Disability benefits are benefits that are available to all United States citizens who have paid into the system via income taxes that meet a range of different requirements. This is a social safety net that allows individuals who are either born with or develop disabilities that make them unable to work, to have a basic standard of living, as well as access to healthcare that allows them to manage their health problems. There are a number of different kinds of disability benefits, some are temporary, some are permanent, and some are tied to your income while others are not.
There is also a special type of service-connected disability compensation and post-traumatic stress disorder that is designed specifically for veterans of the armed forces and their families. Disability benefits are a monthly monetary compensation that is provided for people who have injuries or illnesses that render them unable to work for whatever reason. It should be noted that this type of disability compensation is for veterans and their families that have suffered a disabling injury during the course of their military service, as well as for veterans and their families who became disabled after they retired from active duty military service. In order for you to qualify for this specific type of service-connected disability and post-traumatic stress disorder, at least 10% of your disability has to be a direct or indirect result of experience and/or injury picked up while on active duty. If you have become disabled for a completely unrelated reason to your military service, you are likely to have to apply for standard disability.
When it comes to any form of disability, you receive a monthly, tax-free sum of money, often given in the form of a direct deposit into your bank account or as a check that is cut to you and sent via the postal service. Payments come on the same day every month. People who qualify for disability are also entitled to Medicare insurance, part of the cost of which is automatically deducted from the amount of disability you receive every month. Many states also offer insurance for people with disabilities that meet certain income guidelines. This may mean that you qualify for additional state-funded insurance or that the state may help you cover the monthly or annual cost of your Medicare that you are responsible for.
A veteran will have their disability graded on a scale from 10 to 100 (known as a service-connected disability rating), with the number correlating to the degree to which your illness or injury has disabled you and rendered you unable to work or function in daily life. If you have a spouse and dependent children, you may qualify for greater benefits if you have a disability that is at least 30% attributed to your military service. These requirements might seem rather arbitrary—and in some ways they are—but you will get greater detail as to the specific requirements and benefit levels as you go through the process.
It should be noted that if you have a pension or other form of income outside of your military benefits and pension, the number of benefits that you qualify for may be reduced accordingly. This does not mean that you will not qualify, but rather that you may qualify for a lower benefit amount due to this other source of income.
One of the most common questions that people ask is how much they can expect to receive as a monthly benefit amount as a veteran with a service-related disability. Unfortunately, the answer to this question, like so many others, is: “It depends.” First, let’s start by discussing some recent changes to disability.
[highlight color=”green”] A 2018 Cost of Living Adjustment was approved for people who received disability compensation from the VA. The adjustment was 2% to help stay ahead of inflation and the overall rise in the cost of living.[/highlight] This 2% increase is the largest Cost of Living Adjustment approved for those who receive disability from the VA for over six years. In 2017, the Cost of Living Adjustment was 0.3%, showing just how substantial of an increase this is.
How much one receives every month as a disabled veteran will be dependent on a variety of different factors from how disabled you are to the number of dependents you are responsible for. Let’s just say, for example, you have been dubbed to be 30–60% disabled and you have a spouse but no children, you can expect to receive around a little under $1,200 a month. If you have the same range of disability, along with a spouse, and two dependent children, you can expect to receive about $1,300.
For people who are severely disabled, in the range of 70–100%, the compensation amounts begin to rise as the cost of care, housing, and other necessities also rise, the more disabled one is. If you are in this range with a spouse, but no children, you can expect to receive about $3,100 a month. If you are 70–100% disabled with a spouse and two dependent children, you can expect to receive about $3,400. These amounts do not reflect that actual amount you will take home as there will be insurance costs deducted from this amount each month as well.
You will need to begin the application process for disability compensation for service directly or related injuries or illnesses at your local VA office. They will be able to start the application process for you, as well as fill in more details as to how the process works, your benefit levels, as well as what to expect in terms of compensation for your spouse and dependent children. Your disability rating is something that will be determined during the course of the application process and these levels are decided on a case-by-case basis. The ratings are not always permanent as there are cases where someone has a service-related injury that, at the present moment, doesn’t give the veteran a disability rating high enough for benefits, but that might at a later time. Sometimes, people will have multiple disability ratings that relate to different injuries that render them disabled to some degree.