How to Get a VA Toxic Exposure Screening

The PACT Act expanded VA compensation for service-connected disabilities or medical problems associated with toxic exposures to burn pits, Agent Orange, those suffering from Gulf War Syndrome, and related issues.

Post-9/11 combat veterans are especially vulnerable and should be screened immediately. But all veterans can benefit from being screened for duty-related toxic exposures. Thanks to VA healthcare system changes, those screenings are now available to all who qualify for VA healthcare.

Getting Screened

If you are enrolled or are about to enroll in the VA healthcare system, you can get an initial Toxic Exposure Screening and a follow-up to that screening every five years.

Those not currently enrolled but worried about service-connected toxic exposures can apply for VA healthcare and receive the screening.

You can enroll in the VA health care system at the VA official site. Existing enrollees can log into their accounts at My HealtheVet and send a secure message to their medical teams.

Related: The PACT Act and Your Military Benefits

VA Toxic Exposure Screening

Do you need the VA Toxic Exposure Screening? Ask for one when you make your next VA Health Care appointment. You can also get screened simply by contacting your nearest VA facility and requesting it–no need to wait for your next scheduled VA appointment.

The VA Toxic Exposure Screening Process: How it Works

  • The VA Toxic Exposure screening process is not diagnostic; it’s not intended to determine whether you have a specific medical condition or issue.
  • Instead, it’s meant to help determine whether you qualify for a VA “presumptive condition.”
  • A presumptive condition is one where the VA assumes any medical issues related to that condition (such as serving where Agent Orange was used, for example) are service-connected without requiring further evidence from the veteran.

The screening process includes answering questions about your military service. This can be administered during other VA appointments so you may not need to make a special trip to get this screening accomplished if you are getting other VA services.

Related: How the PACT Act Changes Your Military Benefits

Do you believe you were exposed to toxins during your military duty? Here is a list of topics you may be asked about during the brief (5-10 minutes) Q&A:

  • Open Burn Pits
  • Airborne Hazards
  • Contact with mustard gas
  • Contact with asbestos
  • Gulf War-related exposures to oil fires, pesticides, etc.
  • Agent Orange
  • Radiation
  • Camp Lejeune contaminated water exposure
  • “Other” exposures

The VA official site notes that you are not required to take the screening; you may decline it and it is offered to you again next year.

Related: How to Check the Status of Your PACT Act Claim

Gather Documentation

If you plan to file a PACT Act claim with the VA, or if you plan to get a toxic exposure screening, you should try to remember any possible exposure you had while serving, gather any supporting documents (medical records, PCS orders, TDY orders, deployment orders, etc.) needed to support your claim or concern.

When the VA Toxic Exposure Screening is Over

If your VA healthcare team becomes aware of any toxic exposures, they will work with you on diagnosing and treating the condition. You will be given information on any VA benefits, examinations, and other medical resources you can use if you are diagnosed with a toxic exposure or symptoms of a disease associated with it.


Who Qualifies as a Veteran?

Who qualifies to be called a veteran? The official site for the United States Census says approximately 19 million U.S. men and women have served on active duty. Are all of these people veterans? And just as importantly, why are so many people asking who counts or does not count as a vet?

An American Mass Shooting and the Question of Veteran Status

To understand why “Who counts as a veteran” is asked so frequently, we have to look at multiple factors. One is the fact that not all who enlist or accept an officer commission to serve make it through their initial training phase.

Some finish Basic Training but wash out during advanced training or technical school.

Others may make it all the way to their first assignment only to be administratively separated before their first tour of duty is complete. Who among these are considered veterans? Any?

Related: Active Duty Benefits Guide

Another factor to consider is related to breaking news headlines. In 2023, a mass shooter incident brought the arrest of an alleged gunman named Mauricio Garcia, who had spent three months in Army boot camp before being separated due to what news outlets describe as a “mental health issue.”

Did this person spend enough time in uniform to qualify as a veteran? The Pentagon Press Secretary was quoted in an article stating that the individual does NOT qualify as a vet. But why or why not?

In the simplest terms, the alleged shooter did not serve long enough on active duty (he was still in basic training) to qualify as a veteran.

Related: Military Benefits During Basic Training

How the Department of Veterans Affairs Defines a Veteran

According to, veteran status refers to, “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.”  that is part of the criteria for qualifying for VA healthcare benefits (see below.) 24 months of active duty service are typically required for active duty troops with other criteria for Guard and Reserve members as we’ll examine below.

But all of this is not the same criteria for other VA programs like the GI Bill, which requires only 90 days of active service for those who sign up today. Who counts as a veteran? It may depend on which program you need.

Other Agencies

The VA isn’t the only government agency that defines what legally counts toward veteran status.

State-level education benefits for veterans or survivor benefit programs may list a specific time-served requirement or may only require that the service member not have a punitive discharge on their military records to qualify.

Related: Where to Find State Benefits for Disabled Veterans

VA Minimum Duty Requirements

To qualify as a veteran for the purpose of being approved for VA benefits, the following requirements may apply:

  • No minimum time-in-service requirement exists for those who joined before September 8, 1980.
  • Veterans who enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, or who entered active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty.
  • advises that the minimum duty requirement “may not apply to Veterans discharged for hardship, early out or a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.”
  • Those discharged before the 24-month requirement but separated due to a medical issue, hardship, or “early out” may still qualify as veterans, depending on circumstances.

These requirements are for establishing eligibility for VA health benefits. They are not necessarily the criteria used to approve applications for other VA benefits like the GI Bill, which requires you to serve 90 days or more if you joined in the current service era.

Members of the Guard and Reserve may qualify as veterans if:

  • The service member was on federal active duty for at least 180 days;
  • The service member did not receive a punitive discharge, OR;
  • They served 20 years or more with no punitive discharge

What Qualifies as Active Duty?

The DoD defines active duty service as follows:

“Full-time duty in the active service of a Uniformed Service, including full-time training duty, annual training duty, full-time National Guard duty, and attendance, while in the active service, at a school designated as a Military Service school by law or by the Secretary concerned.”

Who Qualifies as a Veteran?

As we can see from the information above, there is no one-size-fits-all description of a veteran, at least not for the purpose of determining who qualifies for federal healthcare benefits, GI Bill benefits, or even federal student financial aid. The nature of the benefits program you are applying to, the date you joined, and even the nature of your military service may all affect what it takes to be called a veteran.

When it comes to identifying a person in the news as a veteran, the term is used more loosely than it is in the context of applying for VA benefits.

People may inaccurately refer to someone as a veteran when they did not complete the full 24 months of active duty or meet the other above criteria to qualify in the eyes of the VA or a given benefits program. In such cases, “veteran” is used less accurately, a type of cultural shorthand for someone who tried to enter the military, regardless of the outcome.

Related: Do You Need Help Filing a VA Disability Claim?

Also related: VA Extends Pandemic Prescription Drug Rules

Study: Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Linked With Elevated Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

A study published May 15, 2023, demonstrates a link between a contaminant found in the water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and a greatly elevated risk of Parkinson’s Disease.

The American Journal of Medicine’s official site reported the publication of this study, noting the risk of Parkinson’s disease was 70% higher in Camp Lejeune veterans compared with troops stationed at Marine bases where the water did not contain elevated levels of industrial contaminants.

The contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been a controversial topic for decades.

Related: VA and DoD Streamline Disability Claim Exam Procedures

What the Study Found

In the 20th century, Camp Lejeune drinking water was contaminated with a known carcinogen called TCE, the likely carcinogen tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and multiple other contaminants which polluted the water supply for 30 years or more from circa 1953 until 1987. Millions of people who lived and worked at the Camp may have been affected.

It should be pointed out that this highly elevated risk of Parkinson’s Disease likely would not have been detected if it weren’t for requirements in the Safe Drinking Water Act. 

There have been multiple lawsuits over the Camp Lejeune drinking water issue and with good reason.

One military publication notes that one in every 370 troops who participated in the study “showed signs of (Parkinson’s), a brain disorder that causes uncontrollable movements of the limbs and body. That is significantly above control groups of veterans examined.”

VA Claims Related to Service at Camp Lejeune

The Department of Veterans Affairs official site says those who served at Camp Lejeune may qualify for VA disability pay. Certain medical issues are presumed to be service-connected, including conditions related to exposure to contaminated Camp Lejeune drinking water.

You may qualify if you served at either Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River in North Carolina for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.

You must also have a diagnosis that includes one of the following conditions assumed to be service connected with the above service locations and dates:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease states, “Evidence shows a link between these conditions and exposure to chemicals found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River during this time.”

When you file for benefits related to this issue, the VA asks that you “state that you’re applying for 1 or more of the presumptive conditions for Camp Lejeune.”

Related: Do You Need Help Filing a VA Disability Claim?

PACT Act Provides Legal Recourse

In 2022, the PACT Act, also known as the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, provided an avenue of legal recourse for family members and veterans who believe the VA has not sufficiently compensated them for these toxic exposures.

Until the PACT Act, families could not sue the federal government for harm caused by contaminated water or related issues. And since the passage of the PACT Act, many such lawsuits have been filed; so many that some sources report lawmakers considering additional legislation to limit the fees lawyers may charge for representing Camp Lejeune plaintiffs.

History of the Contaminated Water Issue At Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

According to the Centers for Disease Control, contamination of drinking water at Camp Lejeune likely began in the 1950s. Some federal agencies have been tracking this issue since the 80s.

According to the CDC, “In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water provided by two of the eight water treatment plants on base” at Camp Lejeune.

The nature of this contamination? It was “primarily” by PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene.)

What are the origins of this contamination? Some may have come from an off-base dry cleaning company, and the CDC official site says, “Wells that provided water to the base during this period were contaminated by on-base sources, including leaking underground storage tanks, industrial spills, and waste disposal sites.”

The CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) researched the water issue, stating that PCE concentrations “exceeded the current EPA maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb in drinking water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant for 346 months during November 1957-February 1987.”

According to the CDC, the “most contaminated wells” were taken out of service in 1985.

A “cohort study” of more than 300 thousand servicemembers revealed, “the risk of Parkinson’s disease was 70% higher in Camp Lejeune veterans compared with veterans stationed at a Marine Corps base where water was not contaminated.”

A CDC official site page about this issue reminds us, “As many as one million military and civilian staff and their families might have been exposed to the contaminated drinking water” at the Marine Corps Base.

Related: How to Add Dependents to Your Veteran Benefits

DEA Extends Pandemic Prescription Drug Rules: Thousands of Veterans Affected

Thousands of veterans stand to benefit from an extension of online healthcare rules left over from the pandemic.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has extended a pandemic-era rule allowing online prescriptions (including controlled substances like pain medications) across state lines.

This move is expected to benefit thousands of veterans who participate in telehealth or online healthcare in the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system. It also benefits many non-military members who also rely on telemedicine for prescriptions.

The pandemic rules allowing doctors to prescribe medications online and across state lines was meant to expire in May 2023, but the rule is now in effect for six more months.

Related: Ultimate TRICARE Guide

The Department of Veterans Affairs Lobbied for the Extension

The VA Secretary says congressional action is needed to offer veterans “the same level of access and high-quality care they deserve,” including the ability to continue getting online care across state lines.

According to the VA, during the pandemic, the emergency rules that allowed telemedicine also enhanced the VA’s reach into rural areas and better serves those with disabilities. Ending the ability to get remote prescriptions potentially affects nearly 3 million rural veterans.

Another one-million-plus veterans not enrolled in VA health services would also lose the ability to get prescription drugs without travel–the DEA extension affects civilians and military members alike.

Related: VA Gulf War Study

Could the Extension Become Permanent?

It is entirely possible the extension could be written into law permanently. The DEA received nearly 40 thousand comments when it proposed new telemedicine rules earlier in 2023; the DEA is considering a permanent extension to the rule allowing prescriptions for non-narcotic medications without an in-person visit.

The DEA is considering versions of the extension that would feature a 30-day limit for the initial prescription before an in-person visit would be required.

Related: VA and DoD Disability Claim Exam Procedures

Terms of the Extension

Under the temporary extension approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) all “telehealth flexibilities” permitted under pandemic rules, including online prescriptions up to and including controlled substances for 6 months.

The extension also recognizes allowances for controlled medications prescribed through Nov. 11, 2024. The government is contemplating the future of all this until November 2023, when the future of some remote healthcare options may be decided for good.

Related: VA Disability Pay Rates

VA and DoD Streamline Disability Claim Exam Procedures

When an active duty service member transitions out of the military and back into civilian life, there are several standard appointments to attend before the final out-processing date.

Troops who file VA claims for disability benefits have previously been required to attend two claim examinations, one for the VA and one for the Department of Defense. The two exams are redundant as the VA admits, and steps were taken to eliminate that redundancy.

Why Two Disability Claim Examinations?

The Department of Defense has required its own Separation Health Assessment when troops retire or separate. Part of the justification for that requirement was making certain the military healthcare system meets the service member’s needs before they leave the military.

Did the service member need dental care before separating? Were there any medical issues being treated that may need continuing care? The Separation Health Assessment was designed to address these types of concerns.

The VA official site notes that it also requires “a similar separation examination” for those filing VA disability claims using the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program or the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).

The Department of Veterans Affairs notes, “These two different-but-similar exams are redundant.”

Related: Do You Need Help Filing a VA Disability Claim?

Developing a Single Process

The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs teamed up on a project to create a single examination that can be used by both the VA and DoD.

The results of that project?

  • On May 1, 2023, the Department of Veterans Affairs introduced a new Separation Health Assessment Disability Benefit Questionnaire (Parts A and B).
  • The new questionnaire allows “both subjective patient histories and objective clinical evaluations,” according to
  • The form replaces DoD Forms 2807-1, “Report of Medical History,” and 2808, “Report of Medical Exam,” for documentation of Separation Health Assessments “required of service members at separation”.
  • The new forms also replace the VA Separation Health Assessment.

The Department of Defense will use the same common form starting in 2023; a “DoD Only” portion of the common form meant to “streamline the disability claim process, reduce redundant examinations, and ensure medical assessments for those separating from service are more accurate and complete.”

Related: VA Disability Pay and the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program

What to Know About VA Disability Claim Exams

Not everyone is required to have a VA claim examination. The Department of Veterans Affairs will require one, “only if we need more information to decide your claim.”

Do you feel you have enough medical evidence in your file to support your VA disability claim? The VA uses something known as “the Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE) process,” which allows a medical records review but requires the VA to ask you “to submit more evidence if needed, instead of asking you to have an exam” under the appropriate circumstances.

You may need more than one VA Claim Examination if you meet any of the following:

  • You are submitting claims for more than one condition
  • Some conditions may require follow-up exams or review exams.
  • Review exams allow the care provider to determine whether the severity of your condition has changed since your last exam.
  • You have requested a VA review of an earlier disability claim decision.

You may qualify for travel reimbursement if you have to travel to attend a VA Claim Exam. Did you know the VA offers reimbursement of:

  • Regular transportation, such as by car, plane, train, bus, taxi, or light rail
  • Approved meals
  • Approved lodging expenses
  • File a claim online through the Beneficiary Travel Self-Service System (BTSSS).

If you have a VA Claim Exam with a contractor, states, “The contractor will pay you back for travel to and from the exam. If you don’t get a travel payment from the contractor within 14 days after your appointment, call the contractor.”

Who Qualifies for General Health Care Travel Reimbursement?

Veterans and caregivers may both qualify depending on the circumstances:


If you travel for care at a VA health facility or for VA-approved care elsewhere, at least one of the following must apply:

  • You have a VA disability rating of 30% or higher
  • You’re traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition
  • You receive a VA pension
  • You have an income below the maximum VA pension rate
  • You can’t afford travel
  • You’re traveling for a VA claim exam, to claim a service dog, or for VA-approved transplant care.


The VA may pay for caregiver travel for these appointments if one of the following applies:

  • A family caregiver under the National Caregiver Program travels to receive caregiver training or to support your care;
  • The person is your medically required attendant traveling with you to support your care;
  • The person is your transplant care donor or support person. advises they also pay for care “for an allied beneficiary when the appropriate foreign government agency has authorized their care, or for the beneficiary of another federal agency when that agency has approved their care.

Travel Expenses the VA Reimburses

  • Travel to a VA health facility nearest to you “that can provide the care you need.” If your VA care provider recommends an option farther away, “we’ll reimburse the cost of travel to that facility.”
  • Non-VA health facility travel is only reimbursable when the VA approves the care in advance, “except in certain emergency situations.”

The VA May Reimburse You for the Following:

  • Mileage to and from your appointment
  • Tolls
  • Parking
  • Taxis
  • Plane fares
  • Public transportation fares
  • Transportation by ambulance or wheelchair van
  • Meals
  • Lodging

Read more: VA Disability Pay Rates

Disabled Veteran Benefits Guide

Military Benefits for Disabled Veterans

There are various benefits for disabled veterans at the state and local levels. In addition to these benefits, there are federal protections for disabled veterans defined by two laws; the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, also known as USERRA.

Disabled veterans are a “protected class” in American society; they receive special consideration under the law, are offered hiring preference for state and federal jobs, and may claim tax breaks or other benefits.

But what is the definition of a disabled veteran, and how do you claim the benefits offered?

There are multiple definitions, but among the most relevant for this article, the Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as:


    • who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
    • has a record of an impairment;
    • “regarded as having an impairment”

To claim federal-level VA disability benefits, the definition is different; the veteran must submit a claim for service-connected or service-aggravated medical issues, be evaluated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and be assigned a VA disability rating for the conditions reviewed.

Requirements to draw state-level disabled veteran benefits may vary.

Related: VA and DoD Streamline Disability Claim Exam Procedures

Federal Benefits for Disabled Veterans

There are many federal benefits for disabled veterans, starting with the best-known (VA compensation for service-connected medical issues) to some of the least-utilized options.

A short list of VA disability benefits includes (but is not limited to) the following:

Related: Enhanced Benefits for Disabled Veterans: The AUTO Act

Am I Eligible for VA Disability Benefits?

You may be eligible for VA disability benefits or compensation if you have a service-connected current illness or injury and you served qualifying time on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.

In addition to the above, you must meet one of the following requirements. According to;

  • You were injured or became ill while serving in the military and the condition is service-related or;
  • You had an illness or injury before you joined the military and serving made the problem worse, or;
  • You have a disability related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you ended your service.

Related: Do You Need Help Filing a VA Disability Claim?

VA Disability Rates

The Department of Veterans Affairs assigns disability rates and the compensation for those rates based on a percentage scale.

For example, those who apply for VA disability benefits may be assigned a VA rating of 0% (no compensation) to 100% (full compensation.)

The lowest VA disability rates (10% and 20%) are paid at a flat rate without consideration of dependents, a spouse, etc. Those rates for 2022 were as follows, but know that these rates are subject to change year to year depending on current legislation, VA policy, and other variables.

  • VA Disability Rating of 10% = $165.92
  • VA Disability Rating of 20% = $327.99

Once VA disability ratings hit the 30% range, they are broken down into categories that include veterans with no children but with a dependent spouse, veterans with no spouse but who care for one or both parents and then there are categories for veterans who have a spouse, dependent children, both together, etc.

The benefits are listed between 30% and 60% and between 70% and 100%.

The amount you are paid may increase the more dependents you claim, but your dependents must be registered in DEERS for them to be considered under these payment guidelines.

Read more: VA Disability Rates


>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Get help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.


How the Department of Veterans Affairs Defines a Disabled Veteran defines disabled veterans as those “who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse.”

VA disability benefits may be approved for physical issues, mental health conditions, and these issues may have developed “before, during, or after” military service.

If you have not explored your VA benefit options in a while, it may be smart to revisit them; federal laws have changed important aspects of the VA disability rating system, and thousands of veterans who had past claims denied by the VA are revisiting or resubmitting those claims thanks to new federal laws.

Learn more: The PACT Act and Your VA Benefits

Entering the VA System

Before you can file a VA claim, it helps to know whether you are eligible to do so. Who can file a claim for VA disability pay?

As mentioned above, those who served on active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty for training AND who have “a current illness or injury (known as a condition) that affects your mind or body,” according to

If you meet these requirements, you can file for disability using a standard VA form.

If you are applying to the VA for a reconsideration of your VA rating or a VA disability rating increase, you’ll need to use some special procedures to do so. Learn how to apply for an increased VA disability rating before you ask for a reconsideration of your rating.

VA Presumptive Conditions

For some conditions, the Department of Veterans Affairs “automatically” assumes there is a service connection for certain qualifying medical issues.

There is no need to provide further proof that military duty caused those conditions, you only have to meet the military service requirements to get a VA rating for these issues.

Related: What Forms Do I Need to Apply For VA Disability Benefits?

Veterans Pension

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a different pension option for qualifying veterans, including disabled vets. This pension is completely unrelated to military retirement pay through High-3, Redux, the Blended Retirement System, etc. Who qualifies?

Those who typically qualify are at least 65 or have a permanent disability. Those receiving long-term nursing home care or getting Social Security may also qualify if they meet other program requirements.

Read more: Who is Eligible for a Veterans Pension?

Federal Income Tax Benefits for Disabled Veterans

Disabled veterans should not include military disability retirement pay, VA disability compensation, or GI Bill benefits in their taxable income for federal income tax purposes. Do you know why?

Read more: Federal Income Tax Benefits for Disabled Veterans

Social Security Benefits for Disabled Veterans

Disabled vets may qualify for both Social Security (SSI or SSDI) and military disability retirement pay. Did you know that Social Security Disability Income is not affected by VA disability payments or military disability retirement pension payments like SSI?

Read more: Social Security Benefits for Veterans

Applying for VA Disability

When you apply for VA disability benefits, some important milestones must be considered. One is how long you have in your current military service commitment before you retire or separate.

Are you within a full calendar year of your final out-processing appointment? That one-year-out date is very important.

You should consider lining up your out-processing appointments, looking for a new place to live where applicable, and gathering documents to file any VA disability claim you may need to consider once you are one year out or less. Does a year in advance sound too early?

Read more: Five Tips for Applying for VA Disability Benefits

It is not too early to start preparing your claim, considering that you can file a pre-discharge claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs as early as six months out (180 days). It will take time to gather your military and civilian medical records and supporting documentation.

Don’t delay; start your transition as early as possible for best results. Why? You may qualify to get VA disability benefits faster through a program called Benefits Delivery At Discharge.

Who Qualifies for Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD)?

You may be eligible to receive VA disability benefits earlier using the BDD program. You may qualify if you meet all of the below, starting with being a service member on full-time active duty (including the National Guard, Reserve, or Coast Guard) and:

  • You have a known separation date
  • Your separation date is in the next 180 to 90 days
  • You’re available to go to VA exams for 45 days from the date you submitted your claim
  • You can provide a copy of your service treatment records for your current period of service when you file your claim

Learn more: VA Disability: Benefits Delivery at Discharge

Federal Education Benefits for Disabled Veterans

The GI Bill is offered to all with qualifying uniformed service and to spouses and dependents who have had the benefit transferred to them by an active duty service member.

Disabled veterans have more VA benefit options above and beyond the GI Bill that include the Department of Veterans Affairs Readiness And Employment Program (VR&E), and the VA Work-Study Program.

Read more: VA Education Benefits for Disabled Veterans

VR&E, formerly known as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VOC REHAB), features programs offering veterans services and the support they need to live more independently. Who is eligible to apply for VR&E benefits and services?

Those who have a VA disability rating of 10% or more and don’t have a dishonorable discharge.

Learn more: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)

VA Work-Study is not a program specifically designed for disabled veterans, but you may find you have hiring preference in some cases as disabled veterans are part of a “protected class” who are often given more consideration at hiring time. Work study lets you get paid as a part-time employee while you attend classes. To qualify:

  • You must be enrolled at least three-quarter time;
  • You must locate a job “at a nearby VA facility or in a VA-related role at your school,” according to;
  • You will finish the work-study contract while you still qualify for education benefits;
  • You’re using a VA program to pay for your education or training.

There are other benefits, including a student loan forgiveness program offered by an office of the US Department of Education. This loan forgiveness is for those deemed totally disabled, including veterans.

Survivors and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program is not for the veteran, it is intended to help the spouses and college-age dependent children of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled or who died on active duty.

These benefits are available to most who start using them today for up to 36 months. These benefits can be used in a variety of ways, from traditional classroom education to online learning, on-the-job training, and apprenticeships.

Learn more: VA Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance

State Benefits for Disabled Veterans

State benefits for disabled veterans should not be overlooked; some of these benefits offer as much help as federal-level benefits in the same areas (education, jobs, training, home ownership) and may some may even be used concurrently with federal benefits depending on the program.

Sometimes half the battle in claiming state-level military benefits and benefits for disabled veterans is knowing where to look. For federal benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs official site is a good centralized resource; for state-level benefits, it’s often the same.

Search here for your state-level Department of Veterans Affairs, a separate entity from the federal version.

Some states call this office the Division of Veterans Affairs, and some call it the Office of Veteran Services. Whatever it’s called in your local area, this resource is just as important as the federal VA.

State-level disabled veteran benefits are not the same; depending on what state you live in you may be offered more benefits than others. The types of state-level benefits may include some, all, or none of the following depending on the state:

  • State-level GI Bill-type programs
  • State-level housing programs for disabled vets
  • Adaptive vehicle grants
  • Military license plate designation
  • Disabled veteran plates and placards
  • Homestead tax exemptions
  • Income tax exemptions
  • Reduced-fee or no-fee recreational licenses

Learn more: Where to Find State Benefits for Disabled Veterans

What to Know About Seeking State-Level Disabled Veteran Benefits

States have their own rules about hiring practices, and your experience may vary depending on the state, the type of employment you seek, and the nature of your military service.

Some job seekers apply for positions in state- and federal-level agencies that may offer hiring preference. There are important things to know about each option, especially if you plan to apply for both simultaneously.

It’s also important to note that you likely won’t find all state-level veteran benefits centralized in one place on the state’s official page’ some programs may be listed under state entities such as a Housing Finance Corporation or state-level Department of Education official site.

Learn more: What to Know About Disabled Veteran Hiring Preference in State and Federal Hiring

Other Benefits for Disabled Veterans

Many local and national businesses offer discounts, free or reduced memberships, and other perks for veterans and disabled veterans.

You can find these military discounts listed together in some cases, or you may find them listed at individual retail sites like Walmart and Target.

In 2020, the federal government modified the rules needed to access on-base facilities like the Base Exchange and Commissary; today, veterans with VA-rated disabilities can use the BX and Commissary as long as they have proper ID (a Veteran Health ID Card) and don’t mind paying a small service charge in some cases.

Base Exchange and Commissary options can be important for military families due to these outlets’ reduced prices offered for food, clothing, and household goods.

Read more: Commissary and Exchange Benefits: What You Need to Know

There are a variety of Veteran Service Organizations, such as the DAV, USO, VFW, and others that assist veterans in filing VA claims, applying for GI Bill or VA home loan benefits, and related services.

But many of these agencies also provide other help; the group Disabled Veterans of America (DAV) offers transportation services for medical care and other needs. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) offers grants and educational support in addition to helping with VA claims and benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs makes it easy to find VA-accredited veteran service organizations near you with a search tool available at

Read more: What are Veteran Service Organizations?


>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Get help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.






Where to Find State Benefits for Disabled Veterans

Various state-level veteran benefits are offered to disabled veterans; sometimes, the problem is knowing where to find these benefits. Unfortunately, there’s no one-answer solution to where to look for these options, as every state is different.

And that’s true right up to the naming convention of the state-level department meant to help veterans. In some states, it’s known as the Division of Veterans Affairs; in others, the agency might be known as the Veterans Affairs Department.

In many states, the name is confusing because it’s the same name as the federal-level agency known as the Department of Veterans Affairs.

More confusing still? Not all disabled veteran benefits offered at the state level are administered by the state-level Department of Veterans Affairs. A state housing finance corporation, county tax assessors, or the Department of Motor Vehicles may operate some programs.

Related: Do You Need Help With a VA Disability Claim?

State Disabled Veteran Benefits: What’s Available?

Not all states have the same benefits, but in general, you’ll find some version of at least some of the following:

  • Disabled veteran education programs
  • Employment and retraining
  • Hiring preference for disabled veterans and spouses of disabled veterans
  • Homestead tax exemptions for disabled veterans
  • Income tax exemptions for disabled veterans
  • Vehicle tax exemptions for disabled veterans
  • Nursing home benefits
  • State veteran cemetery benefits
  • Disabled veteran license plates, parking designators, ID cars, driver’s licenses
  • Park district discounts, free admission, deals

Some programs may be open to all disabled veterans, others may require a certain percentage of VA disability rating, and others may require the applicant to be 100% disabled.


>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.


Where to Find State Benefits For Disabled Veterans: Your First Stop

The first place to look for any state-level veteran benefit is your state government’s official site. You may find links to the state-level Department of Veterans Affairs, which should be your second stop when you begin researching disabled veteran benefits.

Most state government and municipal government sites are .gov addresses. These sites are often the first source of information on state veterans’ homes, state veteran cemeteries, state-level scholarship programs, and homeless veteran assistance initiatives.

Pro tip: State government sites and state-level Department of Veterans Affairs sites often have similar information, but it pays to check both as some states don’t seem as diligent in updating one page or the other. Depending on the circumstances, you may find more current information at one site or the other.

Where to Find State Disabled Veteran Benefits: County Veteran Assistance Offices

Not all states offer county veteran assistance offices, but those who do provide important services to disabled veterans, including help applying for federal and state-level disabled veteran benefits.

Get started by Googling or searching your state and local government pages for county VSO offices; if they are available, you may find this one of the most important resources you can use locally.

Where to Find Tax Benefits For Disabled Veterans

Your State Treasurer’s office, State Department of Revenue, or Comptroller’s office official site may have information on homestead tax exemptions for primary residences owned by disabled veterans.

You may need to work with your local tax assessor’s office to claim property tax breaks; the laws of your state will dictate how to proceed.

Pro tip: Some tax breaks are need-based, while others are not. Be sure you know all the tax exemptions you might qualify for, as some homeowners may be able to claim multiple exemptions or may be asked to choose between one or another.

Related: VA Disability Pay

Where to Find State Education Benefits For Disabled Veterans: Public Colleges and Universities

Typically you’ll want to start looking for state-level military education benefits by applying with the state agency offering a grant, scholarship, or tuition waiver.

These programs are often found on the state-level government’s official site or state-level Department of Veterans Affairs site. But not all. Some states have programs where an individual college benefits disabled veterans, spouses, dependents, etc.

For school-level options, you may need to discuss your enrollment options with the admissions office at the school you choose; sometimes, no such programs are offered, and other times you may have more than one option to choose from.

Pro tip: Contact the school’s admissions office and ask if there is a campus veteran services office you can work with to maximize your benefits.

State Benefits For Disabled Veterans: State-Level Hiring Preference

Many states offer veterans hiring preference for competitive state-level job examinations and civil service exams.

These same states may offer additional consideration for veterans who are disabled, but you may find that the criteria for “disabled veteran” may vary from state to state.

Some may require a specific VA disability rating to qualify for the additional preference; others may simply require you to have a record of any VA-rated disability to qualify.

Where to find state jobs for disabled veterans? Look at the Careers section of your state government’s official site or the Careers/Opportunities section of your municipal government’s official sites.

Related: Military Benefits Guide for Spouses and Dependents

State Benefits for Disabled Veterans: Park Districts and Other Public Spaces

Your state or local park district may offer passes, discounts, and free admission to veterans and disabled veterans. State-run facilities typically offer these discounts on their official sites; a good example is the California State Parks official site.

You can apply for their Disabled Discount Pass online or in-person at any designated sign-up location within the state park system. Naturally, different states will have different criteria and approval procedures, but checking with your state park system could pay off if you need discounts, passes, etc.

Find State Benefits for Disabled Veterans at the DMV

Doing a Google search on the name of your state or local DMV and the keyword “veterans” is the most direct way to start, but you can also search for more specific services.

Do you need a Veteran designation on your ID or license? Do you need a disabled veteran placard to display when parking? Search the official site for these specific needs or visit your local DMV office to apply.

Pro tip: You will likely need proof of discharge and military service if you apply for specialty items like a Purple Heart designation or a campaign medal designation on a license plate. Some states offer fee-free options for veterans, but you may be required to pay a small fee in other states.

Related: Veteran and Retiree Benefits


>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.



Who is Eligible for a Veterans Pension?

Who is Eligible for a Veterans Pension?

The Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Pension program is a benefit that is unrelated to military retirement pay.

The VA Veteran Pension program offers VA payments to “wartime Veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income and net worth within certain limits,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

You may generally qualify if you are at least 65 or have a permanent disability. Those receiving long-term nursing home care or getting Social Security may also qualify if they meet the other guidelines (see below.)

Veterans may qualify for a VA Veterans Pension if they do not have a Dishonorable discharge and their annual household income and net worth meet Congressional limits. Other criteria apply. At least one of the following must apply:

  • You started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and you served at least 90 days on active duty (1 day or more during wartime)
  • You enlisted after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called (at least 1 day during wartime)
  • You were an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and you hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months

Federal law lists the applicable wartime periods that may qualify you for a Veterans Pension:

  • Mexican Border period (May 9, 1916, to April 5, 1917)
  • World War I (April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918)
  • World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
  • Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam War era (November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975,
  • August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990, to a date TBD)

Related: How to File for a VA Disability Increase

How the VA Calculates Veterans Pension Payments

If you can receive a Veterans Pension, the Department of Veterans Affairs sets your payment amount based on the difference between “your countable income and a limit that Congress sets (the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR).”

Countable Income

To calculate your VA Pension, countable income is defined as “how much you earn, including your Social Security benefits, investment and retirement payments, and any income your dependents receive.”

Disabled veterans and other applicants should know their countable income and their household income totals before applying. notes the types of countable income may include retirement pay, annuities, and income such as:

  • Salary
  • Hourly pay
  • Overtime
  • Tips
  • Bonuses
  • Commissions

Certain costs may lower your countable income in the eyes of the federal government, such as non-reimbursable medical expenses.

Don’t neglect making notes of these expenses, as they could make the difference in some cases when it comes to qualifying for the benefit under the household income cap.

The VA bases your maximum payment amount on how many dependents you may have, whether you are married, and whether that marriage includes another person who might be eligible for a VA Veterans Pension.

There is also a consideration for whether you qualify for VA Aid & Attendance benefits.

The VA calculates your assets, too. You will be assessed on “the fair market value of all your real and personal property, minus the amount of any mortgages you may have.” In the eyes of the VA, personal property assets include any of these items:

  • Investments
  • Furniture
  • Boats

Your assets do NOT, for the purposes of calculating the benefit, do NOT include:

  • Your house
  • Car
  • Appliances and other items you would not pack and ship to a new house

The Department of Veterans Affairs official site offers the following example to help you better understand how a Veterans Pension is calculated:

  • Veteran with a dependent, non-Veteran spouse and no children. The veteran qualifies for Aid & Attendance, and the household income is calculated at $10,000 for the year.
  • Your Maximum Annual Pension Rate amount = $31,714
  • Your yearly income = $10,000
  • Your VA pension = $21,714 for the year (or $1,809 paid each month)

This was calculated under the net worth limit applicable until November 30, 2023, which is capped at $150,538. The net worth cap may change from year to year; these numbers are listed as examples only. Check the current VA cap at

VA Veterans Pension Payment Amounts

How much will you get paid if approved for a VA Veterans Pension? Much depends on your family status as a single person, single or married parent, etc. The rates below were posted by the federal government for 2023.

These numbers are for reference only; they are always subject to change due to changes in policy, federal law, funding, etc. To learn the Veterans Pension payment amounts for a different year, look them up at the VA official site,

Veterans Pension Amounts: Veterans With No Dependents

Your maximum Veteran Pension payment rate may vary depending on circumstances:

  • No dependents, and you do not qualify for VA Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits: $16,037
  • No dependents, and you DO qualify for Aid & Attendance: $26,752
  • No dependents, and you qualify for VA Housebound benefits: $19,598

VA Veterans Pension Amounts: With Dependents

  • With at least one dependent and you do NOT qualify for VA Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits: $21,001
  • With dependents and you DO qualify for Aid & Attendance: $31,714
  • With dependents and you qualify for VA Housebound benefits: $24,562
  • If you have more than one dependent, add $2,743 to your maximum pension amount for each additional dependent.

VA Veterans Pension: Two Married Veterans

  • Neither qualifies for Housebound/Aid Attendance: $21,001
  • One spouse qualifies for Aid & Attendance: $31,714
  • Both qualify for Aid & Attendance: $42,433
  • One spouse qualifies for Housebound benefits: $24,562
  • Both qualify for Housebound: $28,121
  • One qualifies for Housebound benefits; one qualifies for Aid and Attendance: benefits  $35,266

Related: VA Aid & Attendance and Housebound Benefits

Some may need to apply for this VA benefit but don’t have all their information ready yet. Did you know you can send the VA an “intent to file” that establishes the date of that notification as your award date for any future claims paid retroactively?

An intent to file does not require you to submit a completed application for the benefits you need, but it does reserve your place in line, so to speak, for when it’s time to honor the date of your VA claim.

You can apply for Veterans Pension benefits online now.

VA Disability Pay and the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program

If you are still serving and you are within 6 months to 90 days of your final out-processing date, you may qualify to apply for VA disability benefits and get them paid earlier using a VA program called Benefits Delivery at Discharge.

What Is Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD)?

BDD is offered to those who have between 180 and 90 days remaining on their military service commitment. Those who qualify may receive their VA disability ratings and decisions much faster than waiting until the final weeks of out-processing to get started.

Benefits Delivery At Discharge is a program designed to encourage earlier claims; the earlier you apply, the sooner you can start drawing VA benefits. The VA says applying through BDD may speed your claims process if you meet ALL the following requirements:

  • You’re a service member on full-time active duty (including a member of the National Guard, Reserve, or Coast Guard)
  • Your separation date is in the next 180 to 90 days
  • You’re available for VA exams for 45 days from the date of your claim
  • You can provide a copy of your service treatment records for your current period of service when you file your claim

Related: How to Avoid Mistakes When Applying for VA Disability Benefits


>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.


Benefits Offered Via BDD

  • The benefit of using BDD is that you get your VA claim processed faster, which means approved claims may be paid sooner after discharge than if submitted using the standard procedure.
  • If you take the standard route, you may be waiting weeks or months after discharge to be awarded a VA disability rating and the compensation that goes with it.
  • There are no additional disability pay or benefits offered when using BDD; this program is more about the speed of the process.

Related: VA Disability Pay

Those Who Have Less Than 90 Days on Active Duty

If you have less than 90 days remaining, you are not eligible for BDD. However, you may still qualify to file your claim prior to discharge using a process called the Fully Developed Claim. You can also apply using the VA “Standard Claim” procedure.

Who Cannot Use BDD?

You must meet the basic qualifications of the program to use it, but some are not eligible regardless of when or how they apply. You do not qualify for BDD if any of the following applies to you:

  • You need case management
  • You’re terminally ill
  • You’re waiting to be discharged while treated at a VA hospital or military facility
  • You’re waiting for a VA determination on your Character of Military Discharge
  • You can’t go to a VA exam during the 45 days after applying
  • You didn’t submit copies of your service treatment records
  • You added a medical condition to your original claim and had less than 90 days remaining

Other criteria may also apply.

What to Know Before Applying for BDD

Application procedures for this benefit will vary depending on whether you are stationed in the United States or overseas at application time. Those stationed in the USA can file a claim online, in person, or by regular mail. When applying, you must submit the following with your application:

  • Military and civilian service treatment records
  • Separation Health Assessment – Part A Self-Assessment form

Plan to be available for VA appointments for 45 days from the date you apply. Do not neglect your VA and Defense Department (DOD) medical separation examination process before your final out-processing date.

If you are applying from an overseas base, your processes may vary depending on where you are stationed (Europe, the Pacific, etc.) and the location of the nearest BDD regional office in those areas.

Applying for BDD Overseas

To complete a pre-discharge claim overseas, you must be available for a VA medical exam for 45 days from your application, just like the stateside version of BDD.

You will also need enough time remaining in the host nation to complete any required medical exams and specialty clinic visits. Ensure you have copies of your military and civilian medical records and a completed Separation Health Assessment – Part A Self-Assessment form.

Applying for VA Disability Benefits After Leaving the Military reminds, “You can also file a claim for a disability that appears after discharge,” and this type of application is known as a VA postservice claim. You have no time limit when filing a post-service claim, but the VA advises that the process gets more complicated the longer you delay applying.

Read more: Military Benefits Guide: Veterans and Military Retirees


>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.


VA Disability Pay

To receive VA Disability Pay, you must file a claim for VA disability benefits. You must provide your military and civilian medical records, information about your conditions, and supporting documentation. You can file yourself, or with the assistance of a Veteran Service Organization.

Read more: Do You Need Help Filing a VA Disability Claim? advises, “We base your monthly payment amount on your disability rating and details about your dependent family members.”

To determine the amount of VA Disability Pay you may have coming, use the appropriate table below to find your VA disability rating, dependent status, etc. You may also qualify for added VA disability benefits if your spouse receives VA Aid and Attendance benefits or you have more than one child.

Learn more: VA Compensation for Service-Connected Disabilities

What follows are the VA Disability Compensation Rates for 2023. These numbers are provided as a reference only; beyond 2023, your experience may vary.

VA Disability Pay Rates 2023

Basic VA Disability Pay for 30-60% Disability Rating

Disability Rating: 30%-60%

Dependents: No dependents, dependent spouse or parent, no children

NOTE: Percentages are for disability ratings.

Dependent status 30% 40% 50%  60%
Veteran (no dependents)   508.05 731.86 1,041.82 1,319.65
Veteran & spouse (no parents/children)   568.05 811.86 1,141.82 1,440.65
Veteran, spouse, 1 parent (no children)   616.05 875.86 1,222.82 1,537.65
Veteran, spouse, 2 parents (no children)   664.05 939.86 1,303.82 1,634.65
Veteran & 1 parent (no spouse/children)   556.05 795.86 1,122.82 1,416.65
Veteran, 2 parents (no spouse/children)   604.05 859.86 1,203.82 1,513.65

Additional Compensation

Disability Rating: 30%-60%

Dependent status   30%
Aid and Attendance for spouses    56.00 74.00 93.00 111.00


Read more: Comprehensive Military Benefits Guide

Basic VA Disability Rates

Disability Rating: 30%-60%

Dependents: With dependents, including children

Dependent status 30% 40% 50% 60%
Veteran with 1 child only (no spouse/parents) 548.05 785.86 1,108.82 1,400.65
With 1 child and spouse (no parents) 612.05 870.86 1,215.82 1,528.65
With 1 child, spouse, 1 parent 660.05 934.86 1,296.82 1,625.65
With 1 child, spouse, 2 parents 708.05 998.86 1,377.82 1,722.65
With 1 child, 1 parent (no spouse) 596.05 849.86 1,189.82 1,497.65
With 1 child, 2 parents (no spouse) 644.05 913.86 1,270.82 1,594.65

Added Amounts

Disability Rating: 30%-60%

Dependent status 30% 40% 50% 60%
Each additional child under 18 30.00 40.00 50.00 60.00
Each child over 18 in a qualifying school program 97.00 129.00 162.00 194.00
Spouses who receive Aid and Attendance 56.00 74.00 93.00 111.00

>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.


Basic Monthly Rates for 70% to 100% Disability Rating

Disability Rating: 70%-100%

Dependents: No dependents, dependent spouse or parent, no children

Dependent status 70% 80% 90% 100%
Veteran alone (no dependents) 1,663.06 1,933.15 2,172.39 3,621.95
With a spouse (no parents/children) 1,804.06 2,094.15 2,353.39 3,823.89
With a spouse and 1 parent (no children) 1,917.06 2,223.15 2,498.39 3,985.96
With a spouse and 2 parents (no children) 2,030.06 2,353.15 2,643.39 4,148.03
With 1 parent (no spouse/children) 1,776.06 2,062.15 2,317.39 3,784.02
With 2 parents (no spouse/children) 1,889.06 2,191.15 2,462.39 3,946.09

Added Amounts

Disability Rating: 70%-100%

Dependent status 70% 80% 90% 100%
Spouses receiving Aid and Attendance 130.00 148.00 167.00 185.21

Basic Monthly Rates

Disability Rating: 70%-100%

Dependents: With dependents, including children

Dependent status 70% 80% 90% 100%
Veteran with child only (no spouse/parents) 1,757.06 2,041.15 2,293.39 3,757.00
With 1 child and spouse (no parents) 1,907.06 2,212.15 2,486.39 3,971.78
With 1 child, spouse, 1 parent 2,020.06 2,341.15 2,631.39 4,133.85
With 1 child, spouse, 2 parents 2,133.06 2,470.15 2,776.39 4,295.92
With 1 child, 1 parent 1,870.06 2,170.15 2,438.39 3,919.07
With 1 child, 2 parents (no spouse) 1,983.06 2,299.15 2,583.39 4,081.14

Added Amounts

Disability Rating: 70%-100%

Dependent status 70%
Each additional child under 18 70.00 80.00 90.00 100.34
Each additional child over 18 in a qualifying school program 226.00 259.00 291.00 324.12
Spouse receiving Aid and Attendance 130.00 148.00 167.00 185.21

What to Know About VA Claims for Service-Connected Disabilities

VA disability claims pay a set amount each year, but that amount is subject to change through Cost of Living Adjustments, federal legislation, and changes to the VA program. The rates you see here are for informational purposes only. Don’t expect these rates to be the same after 2023. Check with the Department of Veterans Affairs for current VA disability payment rates and regulations.

RELATED: Military Allowances Guide


>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.




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