Benefits

Food Supplements (formerly Food Stamps)

What are Food Supplements? 

You and your family may qualify for this benefit, even if you have too much money to qualify for other programs. You are given a card (like a debit card) to use when you buy food. (Some states may still use paper “stamps” or may have a different program name.) Your card is credited with monthly payments. The federal government also calls this SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

Unemployment Compensation: Special Rules for Servicemembers

What is Unemployment Compensation [UC]?

"Unemployment compensation” [UC] programs provide weekly income to workers who can’t find jobs. UC can help you get by if you are unemployed or only able to find part-time work. Weekly UC payments also include a small amount for dependents. Typically you need to have earned a certain minimum amount during a "base period" in order to qualify.

What are the Major Differences between DoD and VA Disability Benefits?

Here are some important differences between DoD disability retirement benefits and VA disability benefits. Understanding these differences may help you sort out  the benefits puzzle.

VA Disability Compensation and Disability Pension

Veteran’s Disability Compensation

Veteran’s Disability Compensation is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is intended to compensate veterans for loss of quality of life and civilian employability. To qualify, an individual must be a veteran.

VA Disability - Step 8: Filing A Court Appeal

If the BVA denies your claim

If you are not satisfied with any part of the Board decision, you can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (the "Veterans Court").  The Veterans Court only handles BVA appeals on behalf of veterans. The Court website also has useful information about the appeal process.

VA Disability - Step 6: When the initial decision finds no "nexus"

What is the "nexus" and why is it important? 

To get benefits, you must meet three tests. You need to show:

VA Disability - Step 5: Getting the Initial Decision on Your Claim

When VA can't find needed information

The law requires VA to make "reasonable efforts" to help you prove your claim.  The VA is supposed to make "as many efforts as necessary" to get files from federal agencies, including military service and military or VA medical records.  For records that are not kept by the federal government (including personal medical records), the VA is required to make at least one request and one follow-up.

VA Disability - Step 4: The C & P Exam

What is the C & P Exam?

The Ratings Veterans Services Representative [RSVR] is a primary decision maker on your claim. Once you have filed your claim, a folder or file is created. Data, or evidence, is added to your file for consideration by the RSVR. Likely some past evidence exists in the form of a Service Medical Record [SMR]. Or you have records of diagnosis and treatment from civilian providers.

VA Disability - Step 2: The VA Response

What happens next?

Now that you have started your claim online or submitted the Intent to File a Claim form (VA Form-21-0966). It's time to begin gathering the evidence you'll need to support your claim.  See next section on "evidence."

 Eventually, you will receive a letter from VA to notify you that they have received your application.  The letter explains what VA needs in order to help grant your claim.