Veterans’ Benefits – An Overview
According to its website, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) serves about 9 million military veterans and their families, with most veterans having served the country in wars or other periods of hostility. The VA also provides assistance to certain surviving family members of deceased veterans. If you are a veteran or the family member or survivor of a veteran and you are having trouble obtaining VA benefits, a veterans’ benefits attorney such as one at Johnston Law Offices P.C. in Edwardsville, IL, can help you find your way out of what can seem like a maze.
The Big Picture
The magnitude of providing appropriate care and services to the nation’s military veterans presents many challenges, especially in an era of limited government spending. Data from the VA Web site tells the daunting story:
- The existence of approximately 9 million veterans, combined with their family members and dependents and the survivors of deceased veterans, means about one-quarter of the US population is receiving or may be eligible for some type of VA benefit.
- Government support obligations can last decades. Incredibly, a few descendants of Civil War and Spanish-American War veterans are still receiving benefits.
- The highest number of veterans is from the Vietnam conflict, followed by World War II. That being said, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mean that
- The median veteran age is about 61 years for male veterans, 47 for females.
- One of every five male US residents is a veteran.
- Almost 10 percent of veterans are female.
- The VA employs about 322,000 people including doctors, nurses, counselors, lawyers, computer specialists, architects, claims specialists, and others.
- The VA runs a network of almost 1,300 facilities including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, counseling centers, regional offices, and cemeteries.
- The proposed 2021 VA budget is $243.3 billion.
Types of Benefits
The VA has three main arms through which it administers its benefits programs: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and National Cemetery Administration (NCA). Very broadly, the programs include:
- Medical care, including prescription services
- Nursing home care
- Mental health care, including services for alcohol and drug addiction and for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Rehabilitation services
- Readjustment counseling
- Trauma counseling
- Bereavement counseling
- Disability compensation
- Pension programs
- Survivors’ benefits
- Vocational and employment services
- Veteran-owned business support
- Education support
- Home-loan guaranty programs
- Housing assistance
- Life insurance
- Minority, female and homeless veteran outreach and support
- Cemetery and burial services
Veterans, dependents, and survivors should apply to the VA for all possible benefits. In addition to federal benefits, individual states may provide additional or supplemental veterans’ benefits. Veterans, dependents, and survivors should check with their appropriate state veterans’ agencies to determine what additional state veterans’ benefits may be available.
Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA)
The usual procedure if your application for VA benefits is denied or is otherwise unsatisfactory is an appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, before which you can request a hearing. At the next stage of appeal, you may request reopening or reconsideration of a BVA decision or you may appeal to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), then to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and finally to the US Supreme Court. All of these options require the filing of certain documents within specified time periods.
Alternative legal remedies may exist in certain situations.
If you are denied benefits by your state veterans’ agency, you should inquire about the appropriate state vehicle for review or appeal.
Securing VA benefits to which you are entitled can present a legal challenge and the fight may be draining emotionally as well as physically. Especially if you are suffering from a disability, psychological trauma or the effects of advanced age, the assistance of a veterans’ benefits lawyer like one at Johnston Law Offices P.C. in Edwardsville, IL, can be a relief and a real asset.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.