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Is Neuropathy a Disability?

In modern society, we often speak of disability from a standpoint of visible manifestations. However, there is a widespread ailment that resides on the fringes of the disability spectrum due to its invisible nature- neuropathy. Neuropathy, by definition, refers to a collection of disorders arising when peripheral nerves, the conduits between the brain and the rest of the body, are damaged. It commonly manifests itself in sensations of numbness, and tingling in hands or feet, and might extend to muscle weakness or pain.

On the other hand, ‘disability’ encompasses conditions impairing a person’s mental or physical ability to execute fundamental life activities. Disabilities might range from sensory, mobility, cognitive to unpredictable ailments like neuropathy. The latter’s classification as a disability, despite its profound effect on an individual’s quality of life, often results in intense debates.

Understanding Neuropathy

Neuropathy often rises due to damage to a single nerve or nerve group, leading to dysfunction in the body region served by these nerves. Causes might range from diseases such as diabetes, physical trauma, exposure to toxins, and in some instances, unknown causes. With nearly 20 million Americans suffering from some form of neuropathy, it’s become increasingly urgent to develop effective treatments and therapies.

While cure remains elusive, treatments primarily focus on managing symptoms and treating underlying causes where possible. Pain relief and controlling symptoms remain the mainstay therapy facets. Medications, topical treatments, nerve stimulation, and physical therapy represent the broad array of current treatment methods.

Neuropathy as A Disability

While there exists a general consensus on neuropathy drastically affecting an individual’s quality of life, its categorization as a disability may vary. A layman may not consider neuropathy as a disability due to its invisible nature, often leading to misunderstandings about the severity of the physical and emotional pain that neuropathy patients undergo.

Contrastingly, scientists and researchers argue that the debilitating physical symptoms and emotional consequences due to neuropathy should crown it as a legitimate disability. They underline that neuropathy can disable an individual in performing core life activities, thus qualifying it as a disability.

You can qualify for SSDI if you have neuropathy or another medical condition that prevents you from working at a substantially gainful level. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews your medical records, ability to function, and job history when making a disability determination.

For neuropathy specifically, the SSA will evaluate whether your nerve damage and related symptoms are severe enough to significantly interfere with your capacity to work and perform daily activities. Mild neuropathy may not qualify, but significant functional limitations could make you eligible.

It’s not enough just to be diagnosed with neuropathy. You have to provide medical evidence showing test results, nerve conduction studies, clinical findings, and treatment plans that confirm disabling limitations from neuropathy. The condition has to be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

Getting approved for SSDI with neuropathy can be challenging, as symptoms are not always clearly measurable. Having an experienced disability lawyer assist with your application and appeal if needed can improve your chances of success. Strong medical documentation is key.

Neuropathy Classification Under Disability law

Legal discourses about neuropathy as a disability vary under different jurisdictions. For instance, in the United States, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits for peripheral neuropathy under its own specific listing, thereby indirectly acknowledging it as a disability.

However, these social security disability benefits are only extended if the neuropathy patient complies with certain medical criteria such as disorganization of motor function or significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and balance.

To qualify for such social security benefits, an applicant must demonstrate medical evidence about the existence and severity of their neuropathy. The bureaucracy involved in such processes may often be daunting, particularly considering the invisible nature of neuropathy.

Impact of Neuropathy on Quality of Life

Neuropathy affects every facet of an individual’s life. Physical impacts are perhaps the most visible, with patients facing difficulties in movement, and sensing things. However, hidden beneath these tangible impacts are a plethora of emotional tolls – anxiety, depression and seclusion, attributed to the pain and the societal misunderstanding surrounding it.

There are countless stories of people living with neuropathy that demonstrate the resilience and courage necessary to navigate daily life. Their narratives serve as a reminder of the human will’s strength and the importance of recognizing neuropathy as a legitimate disability.

Support and Community

For those living with neuropathy, community interaction offers great solace. Numerous support groups have sprung up, providing forums for neuropathy patients to share experiences, solutions to common issues, and build bonds. The role of close family and friends is irreplaceable in providing emotional assistance and managing daily chores.


Indeed, neuropathy significantly impacts the quality of life of those affected. Despite the intense debates surrounding its classification, the testimonies of people living with neuropathy and the communities rallying behind them echo the urgent need for neuropathy to be recognized as a disability.

To individuals grappling with neuropathy, it is a journey. A journey of continuously seeking better treatments, of persisting through the pain, and most importantly, of raising awareness about the silently life-altering condition of neuropathy. Remember, the fight is long, but you are not alone, and there is hope. 

Receiving Benefits for Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious mental health disorder that emanates from a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functionality. This article aims to delve into a comprehensive discussion about BPD, focusing on its understanding, impacts, and management from both societal and individual perspectives. We will also delve into the question of whether BPD should be considered a disability, and what this classification means for those affected.

Section 1: Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness often caused by a combination of genetic, brain, environmental, and social factors. These can include a family history of the disorder, brain abnormalities, traumatic life events, and a history of child abuse. BPD is often diagnosed through the presence of recurring patterns of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and marked impulsivity observed in early adulthood. Interestingly, BPD affects approximately 1.4% of the adult population globally, proving the necessity of comprehensive understanding and treatment plans for those affected.

Section 2: Impact of Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD can leave a significant impact on an individual’s life. It can manifest in emotional instability, unstable relationships, and impulsive behavior, all of which affect both personal and professional spheres. Personal accounts from people living with this mental condition reveal a haunting struggle against a mind that feels uncontrollable, and a desperate wish for stability and normalcy. However, these narratives also highlight resilience, strength, and the determination to seek help and find viable coping mechanisms.

Section 3: Borderline Personality Disorder as a Disability

The classification of psychological disorders as ‘disabilities’ is a subject of ongoing debate. Proponents for considering BPD as a disability argue that the symptoms of this mental disorder significantly impair normal life functions and that social security disability benefits could greatly help patients. However, opponents argue that classifying BPD as a disability risks diminishing the resilience and adaptability of individuals living with the condition and might stigmatize them further.

Legally, a disability is defined by some laws as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. It’s important to note that societal, medical, and legal perspectives play a significant role in whether a mental health condition is classified as a disability. Unfortunately, societal stigmatization is a stark reality for many BPD patients worldwide, which underscores a need for broader societal education and understanding.

Section 5: Disability Benefits for Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder

In certain jurisdictions, BPD is seen as a diagnosable mental health condition that may qualify for disability benefits. Such benefits are intended to provide financial and medical assistance to people who cannot work due to their mental illness. Navigating the process, however, can be a daunting task. Dealing with medical examinations, extensive paperwork, and often long waiting periods can present significant challenges for applicants.

Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for Borderline Personality Disorder can be challenging due to the stringent criteria set by the Social Security Administration. To qualify for SSDI benefits, individuals with BPD must demonstrate severe functional limitations that prevent them from engaging in substantial gainful activity. This process often requires extensive medical documentation and proof of inability to work due to the disorder’s effects on daily functioning.

As a veteran, the VA will attach a disability rating to your condition which determines your chances of receiving VA disability benefits. The approval process for VA benefits or SSDI with mental illnesses like BPD can indeed be more complex due to the subjective nature of mental health impairments compared to physical disabilities. To apply for SSDI benefits for Borderline Personality Disorder, individuals must provide detailed medical documentation showcasing severe functional limitations hindering substantial gainful activity. This includes proof of inability to work due to the disorder’s impact on mental functioning, alongside navigating a challenging process involving medical examinations, paperwork, and waiting periods.

Section 6: Ways to Manage Borderline Personality Disorder

Managing BPD requires a multi-pronged approach of therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and societal and personal support. Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are two therapeutic techniques that have shown promising results. Coupled with the right medication, these therapies can significantly aid symptom management. Additionally, involvement from family, friends, and wider social networks can provide emotional support and understanding that is crucial in managing BPD.

PTSD VA Rating: Understanding VA Benefits for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health condition that can significantly disrupt daily life and result in long-term disability. For those who’ve developed PTSD due to their military service, there is potential eligibility for VA disability compensation.

This compensation offers tax-free monthly payments to support those affected. If you’re dealing with the aftermath of traumatic experiences during your service and wondering about the PTSD VA rating, continue reading to explore the criteria and process involved.

Is PTSD a Disability?

Yes, PTSD can qualify as a disability. It’s a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event and is particularly prevalent among combat veterans. PTSD can have a major impact on daily life, including relationships, work, and overall well-being.

The level of social and occupational impairment resulting from PTSD varies from person to person. So, having some PTSD symptoms or a related mental disorder doesn’t automatically qualify someone for PTSD compensation or disability benefits.

If PTSD symptoms hinder your ability to work, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Common Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD is one of the most common disorders claimed by veterans. Here are some symptoms of PTSD veterans can experience:

  • Flashbacks: Vivid, intrusive memories of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares: Repeated, distressing dreams related to the trauma
  • Intrusive thoughts: Unwanted thoughts related to the traumatic event or safety concerns
  • Trouble sleeping: Insomnia, nightmares, or flashbacks leading to exhaustion
  • Emotional numbness: Difficulty engaging emotionally with others and feeling disconnected from family life
  • Dissociation: Loss of memory and feelings of detachment from reality
  • Difficulty controlling temper and anger: Rage, outbursts, or intermittent explosive disorder
  • Anxiety and panic attacks: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic attacks
  • Sadness or depression: Persistent sadness, loss of interest, changes in appetite, and suicidal thoughts
  • Agoraphobia: Fear of leaving home or avoiding triggering places or people
  • Hypervigilance: Heightened response to stimuli, easily startled, and always being on guard
  • Guilt or shame: Feelings of guilt or shame related to actions during the traumatic event
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks: Memory problems, difficulty focusing, and lack of interest in work or school tasks

Note: PTSD symptoms can vary in severity and may not appear immediately after the traumatic event. They can develop over time or be triggered by reminders of the trauma. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, seeking professional help is recommended.

How To Qualify for VA Benefits for PTSD

To qualify for VA benefits for PTSD, individuals must meet specific criteria established by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Here’s what you’ll need to qualify for veterans benefits for PTSD.

Receive PTSD Diagnosis 

Veterans seeking benefits for PTSD must receive a diagnosis from a qualified health care provider. This diagnosis is typically obtained through a comprehensive evaluation conducted by a therapist, psychiatrist, or general practitioner.

The formal diagnosis is made using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition

Provide Evidence of Severe PTSD Symptoms

Evidence of the severity of your PTSD symptoms is crucial for your benefits claim. This may include:

  • Medical records documenting PTSD symptoms
  • Statements from fellow service members or family regarding changes in behavior
  • Relevant military records detailing traumatic experiences

Physicians and psychiatrists must demonstrate that sufferers of PTSD have had exposure to “actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence.” They also must document that the claimant has had involuntary — meaning not induced or brought out through hypnosis or other therapeutic techniques — intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks.

Health care providers must also document how PTSD diminishes the claimant’s ability to interact with others and handle daily responsibilities, including difficulties concentrating, remembering, or managing one’s behavior in an acceptable and professional manner.

In the absence of documentation of these limitations, therapeutic care records should indicate minimal capacity to adapt to changes or demands for two years or more (see 12.00G2c).

Establish a Service Connection

To be eligible for VA benefits for PTSD, veterans must establish a service connection, demonstrating that their PTSD resulted from traumatic experiences during military service. This can include:

  • Suffering a serious injury, personal or sexual trauma, or sexual violation
  • Someone or something threatening you with injury, sexual assault, or death

A nexus letter from a medical professional can strengthen your claim by establishing a connection between your PTSD symptoms and your military service. This letter should outline the traumatic events you experienced during service and their impact on your current mental health condition.

It’s possible if you experienced a traumatic event before service, and your military service made it worse, you can qualify for benefits — this requires that a doctor affirms the condition didn’t just worsen due to the natural progress of the disorder but was aggravated by military service.

Filing VA Disability Claims for PTSD

Once you’ve collected all the relevant documents and evidence that support your PTSD diagnosis, follow these steps to file for VA disability:

  1. Collect all relevant documents supporting your PTSD diagnosis.
  2. Fill out VA Form 21-526EZ online, by mail, or in person.
  3. Attend scheduled compensation and pension (C&P) examinations if needed.
  4. Await the VA’s decision; this process may take months.
  5. Appeal if necessary; follow VA instructions and seek assistance if needed.

If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal. Follow the instructions provided by the VA for filing an appeal and seek assistance from a veterans disability attorney if needed.

Many Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) provide free services to help veterans apply for disability benefits. Groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and American Legion maintain offices at the regional benefit centers with accredited officers trained to help you file your claims. They help you navigate the process and can increase the chance that you successfully document your PTSD claim.

VA PTSD Rating Chart

After filing a claim and being diagnosed, you will be measured for the level of impairment, from 0%-100%, depending on how much the condition interferes with normal life functions. 

It’s important to note that not all disabilities are assigned the same VA disability rating percentage. For instance, the VA disability rating for mental disorders like PTSD includes only 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% levels of impairment.

For the VA PTSD rating criteria, check out the general rating formula for mental disorders below:

Rating4.130 Schedule of Ratings for Mental Disorders
0%Symptoms aren’t severe enough to interfere with daily functioning or require continuous medication
10%Mild symptoms affecting work efficiency during periods of stress, controlled by medication
30%Occasional decrease in work efficiency due to symptoms like depression or anxiety
50%Reduced reliability and productivity due to symptoms like impaired memory and judgment
70%Deficiencies in multiple areas, such as work and relationships, due to symptoms like suicidal ideation and impaired impulse control
100%Total impairment in daily activities due to symptoms like hallucinations or inability to perform basic tasks

These ratings are based on symptoms’ severity, duration, frequency, and impact on daily functioning and quality of life. The more frequently PTSD symptoms occur and the longer they last, the higher the potential disability rating.

The VA also considers the occupational and social impairment level caused by PTSD. An evaluation considers how these symptoms affect a veteran’s ability to work, build relationships, maintain social interactions, and enjoy a healthy overall quality of life.

If the symptoms significantly impair a veteran’s ability to maintain employment or relationships, it can lead to a higher disability rating.

VA Disability Compensation for PTSD

The monthly benefits you receive are determined by your PTSD VA rating. Here are the 2024 veterans disability compensation rates:

PTSD VA RatingMonthly Compensation for Veterans Without Dependents
10%$171.23 per month
30%$524.31 per month
50%$1,075.16 per month
70%$1,716.28 per month
100%$3,737.85 per month

Note: These compensation rates can increase if you have dependents such as a spouse, child, or parent.

Learn More About Your VA Disability Eligibility

The PTSD VA rating is meant to capture the severity of your condition and how much it affects your ability to work and perform daily tasks. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms of PTSD, you should not feel any stigma in applying for benefits.

Just like any other illness, if you have been injured to such an extent that you can no longer support yourself, you are entitled to receive assistance from the government. 

At Benefits.com, we’re committed to helping you understand the various benefits available for military veterans. To learn more, take our Benefits Quiz and find a plan that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Average VA Rating for PTSD?

A common (but not universal) VA disability rating for PTSD is ~50%. This rating signifies that the symptoms of PTSD significantly impair a veteran’s ability to function in various areas of life, such as employment, relationships, and self-care. However, it’s important to note that PTSD’s severity can vary widely among individuals. Some veterans may receive higher or lower ratings based on their specific circumstances.

Is It Hard To Get VA Disability for PTSD?

It may be hard to get disability for a mental illness like PTSD, but it’s not impossible. The process involves thorough documentation of your PTSD symptoms, including medical records, statements from health care providers, and evidence of the impact on your daily life. You must also show a clear connection between your PTSD and your military service.

While the application process can be time-consuming, seeking assistance from an attorney or experienced professional can improve your chances of success. It’s important to be persistent and thorough in gathering and presenting evidence to support your claim.

What Other VA Benefits Can You Get With PTSD?

Veterans who are suffering from a PTSD disability from their military service should also consider applying for a VA loan, which can be used for buying, repairing, or refinancing a home or for retrofitting a home for specific disabilities stemming from a physical injury or other impairment.

Applying For Disability Benefits for Lupus

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, causing widespread inflammation and damage to multiple organs. This medical condition can significantly impact a person’s lifestyle, often making routine activities and employment challenging. Lupus can lead to physical impairments that range from mild to severe, such as extreme fatigue, joint pain and swelling, involuntary weight loss, skin lesions, kidney dysfunction, neurological problems, and cardiovascular issues, all of which can hinder a patient’s ability to function normally.

Definition and Types of Disability Benefits

Disability benefits offered by the US government are financial aids provided to individuals who cannot work due to a disability. These benefits intend to partially cover the income lost due to the inability to work. There are two primary types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is based on the credits earned from past work, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which considers the individual’s financial needs.

Lupus and Qualification for Disability Benefits

Qualification for disability benefits due to Lupus depends on the severity of symptoms and their impact on the individual’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity (work). The Social Security Administration (SSA) specifies the criteria in a “Blue Book” that lists various ailments and the requirements to attain disability status. For autoimmune disorders like Lupus, the Blue Book has broad criteria that encompass various body systems that could be affected.

It is crucial to understand that qualifying depends on meeting both medical and technical criteria; evidence of a Lupus disability diagnosis alone is insufficient to create a strong disability claim. For instance, one may cite a case of a lupus patient with extreme fatigue, joint pain, and skin lesions that impair her ability to perform tasks associated with her job. In this case, she would likely qualify for VA disability benefits.

Application Process for Disability Benefits for Lupus

Applying for a VA disability benefit with Lupus can be a challenging task, but with careful navigation, it becomes manageable. The process begins with gathering all necessary documentation and medical evidence that validates that your condition aligns with SSA’s listing. Your medical record should indicate your Lupus diagnosis, treatments, and their impacts on your health condition, and how it impairs your ability to work. These details are crucial to a successful disability claim.

Completing the application effectively demands presenting these records clearly to highlight the severity of Lupus. It is advisable to work with medical practitioners who understand the implications of Lupus and the criteria of disability benefits. They can help ensure symptoms and limitations are thoroughly documented in the medical record.

Handling Denials and Appeals

Alas, being denied social security benefits is quite common, primarily due to the stringent SSA guidelines. These denials often result from either technical disqualifications or insufficient medical evidence. However, an appeal can be done within 60 days of receiving the denial notice.

In appealing, it’s imperative to pinpoint the reasons for denial and address them in your appeal. In many cases, it could be beneficial to consult with a disability attorney or advocate to navigate the appeal efficiently. They have the expertise to argue your case, ensure proper documentation, and enhance your chances of winning.

Adjusting to Life with Lupus and Disability Benefits

Disability benefits can significantly help manage life with lupus by providing financial assistance to cover treatment costs, manage household expenses, and allow for any necessary adjustments in lifestyle due to health changes. In light of their circumstances, people with an autoimmune disease can develop coping mechanisms and pursue necessary treatments, making the seemingly unbearable bearable.


Understanding disability benefits is crucial for any Lupus patient confronting physical, emotional, and financial stresses. This understanding empowers individuals to seek the benefits they are entitled to, thereby improving their quality of life. It is laudable that despite the disease’s complexities, patients still face their daunting realities courageously. Thus, it becomes paramount to encourage and advocate for better understanding and awareness of disability benefits for those affected by Lupus or any other autoimmune disorder.

Does The VA Classify Rheumatoid Arthritis as a Disability?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a long-term, progressive, and disabling autoimmune disease. It causes inflammation, swelling, and pain in and around the joints and other body organs. The disease typically affects hands, wrists, and knees, causing painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. It’s a systemic disease, meaning it can affect the whole body.

RA is a common autoimmune disorder affecting about 1% of the worldwide population. Prevalence is higher among women and the elderly, and can vary across regions. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of Rheumatoid Arthritis, its disabling consequences, its legal recognition as a long term disability, and how it impacts the quality of life of the sufferer.

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis, by medical description, is a chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily attacks the synovial tissues around the joints. This disease develops when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, resulting in prolonged inflammation that can cause permanent damage to the joints.

The exact cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis remains largely unknown. However, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is believed to trigger the immune system. Potential triggers could include infections or viruses, with certain genes increasing the risk of developing the disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and fluctuate over time. The severity of symptoms is also highly individualized. Some of the most common symptoms associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis include:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints that are painful to the touch. The joints typically affected are those in the hands, wrists, and knees. However, any joint can become inflamed.
  • Morning joint stiffness that can last for hours. Many patients experience their worst stiffness after periods of inactivity such as sleeping overnight. The stiffness can make it difficult to get out of bed or grasp objects.
  • Debilitating fatigue that impairs daily functioning. Fatigue from RA often does not improve with added rest.
  • Low-grade fevers during disease flares. The immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation and raised body temperature.
  • Loss of appetite that leads to unintentional weight loss. RA symptoms and medications can reduce appetite.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Disability

Rheumatoid Arthritis can significantly limit daily activities. Chronic pain, inflammation, and stiffness make it difficult for individuals to perform regular activities such as walking, standing, or even simple tasks like opening a jar.

The severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis plays a major role in determining disability. In severe cases, the disease can cause physical deformities which can further hamper mobility. Data from the World Health Organization indicates that Rheumatoid Arthritis is amongst the most debilitating diseases, often leading to work disability within 10 years after the onset of the illness.

There are countless anecdotal experiences and case studies illustrating the debilitating impact of RA. For instance, a 2015 study published in Arthritis Care & Research journal interviewed patients living with RA, revealing the harsh realities of living with the disease, from struggling with everyday tasks to coping with unwanted dependency on others.

The VA does consider Rheumatoid Arthritis as a qualifying disability based on individual cases, assessing medical records and evidence of symptoms and impairment to support veterans in need.

Making a solid Rheumatoid Arthritis disability claim takes time and diligence. But with the right approach and supporting details, you can obtain much-needed Social Security disability benefits for this challenging, lifelong condition. Perseverance and patience is key.

You first need to provide detailed medical records that show your diagnosis, symptoms, and functional limitations caused by the condition. These records should come from your rheumatologist or other doctors who have treated you.

It’s vital that you demonstrate with medical evidence how Rheumatoid Arthritis impacts your daily activities and your ability to work. Keep a journal detailing how symptoms like joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue limit your mobility, energy levels, and capacity to handle either physical or sedentary jobs. You can also submit statements from people who see firsthand how your illness affects basic tasks at home. Their observations can corroborate your own claims about reduced functionality and increase your chance of receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Begin the application process by contacting your local VA regional office, or seek assistance from a veterans service organization. Their certified officers can guide you through the disability claim procedure, ensure you have all the essential documents ready, and increase your chances of success. Remember to compile and submit all relevant medical evidence that supports your claim—test results, physician letters, treatment notes, radiology reports, and pharmacy records. Thorough documentation is key.

Lastly, Attend all C&P exam appointments arranged by the VA. Be honest with examiners about your symptoms and limitations. Follow up promptly if additional evidence is requested.

In many countries, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Rheumatoid Arthritis is considered a disability due to its severe impact on everyday function. The legal framework for this recognition is often based on the significant functional limitations and impact on your daily living.

The process for being declared disabled due to Rheumatoid Arthritis involves physicians’ assessments, medical proofs, and appearances before disability determination professionals or panels. Understanding the specific application and review process in respective countries is vital to ensure proper processes are followed.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Quality of Life

Rheumatoid Arthritis can significantly affect both physical and mental health. Chronic pain, fatigue, and physical limitations can result in depression and anxiety, affecting a person’s emotional and mental wellbeing. The disease can also cause sleep problems and cognitive dysfunction.

RA can have profound effects on employment and financial stability. The physical limitations imposed by the disease frequently lead to job loss and consequently, financial stress. Reduced productivity due to illness (known as presenteeism) plagues both the individual and the employer.

Living and Coping with Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are various treatments available for managing Rheumatoid Arthritis, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and physical therapies. These aim to slow disease progression, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent or slow joint damage.

For those living with RA, strategies to manage symptoms and maintain quality of life become crucial. This can include maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and establishing a stable medication routine. Adaptive tools and resources can aid with mobility and everyday tasks.

It is also important to obtain mental health support, through therapists, support groups, or online resources. Understanding that they are not alone, and learning from others’ experiences can help individuals better cope with the disease.


Rheumatoid Arthritis is not just a disease, but a life-altering disability that can severely disrupt one’s ability to perform every day, ‘normal’ tasks. Understanding RA, its debilitating nature, and the mechanisms for its recognition as a disability is vital for those living with this disease, their families, healthcare providers, and employers. As with all chronic illnesses, treatment, comprehensive support, and a strong understanding are key to managing Rheumatoid Arthritis and maintaining as high a quality of life as possible.

Is It Hard To Get Disability for Mental Illness? + 5 Tips To Qualify

If you suffer from a debilitating mental illness, you may qualify for disability benefits. But before you apply, it’s important to know the Social Security Administration’s eligibility requirements.

So, is it hard to get disability for mental illness? While it may seem like a complex process, the government has provided clear guidelines to determine whether you should receive benefits. 

Ahead, we’ll cover qualifying mental illnesses and eligibility requirements and share five tips to help you get approved.

What Mental Illnesses Qualify for Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a list of mental illnesses that qualify for disability. Qualifying mental disorders fall under one of the following 11 categories:

  • Neurocognitive disorders
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
  • Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders
  • Intellectual disorder
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders
  • Personality and impulse-control disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders

The SSA website also lists some of the common disorders included in each of these categories, along with definitions and related symptoms.

Is It Hard To Get Disability for Mental Illness?

Getting disability for a mental disorder can be tricky, as the subjective nature of mental illness makes it harder to evaluate and document than physical illnesses. To get approved, it’s critical to understand how the SSA evaluates mental disabilities.

To receive benefits, you’ll need to provide the SSA with thorough documentation of your disorder and treatment history. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health treatment may prevent some people from ever seeking it. If you’ve yet to see a mental health care professional about your condition, you’ll want to do so before you start the application process.

If you’re concerned about having your application rejected, know that you can request a disability appeal using the SSA’s online portal. It’s important to note that you may have to provide further documentation related to your mental illness as part of this process. 

How Do You Qualify for Mental Health Disability?

In order to qualify for disability with a mental illness, you’ll have to adhere to the Social Security Administration’s guidelines. Let’s break down the five key steps to follow when submitting an application.

1. Have a Qualifying Disability

Before you begin the application process, check the SSA Blue Book to ensure that your mental health condition falls under one of the 11 qualifying categories. As an example, if you suffer from major depressive disorder, you’ll find it referenced in category three: Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders.

Per SSA guidelines, disabilities must last at least 12 months to qualify, so you can’t get benefits for short-term mental health issues. You’ll also want to consider whether substance abuse contributes to your mental disorder, as this may affect how the SSA determines your disability. If medical evidence shows that your condition only occurs due to drug or alcohol abuse, your application will likely be denied.

2. Get Mental Health Treatment for Your Condition

In order to qualify for benefits, you must seek medical treatment for your disorder before submitting an application to the SSA. Treatment can include therapy, psychiatry, and doctor or hospital visits resulting from your illness.

The SSA favors evidence from acceptable medical sources, like licensed therapists, psychiatrists, counselors, or doctors. 

Forms of suitable evidence include:

  • Records from medical professionals who have treated you for mental illness
  • Hospitalization records if you were hospitalized due to your disorder
  • Pharmacy records for mental health-related prescriptions
  • Results of laboratory and other tests (if applicable)

Some form of medical evidence is required to prove both the existence and severity of your mental illness. The evidence must also show that you’ve complied with any prescribed medical treatments. Without documentation of medical treatment, the SSA is unlikely to accept your application.

3. Prove You Cannot Work Due to Your Mental Illness

To qualify for disability with a mental illness, you must be able to prove that your symptoms prevent you from working. This means you’ll have to provide evidence that your disorder seriously impairs your ability to function in a work setting.

This step goes hand in hand with the medical evidence discussed in step two. The SSA requires documentation — preferably from a medical professional — that proves you are unable to hold a job because of mental health issues. 

Your work history may show you’ve been unemployed, but that alone won’t cut it. If you aren’t working due to the severity of your mental illness, you’ll need medical evidence to prove it. Extensive documentation from a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist will be your best bet.

4. Have Sufficient Work History

In addition to proving that you cannot work due to mental illness, be ready to supply the SSA with your work history

This is only important if you plan to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), as eligibility for this program is based on work history. Because SSDI provides income to those who cannot work due to their disability, being gainfully employed will reduce your chances of being accepted even if you have a qualifying mental illness.

If you are able to work but still require benefits, consider applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead. SSI is a needs-based program that does not require work history. Both programs are open to applicants with qualifying mental disorders.

5. Submit an Application 

When you’re ready, you can apply for SSI and/or SSDI on the SSA website. Remember, sufficient work history is required for SSDI and will determine your eligibility. 

If you’re applying for SSDI, the SSA has provided a checklist of everything you’ll need to file online. Note that you can be approved for both SSDI and SSI, depending on your eligibility.

When filing for SSI, you’ll be asked to supply the following information:

  • Your Social Security number
  • A birth certificate or other proof of age (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or SSI-eligible non-citizen status
  • Residence information (address, phone number, or other proof of residency)
  • Information about resources and assets (real estate, stocks, etc.)
  • If disabled, contact information for medical treatment providers

Once you’ve submitted your application, the SSA will contact you with a decision. You can expect to wait an average of three to five months, but it may take longer if there are issues with your application or documents. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Still wondering how to get disability benefits for mental illness? We’ve got you covered with quick answers to common questions.

Can You Get Disability for Mental Illness?

Yes, it is possible to get disability for mental illness. Qualifying mental disorders can be found in the SSA Blue Book, along with the requirements to prove your illness is truly disabling. 

What Is Proof of Mental Disability?

For Social Security purposes, proof of mental disability comes in several forms, including medical records, mental health status evaluations, and evidence that your illness makes it impossible to work. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Disability for Mental Illness?

Typically, you’ll hear back from the SSA with a decision in three to five months, though this process may take longer if they need to access or request medical records and other evidence.

Benefits.com Can Help You Find Benefits You Qualify For

While it can be hard to get disability for mental illness, you should apply if you qualify based on the SSA’s guidelines. At Benefits.com, we’re committed to helping you understand Social Security so you can get the right benefits based on your eligibility. To learn more, take our Benefits Quiz and find a plan that works for you.

Are You Eligible for Social Security Disabled Spouse Benefits?

The government provides Social Security benefits as financial assistance for retired, disabled, or limited-income individuals. This assistance may also be available to family members, such as current or former spouses or children, who meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) criteria.

We’ll explore whether you and your children are eligible for Social Security benefits and how much Social Security pays for spousal benefits. We’ll also address common questions, such as whether your spousal benefits start automatically, and discuss who you can contact if you need assistance.

Am I Eligible for Social Security Disabled Spouse Benefits?

To be eligible for Social Security disability benefits as the spouse of a current recipient, you must have been married continuously for at least one year to the individual receiving Social Security benefits. Additionally, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are 62 or older
  • You are caring for a child under 16
  • You are caring for a child who was disabled before age 22

If you obtain Social Security retirement benefits from your work, you are ineligible to obtain benefits as a spouse. For benefits to be payable, you can only have countable work earnings up to their maximum annual benefits. 

As we explore options, you’ll quickly discover that understanding Social Security spousal benefits is critical to getting what you deserve.

If you earn below the limit for Social Security benefits, it may be advantageous for you to apply for benefits even if the government is paying benefits to children. However, total family benefits will not increase a spouse’s entitlement.

Entitlement on your earnings record could protect potential eligibility for a disabled surviving spouse’s benefits should their partner die before them.

Benefits Eligibility for a Divorced Spouse

If you are divorced and 62 or older, you may also qualify for benefits if:

  • You were married to your partner for 10 or more years
  • You are not currently married
  • You are not entitled to a higher benefit on your own earnings record

Different from all other dependent benefits, the government can pay a divorced spouse’s benefits without the living wage earner entitled to Social Security disability or retirement benefits as long as:

  • The divorce occurred two years or more before the application for the divorced spouse’s benefits was filed
  • The wage earner is insured and at least 62 years old throughout the year that the divorced spouse files for benefits

These guidelines allow the divorced spouse to receive retirement-age benefits even if the wage earner defers retirement to age 70.

Additional VA Disability Dependent Pay
If you’re a U.S. veteran, learn how to add a dependent to your VA disability benefits, as they may be eligible for VA disability dependent pay.

Benefits Eligibility for a Widowed Spouse

Widowers, defined by the SSA as surviving spouses, are also potentially eligible for Social Security benefits. The amount of assistance provided to a surviving spouse is based on the deceased individual’s earnings. The following table shows the percentage available to surviving spouses in varied situations.

Available Benefits for Surviving Spouses

Surviving Spouse SituationPercentage of Worker’s Benefit Received
Has reached full retirement age100%
Is 60 or older, but not retirement age71½%-99%
Is 50-59 years old and disabled59%-71½%
Is any age and caring for a child under 1616%-75%

It is vital to know that while surviving spouses can receive benefits, there are limits for those who remarry. If you marry again before 60, you cannot obtain your deceased spouse’s benefits — after 60, you retain benefit eligibility. The age is reduced to 50 if you have a disability. Survivors can also opt to switch to their retirement benefits at 62.

In addition to Social Security benefits, a surviving spouse may be eligible for a one-time lump-sum death payment of $255. Those living with their spouse at the time of their death qualify. Otherwise, you must have already obtained benefits or became eligible when your spouse passed away.

How Much Does Social Security Pay for Spousal Benefits?

If the government approves a partner for Social Security disability payments on their earnings record, you and your children may also be eligible to receive dependent assistance up to 50% of your retirement benefit amount.

It is critical to understand that there are penalties if you withdraw Social Security benefits before your full retirement age. While emergencies and other scenarios may demand you to utilize funds at an earlier age, you will receive a lower percentage of assistance. You can calculate the effect of retiring earlier using the Social Security Administration’s Benefits for Spouses calculator.

Calculate your Social Security disability insurance benefits to confirm you receive everything you are eligible for when applying.

What Is a Family Maximum Benefit?

The family maximum benefit is the amount payable to any family member, including the benefit paid to you (called your primary insurance amount, or PIA). The government derives PIA and FMB from the disabled worker’s lifetime earnings. 

If an individual’s past earnings are low, the FMB will equal the PIA disability payments paid to the disabled worker, and no dependent benefits will be payable. 

To the degree that past earnings are high enough for the FMB to be more than the PIA, dependent benefits are payable, ranging from a few dollars up to 50% of the worker’s PIA per dependent.

Are Social Security Disability Benefits Available for Children?

Your children may be eligible for child support benefits. The Social Security Administration defines a “child” as your natural child, adopted child, dependent stepchild, and, in some cases, dependent grandchild. 

Stepchildren can meet the stepchild status if they were born before the parent’s marriage to the disabled worker or conceived before and born after. Stepchildren can receive dependent benefits one year after the marriage that gave them stepchild status if they meet the financial dependency requirement throughout the year before one of the dates when:

  • The insured worker became disabled
  • The insured worker became entitled to disability benefits
  • Someone filed an application for the stepchild

What Is Dependency for Children?

Dependency is receiving at least one-half of support from the disabled stepparent. Rules regarding what is considered a contribution for support are detailed and extensive, but as a general rule, the contribution has to provide for basic needs versus contributions for special activities and the like.

For a dependent, non-adopted grandchild to be eligible for dependent benefits, the grandchild’s parents must either be deceased or disabled in the month that the grandparent becomes entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Social Security retirement benefits (or in the month when the grandparent’s period of disability began). 

Non-adopted grandchildren must meet dependency requirements similar to those for stepchildren to qualify for child support benefits.

When Are Children’s Benefits Payable?

Children’s benefits can continue or start if a child becomes disabled before age 22. An application for childhood disability benefits payable for a disabled adult child can be filed three months before the child turns 18 if: 

  • The child is disabled and unmarried
  • One of the following applies to the parent:
    • They are entitled to Social Security disability 
    • They are entitled to retirement-age benefits 
    • They are deceased

If the child is still a full-time high school, benefits will continue until the end of the month before the child turns 20. Benefits are not paid for 18-year-olds in post-secondary education or job training.

How Do I Apply for Social Security Disabled Spouse Benefits?

To apply for Social Security benefits, visit the SSA website or call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-772-1213.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of your benefits, contact the friendly, knowledgeable team at Benefits.com. Give us a call at 1-800-772-1213, and we’ll help you and your family get the benefits you deserve to live your best life.


Obtaining the Social Security benefits you and your family deserve may take time and effort. To help you get started, we’ve assembled and answered some of the most frequently asked questions.

When Can My Spouse Get Social Security Benefits?

Your spouse can begin taking advantage of your Social Security benefits as young as 62; however, you will not receive as much as if you would wait for your full retirement age. Your full retirement age is determined by the year you were born. For example, for those born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67. 

With that in mind, it’s beneficial to wait to claim benefits until your full retirement age so you can claim the maximum amount, which is up to 50% of your spouse’s full benefit. 

Additional scenarios in which a spouse can take advantage of your Social Security benefits include while they are caring for a child under 16 or if you pass away.

Is There a Spousal Benefit for Social Security Disability?

Yes, your spouse can take advantage of your Social Security benefits, but they must first meet the benefits criteria set by the Social Security Administration. Once eligible and approved, your spouse can receive up to 50% of your benefit amount without detracting from your benefits.

Do You Get 50%of Your Spouse’s Social Security?

An eligible individual can claim up to 50% of their former or current spouse’s Social Security benefits. To be eligible, you must be at least 62 or older. Alternatively, you can be under 62 years of age and be caring for a child under 16.

Do Spousal Benefits Start Automatically?

Spousal Social Security benefits do not start automatically. You must apply for benefits through the SSA. To apply, visit the SSA website or call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-772-1213.

What Happens When Dependent Benefits End?

Benefits paid to your dependents do not reduce your benefits. When a dependent is no longer eligible, such as when your youngest child turns 18, your disability insurance benefits will not change.

Claim Your Spousal Social Security Disabled Benefits and More

You don’t need to go on your journey alone for spousal Social Security disability benefits. At Benefits.com, we work hard to get you the benefits you deserve. In addition to Social Security benefits, we can help you navigate applying for veteran benefits and grant money. Take our Benefits Quiz to see how you qualify.

Temporary Disability Benefits: How It Works

Sometimes a disability comes out of the blue without notice. Even if it’s a temporary disability, such as a broken bone or concussion, the injury or condition can keep you from working for a significant period of time. 

Fortunately, there are temporary disability benefits programs in place that can help you cover wage loss or loss of earning capacity from a short-term disability.

In this post, we’ll explore what temporary disability benefits are, as well as answers to common questions about qualifying and applying for these benefits.

What Are Temporary Disability Benefits?

Temporary disability benefits are financial assistance provided to those who are temporarily unable to work due to a short-term disability. These benefits help replace a portion of lost income during the period you’re unable to work.

A temporary or short-term disability is an injury, illness, or medical condition that’s expected to improve in more than a month but less than a year. 

If you acquire a short-term disability, you may wonder if you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). 

Both programs are designed to provide benefits to those whose conditions are long-term (expected to last 12 months or longer) or result in death. Since a temporary disability is defined as a condition that can improve in less than a year, you cannot receive temporary SSI or SSDI benefits. 

How To Get Temporary Disability Benefits

While you won’t qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits with a temporary disability, you can still get financial assistance from other programs. Here are some common ways to get temporary disability benefits:

Short-Term Disability Insurance (STD)

Short-term disability insurance is typically offered through employers or purchased individually. It provides income replacement for employees who are temporarily unable to work due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or medical condition. 

Some U.S. states and territories, such as Rhode Island, New York, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, have laws that require employers to extend the temporary disability insurance program to individuals with short-term disabilities who the federal government does not cover.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. These benefits typically include coverage for medical expenses related to the injury or illness and a portion of lost wages during the recovery period. 

What Qualifies as a Short-Term Disability?

Non-occupational injuries, major surgery, chronic conditions, and illnesses expected to improve in more than a month but less than one year qualify as a short-term disability

Your doctor or a qualified medical examiner determines the severity of your illness and recommends a period of recovery or restricted activity. The employer, Social Security Administration, and the insurance provider then use the medical specialist’s evaluation to learn about the disability rating, or “partial disability” status. 

On the other hand, workers’ compensation covers any bodily harm or physical impairment on the job. To determine how much workers’ compensation you’re eligible for, you’ll fall into one of two categories:

  • Temporary total disability (TTD): This is for those completely unable to work due to disability. TTD benefits amount to two-thirds of your pre-tax income before your disability.
  • Temporary partial disability (TPD): This is for those with disabilities limited to part-time or restricted duties. TPD benefits amount to two-thirds of your lost wages, capped by your maximum TD rate. Lost wages are calculated as the difference between your average weekly wages and what you earn while working part time.

Examples of Temporary Disability

Unexpected circumstances may hinder an individual’s ability to work for a short time. During this period, where employment TTD benefits and paid family leave are a cash flow solution, your full recovery becomes the foremost priority before resuming your regular work schedule or performing any job duties again.

Significant factors that can cause temporary disability include:

  • Fractures or broken bones
  • Cuts, burns, or other physical wounds
  • Sprains or strains
  • Pregnancy
  • Back problems
  • Dislocations
  • Shock or trauma
  • Surgery
  • Visual disorders
  • COVID-19, quarantine, or isolation

How Do You Know When You’ve Been Approved for Short-Term Disability Insurance?

After filing a claim with the insurer or the state and successfully undergoing a review for short-term disability, you are officially eligible to aid in rehabilitating your physical or mental health. It is important to note that the latency period can vary by insurer. 

Within 14-45 days, a standard insurance company will notify you of their decision to approve you for a three- to six-month temporary disability insurance policy. 

Regardless of how long the disability lasts, you are entitled to pay the premiums, and the insurer is responsible for covering all TTD benefits due to you.

How Much Cash Assistance Can You Receive on Short-Term Disability Insurance?

Short-term disability insurance gives you a cash benefit depending on your longevity with the company. Your employer-sponsored plan typically pays 50% to 60% of your weekly wages, so you can use the money to get back on your feet. 

You can alternatively get your entire paycheck from another broker or protection policy to make up the difference. And where the state mandates short-term disability insurance, authorities may regulate the percentage of your salary they can pay.

How Long Does Short-Term Disability Insurance Last?

How long short-term disability insurance lasts varies depending on the policy. Some policies offer coverage for up to a year, while others may have shorter payout windows, such as six months or three months. 

While some income safeguard packages will have a decreasing payout after a certain period, others will have a steady reimbursement that does not change in the face of a set time frame. There’s no sweet spot in between. So, to avoid surprises it’s important for individuals purchasing these policies to thoroughly review the details in the insurance contract.

How To Get Short-Term Disability Insurance

You can get short-term disability insurance a few different ways. Here are some popular methods that you can use to get short-term disability insurance:

  • Apply through your employee benefits. Utilize the short-term disability coverage provided by your employer as part of your employee benefits package.
  • Purchase an individual plan through your employer. If your workplace does not provide STD coverage, you may be able to buy it as a voluntary benefit.
  • Purchase an individual plan through an insurance provider. If there’s no STD coverage provided by your employer, you can purchase an individual plan through an insurance provider.

What To Keep in Mind Before Applying for Short-Term Disability

There are a few things to keep in mind before applying for benefits with a temporary disability:

  • Document your illness or injury: Ensure you have documented medical evidence that confirms your disability to support your claim for STD benefits.
  • Understand your policy’s elimination period: Each STD policy has a requirement for how long you must be out of work before you can claim short-term disability, known as an elimination period. This is typically seven to 30 days, depending on your policy. 
  • Understand your rights and responsibilities: Familiarize yourself with any obligations related to reporting changes in your condition, attending medical evaluations, or participating in vocational rehabilitation programs.
  • Prepare for possible denials: Be aware that STD claims may be initially denied. Understand the appeals process outlined by your insurance provider or employer. Gather any additional evidence or documentation to support your claim in case of a denial.
  • Seek guidance if needed: If you have questions or concerns about the STD claims process, consider seeking guidance from a legal or financial advisor or contacting your state’s department of labor or insurance commissioner for assistance.

Benefits.com Can Help You Maximize Your Potential Benefits

While government benefit programs typically cater to individuals with long-term disabilities, you may qualify for benefits if your disability lasts over 12 months. At Benefits.com, we aim to help all U.S. residents navigate government programs effectively. Discover your eligibility with our Benefits Quiz to access the best benefits for your situation.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Is It A Disability?

Every individual, in their lifetime, experiences intrusive and peculiar thoughts, images, or urges that are difficult to ignore. While it can be a sporadic occurrence for some, others might face it more frequently, leading to significant distress and disturbance in routine life—a characteristic feature of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Notably, OCD is not only about experiencing intrusive thoughts but includes a variety of symptoms that might eventually affect the person’s overall functionality.

Understanding OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, often shortened to OCD, is a mental health condition characterized by persistent, unwanted thoughts and fears termed as obsessions that induce compulsive behaviors to mitigate the associated distress. Obsessions are repetitive and intrusive thoughts that include a fear of germs, taboo thoughts about sex or religion, or aggressive thoughts towards self or others. Compulsions are the repetitive behaviors or actions that an individual performs to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession.

Scientifically, OCD is often associated with abnormalities in certain regions of the brain, including the basal ganglia and the frontal cortex. These regions have a role in controlling body movements and producing responses to various situations. The physiological characteristics of these brain structures indicate they might also be responsible for suppressing inappropriate actions or thoughts. The symptoms of OCD are thought to rise from dysfunction in these structures. Research also suggests links between serotonin neurotransmitter dysregulation and the onset of OCD symptoms.

Common symptoms of OCD often include fear of contamination or germs, compulsive counting, difficulty throwing things out (hoarding), and obsessive cleanliness. If you or someone you know is experiencing obsession and compulsion to this level, it might be time to seek professional help.

OCD and Its Impact on Daily Life

Like any other mental disorder, OCD has considerable implications for an individual’s regular life, given its capacity to prompt severe anxiety, derail daily routines, and impair both mental functioning and social relationships. The relentless obsessive thoughts and the repetitive behavior can consume substantial amounts of time, leading to a decline in productivity in personal and professional realms.

OCD as a Clinical Disorder

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association consider OCD to be a significant medical condition. OCD in its most severe form, according to the WHO’s International Classification of Disease (ICD-10), is categorized under “Anxiety disorders,” indicating that it can potentially inhibit normal functioning. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) places OCD under “Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders,” emphasizing its recurrent and persistent manner that leads to distress or impairment.

The severity of OCD is judged on the distress it causes, its time consumption, and the degree of interference in a person’s daily life. Generally, OCD appears with moderate intensity in most cases, but nearly 10-20% of cases have severe implications, escalating it to a potential disability.

OCD and Disability Benefits

A disability is a condition that significantly impedes one or more major life activities. Essential tasks include activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and working.

However, not all OCD cases may qualify as a disability. The obsessive compulsive behaviors indeed interfere with normal functioning, but the severity and frequency of these behaviors vary widely among individuals causing a differentiation between cases that merely cause distress and those that cause significant functional impairment.

In general, the VA recognizes OCD as a disability, and will offer SSDI benefits to those who qualify. The typical disability rating given to OCD can vary depending on the severity and impact on daily functioning, ranging from 0% to 100%. The rating is determined by the VA based on how the condition affects the individual’s ability to work and perform daily activities.

Note that active duty can potentially exacerbate or trigger OCD symptoms due to the stress, trauma, and demands of military service. The structured and high-pressure environment of active duty may impact individuals with OCD differently, affecting their symptoms and coping mechanisms.

In legal terms, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in various aspects of life, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services. The ADA classifies as a person with a disability, someone who has a physical or mental impairment that significantly impacts daily living.

If the VA denies your disability claim for OCD, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can provide additional evidence, seek assistance from a veterans service organization, or request a review by a different VA rating specialist to potentially overturn the denial. In some cases, assistance from a disability lawyer may be helpful.

90% VA Disability Rating: Pay and Benefits for 2024

If you’re an eligible veteran, you may qualify for disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans with a 90% VA disability rating are entitled to significant annual and monthly payments, which can further increase with the inclusion of a spouse, children, or other dependents.

After submitting a claim with the VA, compensation ratings are determined as percentages. Once you receive your rating, this guide will assist you in understanding the precise amount of financial support you’re entitled to. We’ll also explore further benefits available to veterans with a 90% VA disability, such as health care, home loans, and employment opportunities.

What Is 90% VA Disability?

A 90% VA disability rating is an assessment provided by the VA for compensation purposes. It signifies the extent of disability experienced by veterans who incurred injuries during military service and are eligible to receive disability benefits from the VA. These ratings determine the amount of financial assistance qualified veterans can receive.

To be eligible for VA disability benefits, veterans must have a physical or mental illness and have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. Additionally, one of the following conditions must apply:

  • The current condition must be linked to an injury or illness sustained during military service (in-service disability claim).
  • Military service must have aggravated a pre-existing illness or injury (pre-service disability claim).
  • A disability or injury related to military service must have emerged after service ended (post-service disability claim).

VA disability ratings range from 0% to 100%, with increments of 10%. A 90% rating indicates a significant level of disability. Veterans with a 90% rating or higher, particularly those with spouses, dependent parents, or children, may qualify for increased compensation.

How Much Can You Get With 90% VA Disability?

Based on 2024 veteran disability compensation rates, someone with a 90% VA rating can get $2,241.91 per month if they have no dependents. Disability compensation figures without dependents are called basic monthly rates. Here are additional VA basic monthly rates:

VA Disability Rating Breakdown
10%$171.23 per month
20%$338.49 per month
30%$524.31 per month
40%$755.28 per month
50%$1,075.16 per month
60%$1,361.88 per month
70%$1,716.28 per month
80%$1,995.01 per month
90%$2,241.91 per month
100%$3,737.85 per month

90% VA Disability With Dependents

If you have a 90% VA disability rating and dependents, you’re eligible for additional compensation. The rate may increase or decrease depending on your dependents, such as children, parents, or a spouse. 

Below are breakdowns for veterans with 90% VA disability pay rates and different dependent situations. Discover your monthly pay rate and see how much compensation you may be entitled to claim.

90% VA Disability Pay Rates Without Children

If you have a 90% VA disability rating and no children, you may be eligible for additional compensation. The VA provides veterans with dependent parents or spouse compensation at a higher rate. 

  • Veteran with spouse only: $2,428.91
  • Veteran with spouse and one parent: $2,578.91
  • Veteran with spouse and two parents: $2,728.91
  • Veteran with one parent: $2,391.91
  • Veteran with two parents: $2,541.91
  • Add for a spouse receiving Aid and Attendance: +$172

90% VA Disability Pay Rates With Children

If you’re a veteran with a 90% VA disability rating and have children, you’re eligible for extra compensation. Fixed rates apply to different family situations. Compensation for veterans with more than two children may differ based on the age of the child and their enrollment in a qualifying educational program.

  • Veteran with spouse and child: $2,565.91
  • Veteran with child only: $2,366.91
  • Veteran with spouse, one parent, and child: $2,715.91
  • Veteran with spouse, two parents, and child: $2,865.91
  • Veteran with one parent and child: $2,516.91
  • Veteran with two parents and child: $ 2,666.91
  • Add for each additional child under 18: +$93
  • Add for each additional child 18+ in a qualifying school program: +$301

Additional 90% VA Disability Benefits

Individuals holding a 90% VA disability benefit rating are eligible for supplementary benefits. In addition to monthly compensation, benefits include health care services, home loans, employment assistance, pensions, and Social Security disability benefits.

VA Health Care Benefits

Veterans with a 90% VA disability rating qualify for placement in VA health care priority group 1, the top priority group for accessing health care benefits. Benefits cover preventative, inpatient hospital, urgent care, and emergency services. Here are some of the basic medical health care services covered by the VA:

  • Health exams
  • Health education
  • Immunization
  • Genetic disease counseling
  • Surgeries
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Acute care
  • Specialized care
  • Mental health
  • Assisted living and home health
  • Prescriptions
  • Blood work
  • X-rays and ultrasounds
  • Physical therapy
  • Prosthetics
  • Audiology
  • Oncology

Apart from these services, the VA may provide benefits for vision and dental care. Exclusions include cosmetic surgery, health club memberships, and medications and medical devices not approved by the FDA.

LGBTQ+ Services: For individuals requiring additional support, the VA offers an LGBTQ+ health program. Two available benefits for veterans are PrEP for those vulnerable to HIV and gender-affirming hormone therapy. Each VA facility employs specialized LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinators.

Additional VA Health Care Services

The VA provides veterans with supplementary care services to support their overall health and well-being. If you require aid in reaching appointments, the Veterans Transportation Service is available to assist you. Beneficiary travel benefits are also offered to those who need assistance with travel for treatment.

Other health care services accessible to veterans in need include:

VA Home Loans

The VA offers support to veterans and service members in acquiring homes. Collaborating with private lenders, the VA ensures a portion of the loan, enhancing approval chances. No down payment is necessary, closing costs are minimal, and no private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required.

Eligibility for a VA home loan is determined by the length of service. Apply for a VA home loan on VA.gov, where you can obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Adapted housing grants are also available for individuals requiring modifications to their current homes.

Veteran Readiness and Employment

The Veteran Readiness and Employment program, formerly known as the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, helps eligible veterans access employment prospects while addressing their education and training requirements to enhance employability.

The program offers various tracks tailored to assist veterans in returning to previous jobs, exploring new career paths, or launching their own businesses. Specifically designed for veterans with disabilities, long-term service and independent living tracks empower individuals to lead fulfilling lives unrestricted by limitations.

VA Pension Benefits

Veterans who meet specific criteria can benefit from the VA’s Pension program. If you meet certain age requirements or have a disability and your income and net worth fall within specified limits, you may be eligible. To qualify for the Veterans Pension program, you must meet the following requirements:

Both of these statements must be true:

  • You have not been dishonorably discharged.
  • You have an income and net worth that falls within limits set by Congress.

One of these statements must be true:

  • You began active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days with at least one day during wartime.
  • You served active duty after September 7, 1980, for at least 24 months or the entire period for which you were called with at least one day during wartime.
  • You were an officer on duty after October 16, 1981, and have not been on duty for at least 24 months.

One of these statements must be true:

  • You are 65 years old or older.
  • You have a permanent disability.
  • You’re in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability.
  • You receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Veterans can also apply for Social Security benefits such as SSDI or SSI; the disability does not need to be related to your military service to qualify for either. 

Nevertheless, each option has distinct criteria for eligibility to apply. To apply for SSI, applicants must have a disability or be 65 years or older with restricted income and resources. To apply for SSDI, individuals must have a qualifying disability and a sufficient work history contributing to Social Security.

Is It Easy To Go From 90% to 100% VA Disability?

As your current disability rating increases, it’s harder to raise it more by adding another condition. So, if you’re already rated at 90%, integrating a new condition into your claim requires evaluating it at 50% or higher to reach a total rating of 100%. 

This means that the severity of the new condition needs to be substantial to significantly impact your overall disability rating. If you think your health conditions have worsened and would like to see if you’re eligible for 100% VA disability, here are steps to take:

  1. Gather medical evidence to prove your symptoms have worsened. 
  2. File claims for any new disabilities you’re experiencing. 
  3. Consult with a VA disability expert to explore your options and ensure you’re getting the benefits you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you hold a disability rating of 90% and are seeking compensation, you might have more questions about the process. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding disability ratings and VA compensation.

How Do I Go From 80% to 90% VA Disability?

If you’re at 80% VA disability and want to increase to 90%, you’ll need to demonstrate to the VA that your medical condition has worsened or that you have developed additional service-connected disabilities since your last evaluation.

What Can I Do If I’m Rated at 90% and Cannot Work? 

If you have a 90% VA rating and cannot work, you may be eligible for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits. As a result, your compensation may increase to that of a 100% VA rating.

Are Veterans Rated at 90% Eligible for TDIU?

Veterans with a 90% disability rating might qualify for the TDIU program if they have a chronic condition hindering their ability to work. However, veterans with conditions expected to improve over time won’t qualify for TDIU since the program is designed for permanent disabilities.

Is 90% VA Disability Permanent?

A 90% VA disability rating is not always permanent. Disability ratings can change based on the condition’s progress or new medical evidence. However, in some cases, a disability might be considered permanent if the condition is stable and unlikely to improve significantly over time.

Learn More About Your VA Disability Eligibility

Understanding your VA benefits and rating is crucial for improving your quality of life. If you have a 90% VA rating, use our disability calculator to see how much you could qualify for. If you’re unsure about your benefits, take our Benefits Quiz to get started.

How To Get a Veteran ID Card

The Veteran Identification Card, commonly referred to as a Veteran ID Card, represents more than a mere acknowledgement of one’s military service. This identification document is key to accessing a host of invaluable benefits and services exclusive to the veteran community. A Veteran ID Card is a tangible symbol of the respect, acknowledgment, and honor accorded to those who have served their nation with loyalty and dedication. In this article, we delve into the types of Veteran ID Cards, their accompanying benefits, the process of obtaining one, and solutions for commonly encountered roadblocks.

Part 1: Types of Veteran ID Cards

Veteran ID Cards come in various forms, with differing requirements and accessible benefits. It is essential to understand each card type to determine which best suits your specific situation.

1. Department of Defense (DoD) Identification Card

The DoD Identification Card serves military personnel, including veterans. In particular, it enables access to military service benefits and privileges.

Eligibility for this card extends but is not limited to active-duty, retired, or reserve members. Eligibility may also be extended to dependents in some circumstances.

2. Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

The VHIC aims to provide veterans with seamless access to healthcare services from the VA. It also serves as proof of eligibility for veterans’ discounts.

To be eligible for a VHIC, you must be enrolled in the VA healthcare system.

3. Veteran ID Card (VIC)

The VIC serves as proof of military service in the armed forces. The card facilitates access to veterans’ benefits and services and can be used for discounts offered to veterans.

Eligibility for this card is extended to veterans who received an honorable or general discharge (under honorable conditions). Receiving a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable is also recognized.

4. State Issued Veteran ID Card

This card is provided by individual states to validate a person’s military service and provide evidence of eligibility for certain state benefits, services, and discounts.

Each state stipulates its eligibility requirements, generally including proof of honorable military service.

The Benefits of Having a Veteran ID Card

A Veteran ID card brings numerous advantages, serving as a bridge between the holder and a variety of benefits and services. These range from health and financial benefits to shopping discounts, services, privileges, and honors. Every card has a unique set of associated services. For instance, the VHIC provides access to VA healthcare services, while the DoD Identification card provides access to military benefits and privileges. Key benefits of the VIC and state-issued cards include their recognition for veterans’ discounts.

The opportunities accessed through a veteran ID are extensive, allowing former service members to tap into supports tailored to their needs and service history. Healthcare services span medical, dental, mental health, long-term care, and more. Financial services feature home loans, insurance, pensions, education funding, and compensation for disabilities incurred during active duty. Discounts apply to travel, hospitality, entertainment, retail shopping, restaurants, and groceries. Additional privileges cover everything from state parks access to vehicle registration. For veterans, these cards are a passport to aid and advantage as they transition back to civilian life. The cards open doors and smooth the road ahead across countless dimensions of life.

Expiration and Renewal

Veteran ID cards are issued by the VA to qualified veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. The veteran ID cards have an expiration date printed on them, which is currently set at 10 years from the date of issuance.

When a veteran’s ID card is nearing its expiration date, they need to apply for a renewal by submitting a renewal application to the VA. The renewal application can be submitted within 6 months prior to the card’s expiration date. To renew, qualified veterans generally do not have to provide any additional documentation or proof of eligibility if their discharge status has not changed.

The VA does not charge qualified veterans any fees to apply for or renew a Veteran ID card. The ID cards and renewals are provided for free as a benefit in recognition of a veteran’s service. The only cost a veteran may incur would be to pay for new passport photos if they need to submit an updated photo, which is only required if their appearance has significantly changed.

In summary, Veteran ID cards expire after 10 years, veterans can renew them within 6 months prior to expiration by submitting a renewal application, no additional documentation is typically required, and the VA does not charge veterans any fees to apply for or renew the ID cards. This allows veterans to maintain a valid form of identification to access veteran benefits and proudly display proof of their service. Letting veterans obtain ID cards cost-free is a simple way to honor their military service.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Obtain a Veteran ID Card

1. Determining Eligibility

The initial step towards obtaining a Veteran ID Card is determining your eligibility. This typically requires proof of your military service, type of discharge, and status (active, retired, reserve, etc.). Different cards have varying eligibility requirements, set by the issuing authority.

2. Gathering Required Documentation

The next step involves collecting necessary documentation. This usually includes a copy of your discharge papers or DD214, proof of identity such as a driver’s license or ID card, and potentially a recent photo for the ID card.

3. How to Apply

Applications for a Veteran ID Card can invariably be lodged online, by mail or over the phone. Each method demands adherence to a specific process—submitting forms, furnishing necessary documents, and following the step-by-step instructions provided by the issuing authority.

4. Collecting Your Card

After your application is approved, you’ll receive your Veteran ID card. The method of delivery depends on the issuing body, with options including mail or collection in person.

Part 4: Troubleshooting Common Roadblocks

The path to obtaining a Veteran ID Card may present several obstacles, such as eligibility doubts, document procurement issues, and application processing problems. Solving these typically involves reaching out to the VA, a veterans’ service organization, or the relevant state department.


Obtaining a Veteran ID Card is more than an exercise in due diligence—it’s a step towards accessing a host of benefits that deeply acknowledge your service, sacrifice, and dedication. Navigating through the different ID cards, determining eligibility, gathering documents, applying, and finally receiving your card may seem daunting, but each step brings you closer to accessing the aid, recognition, and respect you deserve.

Call to Action

If you are a veteran, take advantage of the benefits due to you. Begin the process of obtaining a Veteran ID card today. The journey might seem lengthy and arduous, but every step you take brings you closer to gaining acknowledgement, benefits, and services that honor your sacrifice and service. No veteran should be without this tangible symbol of their valiant service. Start your journey today!

How Does the VA Rate Adjustment Disorder?

Adjustment disorder is a condition that develops when someone struggles to cope with a stressful life event. As a diagnosable mental health condition, chronic adjustment disorder has been acknowledged since the 1980s when it was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III).

Over the years, the criteria for adjustment disorder have been updated and refined. Currently, the DSM-5 defines adjustment disorder as the presence of emotional or behavioral symptoms within three months of an identifiable stressor. These symptoms must be out of proportion with the severity or intensity of the stressor and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.

The stressful event that triggers adjustment disorder can involve anything from ending a romantic relationship and having trouble at work to experiencing a major catastrophic event. The key defining feature is that the person struggles to adapt to the new situation or stress.

Symptoms and Causes of Adjustment Disorder

Common emotional and physical symptoms associated with adjustment disorder include:

  • Anxiety, worry, nervousness
  • Feeling overwhelmed, sad, tearful, or hopeless
  • Irritability, anger outbursts, frustration
  • Lack of motivation, loss of interest in activities
  • Poor concentration and decision-making
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Headaches, stomach issues, muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances, fatigue

Adjustment disorder is caused by a person’s inability to cope adaptively with a major life stress. The stressor may be a single event, or there may be multiple stressful events that accumulate over time. Examples of situations that can trigger adjustment disorder include:

  • Ending a relationship
  • Losing a job
  • Experiencing a traumatic event
  • Moving to a new place
  • Dealing with a serious health diagnosis
  • Death of a close friend or family member

Essentially any situation that is subjectively experienced as stressful or exceeds the person’s resources for coping can lead to adjustment disorder. The mental disorder reflects the person’s time-limited failure to manage the normal process of psychological adjustment to these difficult circumstances.

Prevalence of Adjustment Disorder in Veterans

Chronic adjustment disorder is extremely common among veterans. Studies show that around 50-70% of veterans receiving mental health treatment have been diagnosed with adjustment disorder.

There are a few key reasons why adjustment issues are so prevalent among those who have served in the military:

  • Transitioning back to civilian life after deployment is very challenging and involves considerable life stress. This can overwhelm veterans’ usual coping abilities.
  • Deployment and combat exposes veterans to very traumatic situations that can be difficult to process and adjust to. Rates of PTSD are also very high.
  • Many veterans struggle with changes in their responsibilities, roles, and relationships after returning home from service. This requires major adjustment.
  • Veterans often lack adequate social support systems or mental health resources which are needed for adaptive coping.

Some symptoms that veterans exhibit more frequently with adjustment disorder include isolation/withdrawal, explosive anger, and feeling alienated/like they no longer fit in with civilian life.

Adjustment Disorder VA Rating: The Basics

How the VA Rates Mental Health Disorders

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses diagnostic criteria from the DSM-5 to evaluate and rate all mental health conditions, including adjustment disorder. Disability ratings are assigned based on the severity of occupational and social impairment caused by the disorder.

There is a General Rating Formula used by the VA which gives criteria for ratings from 0% to 100% based on factors like:

  • Ability to maintain relationships
  • Reliability, productivity, and pace at work
  • Extent of disturbance in motivation and mood
  • Ability for self-care and normal daily activities
  • Presence of suicidal ideation or danger
  • Memory, concentration, and judgment deficits

Just meeting diagnostic criteria for adjustment disorder itself does not guarantee any particular rating. The VA has to determine how much this mental disorder functionally impacts the veteran.

Specific Criteria Used by VA for Rating Adjustment Disorder

The VA determines disability ratings for adjustment disorder using the same General Rating Formula as described above. However, there are some additional specific considerations given its characteristics:

  • Timecourse matters – adjustment disorder, by definition, only lasts up to 6 months after the stressor occurs. Longer persistence suggests a different disorder.
  • Context of the stressor is important – the VA considers if there is clear documentation of the associated traumatic or stressful event that caused the adjustment difficulties.
  • Pre-existing conditions – if the veteran had previous mental health issues, it can be harder to determine impairment caused specifically by the adjustment disorder. Comparisons are made to functioning prior to the stressor.

So while general impairment criteria guide disability ratings, these additional factors help the VA determine if the adjustment disorder diagnosis accurately fits the clinical picture and context.

Since emotional symptoms are common in adjustment disorder, it can seem similar to conditions like generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD. However, there are some key differences that the VA pays attention to:

Adjustment Disorder

  • Always preceded by an identifiable, time-limited stressor
  • Symptom intensity or duration is disproportionate to the stressor
  • Usually resolves within 6 months of the termination of the stressor

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Excessive anxiety and worry happening more days than not for at least 6 months
  • Does not necessarily have an obvious specific trigger
  • Persists indefinitely without treatment


  • Follows exposure to actual or threatened death/violence/injury
  • Re-experiencing symptoms are prominent (flashbacks, nightmares)
  • Hypervigilance and startle responses
  • Results in longer-term functional impairment

So while adjustment disorder reflects a disproportionate response to a stressful circumstance, anxiety disorders like GAD and PTSD generally reflect more inherent biological vulnerabilities rather than situation-specific coping difficulties.

How Much Is Adjustment Disorder Eligible For?

The VA uses the General Rating Formula described earlier to determine percentages for adjustment disorder based on functional impact. Most veterans receive a disability rating in the 30-50% range for adjustment disorder.

For a 30% rating for adjustment disorder, there would be evidence of things like: conflicts with peers/coworkers, loss of motivation, depressed mood and anxiety, forgetfulness or mild concentration issues, sleep disruption, etc.

A 50% rating involves things like reduced reliability to maintain work duties, panic attacks more than once a week, memory issues, difficulty understanding complex commands, severe mood disturbances, difficulty establishing relationships.

So in summary:

  • 0% – symptoms transient and expectable, only slight impairment
  • 10% – mild or occasional symptoms with occupational impairment
  • 30% – moderate symptoms or moderate difficulty functioning
  • 50% – considerable loss of functioning with severe symptoms
  • 70% or 100% – total occupational and social impairment

Adjustment disorder is viewed as a time-limited condition. But if symptoms persist at a disabling level after 6 months, it will likely be re-evaluated as a different anxiety or trauma disorder.

Adjustment Disorder VA Rating: In-Depth

Impact of an Adjustment Disorder VA Rating on Veterans’ Benefits

Receiving a VA rating for adjustment disorder can make a veteran eligible for several valuable benefits, like:

Financial Compensation

A monthly tax-free payment to the veteran. This depends on the rating percentage – for example a 30% rating would pay out $441 per month. Financial aid can support family needs.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Eligible veterans can access career counseling, resume development, skills training programs, job search assistance, and education tuition assistance. This can help veterans successfully return to the workforce.

VA Health Care

Cost-free medical/mental health treatment at VA facilities. This ensures access to therapy, medications, inpatient services that may be needed for adjustment difficulties. Ongoing care supports recovery.

So in many ways, receiving an accurate rating can be essential for a veteran to receive healthcare, disability accommodation, and financial help to cope with stress reactions during the transition back to civilian life.

Common Misconceptions About the Adjustment Disorder VA Rating

There are a few common myths about receiving a rating for this condition – the VA wants to be very clear:

Myth: An adjustment disorder rating is “temporary” or will be automatically reduced after a certain period of time.

Fact: Ratings are re-evaluated whenever new medical evidence is submitted, regardless of condition. Persistence of symptoms/impairment guides rating changes.

Myth: Adjustment disorder is a “minor” condition that is not really disabling compared to PTSD, so ratings tend to be low.

Fact: All mental health conditions are rated solely based on degree of occupational and social impairment. The adjustment disorder diagnosis itself does not limit the possible rating percentage.

Myth: Since adjustment disorder resolves quickly after the stressor ends, it should not qualify for ongoing compensation.

Fact: Some veterans experience impairment from adjustment difficulties that continues long after the initial triggering situation. Rating decisions take this into account.

The bottom line is that each veteran’s circumstances are different. The VA guidelines ensure that ratings are based on the facts and level of disability for that individual.

The Process: From Diagnosis to VA Rating

Steps in Getting Diagnosed With Adjustment Disorder

The process to getting an accurate adjustment disorder diagnosis typically involves:

1. Noticing Impairment – The veteran and close others observe declining functioning, strained relationships, or new sustain emotional/behavioral symptoms that develop in reaction to a stressful circumstance.

2. Initial Screening – A primary care doctor, VA health professional, or community provider conducts an initial screening to assess symptoms. They may use checklists, interviews, or assessments to determine if an underlying mental health issue could be present.

3. Referral for Comprehensive Evaluation – If the screening indicates, the veteran gets referred to a specialist like a psychologist or psychiatrist for comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.

4. Diagnostic Interviews & Testing – The mental health professional thoroughly evaluates symptoms, administers clinical interviews, assesses functioning/coping capacity, reviews military/psychosocial history and the context of presenting problems.

5. Differential Diagnosis – Based on all available data, the provider determines if criteria are met for adjustment disorder or if symptoms better fit another condition like PTSD, depression, etc.

Getting the most accurate, precise diagnosis lays important groundwork for seeking appropriate treatment and benefits support.

Applying for a VA Rating for Adjustment Disorder

To receive a VA disability rating for this disorder, the formal application process includes:

1. Submit Disability Compensation Claim – The veteran files a claim for impairment connected to a mental health condition that developed during or stems from military service. Relevant records, like mental health diagnoses, should be included.

2. VA Requests Service Records – The VA retrieves the veteran’s military medical files and service records to further document evidence related to the condition.

3. Compensation Exam by VA Provider – A VA psychiatrist or psychologist examines the veteran, reviews all records, conducts testing, and thoroughly assesses impairment and capacity for functioning.

4. VA Makes Rating Decision – Based on the exam results and entire record, VA rates the level of disability using standard criteria for that condition. The percentage rating decides compensation amounts.

This process aims to accurately reflect the impact of adjustment difficulties on veteran functioning and long-term well-being. Ongoing access to care can also be included with an approved rating.

What to Expect During the VA’s Evaluation Process

When getting assessed by a VA provider for disability determination, the evaluation appointment is very comprehensive. Veterans can expect:

  • Discussion of military history.
  • Questions about onset of symptoms, diagnosis process. treatment history.
  • Identification of the stressor event tied to the adjustment disorder.
  • Checklists, interviews, or questionnaires about current mental health difficulties.
  • Cognitive screening assessments.
  • Evaluation of level of social/occupational impairment.
  • Assessment of other disorders that could account for symptoms – like PTSD, depression, etc.
  • Determination if the adjustment disorder is the primary cause of functional disability.

The examiner synthesizes all available records, test results, and the clinical interview to judge current and expected future functioning. It is very important veterans share openly about their struggles so the true disability level can be captured.

Tips to Ensure a Fair Adjustment Disorder VA Rating

Gather Necessary Documentation

There are several things veterans can do to make sure the VA has everything needed to make an appropriate rating determination:

  • Inform all treating professionals that you are applying for VA disability. Ask them to thoroughly document symptoms, impaired functioning, diagnosis specifics, and treatment recommendations in their chart notes.
  • Specifically ask mental health providers to submit letters, statement, or completed DBQ forms that summarize diagnosis, symptom severity, duration of treatment, and prognosis.
  • Keep a personal record of all medical appointments, hospitalizations, medications tried, and treatment outcomes. This corroborates what is in the official medical chart.
  • Write an Impact Statement summarizing how symptoms specifically limit ability to function at work, socially, regarding self-care and daily tasks.

Thorough, quality documentation is key!

Communicate Effectively With Healthcare and VA Staff

How veterans communicate with providers and VA personnel can influence their disability benefit amount and the VA disability process. Some tips are:

  • Track mood/symptoms to give accurate real-world examples of functioning difficulties.
  • Share honestly about distress experienced, even with uncomfortable emotions like anger or hopelessness. Don’t downplay it!
  • Explain how family, work, self-care routines are affected by the mental condition currently and over time.
  • Give the full context of the underlying stressor event and why it overwhelmed coping capacity.
  • Compare current functioning to skills/capabilities demonstrated prior to the adjustment difficulties.

Telling the full story is necessary for accurate ratings!

Appealing a Rating If Necessary

If a veteran believes their adjustment disorder rating does not truly reflect disability level, they have 1 year from the decision date to file an appeal. Strategies include:

  • Submitting additional medical evidence like updated progress notes or letters from treating doctors regarding worsening symptoms and functioning struggles.
  • Identifying any relevant symptoms or impairment impacts that may have been overlooked initially.
  • Requesting an independent medical evaluation for a second opinion.
  • Attending all scheduled reassessment appointments even if functioning improves slightly for a time – setbacks can still occur.

Continually advocating for appropriate support is important, so veterans can focus on recovery.

Importance of a Proper Adjustment Disorder VA Rating

Getting an accurate rating for disability connected to adjustment disorder is critical for multiple reasons:

  • Enables access to healthcare, medications, therapy that may be unaffordable otherwise. This treats symptoms arising from military service.
  • Reflects the true severity of impairment and barriers to functioning the veteran faces.
  • Determines appropriate amount of financial aid to help support family needs.
  • Allows utilization of work training/education programs catered to develop skills veterans need for suitable civilian careers.
  • Opens doors to community resources and local support services.

In all, a fair rating makes a lasting difference in veterans genuinely reintegrating and recovering after the profound experience of military duty and deployment. The VA aims to fully understand how emotional wounds can impact veterans’ lives and provide compensation accordingly so they can build a hopeful future.

All veterans who gave so much by serving our country deserve support transitioning through the inevitable pains of adjustment back into society. Compassionate assistance will provide the strength these brave men and women need to gain resilience and live meaningfully. There are always brighter days ahead.

Lifeline Program: A Comprehensive Outlook

The Lifeline Program, a government assistance initiative managed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), discounts monthly phone/internet service to eligible low-income households. 

The program was designed to ensure that low-income families aren’t left behind in a digitized world where connectivity is not a luxury but a necessity.

Overview of the Lifeline Program

The Lifeline Program originated in the tumultuous economic period of the 1980s when the Regan administration created it to provide discounted phone service to low-income Americans. As technology progressed and the internet began to permeate almost every aspect of life, the Lifeline Program evolved accordingly. In 2016, broadband internet service was included as a discount option, making the Lifeline Program instrumental in promoting digital inclusion. The underlying purpose and goal of the Lifeline Program lie in providing accessible communication services to low-income families, thereby advancing digital equity and social inclusion.

Who is the Lifeline Program For?

The Lifeline Program is designed for low-income households who meet specific eligibility criteria and seek assistance in affording monthly phone or internet services. It aims to bridge the digital divide by providing discounts to marginalized groups, ensuring they stay connected in today’s digital world. Individuals who belong to low-income households and meet the specified eligibility requirements should consider applying for the Lifeline Program.

Eligibility for the Lifeline Program

To be eligible for the Lifeline Program, you must either:

  • Have an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Participate in certain assistance programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit.

Benefits of the Lifeline Program

Key Lifeline Program benefits include:

  • Access to affordable communication services
  • Choice of discounted landline or mobile service
  • Option to receive a free Lifeline cell phone if eligible
  • Monthly discount of $9.25 to help lower the cost of service
  • No activation fees, deposits, or recurring charges with some plans

Overall, the Lifeline Program makes telephone and internet services more economical for low-income Americans. This helps increase access to job opportunities, education, healthcare, and more.

Documents Required for Lifeline Program Application

When applying for the Lifeline Program, you must provide documentation verifying your eligibility. The required documents depend on whether you qualify through your income or participate in an assistance program.

For Income-Based Eligibility

If you qualify for Lifeline through your household income, you must provide official documentation showing your income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. Acceptable documents include:

  • Prior year’s state or federal tax return
  • Current income statement from an employer
  • Paycheck stubs for 3 consecutive months
  • Social Security statement of benefits
  • Veterans Administration statement of benefits
  • Retirement or pension statement of benefits
  • Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation statement of benefits
  • Federal or Tribal notice letter of participation in General Assistance
  • Divorce decree or child support document containing income information

Any income documentation must be official and current within the previous 12 months. Documents or photocopies are acceptable if they clearly show your household income level.

For Program-Based Eligibility

If you qualify through participation in one of the listed assistance programs, you will need documentation showing your current enrollment. Acceptable documents include:

  • Medicaid benefit card
  • SNAP benefit card
  • SSI benefit letter
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance lease agreement
  • Veterans Pension certificate letter
  • Tribal program enrollment ID card

These documents verify that you or someone in your household is actively enrolled in a qualifying assistance program. Most benefit cards or letters will have the name of the person receiving services, which must match the name of the Lifeline Program applicant.

In either case, the required documentation is necessary to prove that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for the Lifeline Program. Failing to provide acceptable documentation could result in applications being denied.

Steps to Apply for Lifeline Program

Applying for the Lifeline Program largely consists of 5 key steps:

  1. Checking your eligibility
  2. Gathering necessary documents
  3. Filling out the Lifeline application form
  4. Submitting the application and documents
  5. Waiting for application review and response

Below is a more detailed walkthrough of each step to take when signing up for Lifeline assistance:

1. Checking Eligibility

First, you will want to verify that you meet the income or program-based eligibility requirements for Lifeline (see previous sections).

Additionally, you can only receive Lifeline benefits from one phone provider per household. You will need to certify that no one else at your address is already receiving a Lifeline Program discount.

2. Gathering Necessary Documents

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, you should gather documentation that verifies your qualification for Lifeline. Refer to the lists of accepted documentation earlier in the guide.

Documents should show current enrollment in a qualifying program or that your household income level meets Lifeline requirements. Make copies of your documentation if necessary.

3. Filling out the Application

With your eligibility verified and documents in hand, you can complete the Lifeline Program application form. Below are some tips for filling it out:

  • Choose which phone carrier you want to provide your Lifeline service. Most major carriers participate.
  • Carefully provide required personal information like legal name, birthdate, and home address. This should match your documentation.
  • Indicate if you qualify for Lifeline through a program or income level along with the number of people in your household.
  • Agree to recertify continued eligibility for Lifeline on an annual basis.
  • Answer all questions completely and accurately to avoid processing delays.
  • Sign and date the certification section which authorizes the carrier to access eligibility records if needed.

4. Submitting the Application

Once finished, you will submit the Lifeline application and copies of your eligibility documentation. Many carriers allow you to apply online, in person, or by mail.

For mailed applications, send to the mailing address provided by your carrier of choice. Online submissions will have electronic copies requested. Be sure documents are legible and all personal data is clearly visible.

After submitting, you will receive confirmation from your phone carrier as they review your application.

5. What to Expect After Submission

The carrier has 30 days to process Lifeline Program applications. If your initial submission is incomplete, you may need to provide additional documentation later.

Once approved, you will receive written confirmation of your Lifeline benefit eligibility. At that point, you can select service plans that are discounted by up to $9.25 per month. Plans vary across carriers.

Denials typically occur due to incomplete documentation or not meeting eligibility criteria. If your application is denied, you will also receive written notification indicating the reason along with appeal instructions.

Tips and Suggestions for Successful Application

Applying for Lifeline can seam relatively straightforward. However, there are a few key suggestions that can help ensure your submission is complete and avoid denial or processing delays:

Organizing Documents

  • Make copies of original eligibility documentation rather than submitting the actual benefit cards, letters, etc.
  • Highlight relevant data on documentation such as names, income figures, and program enrollment dates.
  • Double-check that all personal identification matches on both the application and documentation.
  • Keep copies of all completed forms and documentation for your records if needed.

Filling Out the Application

  • Use your full legal name rather than nicknames or abbreviations.
  • Provide the current household address where the Lifeline service will be activated.
  • Read eligibility certifications carefully to ensure they’re accurate.
  • Double check the application for completeness and signatures/initials on all indicated fields.

Asking for Assistance

  • Contact the carrier if you have questions on which documents to provide.
  • Use application assistance programs in your state if needing extra help.
  • Consider authorizing the carrier to access your eligibility databases online to verify your enrollment status.
  • Call carrier support lines for any issues with the application portal or process.

Taking these extra steps helps minimize issues or confusion when submitting Lifeline forms. Having organized documents and complete application information can facilitate quicker approval.

Maintaining Your Lifeline Program Benefits

Once approved for Lifeline, subscribers must complete annual recertification of their eligibility to maintain discounted service benefits. Below are key details on continuing Lifeline qualifications:

  • Carriers must confirm Lifeline subscribers’ eligibility each year, typically on the anniversary of the service’s activation.
  • Subscribers will be notified by their carrier when it is time to recertify continued Lifeline qualification.
  • Current program enrollment documentation or income details must be submitted as part of this annual renewal process.
  • Failing to complete the annual recertification will lead to your Lifeline benefits being stopped, typically within 30 days of non-response.
  • After benefits are terminated due to lack of recertification, subscribers have 60 days to submit paperwork and request reactivation of Lifeline service discounts.

Additionally, Lifeline participants must notify their carrier within 30 days if they no longer qualify for the program due to things like income changes, relocation outside of Tribal lands, etc. This allows the subscriber to avoid penalties or fraud accusations if they fail to report non-compliance.

Overall, properly maintaining eligibility by completing annual renewal certification and promptly reporting status changes enables continuous reception of Lifeline benefits.


Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Lifeline Program application process:

What information is needed to determine my eligibility?

You must provide official documentation showing your annual household income or participation in qualifying assistance programs like Medicaid, SNAP, Federal Public Housing, etc.

What documents should I send with my application?

Please provide copies of benefit cards, award letters, income statements, or tax returns that clearly confirm your name and Lifeline eligibility. Highlight relevant identifying details.

How long does it take to find out if I’m approved?

Carriers have 30 days to process completed Lifeline Program applications and documentation. Once you are determined eligible (or if additional documentation is needed) you will receive written notification by mail.

Can I still apply if I already have phone service?

Yes, you can apply even if you have active phone service. If approved, the Lifeline discount will be applied to your next billing cycle going forward. Discounts last for 12 months before requiring renewal certification.

What if someone else at my address already gets a Lifeline discount?

Unfortunately, Lifeline Program rules prohibit more than one subscriber receiving discounted services per household. Double-check check that no one else at your physical address already has an active Lifeline benefit.

What happens after I’m approved for Lifeline assistance?

Once approved, contact your carrier to select a service plan discounted by the $9.25 monthly Lifeline benefit. Review available plans that fit within your budget and calling/data needs.

Why would my Lifeline application be denied?

The most common reasons for denial are incomplete documentation and not meeting eligibility requirements. Carefully review the criteria and ensure you submit acceptable documents verifying income, program participation, identity, and address details.

Following the guidance across each step outlined here helps simplify applying for and maintaining affordability through the Lifeline Program. Reach out for help if any questions arise throughout the process.

The Future of the Lifeline Program

As we navigate through an increasingly digitized era, potential changes and emerging trends in the Lifeline Program can be envisioned. There’s a growing call for expanding the program to reach more individuals, primarily in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where connectivity has become a dominant factor in education, healthcare, and employment. Experts predict an upward trend in digital dependence in the future. They assert that the Lifeline Program could be instrumental in mitigating the challenges that come along, thereby promoting digital equity significantly.

The Revolutionary Affordable Connectivity Program: A Comprehensive Overview

What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal initiative designed to provide eligible households with financial assistance for broadband services and devices. Managed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the initiative seeks to ensure as many homes as possible can stay connected in a world where virtually everything has gone digital.

The program aligns with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, reinforcing the federal government’s commitment to eliminating connectivity barriers. Through the ACP, families can stay in touch with one another, job search, carry out remote working, access online health services, and engage in virtual learning.

Features of the Affordable Connectivity Program

At the heart of the ACP are financial assistance provisions, offering $30 monthly discounts for broadband services, and a one-time $100 discount for a device, such as a laptop or a tablet. These financial provisions serve to assist households in affording efficient broadband services, fostering digital inclusion, and bridging the digital divide.

Eligibility for the program is defined by several criteria. For instance, at least one member of a household must be a beneficiary of the Lifeline program, or be receiving benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program, or have experienced substantial income loss due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020, among other qualifications.

Coverage components include broadband service, devices (e.g., computers, tablets), and additional services like customer service support and digital literacy programs.

What Does the ACP Offer?

The ACP provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

Broadband Benefits

The ACP provides eligible households with discounts up to $30 per month for internet service. Tribal households may receive discounts up to $75 per month. The discount can be applied to any internet service plan offered by a participating provider.

To qualify for the ACP broadband benefit, household income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines or participate in certain assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, WIC, or Lifeline. Low income households on qualifying Tribal lands have additional ways to qualify for the ACP.

Device Benefits

In addition to the monthly internet discount, eligible households can receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. The ACP can help households that otherwise may not be able to afford the devices required to effectively utilize broadband internet access.

To utilize the one-time device discount, eligible households should check with participating internet service providers in their area to see what device discounts they may offer. Some providers may offer free or heavily subsidized devices to ACP-eligible households. Others may provide a discount code that can be used online or in physical stores (if you, be prepared to verify eligibility at the time of purchase).

The Lifeline Program and ACP

The ACP is the successor program to Lifeline, which provides monthly discounts for landline or wireless phone service. While Lifeline continues to support phone discounts, the ACP now serves as the primary federal program for broadband affordability. In many ways, the ACP provides improved and expanded benefits compared to Lifeline.

A key advantage of the ACP over Lifeline is it provides more substantial discounts—up to $30 per month versus $9.25 per month for Lifeline broadband plans. Additionally, the ACP doesn’t have state-specific eligibility criteria like Lifeline does. The national eligibility standards for the ACP are more uniform and expansive. Households that participate in Tribal assistance programs have more ways to qualify, as well.

How to Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program

Applying for the ACP is straightforward. Interested households can apply online through the program’s official online portal, or mail an application to the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

The required information includes full name, birth date, address, and the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number or tribal identification number. Other relevant information should be provided (such as income-based eligibility or participation in a qualifying program like Lifeline, SNAP, Medicaid, or the free and reduced-price school breakfast/lunch program).

If you’re a part of another government assistance program, the National Verifier will confirm eligibility automatically. But if eligibility can’t be verified automatically, you’ll need to provide documentation to show proof of eligibility.

Once approved, households will receive details on the ACP benefits they qualify for. They can contact any participating internet service provider to select a service plan and apply their ACP discount. For Tribal land households seeking the enhanced $75 monthly benefit, additional documentation may be required to verify residence on Tribal lands.

Impact of the Affordable Connectivity Program

Since its implementation, the ACP has made significant strides in digital inclusivity. Several million households have benefited from the program, many of whom would have otherwise struggled to afford broadband services.

For instance, a family in rural Kentucky, previously struggling with expensive and inconsistent connections, now enjoys reliable internet service, thanks to ACP. An elderly woman in New York, previously cut-off digitally, can now connect with her family and access medical care online. These are just a couple of examples that highlight the significant transformations facilitated by the ACP.

Participating Broadband Service Providers

The ACP offers eligible households discounts on internet service from participating broadband providers. These can include major national companies like AT&T, Spectrum, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Comcast. Many local and regional internet service providers also participate. Across providers, discounted internet plans can utilize technologies like cable, fiber, DSL, satellite, fixed wireless, and mobile wireless.

Eligible households can visit ACPbenefit.org and enter their address to view participating providers in their area from whom they can obtain ACP discounted internet service. The list will include details on the providers’ service area, supported internet technologies, typical download/upload speeds, standard monthly prices, and ACP discounted prices. Comparing details will help an ACP enrolled household select the best participating provider and service plan to meet their connectivity needs and budget.

The Impact and Criticism of ACP

In its first year of launch, the ACP significantly impacted broadband affordability for millions of American households. By May 2022, over 11 million households had enrolled in the program. Internet provider companies reported that ACP service subscribers opted for faster internet plans than the benefits provided through Lifeline. The higher-speed plans better support modern internet usage with multiple devices.

However, the ACP has received criticism regarding the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse. Critics argue that providing subsidies directly to households with inadequate verification protocols could result in benefits going to ineligible households. There are also concerns about the cost of the program if adoption continues to accelerate.

Defenders of the ACP counter that the National Verifier provides robust eligibility checking and that denying or limiting assistance due to unsubstantiated fraud concerns causes more harm than good. The rate at which new households are enrolled in the program is decelerating, showing that ACP enrollment has not spiraled out of control. With affordable broadband access’s myriad socioeconomic benefits, supporters argue the impacts far outweigh the risks.

ACP vs. Other Global Programs

While many countries offer programs aimed at expanding internet access, the ACP’s structure is distinctive. Its generous financial assistance and broad eligibility criteria extend benefits more widely than most similar programs worldwide.

For instance, Canada has a “Connecting Families” initiative offering an internet connection for $10 per month. However, the ACP discount options are more aggressive, covering a wider range of potential recipients. Furthermore, some programs only focus on broadband service, but ACP also provides a computer or tablet discount, further promoting digital inclusion.

Future Outlook for the Affordable Connectivity Program

As the program evolves and expands, anticipated developments include the potential extension in time and scope and the inclusion of more internet provider options. However, the program will face challenges, such as ensuring it reaches all eligible households, particularly in rural and low-income urban areas.

However, the ACP also boasts possible opportunities including reinforcing online education, remote healthcare, and work-from-home arrangements. Additionally, the program could be a decisive step towards national digital inclusiveness.

Understanding AFFF Exposure and VA Claims

Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is a firefighting foam that has been used extensively by the military and civilian firefighters for decades. However, there is growing evidence that exposure to AFFF can cause serious health effects. As a result, firefighters and others are increasingly filing disability claims—for veterans who were exposed during service, you can file with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This article provides an overview of AFFF, how exposure occurs, the health impacts, and how to file an exposure-related VA claim.

What is AFFF?

AFFF is a type of firefighting foam that was first developed in the 1960s by the U.S. Navy. It was designed to quickly extinguish flammable liquid fires, especially fuel fires. AFFF works by forming an aqueous film that spreads across the surface of hydrocarbon fuels that prevents them from reigniting.

Modern AFFF formulations also contain fluorinated surfactants such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These chemicals give AFFF its fire-extinguishing properties. However, PFOS, PFOA, and related per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are also linked to serious health effects in humans and animals.

Exposure Pathways

Firefighters, military personnel, aviation workers, and other emergency responders who have used or been trained to use AFFF may have had direct skin contact with the foam. Clean-up workers may have also had direct contact during remediation of AFFF spills and accidents.

However, research shows that simple proximity to AFFF use can also lead to exposure even if there is no direct contact. PFAS chemicals migrate through soil to groundwater supplies and also spread through the air as a fine mist during fire training or emergency response incidents.

Over decades of widespread use at military sites and civilian airports across the country, PFAS contamination of drinking water has become a national-scale problem. Veterans and civilians living or working on or near locations where AFFF was regularly used may have unknowingly ingested PFAS through contaminated drinking water on the base.

Health Effects

Exposure to PFAS chemicals is linked to serious negative health outcomes in humans and animals:

Short-Term Effects

  • Skin and eye irritation upon direct contact
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea after ingestion

Long-Term Effects

  • Increased risk of certain cancers such as kidney, testicular, and bladder cancer
  • Liver damage
  • High cholesterol
  • Thyroid disease
  • Immune system effects
  • Reproductive issues including infertility and low birth weight

The health effects can take months or years to manifest but are lasting due to the persistence of the chemicals in the body and environment.

Veterans who have experienced health issues connected to AFFF exposure can file claims for disability compensation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). By law, the VA provides disability benefits to veterans with injuries or illnesses that occurred or were aggravated during active military service.

Several major studies have found evidence linking PFAS exposure to serious health conditions that would qualify a veteran for disability compensation:

  • A study in 2018 on PFAS exposure and its effects on health showed that while we need more studies to be done on AFFF and other PFAS exposure, associations between exposure and health problems are strong. High exposure can be linked to cancer, and many effects are manifested in children.
  • Another study in 2022 found that AFFF exposure leads to cellular toxicity and decreased cell proliferation, even in lower concentrations. 

There are also documented cases of VA disability claims being approved due to AFFF exposure:

  • After finally confirming PFAS contamination of groundwater, the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina began notifying veterans who had lived and worked at the base between 1953 and 1987. As a result, veterans who have suffered from AFFF-related health issues like cancer have started to be approved for VA disability benefits.

Veterans seeking compensation for health conditions caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals and materials, like AFFF should take the following steps:

Step 1) Determine if your current health conditions match those scientifically linked to PFAS exposure. Collect documentation of your medical diagnoses.

Step 2) Gather evidence showing you worked with or were exposed to AFFF during your time in service. Service records detailing your occupations and duties may be requested from the VA or your branch of service. Additionally, buddy statements from fellow servicemembers confirming AFFF exposure can support your claim.

For those exposed via drinking water contamination, identify the military base, unit, dates, and length of time you lived on base during the documented contamination period.

Step 3) Submit the VA claim form detailing when, where, and how you were exposed to AFFF, linking this exposure to your current medical conditions. Attach all relevant medical records and exposure evidence.

Step 4) You may request assistance from a veteran’s service representative to help compile documentation and navigate the claims process.

Step 5) After submitting the claim, the VA will review the evidence and schedule a medical exam by a VA doctor to evaluate your disabilities before making a final claims decision.

The entire claims and appeals process can take over a year in complex exposure cases. Having an experienced representative is key, as initial claims are often denied and must proceed through the appeal process.

Current Limitations and Future Possibilities

The VA only recently recognized the harm caused by PFAS exposure, so linking conditions to AFFF can still be challenging for veterans. While some types of claims are now possible, current restrictions around contaminated drinking water claims present difficulties in proving the length of exposure.

However, veteran advocacy groups are lobbying Congress to pass legislation that would provide health care and disability benefits to all veterans exposed to water contamination. Additionally, a centralized PFAS exposure registry could streamline future disability claims.

Continuing research and more state action banning PFAS could also pave the way for more federal support programs for veterans, firefighters, and others affected by AFFF exposure.

AFFF has provided critical fire protection capabilities to our military. However, we now know this came at a great cost to the health of veterans and surrounding communities. Only by thoroughly studying contamination sites, responsibly restricting further AFFF use, and providing health care support to those already affected can we mitigate the damage.

Veterans experiencing health issues possibly related to AFFF exposure should consult their doctors, seek out veterans groups assisting with exposure-related claims, and file claims for VA disability compensation if eligible. Collectively raising awareness about this issue can also help bring about policy changes to better protect current and future servicemembers.

Our Guide to CRDP

Here’s what a monthly military pay chart roughly looks like for VA disability ratings. To find your CRDP rate, add the monthly VA compensation pay to your retirement rate (which varies on several factors, including the time of year you retired). Although there’s no definitive chart for CRDP pay, your disability rating (which must be 50% or higher) factors into the final portion.
See more about VA disability pay.

Estimated CRDP Pay Chart 2024

VA Disability RatingVeteran
(no dependents)
Veteran + Spouse
(no dependents)

If you’ve served 20+ years and have a 50%+ VA disability rating, CRDP enrollment happens automatically without a formal application.

What is CRDP?

Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay allows eligible military retirees to receive a full military retirement pension and VA disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Previously, military retirees’ retirement pay was reduced by the amount of VA disability payments under rules for VA disability offset. CRDP payment eliminates this offset and permits veterans to receive both payments in full.

The CRDP program was established by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2004. It went into effect on January 1, 2004, in response to lobbying efforts by military retiree advocacy groups who argued that veterans were being unfairly penalized by not being able to concurrently receive full retirement and VA benefits. Legislators agreed that eligible retirees should be able to receive both forms of compensation concurrently.

CRDP Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for CRDP, veterans must meet several criteria related to length of service and VA rating:

Veterans who meet all these requirements qualify for the CRDP program. This program allows them to receive full military retired pay and VA disability compensation with no offset. If eligible, veterans do not need to apply for CRDP—enrollment is automatic.

How Long Does It Take to Get Into CRDP?

A military retiree who meets the eligibility criteria should enter the CRDP program immediately upon receiving a VA rating of 50% or higher. In some cases, payments may take 1-2 months to begin coming in full after a rating change. Remember, veterans don’t need to apply separately for CRDP if they qualify based on their retirement and disability status.

Difference Between CRDP and CRSC

Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) has more narrow eligibility focused on combat injuries, while CRDP is available to more retirees based on years served and disability rating. However, CRSC offers better tax savings for eligible veterans.


  • CRDP requires 20+ years of creditable service time. CRSC does not.
  • CRDP requires at least a 50% VA disability rating. CRSC requires a 10% rating.
  • CRSC covers more combat-related disabilities. CRDP eligibility is broader.

Tax Differences

  • CRSC payments are tax-exempt. CRDP payments are taxed.
  • CRDP offers more dependency benefits than CRSC

Four Main Benefits of CRDP

The most significant benefit of the CRDP program is that it allows eligible veterans to receive their full military retirement pension and VA disability benefits concurrently. Key benefits include:

  1. No Offset of Retired Pay

Under CRDP, veterans do not have their military retirement pay reduced by any portion of their VA disability compensation. This avoids the unfair penalty that previously prevented veterans from receiving full compensation for their years of service and any disability sustained.

  1. Dependents Can Receive Benefits

Unlike some other programs, CRDP permits eligible dependents to continue receiving benefits. For example, upon a veteran’s death, their surviving spouse can still receive CRDP dependency and indemnity compensation.

  1. Higher Overall Compensation

Between full military retirement and VA disability payments, CRDP retirees receive substantially higher income than they would if the two programs offset each other. This increased compensation helps improve the quality of life.

  1. Better Tax Treatment Than CRSC

While CRSC offers tax-exempt disability payments, CRDP provides higher overall compensation with more generous dependent benefits. A qualifying military retiree may get higher total benefits with CRDP.

How Do Payments Work?

CRDP-eligible retirees receive two separate payments—one from their military retirement, and one from the VA for disability compensation. These payments are made directly into the veteran’s bank account through direct deposit. Retirees receiving CRDP do not need to re-certify eligibility or check in—the payments happen automatically based on meeting age and time-in-service retirement criteria.

The amount of each monthly payment is determined by the individual’s military retirement calculation and VA disability rating percentage. So a retiree with 75% VA disability would receive their full military pension payment, plus 75% of the VA’s disability compensation amount for a single veteran with no dependents. These amounts adjust with the cost of living increases each year.

Can I Work While on CRDP?

Yes, CRDP does not limit a veteran’s ability to have other employment or earned income. The concurrent payments are considered property earned through previous military service and disability, so they do not impact workforce participation.

What Happens if I Move? Does the Amount Change?

Where retirees live doesn’t impact the amount of CRDP retirement pay or disability compensation they receive. The payments are based on years of military service and disability rating only. To prevent issues with payment delivery, you should notify the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) and VA whenever you change your address.

Do I Have to Reregister if I Move?

Retirees receiving CRDP do not need to re-certify eligibility if they change addresses. It is important to provide updated contact information to DFAS and VA for payment purposes and tax documentation.

In summary, CRDP payments equal full military retired pay plus VA disability compensation with no offset or reductions. These amounts are fixed based on a retiree’s circumstances and do not change with relocation or additional work.

How to Apply for CRDP

Since enrollment in CRDP is automatic based on meeting retirement and disability criteria, no formal application is required. But veterans must complete several steps to establish the underlying qualifications:

1. Ensure 20+ Years of Creditable Service Time

Retirees must have two full decades of service time that counts towards armed forces retirement eligibility. Not all time in uniform may be creditable, so veterans should verify they meet armed forces retirement eligibility before separation.

2. File VA Disability Claim Paperwork

To enter CRDP, veterans must have a VA disability rating of 50% or higher. Submitting thorough claim paperwork with evidence supporting all service-connected conditions is key to achieving a high rating.

3. Review Potential Payment Amounts

Before separation, armed forces members can estimate CRDP payment amounts based on expected military retirement and possible VA ratings. Understanding these projections helps set expectations.

4. Consult Your Retirement Services Officer With Questions

Well before retirement, servicemembers with questions about CRDP qualifications should meet with their designated retirement services officer to ensure they meet the criteria. These officers can also advise members on increasing disabled retirement income.

Impact of CRDP on Military Retirees

The ability to receive full military retirement pay and disability benefit payments concurrently through CRDP delivers major lifestyle impacts for eligible veterans and their families:

Greater Financial Security

CRDP can mean thousands of additional dollars per year without any offset, improving veterans’ ability to cover healthcare, housing, nutrition, transportation, dependent education, and other costs.

Increased Flexibility & Control

Veterans report far greater life flexibility thanks to CRDP enhancing their economic empowerment. Higher and more reliable income reduces stress and uncertainty.

Higher Standard of Living

The increased buying power enabled by CRDP payments without reduction allows qualifying retirees to afford more comfortable housing, reliable vehicles, leisure activities, and other higher living standards.

Reduced Financial Hardship

Eliminating the unfair penalty of getting retirement pay reduced by VA disability funds helps relieve economic hardship for thousands of veteran families. CRDP prevents difficult trade-offs.

In essence, the consolidated retirement and disability compensation facilitated by CRDP provides veterans with greater financial means to live life on their terms. This elevated economic foundation improves tranquility and satisfaction throughout retirement.

Future Implications of CRDP

While CRDP currently can provide a valuable benefit for a disabled veteran, the future direction of the program involves some uncertainty:

Potential Budget Adjustments

If deemed excessively costly overall, legislators could attempt to scale back CRDP. But major changes risk intense political backlash from a powerful voting bloc.

Continued Pressure to Expand Eligibility

Veterans advocacy groups continue lobbying to extend CRDP eligibility to those with disability ratings under 50%. Granting access down to even a 10% rating would grow the budget tremendously.

Disability Rating System Changes

VA modifications to the disability rating process could allow more veterans into CRDP at higher rates. But evidence requirements may also tighten.


Despite over 15 years since CRDP’s inception, some misconceptions still surround this disabled veterans’ retirement income program:

Myth: CRDP is temporary and has an expiration date

Fact: There is no end date or sunset provision to CRDP. It was created without time limitations as an earned veteran benefit.

Myth: CRDP amounts can change or be taken away

Fact: CRDP payments equal full military retirement and VA disability. By law, they cannot be reduced or taken away. Once you’re eligible, the only changes will be annual cost of living increases.

Myth: CRDP stops if you start working

Fact: CRDP concurrent payments are earned benefits that do not change based on retirees having jobs or other income sources. Work freely without payment impacts!

Myth: Spouses lose CRDP eligibility after divorce

Fact: Former spouses married to retirees for 20+ years retain CRDP-dependent benefits even after divorce, though rules vary by state.

Myth: You must reapply for CRDP annually

Fact: Once established, CRDP eligibility extends automatically throughout retirement without any need to re-establish medical status, disability rating, etc. Payments continue for life barring legal status changes.

How You Can Claim Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits (also called unemployment insurance, or UI) is a state-run program that provides short-term income support to people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. The program is funded by state and federal payroll taxes paid by employers.

There are a few main types of unemployment benefits:

  • Regular Unemployment Insurance – Provides a weekly benefit amount for up to 26 weeks in most states. The weekly amount is generally based on a percentage of your earnings over a recent 52-week period.
  • Extended Benefits – During times of high unemployment rates, the state and federal government may provide additional weeks of benefits beyond the regular 26 weeks.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – A temporary federal program that provides benefits to those not traditionally eligible for regular unemployment, like self-employed, gig workers, freelancers, and part-time workers.

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

To receive unemployment benefits, you must meet your state’s unemployment insurance benefit eligibility rules. General requirements include:

Involuntary job loss – You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. This means being laid off, downsized, position eliminated, or fired without cause. Those who voluntarily quit or were fired for cause may not be eligible.

Earned Wages – You must meet your state’s requirements for minimum earnings to establish a benefit payment claim. Most states have an earnings threshold you must meet during a base period, which is usually the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. Requirements range from $130 to $3,400+ over the base period.

Able and Available – You must be physically able to work and actively seeking full-time work. Being unable to work due to health/family reasons or limiting your work search makes you ineligible.

Weekly Eligibility – You must file a weekly claim and report you are still unemployed, able and available for work, and fulfilling the work search requirement. Failing to file or report makes you ineligible for benefits until requirements are met again.

Be sure to understand the specific eligibility details for your state. Requirements can vary so check your state’s unemployment website for specifics.

Preparing to File for Unemployment Benefits

Before you file for unemployment, take time to gather information and understand your state’s rules to make the process as smooth as possible.

A. Gather Required Information

Having this information ready ahead of time will save major delays:

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver’s License/State ID
  • Employment History (including employer names, addresses, dates employed, and reason for separation)
  • Bank account & routing numbers

B. Know your State’s Rules

Each state sets basic rules for eligibility requirements and benefit amounts according to federal guidelines but the specifics can vary. Be sure to check your state’s unemployment website for details like:

  • Base Period – The specific time frame of wages/work history examined to determine your monetary eligibility.
  • Benefit Amounts – Formulas used to calculate your weekly benefit payment if eligible.
  • Work Search Requirement – The specific requirements you must meet each week to show you are actively looking for work. These include how many jobs to apply to, what verification materials to record and submit, exemptions, etc.

Understanding state guidelines upfront allows you to accurately report earnings and job search details – preventing denial of benefits or additional resources down the road. Our blog provides state-specific information as well. Read what we have on unemployment in Utah, Texas, Mississippi, and more.

How to File an Unemployment Claim

You will need to file a claim with the unemployment program in the state where you worked. Here’s how to get started:

A. Where to File

You can file an unemployment claim in one of three ways:

  1. Online – Most states now allow you to file claims and manage benefits online. Check if your state has an online filing system.
  2. Phone – Some states allow filing claims over the phone through an Interactive Voice Response system or with an agent.
  3. Mail – In limited cases, states may allow mailing an application. This is rare as most have moved to online or phone-based systems.

Check to see all the options your state provides and use the method easiest and most convenient for you.

B. Process of Filing

Follow these key steps to file an unemployment claim:

  1. Set up your account – You will need to provide personal details like your Social Security number so the state can verify your identity and work history. Set up login credentials that you will use throughout your claim process.
  2. Complete application – The application will request details on your past employment and income over the base period, your reason for job separation, and your ability and availability to work. Accurately report all details and additional information even if you’re unsure if they affect eligibility.
  3. Submit documentation – Some states require documentation up front to prevent UI fraud. Documents like payroll stubs, a letter of separation from employer, or identification would work. Some states allow submitting documents later in the process if requested.
  4. Get determination – After submitting your application, you will receive a written determination from your state’s labor agency on your eligibility for benefits. This may take 2-4 weeks. If approved, it provides details on your weekly benefit amount and duration.

What to Do After Filing a Claim

After filing, there are still ongoing requirements and processes before you start receiving benefits.

A. The Waiting Period

Most states have an unpaid waiting period of 1-2 weeks after filing before benefit payments begin. This helps reserve funds for those who lose jobs for longer periods. Keep filing your weekly claim and continue your job search during this time; otherwise, the waiting period resets.

B. Maintaining Eligibility

To maintain benefits, states require you to file weekly or biweekly claims reporting:

  • You are still unemployed
  • Actively seeking work based on their guidelines
  • Earned income from temporary work

Failing to file or report accurately could make you ineligible until requirements are met.

C. Understanding Benefit Payments

If approved, benefits are paid weekly or biweekly either via paper checks, mailed debit cards, or direct deposit (depending on state). Payments may show as pending for 5-10 days before funds clear. If issues arise with the payment method or any missing payments, contact the unemployment office immediately.

Keep track of benefits paid to understand when regular benefits may run out. Refer to your state’s policies around extensions in periods of high unemployment.

Potential Challenges and Troubleshooting

While unemployment insurance can provide vital financial help when you lose a job, it does not come without complexities. Stay ahead of potential issues that could delay or deny benefits.

A. Denial of Benefits

You may receive a denial of benefits for reasons like:

  • Voluntarily quitting your last job instead of being laid off
  • Getting fired for a reason
  • Insufficient earnings during the base period
  • Failure to conduct an adequate work search after starting your claim

If denied, immediately review the reason and consider reapplying after 6 weeks if the reason no longer applies. For example, if denied for voluntarily quitting, reapply once employed and laid off from another job.

You can also file an unemployment denial appeal. This will lead to a hearing where you can provide evidence supporting your eligibility. Having a thoroughly documented case increases the chances of winning an appeal.

B. Other Common Issues

  • Identity verification problems due to SSN or name changes
  • Changes in ability to work preventing you from collecting
  • Errors in reporting earnings from temporary work
  • Problems receiving checks or debit cards
  • Not recertifying benefits on schedule

Proactively communicating changes that affect benefits and keeping detailed payment records helps resolve issues faster.

Preparing to Apply

While losing a job brings uncertainty, unemployment benefits offer short-term financial help for those eligible. Keys to a smooth application process include:

  • Gather personal records and understand state rules upfront
  • File complete and accurate weekly benefit claims throughout
  • Keep payment records and report issues immediately

With preparation and diligence, unemployment benefits can provide support exactly when people need it most. Hopefully, this guide better prepares you to successfully apply for and manage this temporary relief program.

If you have lost your job or had hours cut involuntarily, now is the time to apply for unemployment benefits in your state. Even if you are unsure about eligibility, submit an application right away as you have nothing to lose. Ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities to maintain eligibility each week. With unemployment still high, don’t leave this financial assistance on the table.

Finding Available Benefits Even With an OTH Discharge

An other than honorable (OTH) military discharge is the most severe type of administrative discharge. Although less prevalent than the honorable conditions discharge, OTH discharges often stem from bad conduct situations that violate military conduct regulations.

However, it’s important to analyze this topic with compassion. While the circumstances leading to an OTH discharge might be complex, these veterans still have rights.

Understanding Other Than Honorable Discharge

A dishonorable discharge usually occurs when a service member’s conduct substantially deviates from acceptable military behavior, which is also known as willful misconduct. Specific examples of willful misconduct could be security protocol violations, theft, or assault.

The way in which you are discharged from active duty will affect your life as a veteran. An honorable discharge shows that you have performed your duty and upheld military values, and will therefore afford you more advantages in civilian life. An OTH discharge signifies departure from military rules. This will complicate and limit your access to certain veteran benefits. 

Submitting a Character of Discharge Review

A Character of Discharge review is a process used by the VA. They will evaluate a veteran’s military discharge status to determine their eligibility for certain benefits.The VA takes into account the  circumstances surrounding the veteran’s discharge and considers factors such as conduct and service record. This review is an opportunity for veterans with a dishonorable discharge to present their case. If the VA gives a favorable review, these veterans can potentially access benefits typically reserved for those with honorable or general discharges from active duty service.

You can submit a Character of Discharge review through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans can contact their local VA office or visit the VA’s official website for instructions on starting the process. It’s important to gather any relevant documentation or evidence from their military records that supports their case and clearly explains the circumstances surrounding their discharge. By presenting the strongest possible argument, veterans can increase their chances of having their discharge status reevaluated, and their eligibility for certain benefits granted.

Appeal With Help From a Lawyer

Legal assistance can make all the difference for veterans with OTH discharges. Veteran law attorneys can help present cases to the Discharge Review Board. Having a professional on your side will strengthen your case by providing compelling evidence, such as post-discharge rehabilitation and previously unavailable information.

The Discharge Review Board

When considering appeals, the Discharge Review Board typically looks for evidence supporting the veteran’s rehabilitation and any new information that wasn’t available during the original service determination and discharge process. This can include testimonials, medical records, therapy reports, or any documentation demonstrating positive growth since the OTH discharge. Really, what the board wants to see is clear evidence of personal development in the veteran being reevaluated.

If your appeal is denied, know that other financial aid options are still available. For example, veterans may be eligible for state-specific benefits, such as tuition waivers or financial assistance programs. Additionally, some nonprofit organizations and foundations provide grants and scholarships specifically for veterans in need; reach out to veterans’ support organizations or advocacy groups for resources in pursuing help. These alternative sources of financial aid can be another way to receive vital support.

VA Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers various veterans benefits, from VA healthcare and VA disability compensation to education for dependents and home loans. However, eligibility for these benefits typically requires an honorable or general discharge. That said, there are still potential advantages available to them. These VA benefits, such as home loan assistance and certain medical benefits, may be granted case-by-case through a Character of Discharge review. Demonstrating the military service connection of their medical issues can improve their chances of accessing these benefits.

Some accessible benefits might include home loan assistance or medical benefits, provided the veteran can demonstrate the service connection of their medical issues.

Health Benefits

Health care is essential for any veteran. In certain instances, veterans with punitive discharges may qualify for medical or disability benefits under the VA. However, the application process for any VA healthcare or disability benefits may involve, among other military records, a Character of Discharge review, a VA form sometimes used when applying for VA disability benefits.

Education Benefits

The GI Bill provides veterans education benefits and typically requires having been released under honorable conditions. Some veterans with OTH discharges may be able to access these veterans benefits, typically after an appeal or discharge upgrade process. As with many facets of military benefits, the VA can make exceptions under specific circumstances.

Identifying benefits associated with an OTH discharge from active duty service can be strenuous, given the potential complexities of legal processes and situational exceptions. However, it’s crucial to recognize that veterans with a bad conduct discharge may still have access to certain valuable resources, including us here at Benefits.com, to help them earn the benefits they deserve.

Understanding military discharges in all their forms is essential to support veterans’ health, well-being, and post-service productivity. An all-or-nothing approach may undermine the nuanced and often complicated reality of military service.

If you know someone who’s dealing with an OTH discharge, please seek professional assistance to comprehend the potential benefits and legal processes. Empowering yourselves with information and resources may significantly impact post-military life quality. Your service mattered, and understanding the nuances of benefits associated with discharges can make a substantial difference.

Service Providers’ Guide to Using the Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work Program is an employment program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that aims to help Social Security disability beneficiaries return to work. When service providers participate in this program, they expand their clientele while helping disabled individuals secure employment and financial independence.

Understanding the Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work Program allows any qualified Social Security disability beneficiary aged 18-64 to obtain vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other employment services from approved service providers called Employment Networks (ENs). These ENs, including single providers or provider networks, help ticket holders find and retain employment in return for outcome-based payments from SSA’s Ticket Payment System.

To become an Employment Network, the service provider must apply and be approved under one of two systems – as an individual provider network that serves ticket holders directly or as part of an existing EN. Individual EN applicants undergo financial assurance reviews, sign performance agreements, and complete required training.

Major advantages for approved ENs are guaranteed referrals of prescreened, motivated clients and milestone-based payments for achievements like job placements and retention. This performance-based system incentivizes ENs to provide high-quality, outcome-focused services to help clients maximize their work potential.

SSI and Ticket to Work

The Ticket to Work Program is closely related to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, as both are administered by the Social Security Administration and aim to help individuals with disabilities achieve financial independence through disability resources and employment opportunities provided by approved service providers. Service providers participating in the Ticket to Work Program can also assist SSI beneficiaries in securing job placements and retaining employment through outcome-based payments and support services.

Steps to Become a Service Provider

Becoming an individual or member Employment Network involves meeting eligibility criteria, getting approved, and completing requirements – here is a step-by-step overview:

Step 1: Eligibility Checklist

To qualify as an EN, you must:

  • Have experience and capability to provide employment services
  • Have systems to hold and protect data
  • Be accessible to individuals with disabilities
  • Have liability insurance

Step 2: Approval Process

  • Submit an application including details on capabilities, quality assurance, past performance, financial systems, and liability coverage
  • Go through financial assurance reviews and interviews to demonstrate readiness
  • Sign the EN performance agreement to officially become an EN

Step 3: Post-Approval Requirements

Once approved, ENs must complete further requirements:

  • Attend a training session
  • Set up systems to handle program financial administration, reporting, appeals, and more
  • Market services to ticket holders in the area

Carefully evaluating roles within an organization and establishing strong systems for service delivery, data reporting, ongoing quality assurance, and appeal handling are vital to being a successful EN.

Providing Services under the Ticket Program

ENs can provide a range of disability services and employment services to ticket holders including vocational counseling, benefits planning, career guidance, skills assessment, pre-employment training, job matching and placement assistance.

When serving ticket holders, it is essential for ENs to maintain program compliance by:

  • Ensuring services align with what was approved in applications
  • Using SSA reporting systems accurately and in a timely manner
  • Monitoring service quality and uphold employee qualifications
  • Meeting payment system requirements in order to receive payments

Recommended best practices for service delivery include:

  • Conducting comprehensive assessments to set work readiness goals
  • Creating Individual Work Plans to map clients’ goals, needs and services
  • Leveraging partnerships with American Job Centers to supplement services
  • Providing work incentives planning to ease concerns over losing benefits
  • Using evidence-based interventions tailored to the individual needs of each disability recipient
  • Measuring progress frequently and adjusting approaches as needed
  • Celebrating small wins to build confidence

Common challenges in service delivery include:

Reluctance from ticket holders: Employment Networks can address reluctance from potential clients by offering personalized support, directly focusing on client concerns about losing their disability benefit, and emphasizing the positive impact employment has on financial independence and overall well-being. By tailoring services to each client, ENs can help individuals overcome barriers to participation in the Ticket to Work Program.

Work History Gaps: ENs can assist their job seeker in addressing gaps in work history through skill assessments, pre-employment training, and job placement support. By providing personalized guidance, ENs can help each individual overcome barriers and build confidence in re-entering the workforce successfully. Also, working closely with American Job Centers can provide more services for addressing gaps in work history effectively.

Employers’ Misconceptions About Disabilities: Misconceptions include assumptions that individuals with disabilities are less productive or reliable, which can lead to discrimination in the hiring process. EN service providers can help combat these misconceptions by educating employers on disability rights and discrimination, providing resources for disability benefits and creating inclusive work environments, and highlighting stories of disabled individuals who are qualified for jobs. Create an environment of understanding and inclusivity to help bridge the gap between employers and qualified candidates from the Ticket to Work Program.

Difficulty Prioritizing Services with Limited Resources: It’s crucial to adjust strategies to ensure effective use of your disability resources continually. Focus on efficient resource allocation, streamline processes based on impact, and implement evidence-based practices to maximize outcomes within constraints.

To address these and other challenges, ENs should focus on building trust with ticket holders, offering tailored support, educating employers on disability accommodations, and optimizing resource allocation for maximum impact. By proactively addressing these issues, service providers can effectively navigate obstacles in service delivery under the Ticket to Work Program.

Navigating the Payment System

SSA administers an outcome-payment system to incentivize ENs – as clients hit milestones, ENs receive compensation:

  • Ticket Assignment Payments: Payments for assigning ticket holders to an EN
  • Outcome Payments: Larger payments are issued as clients hit job placement and retention milestones

To receive payments, ENs must register assigned ticket holders through SSA reporting systems. As ENs help ticket holders achieve work goals, they intermittently submit payment requests to get compensated based on those outcomes.

Tips for tracking and reporting data include:

  • Compiling detailed documentation on service delivery and achievements
  • Maintaining accurate records in reporting systems
  • Developing internal processes to request and reconcile payments
  • Setting reminders for key payment request deadlines
  • Verifying payment details on Monthly Payment Statements

With sound reporting protocols, ENs can take advantage of the work incentive-based model to increase their earning potential.

Marketing Your Services

Effective marketing helps ENs educate prospective ticket holders on available services and employment opportunities. Some good marketing tactics include:

  • Promoting services at disability job fairs and employment events
  • Presenting at local Social Security offices about the Ticket Program
  • Building relationships with vocational counselors and staff at disability service agencies to facilitate referrals
  • Using search engine optimization strategies to boost web visibility
  • Leveraging social media platforms to share career resources and inspirational client success stories
  • Highlighting key differentiators like work incentive expertise

Digital marketing helps ENs expand their reach in a budget-friendly manner while strategic partnerships enable tapping into key referral networks.


What qualifications do we need to apply as an EN?

EN applicants must show that they can deliver suitable employment services and meet financial assurance criteria. Individual providers require a year of operating experience in employment services with disability expertise.

Do we need specialized staff to serve ticket holders?

Not necessarily. Your staff must demonstrate core competencies, but specific disability certifications are not required currently. You can access SSA training and resources to build disability employment knowledge.

How many ticket holders do we need to serve?

There are no minimum service requirements currently. The number served depends on your staff’s capabilities and service area size. Smaller ENs can successfully operate by strategically partnering with American Job Centers.

What reporting is required for payments?

ENs must submit monthly reports on services delivered, outcomes achieved based on approved milestones, changes in ticket assignment status, and more. Accurate reporting is required to receive payments.

How much can an EN earn from the payments?

Aggregate payments vary based on milestones achieved across your client roster. Small ENs with limited staff may earn anywhere from $15,000-$65,000+ annually while larger networks may earn over $1 million.

Can an individual provider join an existing EN?

Yes, individual providers can apply to join larger, established ENs as member providers instead of managing the entire compliance system alone. This enables leveraging shared resources.

What types of services can an EN provide?

ENs can deliver a mix of employment support services spanning across benefits counseling, assessment, skills training, career guidance, job placement help, workplace accommodations coordination, and long-term retention support.

60% VA Disability Rating: Pay and Benefits for 2024

If you satisfy the requirements, you may be eligible for disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A 60% VA disability rating enables veterans to obtain monthly compensation payments with a base pay of $1,361.88. Having a spouse, kids, or other dependents may entitle you to additional benefits.

Ratings for compensation are determined as percentages upon the VA’s receipt of a claim. This post will assist you in accurately figuring out how much money you can acquire after obtaining a 60% VA disability rating. We’ll also review additional VA benefits, such as employment, home loans, and health care assistance.

What Is 60% VA Disability?

A 60% VA disability rating is a rate determined by the VA for compensation. Veterans who sustained injuries while serving in the military are eligible to receive disability benefits from the VA. Disability ratings from the VA indicate how much disability aid a qualified veteran can receive.

Eligible veterans must be physically or mentally ill and have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training to qualify for VA disability benefits. Furthermore, one of the following must be accurate:

  • You must be able to connect your current condition to an injury or illness that you sustained while in the military (in-service disability claim).
  • Your service in the military worsened an existing illness or injury you had before joining (pre-service disability claim).
  • After ending service, a related disability or injury appeared (post-service disability claim).

VA disability ratings range from 0% to 100%, increasing in 10% increments. You can benefit from increased compensation rates with a 60% rating, particularly if you have a spouse, dependents, or children.

How Much Can You Get With 60% VA Disability?

Based on 2024 veteran disability compensation rates, an individual with a 60% VA rating can obtain $1,361.88 monthly ($16,342.56 yearly) if they do not have dependents. Compensation figures without dependents are called basic monthly rates. Here are additional VA basic monthly rates:

2024 VA Disability Rating Breakdown
10%$171.23 per month
20%$338.49 per month
30%$524.31 per month
40%$755.28 per month
50%$1,075.16 per month
60%$1,361.88 per month
70%$1,716.28 per month
80%$1,995.01 per month
90%$2,241.91 per month
100%$3,737.85 per month

60% VA Disability With Dependents

You are entitled to additional compensation if you have dependents and a 60% VA disability rating. The rate can go up or down depending on your dependents — children, parents, or a spouse. 

The breakdowns for veterans with varying dependent circumstances and 60% VA disability pay rates are below. Discover your monthly pay rate and how much you can receive based on your living situation.

60% VA Disability Pay Rates Without Children

You can qualify for additional benefits if you are childless and have a 60% VA disability rating. Veterans who have dependent parents or a spouse receive more significant compensation from the VA.

  • Veteran with spouse only: $1,486.88
  • Veteran with spouse and one parent: $1,586.88
  • Veteran with spouse and two parents: $1,686.88
  • Veteran with one parent: $1,461.88
  • Veteran with two parents: $1,561.88
  • Add for a spouse receiving Aid and Attendance: +$114

60% VA Disability Pay Rates With Children

Additional compensation is available if you have children and a 60% VA disability. There are set payments for different types of family situations. If a veteran has more than two children, their compensation may change based on the age of the children and whether they are enrolled in an eligible educational program. 

Find out how much more you could be eligible for and how to add a dependent to your benefits.

  • Veteran with spouse and child: $1,577.88
  • Veteran with child only: $1,444.88
  • Veteran with spouse, one parent, and child: $1,677.88
  • Veteran with spouse, two parents, and child: $1,777.8
  • Veteran with one parent and child: $1,544.88
  • Veteran with two parents and child: $1,644.88
  • Add for each additional child under 18: $62
  • Add for each additional child 18+ in a qualifying school program: $200
  • Add for a spouse receiving Aid and Attendance: +$114

Additional 60% VA Disability Benefits

For those who receive a 60% rating for VA disability, additional benefits are available. In addition to monthly pay, other services include health care, home loans, employment, pension, and disability benefits from Social Security.

VA Health Care Benefits

Veterans can receive basic health care services from the VA. Preventative, inpatient hospital, urgent care, and emergency services are all covered by benefits. In addition, the VA provides the following medical health care services:

  • Acute care
  • Assisted living and home health
  • Audiology
  • Blood work
  • Genetic disease counseling
  • Health education
  • Health exams
  • Immunization
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Mental health
  • Oncology
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescriptions
  • Prosthetics
  • Specialized care
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays and ultrasounds

The VA can also provide coverage for dental and vision care in addition to previously mentioned treatments. Cosmetic surgery, health club memberships, and medications and medical devices not approved by the FDA are not covered.

LGBTQ+ Services: For those who might need extra assistance, the VA provides an LGBTQ+ health program. Two benefits accessible to veterans include PrEP for those at risk for HIV and gender-affirming hormone therapy. Every VA institution has specialized LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinators on staff.

VA Additional Health Care Services

The VA provides additional care services for veterans’ general health and well-being. The Veterans Transportation Service is available to help those who require assistance traveling for appointments. If you need assistance traveling for medical care, you can also receive beneficiary travel benefits. For veterans in need, additional health services include:

VA Home Loans

The VA can help service members and veterans find housing. To improve your chances of approval, the VA partners with private lenders, guaranteeing a percentage of the loan. Not only are there no closing costs and no down payment requirements, but private mortgage insurance (PMI) is also unnecessary.

The VA uses a service member’s or veteran’s length of service to determine eligibility. Visit VA.gov to apply for a VA home loan and get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Grants for adaptive housing are also available for people who need to change their current residences.

Veteran Readiness and Employment

Formerly known as the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, the Veteran Readiness and Employment program helps eligible veterans connect with possible employers. Benefits also include education and training that raise the desirability of employment.

Several track programs are available to assist veterans in finding new employment, starting a business, or returning to their previous jobs. Long-term service and independent living tracks are offered for disabled veterans to assist them in living their best lives without restrictions.

VA Pension Benefits

Veterans who meet the requirements can benefit from the VA’s Pension program. You might qualify if you meet the specified income and net worth thresholds, are above a particular age, or have a disability. You have to meet these requirements to be eligible for the Veterans Pension program:

Both of these statements must be true:

  • You have not been dishonorably discharged.
  • You have an income and net worth that falls within limits set by Congress.

One of these statements must be true:

  • You began active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days with at least one day during wartime.
  • You served active duty after September 7, 1980, for at least 24 months or the entire period for which you were called with at least one day during wartime.
  • You were an officer on duty after October 16, 1981, and have not been on duty for at least 24 months.

One of these statements must be true:

  • You are 65 or older.
  • You have a permanent disability.
  • You’re in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability.
  • You are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Two alternatives are available to veterans seeking disability insurance: VA Disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Veterans who contracted a disease or sustained an injury while serving in the military may be eligible for VA disability benefits. If you cannot work due to an impairment, you are eligible to apply for SSDI; your military service is not a prerequisite.

You can also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in addition to SSDI. While SSI and SSDI might sound similar, the former was created to assist older adults with low incomes and resources and those with impairments. The goal of the latter (SSDI) is to help people with disabilities based on their employment history and Social Security contributions.

Frequently Asked Questions

If your disability rating is 60% and you would like to receive compensation, you might have more questions about the process. THere are some of the most frequent queries about disability ratings and VA benefits.

What Can I Do If I’m Rated at 60% and Cannot Work? 

If your VA rating is 60% and you cannot work, you can qualify for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). You may then receive pay equivalent to a 100% VA rating.

How Do I Increase My VA Rating From 60% to 100%?

If your condition worsens, your rating could go from 60% to 100%; however, you have to reapply to the VA to determine if your rating needs to be changed. If you cannot work, the VA may provide additional benefits through the TDIU program equal to a 100% rating.

Are Veterans Rated at 60% Eligible for TDIU?

If a veteran’s long-term illness keeps them from working, they may qualify for the TDIU program if their rating is 60%. Veterans whose ailments are expected to become better over time will not be eligible for TDIU because the program is designed for permanent problems only.

Is the 60% Disability Rating Permanent?

A 60% disability rating is not permanent, and you can reevaluate your status anytime with the VA. If your condition worsens, consider submitting a new claim to see if your rating may increase, making additional compensation available.

Learn More About Your VA Disability Eligibility 

To live your best life, you must understand your 60% VA rating and the available benefits. Use our VA disability calculator to find your disability pay and ensure you aren’t leaving money on the table. Take our Veteran Disability Rating quiz to learn more and get started if you’re unsure about your benefits.

80% Disability Rating: Pay and Benefits for 2024

You may be able to claim disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you are a qualifying veteran. Veterans with an 80% VA disability rating can receive substantial annual and monthly payments. You can also acquire additional benefits for having a spouse, children, or other dependents.

Compensation ratings are calculated as percentages after filing a claim with the VA. Once you have a rating, this article will help you determine precisely how much money you can get. We’ll also review additional 80% VA disability benefits, including health care, home loans, and employment opportunities.

What Is 80% VA Disability?

An 80% VA disability rating is a compensation rate determined by the VA. The VA provides disability benefits for veterans who suffered injuries while serving in the military. The VA offers veterans a disability rating, representing the amount of disability assistance they can claim.

To be eligible for VA disability compensation, a veteran must have a current mental or physical illness and have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. Additionally, one of the following statements must be true:

  • You must be able to connect your current condition to an injury or illness that you sustained while in the military (in-service disability claim).
  • Your service in the military worsened an existing illness or injury you had before joining (pre-service disability claim).
  • After ending service, a related disability or injury appeared (post-service disability claim).

An 80% VA disability rating on the compensation chart is relatively high; the VA disability rating ranges from 0% to 100%, increasing by 10% increments. An 80% rating enables you to take advantage of higher compensation rates, particularly concerning having children, dependents, or a spouse.

How Much Can You Get With 80% VA Disability?

Based on 2024 veteran disability compensation rates, an individual with an 80% VA rating can obtain $1,995.01 monthly ($23,940.12 yearly) if they have no dependents. Disability compensation figures without dependents are called basic monthly rates. Here are additional VA basic monthly rates:

2024 VA Disability Rating Breakdown
10%$171.23 per month
20%$338.49 per month
30%$524.31 per month
40%$755.28 per month
50%$1,075.16 per month
60%$1,361.88 per month
70%$1,716.28 per month
80%$1,995.01 per month
90%$2,241.91 per month
100%$3,737.85 per month

80% VA Disability With Dependents

If you have an 80% VA disability rating and dependents, you are eligible for additional compensation. The rate may increase or decrease depending on your dependents, such as children, parents, or a spouse. 

Below are breakdowns for veterans with 80% VA disability pay rates and different dependent situations. Discover your monthly pay rate and see how much compensation you may be entitled to claim.

80% VA Disability Monthly Pay Rates Without Children 

If you have an 80% VA disability rating and no children, you may be eligible for additional compensation. The VA provides veterans with dependent parents or spouse compensation at a higher rate. 

  • Veteran with spouse only: $2,161.01
  • Veteran with spouse and one parent: $2,294.01
  • Veteran with spouse and two parents: $2,427.01
  • Veteran with one parent: $2,128.01
  • Veteran with two parents: $2,261.01
  • Add for a spouse receiving Aid and Attendance: +$153

80% VA Disability Monthly Pay Rates With Children

If you have an 80% VA disability and children, additional compensation is available. Set rates are available for a variety of family scenarios. Compensation for veterans with more than two children may vary depending on whether the child is under or over 18 and in a qualifying school program. 

See how much additional money you may qualify for and learn how to add a dependent to your benefits.

  • Veteran with child only: $2,106.01
  • Veteran with spouse and child: $2,283.01
  • Veteran with spouse, one parent, and child: $2,416.01
  • Veteran with spouse, two parents, and child: $2,549.01
  • Veteran with one parent and child: $2,239.01
  • Veteran with two parents and child: $2,372.01
  • Add for each additional child under 18: +$82
  • Add for each additional child 18+ in a qualifying school program: +$267
  • Add for a spouse receiving Aid and Attendance: +$153

Additional 80% VA Disability Benefits

Additional benefits are available for individuals with an 80% VA disability benefit rating. Beyond monthly compensation, additional services provide health care, home loans, employment, pension, and Social Security disability benefits.

VA Basic Health Care Benefits

The VA provides basic health care services for veterans. Benefits cover preventative, inpatient hospital, urgent care, and emergency services. Here are some of the basic medical health care services covered by the VA:

  • Health exams
  • Health education
  • Immunization
  • Genetic disease counseling
  • Surgeries
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Acute care
  • Specialized care
  • Mental health
  • Assisted living and home health
  • Prescriptions
  • Blood work
  • X-rays and ultrasounds
  • Physical therapy
  • Prosthetics
  • Audiology
  • Oncology

In addition to the services noted above, the VA may offer coverage for vision and dental care. Services not covered include cosmetic surgery, health club memberships, and medicines and medical devices not approved by the FDA.

LGBTQ+ Services: For those who might need extra assistance, the VA provides an LGBTQ+ health program. Two benefits accessible to veterans include PrEP for those at risk for HIV and gender-affirming hormone therapy. Every VA institution has specialized LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinators on staff.

VA Additional Health Care Services

The VA offers veterans additional care services for their overall health and well-being. If you need assistance getting to appointments, the Veterans Transportation Service can assist. Beneficiary travel benefits are also available if you require help traveling for treatment. Other health services available to veterans in need include:

VA Home Loans

The VA can assist veterans and service members in obtaining homes. The VA works with private lenders, guaranteeing a portion of the loan to help increase your odds of approval. You won’t require a down payment on your home, and there are limited closing costs; additionally, you will not need private mortgage insurance (PMI).

The VA determines eligibility by a service member or veteran’s length of service. Apply for a VA home loan at VA.gov, where you can obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Adapted housing grants are also available for those needing modifications to their existing homes.

Veteran Readiness and Employment

The Veteran Readiness and Employment program, formerly known as the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, can help eligible veterans connect with potential employment opportunities. Benefits also cover education and training needs that increase employment desirability.

Multiple track programs are available, helping veterans return to former jobs, find new careers, or start a business. For veterans with disabilities, long-term service and independent living tracks are available to help you live your best life without limitations.  

VA Pension Benefits

Eligible veterans can take advantage of the VA’s Pension program. If you are over a certain age or have a disability and fall within the outlined income and net worth limits, you may qualify. To qualify for the Veterans Pension program, you must pass these requirements:

Both of these statements must be true:

  • You have not been dishonorably discharged.
  • You have an income and net worth that falls within limits set by Congress.

One of these statements must be true:

  • You began active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days with at least one day during wartime.
  • You served active duty after September 7, 1980, for at least 24 months or the entire period for which you were called with at least one day during wartime.
  • You were an officer on duty after October 16, 1981, and have not been on duty for at least 24 months.

One of these statements must be true:

  • You are 65 years old or older.
  • You have a permanent disability.
  • You’re in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability.
  • You receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Social Security Disability Benefits

For veterans seeking disability insurance, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and VA Disability are two options. Veterans can qualify for VA Disability if they acquired an injury or illness from military service. You can acquire SSDI if you have an impairment that prevents your ability to work; it does not need to be related to your military service.

In addition to SSDI, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Comparing SSI vs. SSDI, the former was designed to help individuals with disabilities and older persons with limited income and resources. The latter was intended to support those with disabilities based on their work history and Social Security contributions.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have an 80% disability rating and want compensation, you may have additional questions about the process. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions concerning disability ratings and VA compensation.

What Can I Do if I’m Rated at 80% and Cannot Work? 

If you have an 80% VA rating and cannot work, you may be eligible for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits. As a result, your compensation may increase to that of a 100% VA rating.

Is It Easy To Go From 80% to 100% VA Disability?

A rating may increase from 80% to 100% if your condition worsens; however, you must reapply to the VA to see if your rating needs to be adjusted. The VA may offer additional benefits equivalent to a 100% equivalent level if you cannot work via the TDIU program.

Are Veterans Rated at 80% Eligible for TDIU?

Veterans rated at 80% may be eligible for the TDIU program if they have a long-lasting condition that prevents them from working. Veterans with conditions likely to improve over time will not qualify for TDIU, as the program focuses on permanent conditions.

Learn More About Your VA Disability Eligibility

Learning about the VA benefits available to you and understanding your percentage rating is critical to living your best life. If you have an 80% VA rating, use our VA disability calculator to determine your disability pay and ensure you aren’t leaving any money behind. 
If you’re unsure of your benefits, take our Veteran Disability Rating quiz to learn more and get started. You fought for our freedom; let us take care of your benefits.

How Does the Ticket to Work Program Work?

The Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (AKA Ticket to Work) is a branch of Social Security that helps beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) find employment opportunities, increasing self-sufficiency and fulfillment. For Social Security beneficiaries who a) have disabilities, and b) are aged 18 to 64. The program was created under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-170). Under the program, disabled beneficiaries can access employment and career-building services from authorized service providers known as Employment Networks.

SSI/SSDI beneficiaries are usually eligible until increased earnings phase out their Social Security benefits, or until their health improves and they’re no longer disabled under Social Security guidelines. Eligibility may also end if they fail to make timely progress in pursuing the return to work goal.

How Does the Ticket to Work Program Work?

The step-by-step process looks like this:

  1. You receive a “Ticket” in the mail once the Social Security Administration determines that you meet the eligibility criteria.
  2. You choose an Employment Network that serves your area and provides services suited to your employment goals.
  3. You and your Employment Network complete an Individual Work Plan that maps out your return to work path.
  4. You begin receiving employment services and support according to the Individual Work Plan.
  5. Once you start working and earning wages, you notify the SSA, and your disability benefits are adjusted accordingly.
  6. You continue working with your Employment Network and the SSA to manage your Social Security benefits as your earnings fluctuate.

The Social Security Administration handles eligibility determinations, issues Tickets, adjusts disability benefits, tracks beneficiaries’ progress, and also recruits, trains, and supports the Employment Networks.

Advantages of the Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work program offers several invaluable advantages to disabled Social Security beneficiaries seeking employment opportunities:

More Control Over the Return to Work Process

The Ticket program empowers beneficiaries to choose their own Employment Networks, set their own career goals, and get personalized services tailored to their individual needs. This gives disabled individuals much more control over their job placement and return to work process.

Wide Range of Vocational Services

Depending on the Employment Network you choose, beneficiaries can access a whole range of employment resources including vocational evaluation, skills training, education, job coaching, resume writing, and interview preparation.

Continued Healthcare Support

Even when earnings are high enough to phase out cash benefit payments, most beneficiaries who participate in the Ticket program retain eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid health insurance coverage. This continued health protection makes career advancement less risky.

Gradually Transition Off Benefits

As wages and other earned income rise, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income payments gradually decline through a carefully calculated formula, creating a smooth transition period instead of an abrupt loss of income.

No Time Limit

There is no time limit on using a Ticket and returning to work at your own pace. Tickets remain valid until employment and earned income are high enough to completely eliminate disability services and payments. 

Possible Challenges with the Ticket to Work Program

While the many advantages are numerous, some beneficiaries do face challenges when using a ticket to return to work. Understanding these obstacles is essential so they can be properly addressed and overcome.

Health Issues Resurfacing

For some disabled individuals trying to return to work, existing medical issues may recur or new ones may arise. Flare-ups can force them to take time off and/or reduce hours, making substantial gainful activity harder to achieve.


Another complication happens if you don’t record or report changes in work status. This can sometimes result in benefit overpayments that must later be repaid. Knowledge of the reporting rules and maintaining frequent contact with SSA caseworkers greatly reduces overpayment occurrences.

Work Incentives Expiring

Disabled beneficiaries who participate in the Ticket program take advantage of various work incentives that allow them to retain cash benefit and healthcare coverage while working. However, some of these incentives do expire after several years. Losing these protections can increase anxiety about losing benefits altogether. Proper planning for when incentives run out is key to a smooth transition period.

Here are some solutions and advice for dealing with the above challenges:

  • Maintain comprehensive health insurance through private carriers or public options even when Medicare/Medicaid coverage expires
  • Build up a cash safety net by saving a portion of each paycheck as rainy-day reserves
  • Check in regularly with SSA caseworkers and Employment Network counselors about work incentive timelines
  • Research state and local service programs that assist disabled citizens in transitioning to independence


What are the program’s income limits?

There are technically no income limits. Beneficiaries at all earning levels can use a Ticket to obtain service. Even very high earners receiving just $1 per month in SSI cash benefits retain full Ticket eligibility.

Can I lose my healthcare benefits because of the Ticket program?

In most cases, participation in the Ticket program guarantees the continuation of your healthcare coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, even if your cash benefits phase down to $0 because your work earnings increased substantially.

Is there a time limit for using my Ticket?

No, your Ticket remains active and valid for as long as you receive Social Security disability benefits and are making timely progress in pursuing your personalized return to work plan.

Can I receive other vocational rehabilitation services in my state in addition to the Ticket program?

Yes, using your Ticket does not impact eligibility for other rehabilitation and employment support programs and disability services offered through state agencies, nonprofit organizations, or even private service provider companies. The services simply need to complement each other.

What if an Employment Network no longer wishes to work with me?

You have the right to take your Ticket and assign it to another Employment Network more suited to your needs. As long as you still meet the disability criteria under Social Security guidelines, your Ticket always remains valid.

Can family members use my Ticket if I’m medically unable to work?

No, Tickets are only issued directly to eligible Social Security disability beneficiaries. The services are tailored specifically for assisting the disabled individual participant in finding employment opportunities.

How to Apply for the Ticket to Work Program

Applying for the Ticket to Work program is straightforward. Here is an outline of the application process:

  1. Confirm your eligibility by verifying that you receive SSI or SSDI benefits, are between the ages of 18 and 64, and meet Social Security’s disability criteria
  2. Notify a Social Security Administration representative that you wish to participate in the Ticket program
  3. Complete any necessary application forms or questionnaires about your work goals
  4. Submit medical records or physician reports if requested to establish current health status
  5. Provide updated contact information including mailing address and phone number
  6. Wait 4-6 weeks to receive your Ticket by mail with instructions on next steps

Remember, participation is completely voluntary but does provide valuable incentives and protections. Once active in the program, you must make timely progress on your return to work plan or risk Ticket suspension. Tickets can be easily reactivated however by simply notifying the SSA.

Role of Employment Networks in the Ticket to Work Program

Authorized Employment Networks (ENs) play a pivotal role in guiding beneficiaries through their return to work journey under the Ticket program.

Employment Networks have extensive knowledge regarding Social Security disability benefits rules. They understand how increases in wages impact your cash payments and healthcare coverage. Most importantly, ENs provide access to vocational rehabilitation experts, career counselors, skills trainers, and job developers.

Your Authorized Employment Network helps assess your current skills and interests, find good employment goals, and then map out steps to reach those goals. This guidance combined with ongoing employment support and job placement assistance has proven invaluable for hundreds of thousands of Social Security beneficiaries working towards financial independence.

As your earnings grow over time and reliance on disability benefits slowly declines, your EN will continue to check in on your progress. They will help ensure that incentives are used properly, healthcare coverage continues, and any potential issues with benefits or payments are addressed promptly. Using your EN will smooth out the process and get you on the right path.

What to Know About 70% VA Disability

Veterans who have a 70 percent VA disability might be eligible for certain benefits. A special system is used to calculate a veteran’s disability rating and takes combined disabilities into account. Read on to find out more about 70 percent VA disability benefits.

Overview of the VA Disability Rating System

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assesses disabilities and determines disability ratings through the VA’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD). The VASRD is a comprehensive set of guidelines that assigns disability ratings based on the severity of a veteran’s service-connected disabilities. Here are the key factors that contribute to the overall disability rating:

Service connection

To receive VA disability benefits, a veteran must establish a connection between their current condition and an injury, illness, or event that occurred during their military service.

Impairment rating

Each service connected disability is assigned an impairment rating on the Veterans Affairs disability scale. These ratings fall between 0 to 100, in increments of 10. More severe disabilities receive higher ratings.

Combined ratings

If a veteran has multiple service-connected disabilities, the VA uses a formula to calculate the overall disability rating and benefit amount.

Severity of symptoms

The severity of symptoms associated with a particular disability is a critical factor in determining the disability rating. Medical evidence, including examination reports and relevant medical records, is used to assess the impact of the disability on the veteran’s daily life and ability to work.

Occupational and social impairment

The VASRD considers how a disability affects a veteran’s ability to perform activities of daily living, including work. This assessment takes into account the impact on occupational and social functioning.

Periodic re-evaluation

Disability ratings are not necessarily permanent. In some cases, the VA may schedule periodic re-evaluations to assess whether a veteran’s condition has improved, worsened, or remained stable.

Extra-schedular ratings

In certain cases where the VASRD does not adequately account for the impact of a disability on an individual veteran, the VA may assign an extra-schedular rating. This is an additional or higher rating determined based on the unique circumstances of the case.

Special considerations

Certain disabilities, such as those related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI), may have specific criteria and assessment processes to determine the appropriate disability rating.

Decoding the 70 Percent Disability Rating

The criteria for a 70 percent VA disability rating and any potential VA disability compensation may vary based on the specific medical conditions and impairments assessed by Veterans Affairs. Please note that these disability criteria may be subject to change, so it’s essential to refer to the latest VA guidelines or consult with a VA representative for the most up-to-date information.

Here are some general principles that could contribute to a 70 percent VA disability rating:

·         Individual disabilities.

·         Impairment in occupational functioning.

·         Specific medical conditions.

·         Functional limitations.

·         Treatment requirements.

·         Social and occupational impairment.

It’s important to note that the specific criteria for a 70 percent VA disability rating can vary based on the nature of the medical conditions and the individual circumstances of the veteran. Additionally, the VA periodically updates its rating criteria, so it’s advisable to consult the latest resources or seek guidance from a VA representative for the most accurate and current information.

Understanding Combined Disability Ratings

The VA’s rating system takes into account the impact of multiple disabilities on a veteran’s overall ability to work and function. The process involves several steps and considerations:

Individual disabilities evaluation

Veterans undergo medical examinations to assess the severity of each service connected disability.

The results of these examinations, along with supporting medical evidence, are used to establish the initial disability ratings for each condition.

Combined ratings table

The VA uses a Combined Ratings Table to combine individual disability ratings. This table considers the degree of disability for each condition and provides a single, overall disability rating.

The combination is not a simple sum of percentages but follows a formula designed to account for diminishing returns as disability levels increase.

Consideration of the ‘Bilateral Factor’

In cases where a veteran has disabilities affecting paired organs or extremities (e.g., both eyes, both knees), the VA may apply a “bilateral factor” to account for the interdependence of these conditions. This can result in a higher combined disability rating.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Veterans may be eligible for a Special Monthly Compensation rate in addition to their regular disability compensation if they have specific, more severe disabilities. SMC is intended to provide additional compensation for exceptional circumstances, such as the loss of use of a limb or organ.

Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

Veterans who are unable to secure and keep substantially gainful employment due to their service-connected disabilities may be eligible for a Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) rating.

TDIU allows veterans to receive compensation at the 100% disability rate, even if their combined disability rating is less than 100%.

Impact of a 70 Percent Disability Rating on Benefits

The practical implications of a 70 percent disability rating for veterans can have significant effects on their lives, providing them with various benefits and support. Here are some practical implications and benefits associated with a 70 percent disability rating:

Compensation benefits

Veterans with a 70 percent disability rating are entitled to receive VA disability compensation for disabilities. The compensation amount is determined by the VA and is intended to provide financial support to veterans who are unable to work or face challenges due to their service-connected disabilities.

Healthcare benefits

Veterans with a 70 percent disability rating are eligible for comprehensive healthcare benefits through the VA. This includes access to medical services, prescription medications, and specialized care for their service-connected disabilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services

The VA’s VR&E program assists veterans with service connected disabilities in preparing for, finding, and maintaining suitable employment. Veterans rated at 70 percent or higher may qualify for these services to help them re-enter the workforce or pursue new career paths.

Dependents’ benefits

Veterans with a 70 percent disability rating may be eligible for additional compensation if they have qualifying dependents, such as a spouse, children, or dependent parents. The amount can vary based on the number of dependents and their specific circumstances.

Educational benefits

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides educational benefits to veterans. Veterans with a 70 percent disability rating or higher may qualify for additional financial support, including a higher monthly housing allowance.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Veterans with severe disabilities may qualify for Special Monthly Compensation, an additional benefit to address the unique challenges associated with certain disabilities. This compensation is in addition to the standard disability compensation.

Housing assistance

Some veterans with a 70 percent disability rating may qualify for adapted housing grants to help them purchase or modify a home to accommodate their disabilities. The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) and Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) programs are designed for this purpose.

Automobile allowance

Veterans with certain service-connected disabilities may be eligible for an automobile allowance to assist with the purchase of an adaptive vehicle or to cover the cost of modifying an existing vehicle.

Common Misconceptions about 70 Percent VA Disability

Misconceptions and misunderstandings about a 70 percent disability rating can lead to confusion and misinformation. Here are some prevalent VA disability myths, along with clarifications:


A 70 percent disability rating means the individual is 70 percent physically disabled.


The disability rating assigned by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not directly correlate with the percentage of physical ability. Instead, it represents the extent to which a service-connected condition affects overall employability and daily life. A 70 percent disability rating indicates significant impairment but does not imply a specific level of physical capability.


A 70 percent disability rating is only for visible or physical injuries.


Disability ratings consider both visible and invisible conditions. Mental health issues, chronic illnesses, and other non-apparent disabilities can contribute to a 70 percent rating. The VA assesses the impact of all service-connected conditions on an individual’s ability to work and function in daily life.


70 percent disability meant receiving 70 percent of a veteran’s salary.


Disability ratings do not directly determine the monetary compensation a veteran receives. The compensation amount is based on the specific disability rating, the number of dependents, and other factors. A 70 percent disability rating has a different compensation rate than a 50 percent or 100 percent rating, but it is not a percentage of the veteran’s salary during active duty.


A 70 percent rating is not a significant disability.


A 70 percent disability rating is considered a substantial level of impairment. It reflects a serious impact on the individual’s ability to work and engage in daily activities. Veterans with a 70 percent rating may experience challenges that affect their quality of life, and they are eligible for higher compensation to address those difficulties.


A 70 percent rating is the highest possible disability rating.


Disability ratings can go up to 100 percent, with increments of 10 percent. A 70 percent rating is significant, but there are higher levels of disability that reflect more severe impairment. Veterans with a 100 percent disability rating may receive additional benefits, including eligibility for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).


Once assigned, a disability rating is permanent and cannot be changed.


Disability ratings can be re-evaluated by the VA, especially if there are changes in the veteran’s medical condition or if new information becomes available. Veterans can request a re-evaluation if they believe their condition has worsened, and the VA may adjust the rating accordingly.

Navigating the VA Disability Appeal Process

If a veteran disagrees with their disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, they have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process can be complex, so it’s essential to understand the steps involved. Here is a general guide on what veterans can do if they disagree with their disability rating:

Review the Decision Letter

Carefully read the decision letter sent by the VA explaining the reasons for the assigned disability rating.

Pay close attention to the evidence and reasoning provided by the VA.

Ask for a debriefing

Request a debriefing with the VA regional office to discuss the decision and get a better understanding of the basis for the rating.

This can provide insights into the specific evidence considered and the VA’s interpretation of the facts.

Consult with a Veterans Service Officer (VSC)

Contact a Veterans Service Officer, who can assist with the appeal process. VSOs are trained advocates who work with veterans to navigate the VA rating system.

Organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the American Legion often have accredited representatives who can help.

Gather supporting evidence

Collect additional medical records, treatment notes, and other evidence that supports your claim for a higher disability rating.

Obtain expert opinions from healthcare professionals if necessary.

File a Notice of Disagreement (NOD)

To initiate the appeals process, file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VA. This is a formal statement indicating your disagreement with the decision.

Be sure to include specific reasons for the disagreement and any additional evidence you have.

Choose the Appeals Process

The VA offers several options for the appeals process, including the Supplemental Claim Lane, Higher-Level Review Lane, and Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

Choose the option that best suits your situation and preferences.

Submit supporting documents

If pursuing the Supplemental Claim Lane, submit any new and relevant evidence to support your case.

For the Higher-Level Review Lane, request that a more experienced adjudicator review your existing evidence.

If opting for an appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, submit a substantive appeal and any additional evidence.

Attend a board hearing (optional)

If you choose to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, you have the option to request a hearing before a Veterans Law Judge.

Wait for a decision

The appeal process can take time, so be patient. You will receive a decision from the VA once your case has been reviewed.

Consider further appeals if necessary

If still dissatisfied with the decision, there are additional avenues for appeal, including the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Understanding the nuances of disability ratings is crucial for veterans to navigate the benefits system accurately. Veterans should seek guidance from VA representatives, veterans organizations (like benefits.com and Trajector), or legal professionals for personalized assistance based on their specific circumstances.

Understanding the VA Form 21-4138 — Statement in Support of Claim

Picture this: one day an old friend asks to borrow your car. Would you let them based on the request alone? If they don’t offer any more information, then there’s a good chance. 

Now imagine that you’re the old friend and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has something that you or a loved one needs. If you send in a VA claim with very few details, you might not get approved. Here’s where the VA form 21-4138, or the “Statement in Support of Claim,” comes in. This form is like a blank canvas that allows you to paint a picture of your situation to better support your veteran’s claim for disability compensation, pension, or a different VA benefit. With it, you can provide context, clarification, or additional information that may assist the VA in deciding your eligibility for veterans benefits.

Step-by-Step Guide to Completing VA Form 21-4138

Completing VA Form 21-4138 is a pretty straightforward process in the United States. Remember that the goal of the form is to provide additional information or statements that support your claim for VA benefits. Be clear, honest, and thorough in your statement, and make sure that all required information is provided accurately. Here are the general steps to complete the form.

  1. Download the Form: Obtain a copy of VA Form 21-4138 from the official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website or a local VA office.
  2. Provide Personal Information: Fill in your personal information at the top of the form, including your name, Social Security Number, and contact details.
  3. Specify the Type of Veterans Claim: Write down the type of claim you want to support  (e.g., compensation, pension, health care, disability, or other VA benefits). 
  4. Complete the Statement: Use the provided space to write a clear and concise statement supporting your VA claim. Include relevant details, explanations, or additional information that can strengthen your case.
  5. Attach Supporting Documents: If you have any supporting documents or additional evidence, attach them to the form. This may include medical records for disability benefits, letters (or buddy statements), or other relevant materials.
  6. Sign and Date: Sign and date the form at the bottom to certify that the information provided is accurate and complete.
  7. Submit the Form: Submit the completed VA Form 21-4138 and any supporting documents to the appropriate state veterans affairs offices. You can typically submit it through mail or in person.
  8. Keep a Copy: It’s advisable to make a copy of the completed form and any attached documents for your records before submitting it.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls When Completing the VA Form 21-4138

When you go to fill out the VA Form 21-4138, keep the following common mistakes in mind so your form is submitted accurately.

  • Incomplete Information: Ensure that all required fields on the form are filled out. Incomplete information may lead to delays or complications in processing your veteran’s claim.
  • Vague or Ambiguous Statements: Be clear and specific in your statements. Avoid vague or ambiguous language that may not effectively communicate the details of your situation.
  • Providing Unnecessary Information: While it’s important to provide relevant details, avoid including unnecessary information that may distract from the main points. For example, if you submit a claim for compensation due to a medical disability, you only need to include health care information that is relevant, not your entire life history.
  • Failure to Sign and Date: Always sign and date the form. A missing signature or date can invalidate the submission.
  • Not Including Supporting Documents: If you have supporting documents, such as medical records or a buddy statement, make sure to attach them to the form. These documents can strengthen your case.
  • Inconsistencies with Other Claims or Records: Ensure that the information on your form aligns with other claims you may have submitted or other existing records. Inconsistencies may raise questions and impact the credibility of your submission.
  • Waiting Too Long to Submit: Timeliness is crucial. Submit the form and supporting documents as soon as possible to avoid delays in processing. This is especially important if submitting a claim for accrued benefits that your deceased loved one was eligible for.
  • Ignoring Instructions: Follow the instructions provided on the form. Each section may have specific guidance, and failure to follow instructions could lead to errors.
  • Not Keeping a Copy: Before submitting the form, make a copy for your records. This ensures that you have a copy of the information provided and any supporting documents.
  • Not Seeking Assistance if Needed: If you have questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the VA or seek guidance from a veterans service organization. Getting help from a VA claims insider can ensure that you complete the form accurately.

Common Issues and FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to VA Form 21-4138. These FAQs provide general guidance, but if you have specific questions based on your unique circumstances, it’s recommended to consult with the VA or seek assistance from knowledgeable sources.

What is VA Form 21-4138 used for?

VA Form 21-4138, the “Statement in Support of Claim,” is used by veterans or their loved ones to provide additional information or statements supporting their claims for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

When should I use VA Form 21-4138?

You should use the form when you need to provide extra information, context, or statements to support your claim for VA benefits. It’s commonly used to clarify details, offer explanations, or submit additional evidence.

Where can I get VA Form 21-4138?

You can download VA Form 21-4138 from the official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website or obtain a copy from a local VA office.

What types of claims can be supported with this form?

VA Form 21-4138 can be used to support various claims including claims for compensation, pension, VA disability claims, or other VA benefits.

Is there a deadline for submitting the form?

While there may not be a strict deadline, it’s advisable to submit the form and supporting documents as soon as possible to avoid delays in processing, especially if you’re trying to claim accrued benefits.

Can I submit the form electronically?

The preferred methods for submitting VA Form 21-4138 are typically through mail or in-person submission. Check with your VA regional office for specific submission instructions.

What information should I include in the statement section?

In the statement section, provide clear and concise information that supports your VA claim. Include relevant details, explanations, and any additional information that may be crucial for making decisions about your eligibility. For example, if your claim involves a medical condition, consider describing the nature and severity of your health issues and include information about the diagnosis, treatments, and its impact on your daily life and activities.

Can I attach supporting documents?

Yes, you can and should attach supporting documents, such as medical records, letters, or other relevant materials, to strengthen your case. Form 21-4138 and buddy letters (character references) go hand in hand and can greatly support your case.

Do I need to fill out the form on my own, or can someone assist me?

You can fill out the form on your own, but if you need assistance, you may consult VA outreach materials or seek help from the VA or a veterans service organization. It’s important to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.

How long does it take for the VA to process a claim after submitting the form?

Processing times can vary. For information on the status of your claim, you can contact the VA or check the status online through the VA’s official website.

Several forms are closely associated with VA Form 21-4138, and individuals may need to use them depending on their specific circumstances. Here are some related forms and explanations of when and why individuals might use them.

VA Form 21-526

Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension

  • When to Use: Veterans use this form to apply for compensation and/or pension benefits.
  • Why: This form initiates the process of claiming compensation or pension benefits. VA Form 21-4138 may be used in conjunction with this form to provide additional statements or information supporting the claim.

VA Form 21-4142

Authorization and Consent to Release Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

  • When to Use: This form is used to authorize the release of medical and non-medical information to the VA.
  • Why: Veterans may need to use this form to grant permission for the VA to obtain necessary records and information relevant to their claim.

VA Form 21-2680

Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance

  • When to Use: Veterans may use this form to apply for benefits related to housebound status or the need for regular aid and attendance.
  • Why: This form is used when individuals are seeking additional benefits based on their need for assistance or housebound status. Supporting statements on VA Form 21-4138 can be included to provide further context.

VA Form 21-0958

Notice of Disagreement

  • When to Use: Veterans use this form to initiate an appeal when they disagree with a VA decision.
  • Why: If a veteran disagrees with a decision regarding their benefits claim, they may use VA Form 21-0958 to start the appeals process. VA Form 21-4138 can be used to provide additional statements or information supporting the appeal.

Tips for a Smooth Application Process

Navigating the VA claims process can be complex and overwhelming, but there are several tips and insights that can help veterans streamline the process and increase the efficiency of their claims. Below are some valuable tips for you to consider.

  • Understand the Process: Familiarize yourself with the overall claims process. Understanding the larger picture as well as the individual steps involved can help you anticipate what’s required and reduce confusion.
  • Gather Documentation Early: Collect all relevant documentation, including military records, medical records, and service treatment records, before initiating your claim.
  • Use the Right Forms: Be sure you are using the correct forms for your specific claim. Different benefits may require different forms.
  • Seek Assistance: Consider seeking assistance from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), accredited agents, or attorneys. They can provide guidance, help fill out forms, and advocate on your behalf.
  • Be Thorough and Accurate: Provide complete and accurate information on all forms to avoid delays in processing.
  • Include Supporting Statements: Use VA Form 21-4138 to provide supporting statements or additional information that can strengthen your VA claim. Clearly explain the circumstances and provide context.
  • Keep Copies of Everything: Make copies of all forms, supporting documents, and correspondence. Having a complete record can be helpful in case of any discrepancies or if you need to appeal a decision.
  • Utilize Technology: Take advantage of online tools and resources provided by the VA. Online submission of forms and tracking systems can simplify the process.
  • Consider Filing Online: Some claims can be filed online through the VA’s eBenefits portal. This can speed up the submission process and provide a faster response.
  • Respond Promptly: If the VA requests additional information or clarification, respond promptly. Delays in responding can slow down the overall process.
  • Know Your Rights: Understand your rights within the claims process. If you disagree with a decision, familiarize yourself with the appeals process.

By following these tips and staying organized throughout the claims process, you’ll be able to navigate the bureaucracy more efficiently and have a smoother experience. So if you find yourself filling out VA form 21-4138, remember that this is your opportunity to infuse a little life into your claim. Provide concise, relevant information, fill out the form completely, and watch out for common mistakes. If you ever need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone familiar with and qualified to help you with the VA claims process.

Unlocking Veteran Spouse Benefits: A Guide for Families of Disabled Veterans

Family members of a disabled veteran often face a myriad of challenges, and navigating the complex landscape of veteran disability benefits can be one of them. Understanding the rules and regulations, especially concerning the duration of marriage for eligibility, is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of veteran’s dependents benefits, offering clarity on eligibility, application processes, financial assistance programs, and common pitfalls to avoid. Whether you are a surviving spouse or a child of a disabled veteran, this article is tailored to provide essential information and practical advice to help you access the financial support and VA benefits you deserve.

Understanding Dependent Benefits for Veterans: Exploring a Wealth of Support

To truly comprehend the array of dependent benefits available to veterans and their families, it’s essential to delve deeper into the support systems provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Dependents, primarily spouses and children, stand to gain access to a variety of vital resources that go beyond mere healthcare, education, and financial assistance programs. Let’s explore these benefits in detail, shedding light on the holistic aid that the VA extends to the families of our brave veterans.

Health Care Benefit

Veterans’ spouses and children can access comprehensive health care services through VA medical facilities. This includes preventive care, mental health services, specialized treatments, and emergency medical services. These benefits ensure that the families of veterans receive the medical attention they need, promoting their overall well-being.

Education Benefit

The VA offers an array of VA education benefits and educational assistance programs. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, for instance, provides educational benefits to eligible veteran dependents, covering tuition, fees, and even a monthly housing allowance. Additionally, the VA’s Survivors’ And Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service connected disability or condition, or who have died in service.

Home Loan Guarantee

Dependents of veterans may qualify for the VA’s home loan guarantee benefit. This program allows eligible spouses to secure a VA-backed home loan with competitive interest rates and no requirement for private mortgage insurance. This benefit supports families in achieving the dream of homeownership, providing financial aid, stability and security.

Life Insurance Programs

The VA offers life insurance programs such as Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) and Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI). These programs provide life insurance coverage to an eligible veteran and their surviving spouse and other dependents, ensuring financial security in the face of unexpected events.

Pension and Compensation

Surviving spouses and children of a deceased veteran, as well as dependents of a veteran with a service connected disability, may be eligible for a VA survivors pension and compensation benefit. These financial aid resources provide critical support, helping families maintain their quality of life.

Career Counseling and Employment Services

The VA extends career counseling services to dependents of veterans. These services assist individuals in identifying career goals, exploring education and training opportunities, and securing employment. By empowering dependents with the right skills and resources, the VA contributes to their financial independence.

Caregiver Support

Caregivers play a vital role in the lives of veterans. The VA recognizes this and offers support programs for caregivers, providing training, counseling, and financial assistance. These caregiver support programs not only benefit the caregivers but also contribute to the overall well-being of the veteran’s family.

In essence, the VA benefit provided to dependents of veterans are far-reaching and multifaceted. From healthcare and education to financial support and career counseling, these VA benefits and resources aim to enhance the lives of the families who have sacrificed alongside their loved ones in service to the nation. By understanding the full scope of available veterans benefits, veterans’ families can make informed decisions, ensuring they access the support they rightly deserve.

Why Marriage Duration Matters in Veterans Benefits Eligibility

The requirement of a specific duration of marriage for a military spouse to qualify for veterans benefits serves as a cornerstone of the VA’s support system. These rules, while seemingly stringent, are in place to maintain the integrity and fairness of the VA disability benefits program.

Ensuring Genuine Support

By mandating a minimum duration of marriage, the VA ensures that benefits are directed towards genuine dependents who have committed to a long-term relationship with the veteran. This regulation safeguards against potential misuse or fraudulent claims, preserving resources for families in genuine need.

Stability for Dependents

Marriage signifies stability and commitment. Requiring a certain duration of marriage helps guarantee that dependents have a stable environment and are less likely to suddenly withdraw from the veteran’s life after securing benefits. This stability is crucial for the well-being of both the veteran and the family.

Reflecting the Challenges of Military Life

Military life is often marked by extended deployments and frequent relocations. Requiring a minimum duration of marriage acknowledges the unique challenges faced by military families. It acknowledges the sacrifices made by a military spouse who endures separations and disruptions, ensuring they receive the support they need.

Exceptions for Special Cases

The presence of exceptions in cases of injury or death during military service showcases the VA’s compassion and flexibility. It recognizes the unpredictable nature of military service, where unfortunate events can occur, leading to shorter marriages. These exceptions provide a safety net, ensuring that deserving families facing exceptional circumstances are not denied the assistance they require.

Maintaining Resource Allocation

VA disability benefits are a vital resource, and the VA must allocate them efficiently to assist as many deserving families as possible. By implementing rules related to marriage duration, the VA can distribute resources judiciously, focusing on families that have demonstrated long-term commitment and need consistent support.

Understanding the rationale behind the rules regarding marriage duration is essential for spouses seeking benefits. While these regulations may seem stringent, they are designed to ensure fairness, prevent abuse, and provide stability for the families of veterans. By comprehending the underlying principles, applicants can navigate the process with clarity and appreciate the significance of these requirements in the context of veterans’ support programs.

Navigating Financial Assistance Programs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides various financial assistance programs designed to support families of disabled veterans. These programs can help cover living expenses, educational costs, and healthcare needs. To access these benefits, families need to navigate the application process efficiently. It involves gathering the necessary documentation, understanding the specific requirements for each program, and submitting applications within stipulated timelines.

Financial assistance programs offered by the VA include dependency indemnity compensation (DIC), which provides monthly benefits to eligible survivors of deceased veterans, and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program, which offers education and training opportunities to dependents. Understanding the intricacies of these programs can significantly impact the financial well-being of veterans’ families.

Tips and Tricks for Maximizing Benefits

Maximizing veterans’ benefits requires proactive efforts and an understanding of the system. One crucial aspect is ensuring that all required documentation is accurate and up-to-date. Keeping records organized and readily accessible can expedite the application process. Additionally, families should be aware of their rights, including the right to appeal decisions if benefits are denied or not provided in full. Seeking assistance from veterans’ service organizations or legal experts can be invaluable in these situations.

Understanding the complexities of paperwork and procedures is another essential aspect of maximizing your disability benefit. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of forms and documents involved. Seeking guidance from VA representatives, attending workshops, or utilizing online resources can simplify the process.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

While applying for veterans’ benefits, families often encounter common pitfalls that can delay or jeopardize their applications. One frequent mistake is incomplete or inaccurate paperwork. Providing all necessary documents and ensuring they are filled out correctly is paramount. Missing deadlines is another common error. Each benefit program has specific timelines for application submission, and missing these deadlines can lead to delays or denials.

Misunderstanding eligibility criteria is another pitfall. It’s crucial to be aware of the specific requirements for each benefit type. For example, certain programs might have age restrictions for dependent children. Keeping abreast of any policy changes and updates from the VA can prevent misunderstandings and ensure families don’t miss out on available benefits.

In conclusion, understanding veterans’ benefits for dependents involves careful research, attention to detail, and persistence. Families of disabled veterans are entitled to essential support, and by navigating the system with knowledge and confidence, they can access the assistance they deserve. By comprehensively exploring the eligibility criteria, application processes, available financial assistance programs, and common pitfalls, this guide aims to empower families to make informed decisions and secure the benefits they are entitled to receive. Remember, you are not alone—there are resources and organizations dedicated to assisting veterans’ families throughout this journey. By utilizing these resources and staying informed, you can successfully unlock the benefits meant to support you and your loved ones.

Here at Benefits.com, we are dedicated to helping veterans get the best benefits they deserve! If you have any more questions about what benefits are available to you and your loved ones and how to get them, contact us today! 

Depression VA Rating: Understanding Your Assessment and Benefits

When dealing with the complexities of depression after military service, understanding how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approaches disability ratings is crucial. Your VA rating for depression reflects the degree to which your condition affects your work and daily life.

It’s more than just a measure of your health—it directly influences the benefits and compensation you’re eligible to receive. The VA considers various factors, including the severity of symptoms and their impact on occupational and social functioning.

If you’re pursuing a VA claim, it’s important to recognize that depression is acknowledged by the VA as a service-connected mental health issue. Symptoms might range from mild to severe and can manifest in different ways, influencing your ability to perform occupational tasks or engage in social activities.

The VA disability benefits rating system starts at 0% – meaning your depression is acknowledged by the VA but isn’t considered disabling – and can go as high as 100% for total occupational and social impairment due to your symptoms. Since depression is a common VA disability claim, it’s important to know if you qualify.

Overview of Depression VA Rating

The Veterans Affairs (VA) depression rating process evaluates how this mental health condition affects your daily life and work abilities, assigning a percentage that impacts your disability benefits for depression.

What is the VA Rating System?

The VA rating system for mental health is designed to assess the extent of a veteran’s service-connected disability. For mental disorders like depression, ratings vary from 0% to 100%. These VA rating percentages reflect the severity of symptoms and the degree to which depression impacts your occupational and social functioning. The system is nuanced and takes into account factors such as frequency, duration, and the severity of psychiatric symptoms.

Common VA Rating Myths & the Reality

VA Rating Myth #1: A diagnosis guarantees a high rating.

·       Reality: Ratings are based on symptom severity and impact, not just a diagnosis.

VA Rating Myth #2: You can’t work if you receive a high rating.

·       Reality: Even with ratings as high as 70% or higher, some veterans may still be able to work, depending on individual circumstances.

Understanding the Criteria for the Depression Rating Process

To obtain a VA rating for depression, you must meet certain criteria centered on service connection, provide medical evidence, and display symptoms that the VA assesses for severity and frequency. It’s important to understand the VA rating criteria for mental illness when trying to gain compensation.

Service Connection

Your depression must be linked to your military service to qualify for a VA disability rating. This means the onset or aggravation of your depression was due to your service. The VA requires a clear nexus between your depression and an in-service event, injury, or illness.

Medical Evidence Requirements

For the VA to evaluate your claim, you need to provide medical evidence of your depression. This includes a formal diagnosis from a healthcare provider, typically a psychiatrist or psychologist. Additionally, you must present medical records detailing your treatment history, including appointments and medications.

Severity and Frequency of Symptoms

The severity and frequency of your depressive symptoms heavily influence the VA rating scale for depression. For instance, mild symptoms that occasionally affect work might result in a lower rating, whereas symptoms that significantly impair your ability to work and socialize could lead to a higher rating. The VA rates depression under the same criteria as other mental disorders, considering factors such as:

·       Mild (0-10% rating): If symptoms are managed successfully with continuous medication.

·       Moderate (30-50% rating): If there is reduced reliability and productivity due to symptoms like depressed mood, anxiety, chronic sleep impairment, or disturbances of motivation and mood.

·       Severe (70-100% rating): When there is a total occupational and social impairment evidenced by deficiencies in most areas such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood.

Rating Levels Defined

The VA rates depression based on the severity of depressive symptoms and their impact on occupational and social functioning. Your rating can range from 0% to 100%, reflecting the level of disability associated with your condition.

0% Noncompensable

At the 0% rating level, your depression is recognized by the VA but is deemed to not significantly impair your functioning or require continuous medication.

10% to 30% Disability

If you’re rated between 10% and 30%, this signifies that your depression produces occupational and social impairment due to mild or intermittent symptoms, such as mild depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or affective disturbances. An anxiety disability might be overlooked, but it can be rather serious.

50% to 70% Disability

A rating of 50% to 70% indicates more severe symptoms that result in deficiencies in most areas, like work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood. Symptoms might include more frequent episodes or a chronic depressed mood.

100% Disability

100% disability is given when your depression results in total occupational and social impairment due to symptoms such as persistent delusions or hallucinations, inappropriate behavior, or the inability to perform any occupational tasks.

Navigating the VA Rating Process for Mental Health Conditions

This section breaks down the process you will encounter when pursuing a VA disability rating for a mental health disorder, focusing on what is required at each step.

Initial Evaluation

When you begin, you will go through a mental health evaluation for veterans. You’ll need to provide all relevant medical records and possibly take part in a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. Documentation is critical, as it establishes the presence and severity of your condition. Ensure that you detail all symptoms and their impact on your daily life.

Claim Decision

After the evaluation, the VA will review your claim based on the evidence provided. Your medical records, C&P exam results, and any additional information will be considered to issue a rating. This rating is articulated as a percentage, reflecting the degree to which the condition affects your functionality and ability to work, and will help determine your VA disability compensation amount. For more insights into how depression is rated, visit Understanding Mental Health VA Disability Ratings.

Reevaluation Scheduling

The VA may schedule future examinations to reevaluate the status of your mental health condition. Keep in mind that conditions can change over time, which means so can your disability rating. It’s important to attend all reevaluations and continue to provide up-to-date medical information to ensure that your rating accurately reflects your current level of depression disability.

Impact on Veterans’ Lives

Veterans’ lives can be markedly affected by the severity of their depression, which their VA rating will indicate. This rating reflects your ability to work, engage socially, perform everyday tasks, and may necessitate ongoing medication.

Employment Challenges

Your VA rating for depression can reflect challenges in maintaining employment. A higher rating may indicate a debilitating impact on work performance and consistency. For instance, a 30% rating suggests that your ability to work may be hampered by your symptoms but not entirely precluded, while a higher 80% rating points towards a substantial difficulty that impairs your ability to work almost entirely.

Social Functioning

A VA rating measures how depression affects your social interactions. For example, a 50% rating suggests moderate difficulty in social situations, which may include challenges in forming and maintaining relationships. These difficulties are not just confined to personal relationships but can extend to interactions in workplace settings.

Routine Activities Limitations

Regarding daily living, a VA rating reflects the extent to which depression limits your routine activities. A high percentage points towards significant hindrances in performing daily tasks, which might include anything from self-care to household chores, potentially requiring assistance or frequent disruptions to manage these tasks effectively.

Need for Continuous Medication

The need for continuous medication is often a part of managing your service-connected depression. A higher VA rating is likely to correlate with a more intensive treatment regimen, which may include multiple medications to manage your symptoms. It’s important to understand that medication adherence might be essential to maintain a certain level of functioning and stability.

Appealing a Depression VA Rating Decision

If you believe that your VA rating for major depressive disorder does not accurately reflect your condition, you have the right to file an appeal. Sometimes, the VA rating accuracy isn’t correct and an appeal can help correct your situation. Understanding the appeals process and knowing your options for legal representation can provide a clearer path forward.

Filing an Appeal

To initiate an appeal, submit a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VA. You must file your NOD within one year from the date on your decision letter. It’s important to include any new evidence that supports your claim and to specify whether you seek a review from a Decision Review Officer or the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

The Process to Appeal VA Rating Decision

Once you’ve submitted your NOD for a VA decision, there are three main options for review:

·       Supplemental Claim: You can submit new and relevant evidence that was not considered in the original decision.

·       Higher-Level Review: A senior VA official will review your case without considering new evidence.

·       Board Appeal: You can appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, opting for a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge.

It’s important to understand the VA rating reconsideration process so that there are no surprises.

While you can appeal your rating decision independently, seeking the assistance of a VA-accredited attorney or Veterans Service Organization (VSO) can help. Experts in VA law can provide advice and represent your interests during the appeals process. Remember, representation can at times influence the outcome of your appeal by ensuring all critical supporting evidence is effectively presented.

Veteran Mental Health Resources for Depression

Navigating the challenging territory of depression requires understanding the support structures in place. You have access to a variety of services that provide veterans with mental health support, including counseling, support groups, and federal benefits.

VA Counselling Services

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides counseling services specifically designed for veterans with depression. You may take advantage of these veteran mental health resources regardless of your discharge status. The VA offers treatments such as psychotherapy, medication, and support to manage and alleviate symptoms.

Support Groups

Engaging with peers who share similar experiences can be highly beneficial. The VA facilitates access to support groups where you can connect with other veterans grappling with depression. These groups offer a space for sharing experiences, coping strategies, and mutual encouragement in a confidential setting.

Federal Benefits for Veterans

In recognition of the impact of service on mental health, the VA provides federal benefits for veterans with depression, including disability compensation. Eligibility for these benefits is predicated on the severity of your depression and its link to your service. Understanding your rating and the associated benefits is crucial for accessing the support you need.

Understanding the VA disability rating for depression is critical for receiving the appropriate level of benefits. Depression, or major depressive disorder, can severely impact various facets of your life, including work and relationships. The VA categorizes the severity of symptoms and assigns disability ratings from 0% to 100%.

If you need help figuring out if you qualify for VA benefits for depression, Trajector is here to assist you. Fill out our short mental health evaluation for veterans and we will be happy to help ensure you are receiving the maximum benefits available to you.

How Long Does Long-Term Disability Last?

Quick Answer: Long-term disability insurance can last two, five, or 10 years, until retirement, or even for life, depending on the terms outlined in your policy.

Understanding insurance can be tricky, especially when preparing for unexpected things like long-term disability. Long-term disability (LTD) is a type of insurance for people who can’t work for a long time due to serious health issues or injuries. 

But exactly how long does long-term disability last? In this post, we’ll get answers to important questions about how long this type of insurance lasts, what long-term disability is, and how it works, plus helpful tips on how to choose the right LTD insurance for you.

What Is Long-Term Disability?

Long-term disability is a type of insurance that supports people financially when they can’t work for an extended period of time due to a serious health issue or injury. The insurance protects a percentage of your pre-disability earnings, which can help cover living costs if you cannot work.

You may be able to obtain long-term disability insurance through employment benefits or by purchasing it as a private policy. The coverage is intended to last over an extended period—until you can resume work, reach a specific age, or for a set duration outlined in the policy. Depending on the policy, this period could be two, five, or ten years, until age 65, or even for life.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Disability

To better understand disability insurance, it’s important to know the difference between long-term and short-term disability, as they serve specific purposes in providing financial support when health issues impact your ability to work.

Long-term disability offers extended financial support for people unable to work due to serious health conditions or injuries. It offers a percentage of your pre-disability income after a waiting period, providing financial support for an extended time. 

Short-term disability (STD) provides temporary financial assistance for shorter periods, typically around three to six months, covering a portion of income during temporary disability. STD bridges the financial gap during short-term health challenges before potential long-term disability benefits take effect.

How Does Long-Term Disability Work?

Now that you know long-term disability, let’s walk through how the LTD process works. 

Application Process

When you apply for LTD benefits, you have two primary options: join through your employer’s benefits program or purchase a private policy. Applying through an employer often involves navigating the company’s established procedures, while purchasing a private policy can be done independently through insurance providers.

When you apply for LTD, you must be able to provide medical documentation that shows the severity of your condition and its impact on your ability to work. This documentation is a key factor in the approval process, helping insurance companies assess your eligibility for long-term disability benefits.

Approval Criteria

To qualify for LTD, you must meet specific criteria outlined by your insurance provider. Some policies may require you to meet a certain definition of disability, including:

  • Own-occupation disability: You’re considered disabled if you cannot perform the specific duties of your own occupation, even if you can work in a different capacity or field.
  • Any-occupation disability: You’re considered disabled only if you cannot perform any job you’re qualified for through education, training, or experience.

For instance, imagine a concert pianist who sustains a severe hand injury, limiting their ability to perform. The pianist qualifies for benefits with an insurance policy featuring an own-occupation disability definition, as they can no longer fulfill the requirements to play the piano.

Conversely, if the policy used an any-occupation definition, the pianist may not qualify, as they could potentially work in a different field.

Elimination Period

The elimination period, also known as the waiting period, is the time you must wait after becoming disabled before you’re eligible to receive benefits. If you’re still disabled according to the policy’s definition of disability at the end of the elimination period, you can start receiving benefits. 

Most policies have a 90-day elimination period, but the exact duration depends on the specifics of the insurance policy. Some could be as short as 30 days, while others could last a full year.

During this period, people usually depend on short-term disability or sick leave to get financial help. The length of the elimination period is a major factor to consider when selecting a disability insurance policy. 

Shorter elimination periods may result in higher premiums but quicker access to benefits, while longer elimination periods may offer lower premiums but a delayed initiation of financial support. 

Benefit Calculation

LTD benefits are typically calculated as a percentage of your pre-disability income. While varying between insurance policies, this percentage generally falls between 50% and 70%

For instance, if your pre-disability income was $4,000 monthly and the LTD policy provides 60% coverage, the monthly benefit would amount to $2,400. This calculated percentage is a key factor in determining the level of financial assistance you’ll receive while you cannot work.

It’s important to carefully review the benefit calculation details in your specific policy, as variations exist among insurance providers. 

Ongoing Updates

Getting LTD benefits is an ongoing process that may require you to regularly share health updates with your employer or insurance company. These updates are important to keep getting benefits, ensuring the insurance provider knows about your health and if you can return to work.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Long-Term Disability Insurance

Long-term disability insurance is not one-size-fits-all. Check out these top tips to help you choose the best LTD insurance:.

1. Assess Your Needs

To pick the right LTD insurance, evaluate your finances by assessing your monthly expenses, debts, and savings.

Think about how much income you’d need if you couldn’t work due to a disability.  Determine the percentage of your income the policy will replace (usually between 50% and 70%).

2. Understand Your Employer’s Coverage

Check if your job includes long-term disability coverage. Know what your employer’s plan covers, the limits, and how long the benefits last. Understanding these details helps you decide if you need extra coverage and ensures you know the support available if you face a disability.

If your employer’s coverage doesn’t align with your financial needs, you can always supplement your coverage with a private policy. Coverage offered through an employer is often more cost-effective than purchasing a private policy, but you can acquire both if needed.

3. Evaluate Elimination Periods

When considering LTD insurance, it’s important to evaluate the elimination period before benefits kick in. 

Shorter waiting periods mean you can access benefits sooner, but they usually come with higher premiums. This may be a better option if you don’t have short-term disability coverage, savings, or other resources to cover your expenses while waiting for LTD to kick in. 

Longer waiting periods may result in lower premiums but mean a longer time without benefits. This choice could be preferable if you have short-term disability coverage, a working spouse, or sufficient savings to support you during the waiting period. In such cases, selecting an LTD plan with a longer elimination period can help lower premiums or make a longer benefit period financially manageable.

Ensure the waiting period you choose aligns with your financial situation and preferences.

4. Be Aware of How the Policy Defines Disability

When choosing LTD insurance, check how the policy defines disability. Some use “own-occupation,” considering you disabled if you can’t do your specific job, offering broad coverage. Others use “any-occupation,” where you’re considered disabled if you can’t do any job you’re qualified for, making it harder to qualify for disability benefits. 

Choosing a policy based on your own occupation ensures comprehensive protection that matches your work, increasing the chances of getting benefits when needed.

5. Check the Renewability

Understanding the renewability provision in your LTD insurance policy is crucial, as it outlines when and under what conditions the insurance company can modify, cancel, or increase premiums. 

Here are the four different renewability provisions commonly found in disability income insurance policies:

  • Noncancelable and guaranteed renewable: This is the most favorable provision. It means the insurance company cannot cancel the policy, change the terms, or increase premiums as long as the policyholder continues to pay premiums. This offers the highest level of security and consistency.
  • Guaranteed renewable: The insurance company guarantees to renew the policy as long as the policyholder pays premiums. However, the company can increase premiums for an entire group of policyholders, not just individuals.
  • Conditionally renewable: The insurance company commits to renew the policy under certain conditions. These conditions could include changes in health, occupation, or other specified factors. This provision provides less certainty for policyholders.
  • Optionally renewable: This provision allows the insurance company to decide whether or not to renew the policy at the end of each policy period. It provides the least assurance for policyholders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about long-term disability insurance? Keep reading to find the answers to common questions about LTD.

1. How Much Does Long-Term Disability Pay?

The amount LTD pays varies, typically calculated as a percentage of pre-disability income, often ranging from 50% to 70%. For instance, if your pre-disability income was $10,000 monthly and the policy provides 70% coverage, the monthly benefit would be $7,000. 

2. Is Long-Term Disability Taxable?

Whether LTD benefits are taxable depends on how you pay the insurance policy premiums. If the premiums were paid with after-tax dollars (meaning you paid for the coverage with your own money already taxed), then the LTD benefits are generally not taxable. In this case, the benefits provide tax-free income.

On the other hand, if the premiums were paid with pre-tax dollars (meaning you paid for the coverage with money that hasn’t been taxed yet, like through a workplace benefit plan), then the LTD benefits are usually considered taxable income. In such cases, you may need to report and pay taxes on the received benefits.

3. What Qualifies for Long-Term Disability?

What qualifies you for long-term disability depends on how your policy defines disability. If your provider defines disability as own-occupation, you can qualify for benefits if your disability prohibits you from performing your specific job.

However, if your coverage defines disability as any-occupation, then you can only qualify for benefits if your disability prohibits you from performing any job you’re qualified for. 

4. What Does Long-Term Disability Cover?

Long-term disability covers a percentage of your monthly income if a disabling condition, such as an illness or injury, prevents you from working. The specific percentage is defined by your insurance provider but is generally around 50% to 70% of your monthly income.

5. How Long Does Long-Term Disability Last Through an Employer?

The duration of LTD through an employer varies based on the specific policy. It can last for a set number of years, until age 65, or for a lifetime, depending on the terms outlined in the policy.

Employees should review their employer-sponsored LTD policy details provided in their benefits package to understand how long the long-term benefits last. For precise information, contact your employer’s benefits administrator or human resources department.

Benefits.com Can Help You Find the Right Long-Term Disability Insurance

Understanding how long long-term disability lasts is crucial for making informed decisions about your financial security in the face of unexpected challenges. Whether it lasts for two years, five years, until retirement, or a lifetime, the terms outlined in your policy play a pivotal role. 
At Benefits.com, our commitment is to empower every U.S. resident in navigating the complexities of disability programs, ensuring you find the optimal benefit plan tailored to your needs. Explore your eligibility through our Benefits Quiz to unlock the full potential of the benefits available.

SSI vs. SSDI: Key Differences + How To Apply

Quick Answer: SSI is a needs-based federal program designed to provide financial support to older people or people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. SSDI is a federal program that provides financial support to people with disabilities based on their work history and Social Security contributions.

Many federal benefit programs provide financial assistance to people with disabilities — two of the most common are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

While SSI and SSDI both provide benefits designed to help people with disabilities and are run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), they differ significantly.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at each program, breaking down the key differences between SSI vs. SSDI, who qualifies for them, and how to apply. 

What Is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI is a needs-based federal program designed to provide financial support to older people or people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. It aims to ensure a basic income level for people who may not qualify for SSDI based on work history.

What Is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSDI is a federal program that provides financial assistance to people with disabilities based on their work history and contributions to the Social Security system. It offers support to those who become disabled and cannot work, providing them with a source of income derived from their prior employment.

What Is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

Now that you know what SSI and SSDI are, let’s break down the key differences between them.

Eligibility Criteria

SSI is a need-based benefit, meaning you can qualify if you are over 65 or disabled and have limited income and resources. You don’t need a work history or to have paid Social Security taxes to qualify; however, your income and other financial resources must not exceed certain thresholds.

To qualify for SSI, you must:

  • Have a disability, blindness, or be 65 or older
  • Have a disability that prevents substantial gainful activity
  • Have a disability that is expected to last at least 12 continuous months or result in death
  • Earn no more than $1,971 from work each month
  • Have resources (bank accounts, vehicles, etc.) below $2,000
  • Be a U.S. citizen or fall into a qualified non-citizen category

SSDI is an earned benefit, which means you can qualify if you are disabled, have a work history, and have paid Social Security taxes, accumulating work credits. The length of work needed to qualify depends on how old you were when your disability occurred. If you’ve had a disability since childhood, you might still get SSDI on a parent’s record, even without personal work credits. Work credits are units earned through work and income, an important factor in determining SSDI eligibility.

To qualify for SSDI, you must:

  • Have enough recent work credits from employment with Social Security taxes
  • Have a qualifying disability that prevents substantial gainful activity
  • Not earn above $1,550 ($2,590 if blind) per month in substantial gainful activity
  • Be below the full retirement age of 62
  • Be a U.S. citizen or fall into a qualified non-citizen category

Funding Source

SSI is funded through general tax revenues. Your SSI eligibility is based on your income and resources, not your work history. 

SSDI is funded through your Social Security payroll taxes, known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). You contribute to the SSDI fund through these payroll taxes during your working years. 

Benefit Amount

For SSI, the monthly maximum federal amounts for 2024 are:

As for SSDI, the benefit amount is based on your average lifetime earnings before becoming disabled. So, the more you contribute to Social Security through payroll taxes, the higher your SSDI benefit. As of 2024, the average monthly SSDI benefit is around $1,537, but amounts can vary based on your earning history. 

Work History Implications

SSI is not tied to work history but centers on financial need, limited income, and resources. It serves as a safety net for those lacking sufficient work credits or facing financial hardship due to a disability.

SSDI is linked to work history and depends on accumulating work credits through employment and payment of Social Security taxes. More work credits mean higher potential SSDI benefits. SSDI is meant to support people who’ve been active in the workforce but can no longer work due to a disability. 

Key Benefits

SSI offers monthly paid benefits determined by the federal benefit rate (FBR), which some states can supplement. In most states, if you receive SSI, you’re also automatically eligible for Medicaid.

SSDI tends to offer a higher monthly payment amount based on work history. You can also become eligible for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period from the onset of your disability. 

Eligibility criteriaBased on financial need, limited income, and resourcesBased on work credits earned through employment
Funding sourceFunded by general tax revenuesFunded through Social Security payroll taxes (FICA)
Benefit amountVaries by state; average $943 per month for individuals, $1,415 for couplesBased on average lifetime earnings; average $1,537 per month
Work history implicationsNot dependent on work history; available to those with limited or no work historyRequires a minimum number of work credits; based on individual contributions to Social Security
Key benefitsMonthly paid benefits; eligible for Medicaid in most statesHigher monthly payments compared to SSI; eligible for Medicare

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to learn more about SSI vs. SSDI? We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about each program.

Can I Receive Both SSI and SSDI? 

Yes, it’s possible to receive both SSI and SSDI benefits at the same time if you meet the eligibility criteria for both programs. You can qualify for both if you have limited income and resources as well as a recent and sufficient work history.  

Which Is Better: SSI or SSDI?

Determining whether SSI or SSDI is “better” depends on which program you qualify for. SSDI may give you more money based on your work history, but you must’ve paid into the system. On the other hand, you don’t need a specific work history for SSI, but you can’t qualify if you make more than a certain amount of money or have enough financial resources. 

How Do I Apply for SSI or SSDI?

You can apply for SSI or SSDI benefits online or by calling the toll-free SSA number at 1-800-772-1213 between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, use the toll-free “TTY” number, 1-800-325-0778, available Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Visit the SSA website to learn more about the disability determination process.

Why Am I on SSI and Not SSDI?

If you’re on SSI and not SSDI, it may be due to a lack of sufficient or recent work credits. To qualify for SSDI, you must have a disability that prevents substantial gainful activity and have enough recent work credits from employment with Social Security taxes. 

Why Is SSDI So Hard To Get?

SSDI is often considered hard to get due to the strict eligibility requirements and lengthy approval process. The SSA rejects many applicants’ initial claims due to a lack of medical evidence or missing information, which can lead to a significant backlog in processing claims. It’s essential to submit your application the right way the first time to speed up your approval rate.

How Much Can You Get From SSI and SSDI?

In 2024, the maximum monthly SSI payment is $943 for one person and $1,415 for a couple. 

Payments from SSDI may fluctuate based on your average lifetime earnings before becoming disabled. The typical SSDI monthly payment has varied between $800 and $1,800 in the last five years. The average for 2024 is around $1,537.

Benefits.com Can Help Find the Right Program for You

Although these programs are often confused, the differences between SSI vs. SSDI are substantial. At Benefits.com, our goal is to assist every U.S. resident in understanding government programs so you can find the optimal benefit plan for you. Explore your eligibility through our Benefits Quiz to maximize your potential benefits.

VA Form 21-686C: Everything You Need to Know

If you support adult children between 18 and 23 attending school, unmarried children below 18, a spouse, or a dependent parent, you can claim VA compensation by filling out VA form-21-686c.

Veterans who have a disability rating of 30% or more who recently had a child, got married, got divorced, or had significant income changes should fill out VA form 21-686c.

This form is also known as the Declaration of Status of Dependents or the VA form to add Dependents

Understanding VA Form 21-686C: A Comprehensive Overview

Again, VA Form 21-686c is also known as the Declaration of Status of Dependents. It allows you to provide information about your dependents to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This form is vital when applying for VA benefits because it determines the dependency benefits you qualify to receive. 

Also, it’s crucial to remove or add dependents if your family situation changes after you file for VA compensation. By completing this form, veterans can receive additional monthly benefits for qualifying dependents. To be eligible for these benefits, you must have a combined disability rating of 30% or higher. 

The Declaration of Status of Dependents form is a 12-page form that requests extensive information concerning a veteran’s dependents. 

Who Should Fill Out VA Form 21-686C?

Veterans with a disability rating of 30% or more can fill out VA form 21-686c if they’re:

  • Claiming additional VA benefits for an unmarried child under 18 or children aged between 18 and 23 who are attending school. 
  • Claiming additional VA compensation for a spouse
  • Claiming additional benefits for more than four children
  • Claiming additional benefits for dependent parents living with them and for whom they offer financial support. The dependent parent’s income must be below the federal poverty guidelines, which the VA determines once you complete VA form 21p-509.
  • Reporting that a stepchild is no longer a member of their household
  • Reporting a divorce
  • Reporting the death of a child, spouse, or dependent parent
  • Reporting that a schoolchild aged over 18 stopped attending school.
  • Reporting the marriage of a child

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Fill Out VA Form 21-686C

Thankfully, filling out VA form 21-686c is pretty straightforward; however, what you need to include will depend on the dependents you want to add to your VA compensation.

To start filling out this form, fill in your first and last name, date of birth, Social Security number, VA file number, and mailing address in Section I.

Removing or Adding a Spouse

If you want to remove or add a spouse from your VA compensation package, provide the following details in Section II.

  • Their name
  • Their Social Security number
  • Their date of birth
  • The place and date of your marriage
  • Whether your spouse is a Veteran, too
  • Whether you were married through a common-law marriage
  • Whether you were married by a justice of the peace or a religious officiant

Also, accurately state if you and your partner were previously married to other people. If that is the case, include information like:

  • The name of your former spouse
  • The place and date of the former marriage
  • The place and date of the marriage’s termination
  • The reason for the termination of the previous marriage (e.g., annulment, divorce, or death)

Make sure you attach a copy of your marriage certificate with your current partner and death certificate or divorce decree related to a former marriage, if applicable.

Section IV

If you want to report a divorce and remove your previous spouse from your VA benefits, you’ll have to complete this section. Complete this section as soon as possible following your divorce so you don’t receive an overpayment of VA compensation, which you’ll need to return.

Section VI

If your spouse passed away, complete this section. You’ll need to provide the name of your spouse who passed recently and the place and date of their demise. Report the demise of your spouse as soon as possible to avoid receiving VA compensation overpayments.

Removing or Adding a Child

Most veterans want to add their kids to their VA compensation packages. To do that, complete Section III of the VA Form 21-686c. This section allows you to add up to four dependents; thus, you might have to use the addendum section to add more than four children to your VA benefits.

For each child, include their:

  • Name 
  • Place and date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Child status, including whether they’re adopted, biological, or stepchild.
  • Address and name of the person the child lives with; if they don’t live with you.

Further, the VA requires you to provide a copy of each child’s adoption paperwork or birth certificate and a copy of the child’s Social Security card. If you want to add a stepchild, be sure to include a copy of your marriage certificate to the child’s biological parent. 

Section IV

Complete this section to report the demise of a dependent child. You’ll have to include their child’s name, place, and date of death.

Section VII

To report the marriage of a child, complete Section VII. Don’t forget that married children are ineligible for VA compensation, no matter how old they are. Add the child’s name and the place and date of marriage.

Adding a Dependent Parent

To add a dependent parent to your VA compensation, you’ll need to complete VA Form 21p-509. Also, you need to be a Veteran with a disability rating of 30% or more or receive VA education compensation.

A Veteran can add an adopted, biological, stepparent, or foster parent. Once you download VA Form 21p-509, complete crucial sections. You’ll also need to provide your parents’ Social Security numbers, date of birth, and full name. 

Some sections require you to provide information about your parent’s financial situation, like the property they own. Also, you’ll need your parent’s encumbrance and present value and the name of your parent’s current spouse if they’re still married.

Because that’s a lot of information, meet with your parents before you fill out this form or have them complete VA Form 21p-509 with you. That’s the best way to ensure the details you provide to the VA are accurate.

When you complete your VA Form 21-686c, you can submit it to the VA in multiple ways.

First, you can mail it using this address:

  • Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • Evidence Intake Center
  • P.O BOX 4444
  • Janesville, WI 53547

Second, you can submit your VA Form 21-686c online by visiting the VA website. Also, you can sign in to VA.gov to view or change your dependent status. You can also submit your completed form in person by taking it to the nearest VA Regional Office. Or you can have a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) or attorney submit a completed form on your behalf. 

Adding a dependent to your VA disability benefits helps make managing the economic aspects of caring for a dependent easier. If you feel you qualify for dependents benefits, visit a qualified Veterans disability lawyer or a VSO. Either one can help you through the pros of your claim and guide you through what’s often a laborious process. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Completing VA Form 21-686C

Potential mistakes individuals make when filling out this form include:

Not Filing Early

Once you’re assigned a disability rating of 30% or more, you’re eligible to receive VA dependency benefits. Filling out VA Form 21-686c as early as possible ensures that you’ll receive dependency benefits as soon as possible because the VA already has everything on file.

Being Vague

When filling out this form, it’s crucial to include as much information as possible. That’s because the VA may deny you veteran dependency benefits if you omit essential details or sections of the form that aren’t filled out. To hasten the process, you must fill out all sections of the form as exhaustively as possible.

Not Gathering All Documents

Before submitting the form, you should gather all documents that you may have to submit to the VA. That includes any divorce degrees, marriage certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, or school documents. It’s vital to gather all those documents before filing so that you can submit them with the form. If you don’t have access to these documents, you can submit your form without them; however, that may cause delays in receiving VA dependency benefits. If for some reason you can’t access any of these documents, for instance, if the only surviving copy of a marriage certificate burned in a house fire, you can write a statement to the VA explaining why you can’t get access to a copy of a document or the original document.

Understanding the Impact of VA Form 21-686C on Benefits

You can use VA Form 21-686c to request additional VA benefits for a dependent or to request the removal of a dependent from your VA benefits.

Suppose you’re a separated or retired military member who has had a change in family size, marital status, or similar situations. In that case, you must update VA records to add information about those changes.

Not doing so can affect your and your dependents’/spouse’s ability to claim some VA education benefits like Chapter 35 DEA benefits or the Fry Scholarship.

Thus, if you’re a veteran with a spouse or dependents, you should complete VA Form 21-686c, the form used to add or remove dependents from your veteran compensation package. 

If you have a child, get married, divorced, or start financially supporting a parent, you should complete and submit VA Form 21-686c to add the new child, spouse, and parent. This may increase your VA benefits package, allowing you to support all your dependents financially.

On the other hand, if you experience a death in your family and that person was listed as a dependent, you need to submit an updated copy of VA Form 21-686c with that information. 

Not reporting changes that result in the VA overpaying you result in the VA contacting you to pay back the overpayment. You’ll be required to pay all the benefits arriving after the death of a dependent or spouse, and this is also true if a dependent child reaches age 24 or gets married and is still receiving VA compensation. 

FAQs: Your Top VA Form 21-686C Questions Answered

To guide you on how to fill out VA Form 21-686c, we’ve answered a few of the most asked questions about the Declaration of Status of Dependents form.

Why Do I Need VA Form 21-686c?

After retiring or separating from the military, you can file a claim with the VA for service-related medical conditions and other veteran benefits. Also, you can add your spouse, dependents, or financially dependent parents for consideration for some VA benefits.

Furthermore, the VA offers added considerations to veterans with a disability rating of 30% or more or those with dependents.

If you get divorced, married, start supporting a financially dependent parent, or have a child, you can fill out this form to claim VA dependency benefits.

On the other hand, if the person you listed as a dependent dies, you must submit an updated form with that information to avoid receiving overpayment, which you have to return later.

When Can I Not Use VA Form 21-686c?

Don’t complete VA Form 21-686c to add dependents older than 24. You’ll need to complete this form to remove children who have aged out (older than 24) or who have gotten married. Further, don’t fill out this form to add a dependent; the VA doesn’t consider a spouse or a qualifying dependent.

Who does the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs deem a qualifying dependent?

  • Spouse
  • A disabled adult child who became disabled before the age of 18
  • Unmarried children under the age of 18 or who are between 18 and 23 years and go to school full-time
  • Dependent parents who you live with and rely on you financially.

VA guidelines don’t focus on the “status” of a child or parent. Foster children, stepparents, and adopted kids are all considered.

When Should I Add Dependents to My VA Compensation?

You can add dependents to your VA compensation when you file your initial claim for service-related benefits. The VA will automatically consider additional benefits for your dependents if you have a disability rating of 30% or higher.

Also, you can remove or add dependents later if your family circumstances change after you’ve filed for VA benefits. The VA will make dependency benefits retroactive to the date you were initially approved for VA compensation if you submit your VA Form 21-686c within the next year.

What Supporting Documentation Do I Have to Submit with VA Form 21-686c?

When submitting your VA Form 21-686c, you must attach the following documents to prove your relationships with your dependents.

You’ll need to submit social security cards and birth certificates for children who are still enrolled in school. Further, you’ll have to submit a Request for Approval of School Attendance for children still enrolled in school. This form gathers information like the student’s class schedule, expected graduation date, transcripts, and other school-related information.

For dependent parents, you’ll have to complete VA Form 21p-509. You can also use this form if you’re a parent of a veteran who passed away on active duty or due to service-related illness.

The VA often requests a marriage certificate for spouses to determine how long a veteran has been married. If you were married previously, you’ll need to submit a divorce decree from your previous marriage. And if you’re recently widowed, you’ll have to submit a death certificate for your deceased spouse.

Wrapping Things Up

VA Form 21-686c is a vital form that can help you secure additional VA compensation for qualified dependents aside from the benefits associated with your service-related disability. However, to qualify for those benefits, you must have a combined disability rating of 30% or more. This form is also vital for adding or removing dependents if your family circumstances change when you file for VA compensation.

With this form, you can provide your dependents with a broad range of VA benefits, from health care to education assistance. Thus, completing VA Form 21-686c is a great idea. 

If you need help filling out VA Form 21-686c, the qualified staff at Benefits.com can help you gather as many documents as you need and fill out your form correctly to ensure you receive the dependency benefits you and your dependents deserve. 

10 Point Veterans Preference: What It Is and How It Works

If you’re a veteran who is looking for a job in the federal government, you may have heard of the 10-point veterans preference. This is a system that gives eligible veterans an advantage when applying for federal jobs. Essentially, if a qualified veteran is eligible for the 10-point preference, they will be placed ahead of other applicants in the hiring process.

So, what exactly is the 10-point veterans’ preference? It’s a system that awards additional points to veterans applying for federal jobs. These points are added to a veteran’s score on a civil service exam or application, giving them a higher ranking than non-veteran applicants. The preference can be used for both competitive and accepted service positions, and it can provide major federal employment advantages.

Origins and Purpose

If you are a veteran seeking employment in the federal government, you may be entitled to veterans preference. Veterans preference is a system that gives those eligible an advantage in the federal hiring process for veterans. The origins of veteran’s preference date back to the Civil War, when soldiers returning from the war faced significant difficulties in finding employment.

In 1864, Congress passed the first law granting veterans’ preference, which gave veterans a hiring preference for federal jobs. The law was intended to reward veterans for their service and to help them find employment after their military service. Since then, the law has been amended several times, and veteran preference has become an important part of federal hiring practices.

Veterans preference is divided into two categories: 5-point preference and 10-point preference. Veterans who served on active duty during certain periods and who were discharged under honorable conditions are entitled to a 5-point preference. Veterans who have a service-connected disability or who received a Purple Heart are entitled to a 10-point preference.

The purpose of veteran’s preference is to recognize the sacrifices that veterans have made for their country and to give them an advantage when it comes to government job opportunities for veterans. By giving veterans an advantage in hiring, the federal government can repay veterans for their service and ensure that they have access to stable, well-paying jobs. Additionally, veterans’ preference helps to ensure that the federal government has a diverse and talented workforce.

Qualifying Criteria

If you are a veteran or an eligible family member of a veteran, you may be able to receive a 10-point preference when going through the federal hiring process for veterans. To qualify for this preference, you must meet specific criteria and conditions.

Service Requirements

To qualify for 10-point preference, you must have served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States during a war, campaign, or expedition for which a campaign badge or service medal was awarded. This includes service during the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Discharge Status

You must have been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions. If you were discharged under other than honorable conditions, you may still be eligible for a 10-point preference if you have a compensable service-connected disability or if you were discharged or released from active duty because of a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Disability Rating

You must have a compensable service-connected disability or receive compensation, VA disability benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you have a present service-connected disability, you may also be eligible for a 10-point preference.

Eligibility Requirements

Spouses, widows, widowers, and parents of veterans may also be eligible for a 10-point preference if the veteran is permanently disabled, or if the veteran died as a result of a service-connected disability. Children of veterans are not eligible for a 10-point preference.

Applying for 10-Point Preference

When applying for federal employment, you must submit documentation to verify your eligibility for 10-point preference. This may include your DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or other acceptable documentation.

It is important to note that a 10-point preference does not guarantee an appointment to a federal position. It is simply a way to give eligible veterans and their family members an advantage in the hiring process and acts as a form of veteran employment assistance.

Advantages and Impact

Having a 10-point veterans preference can be a significant advantage when it comes to applying for federal employment opportunities. It can increase your chances of being selected for a job, especially if you meet the qualifications for the position. The preference gives you an additional 10 points on top of your regular score, which can make a big difference in a highly competitive hiring process.

The preference also allows veterans to receive additional military service points, which are added to their overall score. This means that veterans who served in the armed forces can receive extra credit for their service, making them more competitive candidates for federal jobs. Additionally, disabled veterans receive even more points, making them even more competitive.

The impact of having a 10-point veterans preference can be significant. It can open up doors to federal job opportunities that may not have been available otherwise. It can also provide a sense of security and stability, as federal jobs often come with excellent benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

Furthermore, the preference can help veterans transition back into civilian life after their military service. It provides them with a clear path to federal employment and helps them to continue serving their country in a different capacity. The preference also recognizes the sacrifices that veterans have made and gives them the recognition they deserve.

Overall, having a 10-point veterans preference can be a valuable asset for veterans seeking federal employment advantages. It can provide them with a competitive advantage, additional military service points, and excellent benefits. The preference also recognizes the sacrifices that veterans have made and gives them the recognition they deserve.

Application Process

If you are a veteran seeking a federal job, you may be eligible for a 10-point preference. This preference can give you an advantage during the hiring process. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply for this preference.

Step 1: Gather Required Documentation

Before you apply for the 10-point preference, you must gather the required documentation. This includes your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214) and the 10-Point Veteran Preference (SF-15) application form. If you have a disability rating from the VA, you may also need to provide a letter from the VA Regional Office stating your percentage of disability.

Step 2: Apply for a Federal Job

Once you have your documentation, you can start applying for federal jobs. You can find government job opportunities for veterans on the USAJOBS website. When you apply for a job, make sure to indicate that you are a veteran and that you are claiming the 10-point preference.

Step 3: Submit Your Application for the 10-Point Preference

After you apply for a federal job, you will need to submit your Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference (SF-15). You can submit this form online through the USAJOBS website or by mail to the agency where you applied for the job. If you are submitting the form by mail, make sure to include a copy of your DD-214 and any other required documentation.

Common Misconceptions

As a veteran, you are entitled to a 10-point preference when going through the federal hiring process for veterans. However, there are many misconceptions about this preference that can lead to confusion or missed opportunities. In this section, we will address and debunk some of the most common myths surrounding the 10-point veterans preference.

Myth: You automatically get the job if you have a 10-point preference

This is not true. While having a 10-point preference can give you an advantage in the hiring process, it does not guarantee that you will get the job. You still need to meet the qualifications for the position and compete with other applicants. However, having the preference can increase your chances of being selected for an interview or being hired.

Myth: The 10-point preference applies to all federal jobs

This is also false. The 10-point preference only applies to competitive service positions, which are jobs that are filled through a competitive hiring process. Some federal jobs, such as those in the excepted service or Senior Executive Service, are not subject to competitive hiring and therefore do not offer the preference.

Myth: You can only use the preference once

This is not accurate. You can use the 10-point preference for any eligible federal job application. However, you can only use it once per job announcement. If you apply for multiple positions under the same announcement, you can only claim the preference for one of them.

Myth: You can only claim the preference if you have a service-connected disability

While having a service-connected disability can give you a 10-point preference, it is not the only way to qualify. You can also claim the preference if you are a Purple Heart recipient, a spouse or widow(er) of a disabled veteran, or the mother of a deceased veteran. Additionally, if you served during certain periods of war or national emergency, you may be eligible for the preference even without a disability.

Remember that for preference eligibility in the United States, you must be a veteran who served on active duty in the Armed Forces and was discharged or released under honorable conditions. You must also have a compensable service-connected disability, be receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or be the spouse or mother of a disabled veteran.

When you apply for a federal job, make sure to indicate that you are preference-eligible and provide the required documentation, such as your DD-214 and VA disability letter.

It’s important to note that while the 10-point preference can give you an advantage in the hiring process, your preference eligibility does not guarantee that you will be selected for the job. You still need to meet the qualifications and requirements for the position and compete with other applicants.

If you’re looking for more information when it comes to your military service benefits and the 10-point veterans’ preference, visit Benefits.com.