Compensation 101: What exactly is VA compensation?


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As a social media administrator for VA’s Benefits Administration, I read thousands of comments (yep, all of them) each week from thousands of people scattered across the country. It’s no surprise that the most-talked about VA benefit is VA compensation, but it is sometimes surprising that the words we use to talk about this benefit are different from the words used by those in our social media community. Even more surprising is that many don’t fully understand the intent, purpose or process behind this benefit.

That’s on us, I guess, that we need to reach more of you to better explain what compensation is, how it works, and who can get it. In general terms, this blog intends to do just that. Or, more loosely: here’s the skinny, the straight talk, with no PR, no spin, no BS.

Ready?

So, what is compensation?

It’s money, obviously. But there’s more to it than that. People often say it’s their “monthly check,” their “service-connected payment,” “their disability payment,” or even simply their “benefits.” These are actual words I often see, but even they don’t effectively describe what compensation is, nor do they accurately portray which specific benefit—among dozens VBA administers—they’re referring to.

There are several types of VA compensation, but I’ve learned that most people are most often referring to disability compensation. When referring to disability compensation, people most often say “my claim,” “my money,” “my benefits,” or “my check.” Sometimes they even say “my pension,” which is, itself, an entirely different and unrelated VA benefit.

Alright, I’ve dragged you along long enough, What IS VA compensation?

  • First of all, it’s taxpayer money. Every year, VA makes a budget request for the following year. In simple terms for just VBA, we look at what we’re currently paying to administer VA benefits, including how much we’re paying in compensation to the millions of Veterans on the rolls, then we analyze how much more we’ll need based on many factors, mostly that there are more Veterans now accessing and receiving and applying to more VA benefits. However, VA’s budget does not limit what we can pay in benefits.
  • Secondly, to safeguard taxpayer money, disability compensation is a process. There are federal laws that govern how we, the VBA, can administer it. This is a protection to the taxpayer to prevent abuse and fraud.
  • Next, maybe most importantly—and the part you care about most: VA disability compensation is a tax-free, monthly payment to eligible Veterans for the injuries and medical conditions they incurred/acquired/caught/received or aggravated while in active military service.
  • But VA compensation is also an acknowledgement. An acknowledgement implies acceptance from the federal government that what happened to you in service can or may affect you after service. And that’s a broad, vague statement. Thus, VA compensation makes up for the potential loss of civilian wages or civilian working time you’d miss as a result of, or for tending to (appointments, etc.), your injuries/medical conditions. It’s basically the government saying, “Hey, thanks for your service. You sacrificed your health for America, so we accept that your reduced health may impact your ability to live as comfortably as you would had you not gotten hurt/sick.”
  • Lastly, VA compensation is not income. I’m going to say that again: VA compensation is not income. It is not a replacement or substitution for civilian employment, and it is not a military retirement. Except in uncommon situations, VA does not pay you to not find or hold civilian employment. Compensation makes up for; it doesn’t replace.

Those are the basics. That’s what it is. In my next blog, I’m going to lay it straight for the questions that would logically follow: Who is eligible, How does it work, and What do I need to do? If you like this approach and you want to see more blogs like it, shoot me some suggestions in the comments below, or hit me up on the VBA Facebook page where I chat with Veterans everyday.

Disclaimer reminder: the internet, this blog and social media are not the places to share sensitive information, and I’m unable to answer complex or overly personal questions relating to your pending claim or your appeal of a completed claim. As always, IRIS is the best place (not the general VA call center) to ask these questions.

Author

Jason Davis

Jason Davis served five years in the 101st ABN, including two combat tours to Iraq. He’s currently an M.A. candidate in Writing at Johns Hopkins University and serves as social media administrator for the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Comments

  1. Jessie Frank Qualls    

    we the veterant need to have more input in the way the system i treating us some of the medical centers is out of control its providers donot know how to treat veterans and thair family with the resepct that they have fought for the staff of some of these places need to be sent home they are just there for a pay check, so i think that if the IG would just talk to the veterans you would get a better responce Thank You,

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Jessie.

      I’m sorry you feel like you haven’t been given the respect you feel you deserve. If you have questions about your VA healthcare, our friends at VHA social media can discuss this with you: https://www.facebook.com/VeteransHealth/

      Also, if you’d like to speak with VA’s OIG, here’s how: https://www.va.gov/oig/contact/

      1. Columbus William Roper    

        Jason, you are not completely right in what you are saying. I am retired, and every dollar I get in disabled benefits is deducted from my retirement pay.

    2. Nancy Smith    

      I am a Veteran and I work in the health care field. I’m puzzled by the statement “Providers do not know how to treat veterans and their family with the respect they have fought for”. Not sure if that means veterans deserve more respect than civilians, or active duty people, cops….Nurses are trained to treat everyone EQUALLY….not to favor someone because they “deserve” to be treated better than the other guy. As nurse…I can not even expect a patient to treat myself with more respect than any other nurse they feel the need to spit on because they didn’t get what they wanted…So…again…Why are Veterans MORE important than cops, ministers, or even a homeless person?

    3. Ben R. Moore    

      AMEN!!!!! At my clinic, most (not all) of staff treats the guys as recruits! Every time I go into my clinic, I see mostly veterans my age or near my age…..60-70. So, observing the staff, it’s like boot camp, tone OF voices, snappy commands and harsh looks. There’s no respect, no smiling faces, no professionism and no sence of concern or caring. It’s a different world when I need to visit my PCP. I’ll be so happy when the government lets the veterans use their PCP’s for their healthcare and Bill it to the government. Thanks, Jesse for getting it stated!!

  2. david white    

    “An acknowledgement implies acceptance from the federal government that what happened to you in service can or may affect you after service. And that’s a broad, vague statement.”

    But!!! First deny, delay, deny……delay until you die.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi David,

      I see a variation of that sentence almost everyday. It pains me to see that Veterans literally think VA wants them to die, or that VA literally doesn’t want to help. It’s just not true, and it doesn’t actually make sense. VA isn’t a person, we’re a collection of 330,000+ people, many of whom are Veterans just like you.

      In fact, one of the reasons why I wrote this blog is because of sentences like that. We get that people are frustrated. That people are in need. We’re frustrated, too. We administer VA benefits based on federal law. As I wrote above, it’s a process. We want people to understand that process. But we also know that some people don’t want to know the process, or that some people can’t. This will be in the next blog, but it’s why we have resources to assist.

      If one is incapable or not willing to understand the process, we always always recommend the use of a Veterans Service Organization (VFW, DAV, American Legion, AMVETS, PVA, etc.). They’re free, they’re trained, and they’re knowledgable about the process. In short: they do excellent work and we love and thank them for their assistance and commitment.

      However, some people love to know all the information, about everything, and prefer todo stuff on their own. Some of these people are way smarter than me. I’m just a regular dude. I’ve been through the process myself–both with and without a VSO. As the VBA social media guy, I often refer people to our resources, the same ones that helped me (before I was a VA employee). What are those resources? We have video tutorials that walk you through all the steps, we have blogs like the one my co-worker Donna wrote about (http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/32368/successfully-file-va-compensation-claim/), and we have all the laws and rules and technical stuff posted online. We’re giving you this info. We want you to use it. And if you have questions, we want you to ask us.

      Replying with an oft-used, inaccurate, illogical phrase tells us you’re frustrated, but there’s nothing else constructive about it. If you’re frustrated, tell us what can we do to help you.

      1. Geoffrey Rogers    

        I applied for my disability benefits with a VA authorized rep in 2015, I got a denial letter within about 2 months. But I was discharged from the Air Force back in 1997. I didn’t serve but 1 year 6 months and 23 days, so even though I witnessed a crew chief get 3000 psi of hydraulic fluid shot through his arm and then a few days later he was in the head changing his dressing and it smelled like rotten meat and the muscle looked like mush and I started drinking to try to get the images out of my head which lead to a pattern of misconduct. But I’m sure that because of my time in the service, and even if I smell hydraulic fluid or rotten meat I have flashbacks of the crew chief’s arm. So I have just gave up on all dealings with the VA. I couldn’t even get an appointment with the dr at local clinic for at least 6 months after I was in a car wreck, so I went to the LSU hospital system and got an appointment the same week. The VA has been a major disappointment for me ever since I got my DD214. I was told that I would have access to VA care, even access to nearest base but nope all lies. I have lost all faith in the VA, because I can’t get on any base since I don’t have a military ID, I just got home from inpatient psych and I was told by the nurses that the VA should be helping me but I told them that I don’t get anything from the VA.

    2. Ric Baker    

      David,

      I agree. My injuries were documented in ’69 by the Navy, I have been turned down twice. I am not a combat vet so that might be a reason. I gave up.

      Welcome home

      Ric Baker

  3. ‎Darrell E. Cota‎      

    ‎Darrell E. Cota‎
     
    to
     
    DAV
    December 19, 2016 ·

    I was approved by the VA for 30% disability for ischemic heart disease from Agent Orange. This brought my disability level up to 60%. The letter the VA sent stated that they would compensate only for a 50% level because there was no 60% compensation level in their benefit system. I have been receiving 50% level payments for about 5 years, I believe. Can’t find the letter. Still looking. Last week, ON FACEBOOK, I found out that there IS a 60% comp. level. What is the process to correct this?

    1
    Darrell E. Cota

    1. Jason Davis    

      Darrell, are you addressing DAV, or us? This is VA’s official blog. We like DAV! They’re good people! But we can’t speak for them.

      Secondly, “Facebook” itself is not a source. Which Facebook page are you referring to? Ours? Something someone said on someone’s page?

      That said, find that letter! A claim decision letter spells out why one was rated, for what, under what conditions, and states what would be necessary for the next higher rating. The top percentage for Ischemic heart disease is 100 percent.

      Here’s what’s in the CFR §4.104   Schedule of ratings—cardiovascular system:

      7005 Arteriosclerotic heart disease (Coronary artery disease):

      With documented coronary artery disease resulting in:

      Chronic congestive heart failure, or; workload of 3 METs or less results
      in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; left ventricular
      dysfunction with an ejection fraction of less than 30 percent 100

      More than one episode of acute congestive heart failure in the past year,
      or; workload of greater than 3 METs but not greater than 5 METs
      results in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; left
      ventricular dysfunction with an ejection fraction of 30 to 50 percent 60

      Workload of greater than 5 METs but not greater than 7 METs results
      in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; evidence of
      cardiac hypertrophy or dilatation on electrocardiogram,
      echocardiogram, or X-ray 30

      Workload of greater than 7 METs but not greater than 10 METs results
      in dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope, or; continuous
      medication required 10

      Note: If nonservice-connected arteriosclerotic heart disease is superimposed on service-connected valvular or other non-arteriosclerotic heart disease, request a medical opinion as to which condition is causing the current signs and symptoms.

      —–

      NOTE: METS is subjective opinion (“Vet cant walk any further on treadmill), and LVEF is an actual, objective diagnostic testing of the heart itself.

      Lastly, please remember that I am not a rater. This is the extent of the “general info” I can give. If you have specific and personal questions, we recommend that you speak with your VSO.

      1. Donna    

        Darrell, it’s possible you misunderstood the letter. That’s probably on us, not you. If you have access to eBenefits, you should be able to see a copy of your letter. Also if it’s been 5 years since your last rating, its possible your condition has gotten worse. Please take a look at the rating criteria Jason posted above. If you think you now qualify for a higher level of compensation, you can file for an increase.

    2. js    

      You can request copies of the letter from the VBA. It is in your C File, Google how to get your C-File and put the request in so you can get whatever evidence you need for an appeal

    3. harley    

      What a typical paid spokesperson reply. Decisions and hearings shouldn’t take years and years, and a simple doctor’s visit shouldn’t take months to schedule

  4. Robert Joseph    

    The VA should re-visit the compensation scale. Compensation should run from 0% to !00% in 10% increments.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Robert. The scale DOES only run in 10 percent increments from 0-100: https://www.facebook.com/pg/VeteransBenefits/videos/?ref=page_internal

      1. js    

        Hi Jason
        The Jump from 90% disabled to 100% disabled is over 166%. The rate goes from 1748 at 90% to 2915 at 100%.

  5. Richard G McHenry    

    Thank you for writing and informing us about “benefits”. I hope your next article will be highlighted so we do not miss it.

    1. Nanett    

      Um, so if my husband was at 60% and got additional 20% for one thing, another 20 % for another, how does that add up to 80%?!??
      Math problems or what?????!
      The percentage thing is crazy and unfair!!!!!!!

      1. Jason Davis    

        Nanett, VA ratings are NOT the sum of all conditions. More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oM7oYzL2DCg&t=7s

  6. Lorenzo Jones    

    I am a Vietnam war era veterans been fighting for my compensation benefits since 2009 receive pension benefits in 2016 because they would only rake me at 30% and I cannot get past that 30% regardless of how many times I reapply been turned down reapply would like to have some type of help with this so I can get my ratings up to get compensation benefits because I can barely make it with what I have coming in now I cannot work because I was a driver and that really aggravates me with my condition

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Lorenzo,

      Are you receiving VA compensation, or VA pension, or both (they’re different, as explained above)?

      It’s super important to read over your claim decision letter(s). They spell out why you were granted/denied, why one percentage and not another, using which evidence, and what would be needed to move up to a higher percentage. These are literally your roadmap to understanding what more you would need to show VA to get bumped up. And, if you’re already “service connected,” then all you would need to do is file a new claim “for an increase” with new evidence showing that your condition is worse than it was. A Veterans Service Organization can help you with this. 🙂

    2. Dana Kapp    

      Lorenzo: It sounds like you are expecting the VA compensation to be your sole means of support and as Jason stated in the article VA compensation is not income so it is not meant to be a sole means of support. If you can’t work as a driver anymore perhaps you should apply for Vocational Rehabilitation benefits to help you retrain in another field that would not aggravate your condition. Go to http://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/ to find out about this wonderful program. I am a veteran who helps other veterans at a community college and I see this program help disabled veterans everyday retrain into a new career to be able to support themselves and their families so I believe it might be able to help you.

  7. John oconnell jr    

    I also have a claim in for agent orange and I have 60% comp.

    1. Robert Peterson    

      Hi my wife is a 100% disabled veteran TDIU and bi-polar. She was in the gulf war and desert storm. Pretty little 19 year old that had to share showers with the men and was Raped multiple times. She has about 5 different personalties nice, kind of nice, medium, mean and very mean. Recently a new one the “REAL LIFE CHUCKY DOLL” she tried to kill me and shove knives up my (rear end). She has had several manic spending sprees. The latest one $30,000.00 since Thanksgiving 2016. She also cannot drive; Totaled her nice minivan hit a church bus and ran into a cement block church building. Bought her a new GMC Terrain and in 3 months she wrecked it and it looks like shit. I carry 1.5 million dollars liability insurance so we don’t end up homeless.I am no looser retired from the nations largest steelmaker with 34 years of service. We have 2 children one is still a minor, Help ME. I am begging for help to understand this. Bob

  8. Aaron Rothschild    

    I enjoyed your BLOG very much.
    I think it was well written; informative as well as entertaining.
    Keep up the good work.

  9. Jerry M Snyder, CWO4 USN RET    

    If you are retired from active military service due to years of service and you receive 10% disability compensation, you pay for your VA disability comp from your own military retired pay. The Navy (in my case) takes it from my retired pay, gives it to the VA who then puts it into my bank account! Therefore I pay for my disability comp. The only benefit to this farce is that it is not taxed as income.
    I am extremely happy about how thankful my country is for me.

  10. George J Barnett    

    Hello Mr. Davis

    I enjoy your messages, however I do not engage in any type of social media. I have to search for your messages and sometimes have a difficult time finding you. Is there a way I can sign up and receive your messages directly to my email?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Kudos to you, George. While social media can help us stay connected to those we love, it can also be a distraction, or a place that fosters negativity. Can we have one but not the other? Not sure.

      Unfortunately, I’m not aware of how to receive notifications of just one author’s blogs. You can subscribe to this blog, but that will send you everything: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/subscribe/

      As it stands right now, I’m hoping to publish 1-2x this week (2/6/17), and I’m hoping for this blog’s sequel for the week of 2/13/17. I only publish under the “benefits” portion of this VA blog. If you’d prefer not subscribe to the whole blog, check back in 2-4 weeks.

  11. Chuck Shaff    

    Thanks for the artcle, I am 100% rated unemployable by VA. Now applying for SSDI remember all Social Security has different requierments if applying. SSA Doing the same with my med records as with VA application for benifits, but please keep in mind they will fast track a vet thru process this is no joke applied Dec 2016 finishing IME now Feb 3 really fast and can see va med records.

  12. Roger L. Mitchem    

    I am a Vietnam-era veteran and applied for disability benefits two months ago. They said my claim was denied because I did not fit the parameters of what they say is a service connected disability. I dropped my request because I thought it would go no further but now I’m not so sure. My disability was originated while I was on active duty but became more pronounced and painful the older I got. Now, I cannot even work. Is there any help for me?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Roger, did you get the decision in the mail? That “claim decision letter” is your roadmap to getting granted. It will state why you were denied, as well as what you’d need to submit to be granted. I’m sorry to hear that your conditions have worsened, but yes, we do have resources to assist you. This blog provides an understanding of what the process means, but my colleague, Donna, put together a neat blog on what you must include. I think you’ll find it useful and informative: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/32368/successfully-file-va-compensation-claim/

      Of course, if this sounds like too much for you to do on your own, we recommend you get a VSO to assist you.

  13. Ted Simmons    

    Viet Nam vet rated at 90%. Filed a NOD over a year ago with no reply yet. Rating are at 130% now with claim on Diabetes still pending. Looked at my Healthy Vet site and they had I would hear from them in Oct. 2017 to Jan. 2018. Totally not acceptable. Didn’t take them that long to draft me and send me to that Hell hole.

  14. Clarissa Rodriquez    

    I agree… I hope I don’t miss the next one. I am trying to get my husband to apply but he feels there are more deserving vets even though he can barely walk at times. He just went back to work from a month off because of his ankle being inflamed. Thankfully we live in Texas and the Veterans Commission here helps with filing claims. I just have to get him to go in! Thank you all for your service!

  15. Douglas Farmer    

    Mr Davis,

    In my award letter it states that my level of disability compensation ( Lymphomia cancer/ agent Orange) is temporary because the complication is curable. . I’ve had three reoccurancs of Lymphomia after being placed into remission.

    Can you clarify what is ment by term CURABLE Or direct me to someone who can?.

    This
    DPF

    1. Jason Davis    

      DPF,

      If your “temporary” condition has become constant, or even worsened, you should file a claim “for an increase.” This should include medical evidence from a medical professional that your conditions have not declined, that they currently continually affect you, and that they have, in fact, increased in severity/duration, etc.

      I believe your best bet is to enlist the services of a Veterans Service Organization. These include VFW/DAV/AMVETS/American Legion/PVA, etc., and you can find them at your local VA Medical Facility. They are free, and they’re trained to assist you with these efforts.

  16. Joseph Maxie    

    As a retired military veteran it seems I pay for my VA compensation. I am rated at 30% by the VA presently. Money is taken from my retirement account and sent to the VA who then sends it to me?

    1. Adam Frey    

      The VA Should be the Veteran’s Service Organization…I should not have to go to somebody else to help me with the VETERANS ADMINISTRATION. You say the “deny, delay, die” thing is just a myth? There are Countless cases of Vet’s who Proved the VA clearly mishandled their cases. Myths and rumors? Hardly, just par for the VA course

  17. Francisco J. Zamarripa    

    This is only for those vets that have been a[[lying for government civil service jobs. For many years after retirement with 60 percent, I applied for several jobs to which I was qualified, or even, overqualified to fill. I would Always the highest ratings after applying, but in the end, I was never chosen. Finally, like a miracle, another retired vet who was in a position to hire, called me after one of many applications and years of trying. I began a happy new career as a federal investigator. Here is the info I want to impart on all: I learned that vets who were qualified for civil service, and got the highest ratings, often the top rating, most of the tima if not always, did not get chosen. The reason was because the managers doing the choosing of who to hire, would always choose their own coworkers, regardless of qualifications as compared with the applicant. The extra points given to a vet usually put him or her on top of the qualification list, and entitles them to be considered for a job, but it does not require the managers to choose them if they do not want to. The final analysis: The coworkers always get chosen, So the “Hire a vet” is just a good idea not a requirement. Thanks.

  18. Dora Holguin    

    Hello: Thank you for writing this article. It is very informative. Sometimes, I have been having a hard time explaining my disability compensation to family and close friends when they asked. They too see it as “another income”.
    In a different, but related issue, I just got laid off last month. I have not been successful finding a job yet. I was able to speak with an unemployment representative on the phone. She said my disability compensation is still income I receive and it will affect my unemployment “benefit”. Therefore, whatever small unemployment amount I was allowed for a week, it is now reduced even more for having a military disability compensation. This is unfair.
    In your article, you wrote “VA compensation is not income.” “VA does not pay you to not find or hold civilian employment. Compensation makes up for; it doesn’t replace.” I worked for 15 years. If adding all disability compensation I have received for 10 years, it does not get even close to what a first year teacher salary is for the 3 years I was active duty.
    How this does benefits me? And other veterans in my situation? Why would I/we have to choose between these two “benefits”? Unemployment or military disability “benefits”?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Dora,

      I’m not sure how different states see this, but from the federal perspective, disability compensation is not taxable income. You don’t report it on your taxes. Therefore, I personally wouldn’t mention it and, unless volunteered, I wouldn’t know how they would even know?

  19. Waverly M Kennedy    

    Hello Jason!
    Great information! However, how can veterans receiving VA disability compensation avoid that VA comp debt hole when they are attending Reserve or National Guard drill weekends while receiving VA disability comp?

    Is there someone we should notify to avoid a lump sum recoupment from the VA?

  20. Peter Marth    

    I thought there was no spin or BS. The VA code: First deny, delay, deny……delay until you die.”
    There is no equity in the process: current vets get 50-100% for sleep apnea, allergies, ED and other BS; are you Sh-ting me!
    A Vietnam era vet applies and is laughed at for anything. the way the VA wants to take credit for anything that a vet accomplishes are their own is appalling. Have a nice day!

    1. Jason Davis    

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Peter. What do you mean by equity? What equity are you looking for? The onus to support your claim is on you. As explained, that is a taxpayer protection. Millions of Vietnam Vets are already receiving compensation. Who is taking credit for a “vet accomplishes?”

  21. Jon    

    Most people do not have proper documentation when apply for a claim . Too many think every illness was caused by serving in the military . I had no problems getting my claim processed because I had proper documentation .

      1. Adam Frey    

        Did you ever serve in a combat zone, Before computers? I did and there was no record of my Jeep wreck, because the hospital was inside a bombed out hotel. So even though I got a Arcom for how I handled the aftermath of the wreck…the VA says there is no evidence I was injured in the service….well my medal hanging on my wall says so…but since it does not medically describe my injuries they say it doesnt count.

  22. David F. Pennaman    

    I just want to post a positive note. I have recently begun a process of filing a FDC, and needed to get help through a call center. Both times, I could not have been more pleased with the professionalism, courtesy, respect, and helpfulness that I encountered. The system has received much negative news in the recent past – we need to also give credit where it is due!

    1. Jason Davis    

      Glad to hear it, David!

  23. Therese Patience    

    I’m a disabled Veteran w/100%, and can not work because of my illness. Why do the politicians, sports teams, and Hollywood actors get paid more than those of us have served our country and those who fight the war get paid more than than we do? I’m a veteran who has PTSD for the MST I went through and are thoroughly disgusted by the unfairness of this. I wish that the Veterans Department and White House would ask ALL disabled Veterans what it is WE NEED. Yes I didn’t fight a war, but my body was compromised without being ASKED. And I’m worried each day that my compensation will be taken away, because I never fought a war and just was (won’t say the R word) MST from peers.

  24. Jose L Cintron    

    psychiatrist doctor at C&P, San Juan Puerto Rico VA facility that asks why you are here. That she saw me in 2011 and there had been no change in my condition. She probably thinks that if I get a disability raise VA will pay with her pay check.

  25. Donna Brown, veteran Army Nurse Corp    

    Thank you, Jason, for all the excellent articles you write to help veterans understand their potential benefits. They’re well-written, easy to understand, interesting, informative and tactful… other than that, they’re OK! 🙂 Good luck on completing your M.A. in Writing!

  26. Domenick    

    If you’re va comp is tax free do you have to claim it when you claim bankruptcy

    1. Jason Davis    

      Domeneck, I had a buddy who used to rate claims dig me up a legal answer for you: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/38/5301

      “Pursuant to 38 USC Sec. 5301(a)(1), payments of benefits due or to become due, and payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process. This means an individual’s Veterans Disability Benefits are one-hundred percent (100%) protected if that individual files bankruptcy, regardless of whether the individual has received or will be receiving the benefits after the bankruptcy has been filed. There is no dollar limit for the amount of Veterans Disability Benefits a filer may have in a bank account on the date of filing. For example, if a filer received a back payment of Veterans Disability Benefits in the lump sum amount of $30,000.00 prior to filing bankruptcy, these funds will be protected and cannot be touched by the bankruptcy trustee before, during or subsequent to the bankruptcy under 38 USC Sec. 5301(a)(1).”

  27. Kurt Bradley    

    This clarification makes another issue unclear. When a servicemember is medically retired, the specific military department, say the Air Force, is providing a pension not a compensation. That ‘retirement’ is partly a pension earned through many years of service in most cases and the amount is determined in part by years in service, rank held, and degree of medical impairment. I see how carefully you made sure we understood that compensation and retirement are two different things and I surely agree. However, as I am sure you know, for every dollar I receive from the VA in *compensation* a dollar is taken away from the *retirement* or *pension* I earned in the Air Force. Because my condition made me ineligible to continue serving my country, I was retired earlier than twenty years. Why am I penalised? And before you answer that question, let me be sure to add that if my income was from ANY other source, I would NOT be penalized. If I had ANY other retirement, I would receive both even if that other retirement was a medical retirement from a civilian job. Please help me to understand how this is justified.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Justify it? I’m sorry, Kurt, I don’t have a justification. As you’re probably aware, it’s federal law. I’m not being glib or snarky, it’s just that we don’t have the power to write and pass federal law. Your elected lawmakers do. VBA administers benefits based on federal laws given to it. :/

  28. John Worley    

    After reading your letter and comments. First thank you for your servise to this country…
    as a Vietnam Veteran who was actually injured in Vietnam on TDY, and whose military records were lost, and I have been fighting for over 30 years to get the VA to recognize this. my doctors say I can not work because of three different incidences where I was in a coma. however, the VA keeps dening my unemployability claim. I am currently at 40 % disability. but since My VA doctor says I can not work. and the Neurologist says I can not travel without my wife , who was a nurse for a while, and still works in the medical field from time to time, The VA jasut Deny Deny, Deny all my claims, I have had letters from friends, and pwople who were in the military with me, but the records from my Vietnam service were lost, so all I have is a name on a sheet of paper and a photo. The VA is crap… a bunch of political cushion setting people who want to protect their jobs and not the Veteran…

  29. Conrad Cool    

    I am not on Facebook and I am not going to sign up. How else can I get info, video’s, etc.
    ERROR: Wrong CAPTCHA

    1. Jason Davis    

      Conrad, that CAPTCHA thing gets us, too. Sorry for that.

      You can see all our videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/vavetbenefits/videos

      You can subscribe to the VA blog here: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/subscribe/

      Sometimes you can view our FB posts without being signed up/logged in: https://www.facebook.com/VeteransBenefits/posts

      You don’t need a Twitter account to view our tweets, which is most of the same information: https://twitter.com/VAVetBenefits

  30. Douglas Turner    

    How about some information on the Aid and Assistance benefit. This benefit has been suggested to help my mother-in-law who suffers from dementia. Her kids are trying to help and keep her out of the care center. Where do I find additional information on how to file, what forms and documentation are required. Can I use a NSO (DAV) to help??

  31. Donna J. Whiteley    

    Jason – 1st – I would like to thank you for your service!! & Especially for serving as a Screaming Eagle in the 101st!! My late husband was 101 Airborne & served in Viet Nam and since he was so proud of it, we had it put on his tombstone.

    My question is – can you give me any idea of how much longer it might take to hear back on an appeal that I filed 5/1/15 & then mailed the DRO form on 6/16/15 & every time I call they just say – it could take up to 2 years & it has been almost 2 years! I just ‘assumed’ it would make things go smoother to have someone as an advocate in the VA to help me, but I’m wondering if it slowed things down by requesting a DRO. I just fear it’s sitting on a desk somewhere collecting dust 🙁 If you could email me with any helpful hints, I would surely appreciate it. Thank you!

    1. Jason Davis    

      AIR ASSAULT, Donna!

      Appeals. Not a fun subject, I’m sorry to say. My colleague, Cat Trombley, authored a series of blogs on appeals. We summed it up by basically saying the appeal process is antiquated, broken, hurts Vets, and desperately needs to be modernized.

      That last part is CRUCIAL. It has to be a legislative reform. We can’t do it on our own–we don’t write and pass federal law, your elected representatives and lawmakers do. I believe “appeals modernization” is a top concern for the incoming SECVA.

      Short answer: 3-5 years. :/

      1. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/25611/the-appeals-process-appeals-and-claims-are-as-different-as-apples-and-oranges/
      2. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/25738/the-appeals-process-appeals-at-the-regional-office-level/
      3. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/25855/the-appeals-process-appeals-at-the-board-of-veterans-appeals-board/
      4. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/26013/the-appeals-process-remands/
      5. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/26187/the-appeals-process-your-comments-and-vas-plans/

  32. Charles Wilcox    

    I was in USMC in 1955 for about 6 months at Camp Lejeune, NC and again from about 18 months in 1958 to 1959. These dates qualify me for compensation from the VA for bladder cancer, which was diagnosed December 2015. This disease has caused much expense in terns of travel and time and pain requiring additional pain medication, which I have an expense for.

    In March of 2016 I applied for compensation through eBenefits. The only message received to-date is it is in process.
    I contacted a VSO closest to me, however than can’t manage my claim as it has been assigned to a VSO 30 miles more distant. Trying to get the file assigned to the closer VSO but now that is stuck in process. Where to go for help?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Charles, where your claim is being worked is not a problem. We have a system that brokers claims out nationally according to the next available RO. It can go to any state, which has drastically reduced the time it takes to complete claims.

      You can log into eBenefits to check on the status of your claim. There are eight steps, and you can see where it is in the process. Claims often move back and forth, though, so don’t be discouraged if it gets to step five and then goes back to step three. It just means VA is being thorough when processing the available evidence.

      At 11 months, your claim should be getting close to the end point. Most claims don’t take even that long anymore, but then again, the law changed very recently, so that could have some effect on it.

      Yes, a VSO is most assistive prior to submitting the claim. Once submitted, there is little, if anything, that can be done about it. When you do receive your claim decision letter in the mail, read it very carefully. If you disagree with the decision, the letter actually tells you what else you would need to submit to VA to receive either a grant or a higher percentage.

    2. Adam Frey    

      You may not write or pass laws, but if more VA workers did their jobs correctly the FIRST time there would be less appeals in the FIRST place. How many BVA remands have you read? Many many of the clearly spell out how the original rater erred. So quit blaming the system, you guys Are the system

  33. Richard Key    

    I’m confused as to what ailments or conditions that would allow me to seek compensation? I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I have had numerous skin cancers requiring surgery over a period of 16 or more years. I am a Vietnam Veteran . What proof would I need other than my DD 214 ?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Richard, did your active service in the military cause your diabetes? Your skin cancers? You can literally claim any condition that you have evidence for. And by evidence, I mean evidence from your service (pictures, sick call slips, profiles, prescription bottles, hospital records, commander/buddy/witness/spouse statements, etc.). If this still sounds too vague for you, perhaps you should speak with a VSO who can advise you (they’re free).

  34. Albert Iamele    

    I volunteered into the Air Force in 1964. I lost my hearing from the noise. When I left the service, it caused me to lose jobs.
    I applied for hearing aids. The VA kept turning me down. I had to spend thousands of dollars for hearing aids.
    I believe that the VA workers from WWII, treated Vietnam vets poorly because “You lost the war.”
    The politicians lost the war, not the troops.

    After thirty years of trying to get compensation, and being denied, I went to the Contra Costa County (California) Veterans Service Branch. The Veterans Service Office staff showed me how to place my claim, and how to show proof of my hearing loss. They also called the VA in order to ensure that my paperwork was not “lost.”

    I received my hearing aids, no thanks to the VA staff.
    Thank you for listening,

  35. Gary Brown    

    Where can I track my BVA appeal?

    eBenefits is useless.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Gary, eBenefits has the most current and up to date information. If you call the call center, they’ll read from eBenefits. It only seems like nothing is ever updated because appeals don’t update on a daily or weekly basis, and because there’s a long line.

    2. Adam Frey    

      Jason is Wrong again! The people at VA do not just read off Ebenefits. THey can tell you a Lot more.,.they often choose Not to. My Service officer can get into their system and tell me a fair amount more than I can find on Ebenefits. There should be mandatory updates at least monthly.

  36. Teresa Palmer    

    So if it is not income than why is it added as income in child support. Since the va deems it is not income shouldn’t every state be required to not count it at all for any purpose and since it has been in almost everyone’s divorce case given to the former spouse how does it get fixed because attorneys cost a lot of money and the reference to rose happens way too much considering it is COMPLETELY wrong to begin with

    1. Adam Frey    

      How about doesnt update for YEARS on end…it’s a joke

  37. Clyde J. Cozad    

    I am a Vietnam Vet. I know so because it indicates I am on my car license plate. Anyway, my health has always been pretty good. However, recently I discovered there are some health related problems that crop up later in life relating to time spent in country and being exposed to agent orange. My oldest daughter, of two daughters, was born with Pierre Robin Syndrome. This syndrome affected the heart ( heart valve and co-artation of the aorta) clef pallet, 1 kidney, dis functioning eye lids, this required two trips to a specialist in Bermingham Ga. for surgeries, misaligned gums, dental problems, disfigured nose and short in stature. Fortunately, she was born in such a time that medical science was able to work miracles with my daughter. Involved were two different heart surgeons, two different plastic surgeons, G.P.’s to numerous to mention, and many nurses. Veneers were placed on her disfigured teeth, rhinoplasty corrected her nose and ability to breath, pulling the eye lid muscles into the upper eye lids and running a wire from the base of her nose to each corner of her eyes allowed her the ability to for the first time fully open her eyes. As indicated before medical science worked wonders, she got a B.S. Degree from University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks)! in Architectural studies, is married with two beautiful kids. As a dependent of a veteran exposed to agent orange, are there any benefits available at this time in her life. Needless to say, this young lady, and her parents, went through a very long ordeal, especially during her early years.
    Last year, the evening of December 28th, I got up to go to the bathroom, took about 3 steps, turned and told my wife I was in trouble. My right shoulder, arm and hand was completely paralised. After 3 nights and four days in the stroke intensive care facility @ St. Lukes hospital, Kansas City, I found out I had a brain bleed. I, or they have any idea if I may have more in the near future. Does this qualify for agent orange assistance? Will be able to provide med. history conf.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Clyde, I’m not qualified to give an expert answer to your personal questions. Unfortunately, the best I can do is refer you to our resources. First, though, consider speaking with a Veterans Service Organization. They’re free, dedicated, and knowledgable about the process. Or, you can visit your state’s VBA regional office and speak to a “public contact.” Each of these two options can spend time with you to directly answer your personal questions.

      OK, so what info and resources do we have? Realize that AO research will lead you down the wormhole. Here’s how to step in:

      1. http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/17744/10-things-every-veteran-know-agent-orange/
      2. Here’s a top down repository of links: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/
      3. Here is the official who and what and how: http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp (note that ALL of the blue words are separate hyperlinks to more information)

  38. Clyde J. Cozad    

    Don’t quite understand what comment you are looking for above and beyond what is written above.

  39. Dave Westlake    

    One of these days I hope I have a reply that is all positive. Today is not that day. I understand the VA is made up of over 330,000 individuals, but those individuals have broken into at least two systems (VBA and VHA) that have taken on characteristics of their own. Some of those characteristics are because of leadership, rules, and laws. Other characteristics are not written down or even thought about by many. Regardless if they are official or unofficial actions, beliefs, or thoughts they control the way the system is moving and thinking. The line above about “delay, deny, until they die” is a perfect example. It may not be officially on the books, but the perception comes through the system that it is an important concept the VBA values. How to get rid of that perception is a hard question to answer as there are so many veterans who have experienced denials when they should not have done so. When called on it, the standard response is to say the hands are tied because of the law. Sometimes that is the truth, other times it seems as if it is just an easy excuse to use.

  40. anthony Martinez    

    I was part of the lottery when Presdent Johnson and General Westmoran need bodies for the Vietnam war went through the hole show and also the show of no respect for us as humans it was bad enough that our own people didn’t have any respect for us when we would walk around in our uniform. I was 18 years old and wet didn’t know anything about talking a person live but they needed bodies in Nam and didn’t care about us . I feel some times that Uncle Sam owes me compensation for time taken from my life am I right or wrong

  41. C Newland    

    From my experience with the VA and VA benefits or lack thereof due to standard denial practices of VA personnel – It is my firm belief that the people working for the VA are lining their pockets with ill-gained bonus money, that these people are liars thieves and murderers. It is of little comfort, but comfort none-the-less to know that these people have a special place in hell reserved for them. I have given up on trying to get compensation benefits, which should be in addition to retirement pay not in lieu of (different story) – because I know the veterans working there as well as the civilians will just put the old preverbal knife in the back and look at the evidence in medical records only to say just because it happened on a ship does not mean it is service connected – denied – I am not even going to submit for benefits because of cancer surgery you VA people will just deny it, and count that as money saved and wella – you have your bonus incentive pay. VA is corrupt. Enjoy your luxury time on earth for you are hell-bound whether you believe in it or not.

    1. Jason Davis    

      C, if that’s how you feel, then you likely won’t consider anything I have to say on the matter. I’m sorry you feel like VA hasn’t worked out for you. But I’m a real dude, and I’ve been on both sides of the department, so here it is anyway.

      There is no incentive for VA employees to deny a claim. It actually takes more work to deny a claim. There’s more scrutiny, more work, more eyeballs. And no, there is no financial reward. There are no bonuses for denying claims. As I mentioned in my blog, THERE IS NO BUDGET LIMIT TO HOW MUCH VA CAN SPEND ON COMPENSATION. Employee “bonuses” do not come from a compensation fund/budget. So, no, denying a claim doesn’t save or free up extra cash for a bonus pool. It doesn’t work that way.

      If you want to know more about employee incentives, visit the Office of Personnel Management (OPM is not the VA, but its laws and rules state how incentives can be awarded, and where it comes from): https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/performance-management/faqs/

      1. Adam Frey    

        What scrutiny? There is NO accountability at the VA and that is part of the problem. When the BVA remands a claim and spells out that the RO did Not do their job….that RO should be disciplined and if it happens more than once or twice, they should be fired…no?

  42. Donald Holmes    

    Does the Vet really need representation during the appt with the DRO?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Nope. The question is whether you feel you need it. If so, get a VSO to assist you.

  43. Lori Ann Perry Andrews    

    Hi I have been widowed for 26 years and my husband was in the Navy. He did not die
    in active combat but when he was 30 in an environmental drilling accident! I just recently realized that my husband was on a Navy Ship in the Gulf protecting our country in case of an attack even though we were not at war during this time would he have been considered active duty? I’ve never applied for widow benefits nor for our daughter who was an infant at the time of his death! I am a disabled nurse and supporting my daughter who broke her back in college 2 years ago. I really could use some financial assistance for my daughter and I ! I can’t afford insurance for her and she cannot work we are really in crisis! Is there anything the VA can do to help us even though I was 29 when he died and am now 56 years old? I had no idea that we might be able to obtain financial help although VA paid on his funeral and bought his foot marker for me which I am so thankful for and an United States flag which I will always cherish! Could you steer me in a direction that might help us?
    Sincerely
    Lori Ann Perry Andrews

    1. Jason Davis    

      Lori Ann, I’m not able to provide an expert personal answer. Your best bet is to speak with a Veterans Service Organization who can help you with your very specific, personal questions. What is a VSO? They’re (free) organizations that work to assist Veterans: https://www.va.gov/vso/

  44. Douglas Edward Page    

    I was stationed at camp lejune 1978-1979 with liver problems can’t get Information for what to do ( claim) do I need a laser for this .

    1. Jason Davis    

      Douglas, I just Googled “VA Camp Lejeune,” and it gave me thousands of links, including those from just last month when the law was changed. You should consider getting a VSO to assist you, but here’s some new info: http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-camp-lejeune-water.asp

  45. Douglas Edward Page    

    Need help finding out what to do fill out a form about camp lejune contamination was their 1978-79

  46. Linda Barnett    

    Why does the VA pay a stipend for Caregiver Compensation to post 9/11 Vets, but not Vietnam Vets?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Linda, I don’t mean this to be snarky, but the answer is because that’s the law that Congress passed.

  47. Alan Fricke    

    Thanks Jason for explaining VA compensation. Especially your statement on acknowledgement. When you said “An acknowledgement implies acceptance from the federal government that what happened to you in service can or may affect you after service.” That acknowledgement lifted a heavy burden off of me. As a survivor of MST who has suffered my whole adult life and had it affect every aspect of my life the Award Letter was a blessing. I have never heard the VA talk about the power of acknowledgement before and it is powerful. Thank you for doing so and keep the dialog going.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Alan, your comment is going on my cubicle wall. Thank you.

      Most people think VA social media is just some rando posting stuff on Facebook all day. I understand why people think that, but there’s so much more that we do that people don’t see. And we don’t advertise our successes enough lest people think VA is patting itself on the back again. The truth is that this job can get ugly. As a Veteran, I’ve walked those boots, so I know where a lot of people are coming from, the frustrations and feelings of abandonment. It’s also what informs my writing. I can’t control whether someone will be angry when they comment, but I DO think about what I write and how it can reach and inform and better serve more people.

      Thank you for reading. It’s my goal to get more people to slow down, to read more thoughtfully and carefully. 🙂

  48. Brian    

    Thank you writing these. It helps to know more information as available, in plain, easy-to-understand language. Thank you. I hope I don’t miss the future articles.

  49. Steven L. Bryant    

    You state that VA compensation is not retirement so why am I penalized in my military retirement? I guess this is just another way of penalizing those disabled veterans who are also retirees.

    1. Jason Davis    

      The extremely short answer: because that’s how Congress wrote the law.

      This has been–by far–the number one complaint about my blog. It doesn’t address this sizable subset population. Adding this to the list.

  50. Patricia Fox    

    I applied for compensation in 2011. It was declined a couple of months later so I wrote an appeal (on my own because I was unaware there was help out there). It is now 2017 and I am still waiting for a decision. Why does it take so Long? When can I expect a decision?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Patricia, there are many reasons:

      1. The appeals laws are antiquated, need to be reformed
      2. The process itself actually takes a lot of time and work
      3. There are hundreds of thousands of people in line
      4. The line is worked in the order at which they are received
      5. There is a technicality that an appeal doesn’t ever really have to end; one can appeal an appeal’s appealled appeal, indefinitely

      We’re not happy about this. Here’s what we’re doing about it: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/26187/the-appeals-process-your-comments-and-vas-plans/

  51. Chris Fitzsimmons    

    If VA compensation is not income then why do courts count it as income when figuring my child support??

    1. Jason Davis    

      I’m not an expert on this, but I believe some states have different requirements. Still, Vets should not list compensation on their taxes, as it is not a taxable income.

  52. Peter J. Barclay    

    Hey Mr. Davis,

    Interesting that you say so much without actually saying anything at all of real importance. Why don’t you let Top General Counsel, Thompson and Hiplolit know. When I’m done with the over 2 dozen judges and a dozen other top level Oregon Official for R.I.C.O. violations to embezzle federal funds,,, I’m coming for them.

    Veteran Benefits are waivers of U.S. Sovereignty. And they have been violating it for the purpose of embezzling funds from the entire federal benefit system. Stealing the benefits for the families under Dept Health and Human Services, then covering it up by stealing the veterans benefits in family law courts. Top charges include Treason & Terrorism. Enjoy.

    1. Catalogue of Domestic Federal Assistance, ID. No. 64.109 Veterans Compensation for Service-Connected Disability. Catalogue of Domestic Federal Assistance, ID. No. 96.001 Social Security Disability Insurance.
    2. These funds are exempt from the definition of Aggregate Disposable Income . States are not authorized to change the character of federal benefits. McCarty v. McCarty, 453 U.S. 210 (1981, “In re Hisquierdo, 133 Cal.Rptr. 684 (2d Dist.1976). The court, noting that, under this Court’s Supremacy Clause cases, Congress has the power to determine the character of a federally created benefit”
    3. The Supreme Court of the United States has made clear with the ruling of Rose v. Rose 481 U.S. 619 (1987), that states required jurisdiction consent to withhold funds directly from a veteran under 42 U.S.C. § 662 notwithstanding the Nonassignability statute of 38 U.S.C. §3101.
    4. Equally the Supreme Court made clear 42 U.S.C. § 659 solely grants states authority in legal processes in the nature of a garnishment and solely to compel payment from the United States and NOT from the veteran. Rose v. Rose, 481 U.S. 619, 481 U. S. 635 (1987) “But § 659(a) does not refer to any legal process… The term ‘legal process’ means any writ, order, summons, or other similar process in the nature of garnishment. . . issued by [a state court] . . . and . . . directed to, and the purpose of which is to compel, a governmental entity” (original emphasis included)
    5. The Supreme Court then made clear that that without consent to withholding “As the Court apparently recognizes [unanimously], albeit grudgingly, under Wissner v. Wissner, 338 U. S. 655 (1950), the order that appellant pay over a portion of his veterans’ disability benefits on pain of contempt constitutes a ‘seizure’ of the benefits”, Rose v. Rose Page 481 U. S. 645, thus conflicts with federal law, is preempted under the Supremacy Clause and therefore state court orders void from inception.
    6. While the language of 38 U.S.C. § 3101 was recodified as 38 U.S.C. § 5301 by the Department of Veterans Affairs Codification Act, Pub. L. No. 102-83, 105 Stat. 378 (1991), the statute of 42 U.S.C. § 662 was deliberately repealed by Congress with Pub. L. 104–193, title III, § 362(b)(1) , 110 Stat. 2246, Aug. 22, 1996.
    7. Additionally, as demonstrated in the case of Rose v. Rose Page 481 U. S. 645 when determining “if” an enforcement order is “void from inception”, it should be asked from the beginning and each step of the way. Thus the Court needed to assess if the child support debt created by state court judgement was also void from inception and held this a matter of jurisdiction of veteran benefit decisions.
    8. The Court held, the use of federal benefits as income or in calculations of a support award was not the changing of character of funds but instead, the states means of integrating a benefit decision into local existing processes. Specifically the process of Apportionment where a decisions of “who gets how much” of an award is made for the veteran and dependents. In 1987 the jurisdiction of “who can make” this benefit decision was controlled by 38 U.S.C. § 211.
    9. The U.S. Supreme Court explained the deficiencies of the previous language in 38 U.S.C. § 211 that authorized the state to make a benefit decision. The Supreme Court then reconciled with the 1950 ruling of Wissner (Wissner v. Wissner, 338 U. S. 655 (1950)) and affirmed, if the VA had exclusive jurisdiction over benefit decisions, the state would be in conflict with the anti-corruption scheme of enacted Nonassignability statutes (Previously 38 U.S.C. § 3101, currently 38 U.S.C. § 5301) and held by supremacy as threatening grave damage to the clear and substantial federal interest to care for a veteran and their families regardless if they live together or separately.
    10. Subsequently, the language of 38 U.S.C. § 211 was been changed by the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act, Pub. L. No. 100-687, 102 Stat. 4105 (1988)(38 U.S.C. § 211 was recodified under the Department of Veteran Affairs Codification at 38 U.S.C. § 511).The District and Circuit courts are in agreement and have explained in detail how Congress completely addressed these deficiencies with new language for exclusivity and broad scope of benefit decisions, Henderson v. United States, No. 14-15194 (11th Cir. 2014); Anestis v. United States, 749 F.3d 520 (6th Cir.2014); Beamon v. Brown 125 F. 3d 965 (6th Cir.1997); Larrabee, by Jones v. Derwinski, 968 F.2d 1497 (2d Cir.1992); Hicks v. Veterans Administration, 961 F.2d 1367, 1370 (8th Cir.1992), Zuspann v. Brown, 60 F.3d 1156 (5th Cir.1995); Hanlin v. US, 214 F.3d 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2000); Belton v. Department of Veterans Affairs 107 F.3d 14 (9th Cir.1997); Veterans for Common Sense v. Shinseki, 678 F.3d 1013, 1016 (9th Cir. 2012); Freestone v. Blessing, 116 F.3d 412 (9th Cir. 1997); Turner v. United States, 501 Fed. App’x 840, 843 (10th Cir. 2012); Johnson v. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, 09-7054 (10th Cir. 2009).
    11. The U.S. Congress expressly stated the intent to overturn the judicial precedent of Rose v. Rose, 481 U.S. 619 (1987) that had construed 38 U.S.C. § 211 to permit state courts to make VA benefit decisions by divesting states of jurisdiction with the enactment of the Veteran Judicial Review Act. H.R. Rep. No. 100-963, at 19-22 (1988). Congress then equally explained their exclusivity intent for the review of these decisions at 20-21 and 27.
    12. Over the years the Department of Veterans Affairs has approved and published over 70 articles on their web site explaining the “exclusive jurisdiction” of the Department of Veteran Affairs over veteran benefits decisions and review by the U.S. Courts above them. Many articles are written by the leaders in the Veteran Law community and members of the Veteran Board of Appeals, such as James D. Ridgeway, Michael P. Allen, Terrence T. Griffin and Thomas D. Jones.
    13. Congress has positively required by direct enactment that states be deprived of benefit decision and review jurisdiction and that state law be preempted. All three branches of the federal government have explained the exclusive jurisdiction and control over the sovereignty of the United States specific for waivers to veterans and their families to Title 38 benefits. The statute, case law, Congressional statements of intent and administrative doctrine make the absence of all jurisdiction clear these state court judgements and orders are void ab initio.
    14. Additionally, 31 CFR Part 212 (last visited 18 June 2013). Congress has added new identification tags to the Automated Check Handling System with these new regulations, allowing banks to now identify protected federal benefits and make clear the state court judgement is void, 31 CFR Part 212 (last visited 18 June 2013).
    15. The bank, a privately owned corporate entity, can thus respond to these state courts by respectfully refusing to comply with a void state court order. Congress has voided the orders by statute and does not require a court to perform the action to void [voidable] or over turn [erroneous] these judgements and orders.
    16. These new regulations have greatly helped prevent void state court orders from unlawfully depriving people of their liberties and property. Therefore reducing the need to appear and contest in state courts. Because states are forcing veterans to surrender funds in the court 38 § 5301(a)(3)(C) must be asserted in a court. This is very similar in function and process of declaring the protections of 11 U.S.C. § 524(a) in a bankruptcy. Where action by the federal courts is necessary to enjoin states from enforcing void orders.
    17. Congress, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the U.S. Treasury working together supplemented the regulations explaining this requirement by providing this statement:
    “an individual who receives VA payments can still challenge in court the garnishment of those payments for child support obligations and assert the protections of 38 U.S.C. § 5301(a) in the event a State child support enforcement agency serves a garnishment order on a financial institution”. (31 CFR Part 212)(last visited 18 June 2013), Garnishment of Accounts Containing Federal Benefit Payments: Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions.

    18. The ruling that: 11 U.S.C. § 524(a) declares that any judgment on a discharged debt in any forum other than the bankruptcy court is null and void as it affects the personal liability of the debtor, is widely applied across all U.S. Circuit Courts; In re Gruntz, 202 F.3d 1074 (9th Cir. 2000); In re Bayhi, 528 F.3d 393 (5th Cir. 2008); In re Hamilton, 540 F.3d 367 (6th Cir. 2008); In re Apex Oil Co., Inc., 406 F.3d 538 (8th Cir. 2005); In re Reitnauer, 152 F.3d 341 (5th Cir. 1998); In re James, 940 F.2d 46 (3d Cir. 1991); In re Candidus, 327 B.R. 112 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2005); In re Massa, 217 B.R. 412 (Bankr. W.D.N.Y. 1998); In re Beardslee, 209 B.R. 1004 (Bankr. D. Kan. 1997).
    19. Equally, the NonAssignability statute for veteran benefits states:
    38 U.S.C. § 5301(a)(3)(C) – Any agreement or arrangement for collateral for security for an agreement that is prohibited under subparagraph (A) is also prohibited and is void from its inception.”
    20. While the statutory voidness created by 11 U.S.C. § 524(a) operates as an injunction of judgements conflicting with the federal bankruptcy decisions, 38 § 5301(a)(3)(C) operates as an statutory injunction against both independent decisions and review of a decisions by the Secretary by stripping a state court of the subject matter jurisdiction of benefit decisions and authority to enforce with contempt.
    21. Any state court judgement or order is null and void from its inception as it affects the provision of benefits by the Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs to veterans or the dependents or survivors of veterans.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Peter, as I stated in my blog, I wrote for a general audience. It’s a baseline of information to inform Vets what these terms mean. Clearly, you have a higher understanding and working legal knowledge of the process and the CFRs. Best of luck to you.

      1. Peter J. Barclay    

        Well I appreciate the comment, Just so you know. I think vets might have appreciated a little more respect paid to their enlistment contract and these benefits. See, we sign that contract, backed by the Constitution, to say that if for ANY reason we come home and cannot participate in the economy, that the U.S. and people will give us AND or families support awards so we can survive in the economy. These support awards are called Federal Benefits, VA benefits are only part of that. Social Security, TANF, HUD, Food Stamps are all part of this system to give us and our families support awards.

        When the VA (which I have in both writing and recorded conversation) tells states to use these benefits as income in support awards, what they are doing is saying, “We don’t want to do Apportionments”, “We don’t want to do our part of caring for your family”. Without an apportionment decision first, getting all the funds under the other programs is very hard. Not only that, but it places the weight of supporting the family back on the broken shoulders of the veteran. It “money launders” the veterans benefits into “income support awards”. So when the families apply for their other benefits it’s used against them and they are denied. They get to keep the funds for themselves to reinvest in their criminal enterprise. These vets are chastise and berated as dead beat parents when they signed a contract to guarantee their family would get support awards even if they died; something a family law court can’t do.

        People talk about 38 USC 5301 section (a) a lot. Which is important. But (a)(3)(C) is a federal injunction put in place to prevent states from holding veterans individual accountable for their financial debts, including their family debt. Just like in a bankruptcy, where a state has no right to keep trying to hold someone individually accountable for a financial debt that was discharged by the federal government, the states have no right to hold the veteran accountable for the debt to the family because it’s the U.S.’s job to care for that vet’s family. That vet has have lost abilities to work and earn money to meet that family debt. I want to make abundantly clear, these vets are ending up homeless and DYING!!

        Every study that congress commissioned which everyone used to say PTSD, long deployments, transitioning back to civilian life, etc… we NOT the cause of the epidemic of suicides,,,, every one agreed, that abuse in state family law courts was the most common factor in the lives of these veterans committing suicide. They have run studies on veteran homelessness. For over a decade 3 of the top 4 reasons vets said was the cause, the reason that if they had help they wouldn’t be homeless anymore, were THESE family law issues.

        The VA was responsible back in 1987 for failing, but they had the excuse the law was written wrong. They had formed a criminal enterprise, an Iron Triangle as history calls it. Well, we fired the old Veterans Administration over it. We recreated it as the Veteran Affairs. We rewrote the entire book of Title 38. Even the American’s with Disabilities Act was in major part written to address the criminal activity in the medical side. Well, thee guys have no excuse. And I don’t care if lawyers say they can tell people an opinion. When you work FOR the VA, and the CAVC has 10’s of thousands if not 100’s of thousands of rulings saying the jurisdiction is exclusive. When you have definitive rulings from the Federal Circuit,,, All courts who have BINDING authority over the VA to tell them, what the law says and that they are required to repeat it. The whole point of the VJRA was to give veterans the ability to force the VA to USE the opinions of these higher courts, regardless of how much they disagreed. These people violated that federal injunction written by Congress.

        Well, I’ve been collecting a list of names and evidence against every single one of them. I’m going to make sure these people are held personally accountable. My case is civil, but I’m going to be presenting evidence that is so far beyond a “reasonable doubt” that the NEW Attorney General will be required to prosecute them criminally. Like I said, I’m using that federal injunction to strip robes off state family law judges for acting in the face of a statute that stripped them of authority. If judges can’t even hide behind their judicial immunity, there no way these lawyers are going to be able to hide behind their “general immunity”.

  53. WILBUR MORRISEY    

    I am a retired Army soldier drawing VA compensation for various conditions associated with exposure to agent orange. I am also receiving CRSC compensation as my 70% disability was all related to combat (Vietnam) service. I noticed that my CRSC documents (DFAS) have me rated as employable. I find this ridiculous as I am 74 years old and I am unable stand (or walk) for any length of time. In addition, because of hearing loss, sever neuropathy (lower extremities), and a falling problem assessed by VA, I believe that I am definitely unemployable. Would an unemployable rating effect my rating by VA and or CRSC? How would I pursue a change to this rating via DAV which has been my claims advocate for a number of years. I am a DAV Life Member.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Wilbur, I’m sorry that I’m unable to give expert, personal advice here, but those are excellent questions to speak to your DAV rep about.

  54. Charles Fuller    

    I have been working on an appeal for 3 years and still have not received a notice of when I will get a video conference. What should I do?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Charles, do you mean that you submitted an appeal three years ago?

      If this is the case, then unfortunately there is nothing for you to do. It’s a waiting game, and we’re not happy about that either. Right now, due to antiquated laws and the number of people in line, it’s an average wait of 3-5 years. :/

      http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/26187/the-appeals-process-your-comments-and-vas-plans/

  55. Charles e cagle    

    Great info thanks im rated 80 % but a 100% unemployable. I have a bad heart/back. I just had another surgery on my neck this time and was told i would never go over 80%. Then i had a pass maker put in my chest again they stated i will never go over 80%. I talked to the head Va lady at Loma Linda and she stated to reapply im a 100% i just do not understand the rating system.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Charles, this is best addressed by your VSO. For the record, a VA doctor isn’t versed in the legal requirements for VA compensation. They only provide a medical opinion on your condition and treat you for those symptoms. You can learn more about rating criteria in 38 CFR: http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp#i

    2. Adam Frey    

      They should have hired another rater and not a blogger….Good Lord, they pay this guy ( he does seem nice and he is polite) but they should put funds where the Need is….if the VA served Veterans they wouldnt need these bloggers to assure us the VA is doing everything they can….just do everything they can and we’ll get the drift

  56. Jessica Gaffney    

    So if disability benefits are not income, is the state allowed to consider them as such when making determinations on how much child support and/or alimony a veteran must pay an ex spouse?

    1. Jason Davis    

      It is not taxable income, but state laws vary from state to state.

  57. Harry Brown    

    My claim, like many who did the same job in service, is for hearing loss. I was a Morse Intercept operator in Air Force. Inferior headphones and copying signals under adverse conditions “aggravated” my condition. I was denied because it was not service connected yet when I talk with others in same career field they tell me they were awarded compensation. Others say they were even denied treatment i.e. hearing aids. Some have even received for tinnitus. There is no consistency. Seems to depend on where and with whom you file. I am grateful for the treatment I get but don’t understand why there is not a universal standard for awarding compensation.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Harry, please check out 38 CFR, Book C, 4.85-4.87a: http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp#i

  58. Joseph S. Clark    

    Nice blog. I am a Vietnam Vet with 100% compensation. I have Parkinson’s disease due to Agent Orange exposure. The reason they gave me 100 % is for a Depressive disorder, not Parkinson’s. The problem is when they gave me retroactive pay for 1 year I feel like I should have gotten at least 2 years retroactive pay because I was unemployed due to the Parkinson’s.
    The original claim I filed was for Individual employability, but somehow they gave me a rating of 30% on the Parkinson’s, and the rest of the compensation is for a Depressive Disorder. I don’t feel like I have a depressive order.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Joseph, I’m unable to give you expert, personal answer. The best I can do right now is refer you to our resources or to advise you to speak with a VSO who can better answer your questions: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/parkinsonsdisease.asp

  59. Thomas S. Parlier    

    Why is the compensation that I receive from problems connected to my exposure to Agent Orange subtracted from my retirement pay? I thought it would be an add on not a subtraction.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Thomas, the short answer is “because that’s what federal law says.”

      You may be interested to look into CRDP: https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/disability/crdp.html

  60. Ron Graus    

    I have filed my claim with VA but have been turned down 3 times. I now have attorneys filing my claims. I am getting 30% pension which I’m not (Service Connected) -WHY- I was a Boiler Technition with 2 tours to Vietnam I have “coronary artery disease” But with a Pulmonary Dr I have(Interstitual Pulmonary Fibrosis Disease). I have COPD. I have Hypertnsion. But I’m not (Service Connected). Why???

    1. Jason Davis    

      Ron, pension is not affiliated with compensation. They are two completely different and unrelated benefits.

      Since I don’t know your situation and details, and since I can’t give expert, personal assistance, the best I can do is to tell you to re-read your claim decision letters. Those are the roadmap to what VA needs from you. It tells you why VA made that decision, what law it applied, what evidence you submitted and it considered, and what more you will need to give to VA.

  61. Shawn Holmes    

    Mr. Davis,

    Thank you for the excellent post. Lot’s of good info. I am about a year and a half from retiring so I am just starting to do my research on this as I have some ongoing issues. In your opinion, what are the top reasons claims take so long to be completed and what can the individual do to help it along?

    Thanks,
    Shawn

    1. Jason Davis    

      Sean,

      Now is a very important time for you. Make sure that when you leave service, you have all your medical records. My drill sergeants long ago told me to keep seven copies of everything. Drill sergeant wasn’t lying! Get copies of every sick call slip, profile, prescription, hospital visit; locate pictures from deployments that show what happened to you (if applicable); get copies of your awards summaries; get commander/buddy/witness/spouse statements on the injuries/illnesses you incurred while serving.

      Next, get familiar with VBA’s “pre-discharge” programs: Quick Start and BDD: http://www.benefits.va.gov/predischarge/

      One year from now is when you start the process (180 days until retirement/ETS/EAS)!

      ———

      OK, your question. First, I want to correct you a bit. For most, a claim no longer takes that long. It used to, but not anymore. It was once a paper system, not automated, not efficient, cumbersome and slow. Plus, there’s laws that say 60 days this and 30 days wait for this, then generate letter 30 days later for this, and if no response, then 60 days this… Now, it’s all digital, and it’s all automated. Some claims takes two months. Some occasionally do still take a year. When you hear someone say “it took me ten years,” that’s misleading. They are referring to an appeal, which is their disagreement with the decision they received. Sometimes that ten years means that they received multiple decisions they didn’t like. Appeals average 3-5 years. The info I’m giving you will hopefully allow you to have a better understanding of the process, what to expect, and hopefully lead to a satisfied result without having to appeal.

      Your wait depends on the number of medical conditions you file on your claim. Post-War, those who filed claims only claimed one or two or three medical conditions. Nowadays, we’re seeing claims with DOZENS of medical conditions for every single tiny little thing. And that’s their prerogative. If you claim more than eight conditions, it will be considered complex and it will require more time to complete than the 125-day completion goal. I don’t say this as a deterrent, but matter of factly, this is what we are seeing.

      Next, how much and what kinds of evidence are you including to support your claim. Many people just say, “VA has everything they need.” NOPE. Many people assume VA and DoD are the same. NOPE. Many people assume that DoD sends their entire records to VA upon discharge. NOPE. As I mentioned, this is a process, and it exists to protect the taxpayer. The burden of proof is on the Vet to support with evidence the claim s/he is making. You’re in a position now to gather all of that and leave with it. Your position is the best case scenario.

      Next, did you mail a paper copy to VA or did you file electronically in eBenefits? If paper, it gets redirected to the scanning facility, where it is then uploaded and sent to a regional office via the VBMS. Paper = slower, potential for human error (USPS, wrong address, wrong internal mailbox, etc.).

      Next, the wait is also determined by which RO it goes to. Used to be that it went to your closest, the one in your state. Now, it goes to next available. Still, what is their caseload like? How are they currently performing? http://www.benefits.va.gov/reports/aspiremap.asp

      Lastly, did the Vet use a VSO to file for them? What is that VSO’s caseload like?

      These are just a few of the biggest factors. There are many others. Upshot? File online in eBen with all of your evidence if you can/able, or with a VSO if you can’t. For you specifically, Sean? File a BDD when you’re 180 days out. 🙂

  62. LT(j.g.) Greg Parsons US Navy, PDRL    

    Jason, you are invited to see first hand how many disabled veterans in my group are having their compensation counted as income by all states and commonwealths. Subsequently, they are having a large portion of their disability award stolen from them without regard to the federal provision laws you mention. Please send a request to join at http://www.facebook.com/groups/VeteranChildSupportGroup/

    1. Jason Davis    

      Hi Greg, thank you for continuing to serve Vets. I don’t know the Department’s stance on this, nor what the federal government can do on behalf of state laws that impose on this benefit. You’re clearly an expert in the matter, and my blog is intended for a general audience, unfortunately, not this very specific subset issue.

    2. Jane Richards    

      Why do so many vets work so hard at denying their children child support? Don’t the kids deserve to be cared for? Your “due process” argument is an attempt to deny children what they need. Many vets are guilty of fraud because they feel entitled to THEIR money never mind the kids. You perpetuate and encourage child abuse by neglect. Forcing the custodial parent to jump through hoops so that the children get what they are due. It’s all you vets who work your tails off to protect money from your children who are a disgusting shame and embarrassment to this nation. You will fight to protect the innocent in foreign lands but you turn your back on your own children by denying them the support they deserve. Shameful.

    1. Jason Davis    

      What help do you ned, Robert? Have you spoken with a VSO for assistance?

  63. Tony    

    Hello Mr. Davis, am I able to be reevaluated for a higher compensation. I’ve been told that that the initial compensation is always lower than it should be. I’m concerned with back pain that seems to be increasing my VAMC visits. Thank you, and thanks for the article.
    /r
    Tony

    1. Jason Davis    

      Tony, the answer is yes, but your understanding is incorrect. There is no nefarious plot to lowball Vets with initial ratings. Many Vets are satisfied with their initial decisions, and that is that. If your service-connected conditions have worsened, then you can submit a new claim in eBenefits “for an increase.” You would need new medical evidence from a medical professional. Here are some helpful tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrrh23QvVVYjNLjTmx8rMUUkrt-yZXry7

  64. Bob Brown    

    I have been in the VA health care system for over 5 years, first in Michigan, then transfering to Indiana. I have been super impressed with everything they have done for me. CT scans, MRI’s, vision, dental, and more. They are always on time,pleasent to deal with and have given me many referals to civilian providers when they deem necessary. When I take my wife to her civilian appointments and they are running hours behind schedule I try not to laugh, as the VA medical has always been very timely with me. The people, the facilities, the treatments have been great. I would like to have never been exposed to agent orange, but the VA is trying to care for it now.

    Bob Brown US Army Air Defense Artillery

    1. Jason Davis    

      Bob, please make sure to tell our friends at the Veterans Health Administration how you feel. They are the ones who administer VA healthcare, and they’d love to hear this. 🙂

      https://www.facebook.com/VeteransHealth/

  65. John kubowicz    

    My personal opinion of the Milwaukee, WI VA is A+. I have always received great care and treated very well. doctors and medical staff have always taken time to listen or direct me to the proper departments. Really impressed with a course offered to deal with the constant ringing in my ears ringing not gone but dealing with it easier. With all the negativity about the VA system felt I had to give My POSITIVE experiences in Milwaukee WI.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Thank you, John, and I’m happy to hear this. However, this post has nothing to do with VA healthcare. I’m certain our friends at the Veterans Health Administration would love to hear this! https://www.facebook.com/VeteransHealth/

      🙂

  66. Earl    

    So why then do dshs get to then call veteran disability compensation unearned income

    1. Jason Davis    

      Earl, what is “dshs?”

      1. Earl    

        Department of social and health services the problem is there is a fedral code that says

        42 U.S. Code § 1382a

        2 b the va disability compensation is unearned income

  67. Lori Ann Perry Andrews    

    Have you had a chance to review my issue?
    Sincerely,
    Lori Ann Perry Andrews

    1. Jason Davis    

      Lori Ann, I don’t actually review any issues. I’m not a rater, and I have no access to records. This blog is for general information, not expert or personal or sensitive information. I’m also not sure what you mean by “issue,” but perhaps it’s better that you explain yourself in a secure message here: https://iris.custhelp.com/app/ask

  68. Jane Richards    

    If VA money isn’t considered income then how does one qualify for renting a place, buying a car etc on no incoms? The system is set up to screw America but protecting vets from their irresponsible actions. They get to financially abandon their own children and the VA and the vet could care less about the kids that are not being taken care of. If anyone else was to not pay for their kids they would be thrown in jail but because it’s common knowledge that the VA hyper protects vets they get to screw the kids and the tax payer year after year. All someone has to do is play the game of studying PTSD, claim all the symptoms and say they were embarrassed to say something but now they know they need “help” and they can milk the system leaving a long road of damage behind them. Fake a MST and you get more money. The VA has a massive fraud problem but everyone is sucking up to everyone else that no one will look at the VA for what it has become.

    At some point the medical staff along with the fraud dept need to take a very hard look at how much fraud is being done by so called “honorable” vets (how exactly does someone get 70% PTSD without combat?). There are many who deserve it but there are many who see the free ride of the VA carrot hanging and they will play the game for the big payoff which is tax free INCOME (money coming in) for the rest of their life while screwing people left and right and especially their own flesh and blood.

    Before anyone goes on the attack ask yourself if the vet should be obligated to pay for his/her own children. Any normal person would say yes. So why then do you support the VA protecting $ so that the vet doesn’t have to support their own child. It’s pathetic. Maybe Trump will see how dishonorable it is to not support your child and do something about it. We sure know the VA has sadly become a useless bureaucracy in helping children being supported.

  69. alejandro diaz    

    I was in active army in 3 years, I got out, and joined reserve army,3 months after I’m was out,
    I file a claim in my back, they give me 0%.BUT I KEPT MY RECORDS TO MAKE MY STORY SHORT. DURING MY
    TIME IN RESERVE. I got deployed. enduring freedom Iraqi freedom.I was in hostile environment. I got deployed 13 months and 3 weeks..Since I came back from war I noticed myself. I’m different/I’m very moody,short temper. jumpy/ and I cant slept at nite. I slept I got up like 1 am unable to sleep anymore,one time I found myself in the middle of nowhere. I got disoriented. I don’t know where Im at. and im looking always behind me..and constantly im having a nightmare. all the time. many times I’ve been thinking about killing myself..so what I did I called my battle buddy in the army. he said I have to go to VA.I filed claim a PTSD and my back injury and my knee injury,,I they gived me 20% in my back my knee 10% my PTDS was declined..I wrote BARBARRa Boxer.then, after 3 weeks I have a letter from va I was approved give 30%.last 2015 I filed claim r slept apnea. they declined it.I don’t know that I have a slept apnea. I applied again.I reopen my sleep apnea. secondary to PTSD..I applied my sleep apnea secondary to PTSD last JUL 2016 and I applied my PTSD increase due t Im having a issues. I always have a panic attack. That war change my life.. I kept getting up middle of the nite unable to slept again.I’m different person now. I hope I will receive my increase before I die this sickness..I’m tired…at this moment I’m still waiting my claim to be approve../

  70. John G. Mennitto    

    Mr. Davis,
    As you may know, in March of 2016 the IOM (Institute of Medicine) presented the 10th and final biennial review of evidence of health problems linked to exposure to Agent Orange (hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, bladder cancer and symptoms of Parkinson’s). Unfortunately, the Secretary did not move on this issue with any degree of speed leaving the completion of this order of business to the next administration. Being a disabled vet and retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major, I get real concerned when unfinished business is left to someone else. Sometimes these things fall thru the crack. This issue is especially important since this was the final review under the Agent Orange Act of 1991. I have sent letters to DAV and The American Legion months ago and have not received a reply. My question is, who is watching the house? and can I feel comfortable knowing that someone at VA HQ is keeping an eye on this??

  71. James Mirphy    

    Fascinating stuff. I submit, however, the funding appropriated for benefits is NOT taxpayer money. When a tax burden is met(commonly called “i pay my taxes), the money belongs to the US Treasury, not the taxpayer anymore.

    Speaking for myself, Oregon veterans benefits are 2nd to none. Yes, bureaucracy lends to greed at times. Such as the local ‘nonprofit’ that is allotted tens millions and millions of dollars for veterans housing, also evicts veterans on a regular basis. They delivered eviction notice to me for being $2 short on move in costs, most of which were granted to me by SSVF.

  72. Rick Joe Bagby    

    Captcha code just destroyed my comment. Don’t have the energy to continue so I will just say. Filed an appeal June 2012 and my attorney requested a DRO. It has sat on the DRO’s desk since. I was told 3 months ago it would continue until I removed the part about how I had been contaminated at a stateside burn pit. It had been classified, but my State Senator helped to get it declassified. Now I have all the evidence and this is what happens. I’m sitting here in this motel room for years with way more than I or anybody should even know.I guess this is what these people mean when they say Deny, Delay and then you Die. At least I got great care with the Oregon VA medical system in helping with the symptoms, but since it’s degerative, it will eventually kill me then nobody has to pay if they can just hold out a little longer. I joined when I turned 17 during the Vietnam war. Then returned for an additional 7 years in the Army Chemical Corp. Got out and volunteered with the Department of Emergency Mgmt. for another 4 years to use the skills I had been given by the Army. This is what you get in return?

  73. Bryan Jackson    

    Thank you Jason, for the run down on Compensations. I find one point very hard to swallow. Your statement the “First of all, it’s taxpayer money.” For those of us who retired and have been rate at below 50%, the monies for the “compensation” comes from our retirement pay. Having been earned, it is no longer Taxpayer’s money, it is ours. The full amount of the compensation is deducted from our retirement pay shuffled to the VA where it is relabeled a “Disability Compensation” and viewed as a benefit. Let us remember that retirees have already earned that money without even entering a disability into the equation. It is their money! The benefit that is acknowledgeable is the tax exemption for the disability amount; a sum far less than the disability dollars themselves. For that, I at least was thankful. When in the course of checks and balances, the VA finds a need to recoup an amount of disability payments; the VA withholds payments to the member. The VA also refuses to return the funds to the member’s retirement pay so it can be taxed appropriately. I would argue that Disability Compensation is not always taxpayer’s money. For retirees, the money has been earned through a service provided that is beyond reproach. That the VA should audit and keep accounts honest is admirable. That they fail to return the retirements funds is a neglect of the Veteran at the least. For a Veteran at risk of losing hard earned retirement money, as pitiful as they are, it amounts to accounting theft.

  74. LT(j.g.) Greg Parsons U.S. Navy, PDRL    

    *** The PARSONS TREATISE ***

    regarding use of disabled veteran compensation in an illegal child support order as INCOME is now posted to my group http://www.facebook.com/groups/VeteranChildSupportGroup/ It was written for all disabled vets who will experience future Texas child support proceedings but the discussed principles apply to all states & commonwealths.

    After starting this project for submission to the Texas 85th legislature in mid-November, my total editing time on the Parsons Treatise has been 143 hours and 57 minutes and doesn’t take into account all the time needed for researching, printing, arranging, & shipping. Notarized Parsons Due Process Affidavits, orders and other pertinent documents of six of my Texas group members were also included as evidence for the Texas House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

    The package was just delivered to the Committee within the past hour according to committee clerk Paul Theobold. I hope the letter will now produce a proposed bill to properly amend the Texas Family Code.

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