VA Guidance Articles

VA Updates: Benefits Best Practice – Tell Your Family

VA Updates: Benefits Best Practice – Tell Your Family

Six million Veterans receive benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). As I described in a previous column, these are earned benefits for military service and not entitlements.  For Veterans, it is essential to explain to your family members what these benefits are, how they are administered, and how they would be affected if you should pass. Based on an all too common real-world situation, this example summarizes why taking the time to speak to your family about your benefits is critical. Scenario One: Veteran Does Not Share Benefit Information with Family Consider a married male Veteran who has not shared his benefit information with his spouse. He qualified for disability compensation for a service-related injury and receives a tax-free payment of $2,500 every month. These funds are incorporated into the family budget, which he and his wife use to pay for living expenses.  The Veteran dies, and his wife begins grieving. During this challenging period,...

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VA Updates: Glad You Asked

VA Updates: Glad You Asked

During Veterans Month, I had the opportunity to brief several companies' Veteran groups about the benefits they earned from their military service. During my presentations, I provided a quick overview of all the benefits and then devoted three-quarters of the hour to answering questions from the attendees. I've found that answering questions enables me to provide more situation specific information and often suggest next steps they can take to receive their benefits. Inevitably, there are more questions than time allows, reinforcing my belief that so much more needs to be done to educate our Veterans on these benefits. Navigating Claims for Increase: Addressing Concerns One question that came up in each session had to do with the possible negative consequences of filing for an increase in benefits. This is often referred to as a "Claim for Increase." This occurs when a Veteran has previously filed for disability compensation and been granted a service connection.  This is...

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VA Updates: Remembering Veterans on Veterans Day

VA Updates: Remembering Veterans on Veterans Day

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor those who served in the Military. I call or email my Veteran friends, catch up, and thank them for their service. I display the flag and watch any military movie I can find. I also visit the graves of Veteran family or friends at Arlington National Cemetery, even though I know that’s much more the focus of Memorial Day. Veterans Pension Program One group of Veterans I find myself thinking about is elderly Veterans who, because of age or other reasons, aren’t as visible. The reason I bring this up is because an FAQ I often receive is about their possible benefits.   Someone will ask about a distant Uncle who is a Veteran or the Veteran who is a neighbor, less active in the community but still nearby. A common theme is the concern that as the Veteran gets older, he may not have the resources to continue to support himself. The question then becomes – Is there a VA benefit that could help him.  ...

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VA Updates: Veteran Benefits – A Couple of Ways to Help Other Veterans

VA Updates: Veteran Benefits – A Couple of Ways to Help Other Veterans

Since my book about Veterans Benefits – Veterans Benefits for You – came out in July I have been interviewed on radio, television, podcasts, and different forms of social media. I have also discussed benefits with company Veteran affinity groups and answered their questions. In these more than two dozen sessions, one common theme has emerged. Veterans are asking how they can help other Veterans. That is, what benefits or programs are there for a buddy facing difficulties that can help him/her change directions?  Two benefits that I point out address are Financial Wellness and Veteran Homeless.  Let me explain. The First Way to Help Another Veterans: Financial Wellness Because of the monthly fees, many Veterans do not use the banking system. They are referred to as unbanked Veterans.  Instead, these unbanked Veterans use prepaid debit cards. This is risky and expensive. Risky because of identity theft or loss of the card. Expensive...

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VA Updates: Veteran Benefits – Earned By Veterans, Not An Entitlement

VA Updates: Veteran Benefits – Earned By Veterans, Not An Entitlement

Serving in the military has several features. These include solid training, leadership opportunities, and competitive compensation. Generally less recognized are the various monetary veteran benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for those who served honorably. These are earned benefits, not entitlements. Veterans should be aware of these benefits, how they can be accessed, and, most importantly, how they can be used to improve post-service life. The Most Used Veteran Benefits Include: •    Disability compensation – a tax-free monthly payment based on an injury or disability that occurred while in service. This can be used to offset lost income or expenses. •    GI Bill – provides education support. Serve for three years and earn four years of free college. It can also be used for high-tech apprenticeships, advanced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math training, and credentials and certificates. Time limitations on when this benefit...

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