appeals..
If your service connected disability keeps you from working, you may also be eligible for an ”unemployability” rating which gives 100% benefits to you and CHAMPVA health insurance to your spouse.
Surviving Spouse benefits could be as much as $1500 or more a month for life, great health insurance(CHAMPVA), $2000 burial/cremation allowance, your accrued disability payments from the date you first filed till you passed, plus all the benefits your state gives to surviving spouses of Veterans.
Also at the bottom is information regarding burial benefits due all Veterans whether disabled or not.
If you stepped foot in Vietnam for even one day, VA assumes you were exposed to Agent Orange, no testing needed. VA assumes that certain diseases can be related to a Veteran's qualifying military service. We call these "presumptive diseases."
VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits for these diseases.
Other items to consider are:
Hearing loss and tinnitus caused by loud noises such as helicopters, gunfire or explosions.
Back injuries due to hard landings, crashes or jumping from a helicopter, for example, that may have been bearable in the past but has progressed as you got older..
Other diseases that may have been caused by exposure to solvents or chemicals that were used on the flight line.
PTSD - If you served in a combat role you are almost certain to have some degree of PTSD.
Traumatic Brain Injury - If your head was jolted due to an explosion, crash or other cause and were rendered unconscious for an extended amount of time you could well have sustained a brain injury you are not aware of that could lead to depression, memory problems and a host of other mental issues.
Vietnam Veterans are also more likely to get Hepatitis C
VA presumes Lou Gehrig's Disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) diagnosed in all Veterans who had 90 days or more continuous active military service is related to their service, although ALS is not related to Agent Orange
Also, VA has recognized that certain birth defects among Veterans' children are associated with Veterans' qualifying service in Vietnam or Korea.
Spina bifida (except spina bifida occulta), a defect in the developing fetus that results in incomplete closing of the spine, is associated with Veterans' exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during qualifying service in Vietnam or Korea.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Servicemembers who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial/cremation expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
VA will pay up to $747 toward burial and funeral expenses for deaths on or after October 1, 2015 (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $747 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery).
If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for benefits look for a Veterans Service Officer(VSO or NSO) provided by the VA, most states and all the Veteran organizations, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer any questions I can and locate a Service Officer near you. The Service Officers are free.
A couple tips about filing:
1) Have your VSO look over your claims and ask them to cross out any that pay no benefits or give no disability rating.
2) Keep it simple. The VA processors are under extreme pressure to process as many claims as quickly as possible. When they see a claim the size of an encyclopedia it will usually be passed up to process the simple claims.
3) If you are under age 66 you may qualify for Social Security Disability based on your VA rating whether you took early retirement benefits or not. Social Security Disability pays about $100 a month more than if you took Social Security at your full retirement age. It also stays at that rate for the rest of your life and at full retirement age it changes from Social Security Disability to Social Security Retirement so you will be immune from politicians cutting disability.
4) Be sure and make sure your spouse knows what to do at your passing. Your NSO should be able to assist you with that.
5) Once you are rated you may be eligible for VA medical benefits. I know all the publicity about VA healthcare, but from my wife’s and I experience, it will be the best healthcare you ever receive depending upon the hospital. Most VA hospitals are affiliated with a nearby Medical School. Here in Houston the VA is affiliated with top ranked Baylor School of Medicine.
6) Regarding lung and respiratory cancers. Even if you are a smoker, VA presumes the cancer is due to Agent Orange exposure.. UNLESS they are aware you were a smoker and quit for over a year and resumed smoking, in that case VA presumes the smoking caused the cancer and you will be denied benefits.
7) Go for the main disabilities first but do not be shy about applying for other injuries you may have sustained during military duty. I was contacted by a Vet whose military duty consisted of playing football at a base on the East Coast. His injury was an eyelid cut while playing football during the Korean War Era. His claim was that his injured eyelid now drooped and caused him vision problems. I got him with a VSO and he was approved at 30%.
Another Korean Era Veteran who’s duty was unloading and loading supply ships on a South Pacific Island had Maticular Degeneration and was going blind. His claim was the bright white sandy beaches and sunlight contributed to his disease. I told him the chances were slim to none, but showed him and his wife how to apply. Eight months later he called and told me he was declared 100%, plus was ecstatic that our VA had one of the top eye clinics in the nation. The VA supplied him with all sorts of gizmos and gadgets to magnify anything, plus gave him $19,000 to buy a new car with, as his wife needed to drive him around. Then he was awarded another $301 per month Aid and Attendance as his wife needed to care for him since he was legally blind. Sadly he died from heart disease 2 years later but it sure made a difference in his life. I would have bet 100 to 1 that he would be denied, but VA came through for him.
Here in Texas, fully disabled Veterans including those with unemployability, as well as there surviving spouses, have ALL property taxes waived for the rest of their lives. Recently voters also approved making this retroactive to all surviving spouses of fully disabled Veterans. So if you know any widows of disabled veterans who live in Texas, let them know they can have all or much of their property taxes waived for the rest of their lives, even if the Veterans passed years ago. I am sure very few even know this exists.
Please pass this on to fellow Veterans and let me know if this has been a help to you or others.