Eligibility for VA Disability Compensation

Veterans must meet specific VA disability benefits eligibility requirements before they are issued financial assistance through the program.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sets these criteria, and representatives review applications to ensure veterans qualify for the program before providing monthly tax-free benefits. Applicants are also required to provide evidence and proof of their claims of disabilities and service. These claims are confirmed through this documentation and VA representatives are also responsible for reviewing medical and military records.

The VA disability dependent eligibility requirements must be met if a veteran attempts to claim a dependent. In some cases, the program provides additional compensation to eligible veterans who have dependents in their households. It is important for potential applicants to learn more about the VA disability eligibility criteria and how to ensure they can prove they meet these qualifications. A veteran’s disability rating and service history determine eligibility. However, the proper evidence must also be submitted to qualify for program benefits. The following sections provide extensive information on these eligibility guidelines.

VA Disability Qualifying Conditions and Ratings

One of the most important VA disability benefits eligibility requirements is the disability rating. When a veteran applies to receive disability compensation, he or she must provide details on the disability incurred through service. This disability must be directly linked to military service and provable. The disability may also be a pre-existing condition that was aggravated because of the duties required during service. For example, if a veteran had a life-long knee injury that was exacerbated due to service in the armed forces, he or she may be eligible for disability compensation.

An applicant may also be able to prove a VA service connected disability that occurred well after service was completed. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may not be identified until years after military service was completed. However, if an applicant has adequate medical proof that this condition was related to his or her time serving in the armed forces, disability compensation may still be provided.

Related Link: VA Special Monthly Compensation

Once VA disability eligibility is determined through medical and military records, a VA representative rates the disability. These disabilities are rated between 10 and 100 percent, on a 10 percent incremental scale. Veterans who are rated with disabilities lower than 10 percent do not qualify for disability compensation. These disability ratings not only help determine eligibility, but also the compensation provided to the applicant.

When VA disability qualifying conditions are identified in potential applicants, representatives determine the amount of compensation. Specific factors, including the loss of working time, are utilized to determine the compensation rate.

Service History VA Disability Eligibility Criteria

VA disability benefits eligibility requirements also include a veteran’s service history. To qualify for benefits, a veteran must have served in one of the branches of the armed forces in one of the following roles:

  • Active duty
  • Active duty for training
  • Inactive duty for training

Additionally, to meet VA disability eligibility guidelines, the veteran must have only been discharged honorably from service. If a veteran was issued a dishonorable discharge from service, he or she does not qualify to receive disability compensation. A veteran who served inactive duty for training must have sustained his or her disability due to a stroke, heart attack or injury through service.

Evidence to Prove a VA Service Connected Disability

To meet the VA disability eligibility criteria, an applicant must submit substantial evidence that proves his or her disability. This proof must also adequately show that the disability was directly related to his or her service in the armed forces. Applicants should be prepared to submit the following to the VA when applying for benefits:

  • Medical records
  • Service treatment records
  • The DD-214 form, or other discharge forms
  • Supporting medical statements from military professionals
  • Hospital reports
  • Medical statements from personal medical providers
  • Additional professional medical opinions, as needed

VA disability qualifying conditions are only proven when the disabilities in question are rated at 10 percent or higher and are connected to service. In addition to reviewing the evidence provided by the veteran, a VA representative will also review the applicant’s military file. He or she will confirm that an honorable discharge took place and will attempt to relate the applicant’s disability to service through these records. VA eligibility for disability compensation may not be met if it is determined the disability rating is too low or the disability is not related to the veteran’s service duties.

Presumed Disabilities and VA Disability Benefits Eligibility

In certain cases, the VA disability benefits eligibility requirements for disabilities can still be met, even if an applicant does not have significant medical proof. When veterans are determined by the VA to have specific presumed disabilities, they may qualify for benefits, even if medical records do not indicate connections to service. Disability compensation applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and VA representatives determine eligibility based on medical files and military service history.

Generally, VA disability qualifying conditions are considered presumed disabilities if during their service, veterans were exposed to:

  • Certain herbicides while serving in foreign countries, such as Vietnam.
  • Ionizing radiation.
  • Lewisite.
  • Mustard gas.

Veterans may also automatically meet the VA eligibility for disability benefits if they served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War or if they were prisoners of war during their time of service. Additionally, if veterans show signs of tropical diseases or other chronic conditions that seem to be related to their time in service, they may also meet the disability criteria for the program.

While the applicants may not have specific medical records that claim the relation of their conditions to their service, the VA may still accept them into the program and provide disability compensation. These presumed disabilities meet the VA service connected disability guidelines and are assigned disability ratings, based on their effects on the veterans.

VA Disability Dependent Eligibility

There are specific VA disability dependent eligibility requirements that must be met if an eligible veteran attempts to claim dependents on his or her application. It is beneficial for a veteran to claim a dependent on his or her application because the potential disability program compensation may be increased if the veteran has a disability rating of 30 percent or higher. The dependent must live with the veteran and be the veteran’s:

  • Spouse.
  • Child.
  • Dependent parent.

All other VA disability benefits eligibility guidelines must be met before a veteran can receive additional compensation for his or her dependents. Additionally, a veteran is required to report to the VA the addition or loss of dependents, since this determines the amount of monthly compensation provided to an eligible beneficiary currently enrolled in the program.

Related Link: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

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