If you have been exposed to a toxic substance during your military service, you may be eligible for VA benefits, even if you have been turned down in the past. Apply by August 9, 2023, to possibly have your benefits backdated to August 10, 2022, if approved.
Join VA and representatives from Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) for a live broadcast on Facebook, August 2 at 3:30 p.m. EDT, to learn about the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.
The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. The law adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or “presume”) are caused by exposure to these substances, helping VA provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.
To join us, go to VFW’s Facebook page or VVA’s Facebook Page on August 2, a few minutes before the event. Then, at 3:30 p.m. EDT, refresh the page and click on the video that appears to watch the discussion. Make sure your audio is not muted by using the volume control at the bottom of the video.
For more information about the PACT Act, go to VA.gov/PACT. To learn more about VA benefits that help Veterans earn degrees, start careers, buy homes, stay healthy and more, visit Choose.VA.gov.
Important Veterans Information numbers
Veterans Health Care: 877-222-VETS
Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-2877
Prescription Refills: 888-207-2004
Centralized Scheduling: 877-877-9267
Mammography Helpline: 888-492-7844
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) finalized a new rule on January 13, 2017 to consider eight (8) diseases as presumptive for service connection. The presumptive service connection provides VA disability benefits to veterans who have one of eight (8) diseases and served for no less than thirty (30) days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) on permanent or temporary duty at Camp Lejeune between Auguet 1,1953 and December 31,1887. The eight (8) diseases covered under the new rule are: adult leukemia; aplastic; anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes; bladder cancer; kidney cancer; liver cancer; multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; and Parkinson's disease.
The rule will become effective after a sixty (60) day Congressional review. Following the Congressional review period, the Marine Corps will mail restraints pertinent information and updates about the VA's new rule. The rule will be effective March 14, 2017.
Congress granted the VA the authority to prescribe all rules and regulations prescribe all rules and regulations presumptively connecting a disease to service. We appreciate efforts by the VA and Congress to support our Marines and their families.
To contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about health care benefits, please visit or click on http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/ or call (877) 222-8387 (Healthcare), or (800) 827-1000 (Benefits).
The health and welfare of our Marines, Sailors, their families and our civilian workers are top priorities for the Marine Corp. We continue to work diligently to indentify and notify individuals who may have been exposed to the chemicals in drinking water at Camp Lejeune. For more information about these efforts, or to update your contact information, please see: http://www.marines/milklwater/ or contact the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water Call Center at (877) 261-9782, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this information with anyone that may have been at Camp Lejeune between the dates noted and encourage them to register with us.
Reserve and National Guard
Eligibility for VA Benefits
Reservists who serve on active duty establish Veteran status and may be eligible for full- range of VA benefits, depending on the length of active military service and a discharge or release from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable. In addition, reservists not activated may qualify for some VA benefits.
National Guard members can establish eligibility for VA benefits of activated for federal service during a period of war or domestic emergency. Activation for other than federal service does not qualify guard members for all VA benefits. Claims for VA benefits based on federal service filed by members of the National Guard should include a copy of the military orders, presidential proclamation or executive order that clearly demonstrates that federal nature of the service.
Qualifying for VA Health Care
Effective January 28, 2008, Veterans discharged from active duty on or after
January 28, 2003, are eligible for enhanced enrollment placement into Priority Group 6 (unless eligible for higher Priority Group placement) for 5 years post-discharge. Veterans with combat service after Nov. 11, 1998 and who were discharged from active duty before Jan. 28, 2003. Activated reservists and members of the Nation Guard and eligible if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after
Nov. 11, 1998 and have been discharged under other then dishonorable conditions.
Veterans who enroll with VA under this "Combat Veteran: authority will retain enrollment eligibility even after their five year post discharge period ends. At the end of their post-discharge period, VA will reassess the Veteran's information (including all applicable eligibility factors) and make a new enrollment decision. For additional information, call 1-877-222-VETS (8387). PC/ks,opeiu-153 5/2/18
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ANNUITIES AND VA BENEFITS
In October 2018, we previously published an Elder Law ReviewTM which explained the new regulations regarding VA benefits and the implications of these changes for veterans requiring long-term care. In this article, we will be discussing these changes in more detail, including the impact of annuities that have been purchased during the lookback period. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented a new rule regarding Net Worth, Asset Transfers, and Income Exclusions for Needs Based Benefits (“the Rule”), as of October 18, 2018 that will make it more difficult for veterans to qualify for long-term care benefits. The rules establish an asset limit, a lookback period, and asset transfer penalties for claimants applying for VA pension benefits that require proof of financial need. The VA benefit for those needing long term care is generally Aid and Attendance is a monetary benefit for low income veterans (or their spouses) who are in nursing homes or who need help at home with everyday tasks such as dressing or bathing. To be eligible for Aid and Attendance, a veteran (or the veteran's surviving spouse) must meet certain income and asset limits. Prior to the Rule, the asset limits weren't specified, but $80,000 was generally used as a cap on resources. However, unlike the Medicaid program, there have historically been no penalties if an applicant divested himself or herself of assets before applying for benefits. In other words, before the Rule, one could transfer assets in excess of the VA’s limit before applying for benefits and the transfers would not affect eligibility. The new regulations set a net worth limit of $127,061, which is the current maximum amount of assets (in 2019) that a Medicaid applicant's spouse is allowed to retain. But in the case of the VA, this number will include both the applicant's assets and income. The number will be indexed to inflation similar to annual Social Security cost of living adjustments. An applicant's house (up to a two acre lot) will not count as an asset even if the applicant is currently living in a nursing home. Applicants will be able to deduct medical expenses, including payments to assisted living facilities, from their income. The regulations also establish a three year lookback provision. Applicants will have to disclose all financial transactions for three years prior to the application. Applicants who transferred assets to reduce their resources to below the net worth limit within three years of applying for benefits, will be subject to a penalty period that can last as long as five years. This penalty period is the length of time during which the person who transferred assets is not eligible for these VA benefits. There are exceptions to the penalty period for fraudulent transfers and for transfers to a trust for a child who is unable to "self-support. “Under the new rules, the VA will determine a penalty period in months by dividing the amount transferred that would have put the applicant over the net worth limit by the maximum annual pension rate (MAPR) for a veteran with one dependent in need of aid and attendance. For example, assume the net worth limit is $127,061 and he has a net worth of $115,061. But, the applicant transferred $30,000 to a friend during the lookback period. If the applicant had not transferred the $30,000, his net worth would have been $145,061, which exceeds the net worth limit by $18,000. The penalty period will be calculated based on $18,000, the amount the applicant transferred that put his assets over the net worth limit (14, 06112, 061). The VA will disregard asset transfers made prior to implementation of the law (prior to October 18, 2018).The VA rules also affect planning techniques, such as the purchase of annuities. Annuities are insurance products that guarantee a stream of income. The purchase of annuities is a common retirement planning tool but should be evaluated in light of the potential need for long-term care/benefits.
As of October 18, 2018, transfers to trusts and the purchase of annuities are considered as transfers for less than fair market value under the new rule, unless the claimant retains the ability to liquidate the entire balance of the trust or annuity for his or her own benefit.
According to the Rule, a transfer for less than fair market value includes an asset transfer to, or the pur-chase of, any financial instrument or investment that reduces net worth and would not be in the claimant's financial interest were it not for the claimant's attempt to qualify for pension. Examples of such instruments or investments would include trusts and annuities. In the absence of clear and convincing evidence showing otherwise, an asset transfer during the look-back period will be deemed made for the purpose of decreasing net worth to establish pension entitlement. The presumption can be rebutted by clear and convincing evi-dence that the claimant transferred the asset as the result of fraud, misrepresentation, or unfair business prac-tice. A trust established on behalf of a child whom the VA has rated incapable of self-support would not be considered a transfer for less than fair market value. The VA will not recalculate a penalty period unless the original calculation was shown to be erroneous or the VA received evidence, within 60 days after the agency notified the claimant of the decision, that all covered assets were returned to the claimant before the date of claim or within 30 days after the date of claim.
It is important to consult a knowledgeable professional if you are considering applying for these benefits.
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