Financial Literacy

Veterans, We Thank You for Your Service

As I have recently received authorization from the Department of Veterans Affairs to represent veterans in pursuit of their benefits, I have been distressed about the number of Veterans who do not know to what they are entitled. It is an even greater distress that there is such an incredible delay in receipt of benefits once applied.

We need champions who will continue to advocate for the resources to enable the VA to complete the approval process in a timely manner across the country. To the dismay of many, there have been many articles, hearings and exposés about the inadequacies of the Veterans Administration.

Yet, in spite of it all, each veteran is due what she or he was promised upon making the decision to serve our country. Each veteran has a right to claim his or her benefits. If we don’t ask we won’t receive. While it is unconscionable to hear the delays that many encounter in the pursuit, it is unthinkable to not ask and therefore never receive the benefits to which your service has made you eligible.

The Veterans Benefits Administration offers a variety of benefits and services to spouses, children, and parents of Service members and Veterans who are deceased or totally and permanently disabled by a service-connected disability who have been discharged other than dishonorably.

Disability Compensation is a tax free monetary benefit paid to Veterans with disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Compensation may also be paid for post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax free monetary benefit generally payable to a surviving spouse, child, or parent of Service members who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training or survivors of Veterans who died from their service-connected disabilities. DIC for parents is an income-based benefit.

Special Monthly Compensation is an additional tax-free benefit that can be paid to Veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses and parents. For Veterans, Special Monthly Compensation is a higher rate of compensation paid due to special circumstances such as the need of aid and attendance by another person or a specific disability, such as loss of use of one hand or leg. For spouses and surviving spouses, this benefit is commonly referred to as aid and attendance and is paid based on the need of aid and attendance by another person.

We, as a country, unquestionably have done a poor job of thanking the folks who have given part or all of their lives for our freedom through the delivery of Veterans Benefits. We, as a community, need to be informed and demand the promise that has been given to those who have served.

Aimee Griffin is an attorney with the Griffin Firm in D.C.

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