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Veteran News and Information

Veterans News

In Honor Of Those Who Served:

"To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan"
- The Department of Veterans Affairs


United States Mint Releases Commemorative Coin Honoring Disabled Veterans

2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar. On August 22, 2009, the United States Mint unveiled the designs for the 2010 Disabled Veterans Silver Dollar. The coins will be issued under Public Law 110-277, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act.
Read More.

  2010 American Veterans Disabled for Life Silver Dollar
Here a few websites to help you with your Veteran Benefits.

The Best Website In The Country For Veterans Seeking Employment With The Federal Government.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

  Veterans Seeking Employment

Stay On Top Of Important Veterans News And Information With This Amazing Website.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

  Veteran News

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
http://www.va.gov

For Veterans eBenefits
https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage

My Healthy Vet
https://www.myhealth.va.gov/index.html

For VA Life Insurance
http://insurance.va.gov/inForceGliSite/buying/SDVI.htm

U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT
http://www.opm.gov/staffingPortal/Vetguide.asp

USAJOBS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S OFFICIAL JOB SITE
http://www.usajobs.gov/veterans.asp

DIRECTORY OF VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
http://www1.va.gov/vso/index.cfm?template=view

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY
http://www.ssa.gov

TRICARE INFORMATION
http://www.TRICARE.mil

STARTING A SERVICE DISABLED/VETERAN OWNED SMALL BUSINESS
https://www.sba.gov/content/veteran-service-disabled-veteran-owned

PLEASE NOTE: THE WEBSITES, PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES CITED ON THIS WEBPAGE, IN REGARDS TO VETERANS INFORMATION ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE ALL-INCLUSIVE, NOR SHOULD THEIR MENTION HEREIN BE CONSTRUED AS AN ENDORSEMENT BY THE MIDNIGHT GROOVE. THE SELF-HELP RESOURCES CITED ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR THERAPY OR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.

Other Helpful Snippets For Veteran Benefits.

VA program offers vets between ages 35-60 new education opportunities

Unemployed veterans between 35 and 60 years old have an opportunity to begin a new career in one of more than 211 high-demand occupations http://benefits.va.gov/vow/docs/VRAP_High_Demand.pdf by applying for enrollment in the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program launched as part of the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.

Sponsored by the Veterans Administration and the Department of Labor Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, or VRAP, offers up to 12 months of educational assistance to veterans enrolled in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school.

The program the vet chooses must lead to an associate's degree, a non-college degree or certificate and train the veteran in one of the labor department's list of high-demand occupations. Online courses may be approved for VRAP. Programs of study at vocational flight schools, correspondence courses, on-the-job training, apprenticeship and work-study are not approved.

Applicants to VRAP will have until March 31, 2014 to apply. After that date, the funding program ends. While enrolled in a full-time educational program, participants receive direct monetary assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty program. That rate is currently capped at $1,473 per month. Vets are responsible for paying tuition, fees and books.

Eligible VRAP applicants must be unemployed at the time of application and have other than dishonorable discharges. Additionally, they cannot be enrolled in a federal or state job training program or receiving VA compensation due to being unemployable. Veterans eligible for other VA education benefit programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment are not eligible for VRAP.

For more information call 800 827-1000


ATTENTION, VIETNAM VETS

Late last year the Department of Veterans Affairs added three more diseases-Parkinson’s, ischemic heart disease, and B-cell leukemia’s-to the 12 other ailments and disorders it automatically considers to be service-connected for the more than 2 million vets who may have been exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. The VA is granting disability compensation to any veteran who suffers from any of these ailments-or to the widows of veterans who may have died of them- even if the veteran spent only one day in Vietnam.

Other diseases presumed linked to Agent Orange include Hodgkin’s disease, type 2 diabetes, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, and respiratory cancers.

For a full list of the diseases that may qualify a Vietnam veteran (or that veteran’s spouse or widow) for disability compensation and VA health care, go to http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/benefits/herbicide/

Note: Thousands of veterans who served in Korea from April 1968 through July 1969 may have been exposed the same types of toxic defoliants used in Vietnam. They may also qualify for disability compensation.

Congress has expanded veterans’ benefits-including disability compensation, pensions, and health care over the past two decades and has eased eligibility standards. This is a vitally important development. For many veterans, VA benefits could mean the difference between a life of abject poverty or a secure old age. For others it can mean the difference between sufferings from an undiagnosed service-related illness or receive treatment from a specialist in war trauma.

So, what are the benefits available to veterans?

DISABILITY COMPENSATION

Misconceptions about this program abound. First of all, a service-connected disability need not be a combat injury. Any injury suffered or aggravated while in uniform can be considered even injuries incurred while traveling to or from National Guard duty.

Second, compensation payments are unrelated to income, and they are also available, at a reduced level, to surviving spouses. Monthly payments are based on the degree of disability, which can range from 10 percent (for tinnitus, for example) to 100 percent (unable to work or function normally), as determined by a doctor and subject to appeal. A 30 percent disability rating currently merits $376 per month in compensation ($421 if the veteran is married); vets who are 100 percent disable receive $2,673 per month ($2,823 if married). To view compensation levels for various disability ratings, visit http://www.vba.va.gov/bin/21/compensation/index.htm.

Representative John Hall (D-New York), who chairs the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, says the VA has a new attitude regarding disabilities. Under previous administrations, he explains, VA evaluators were encouraged to reject all but the most serious cases involving service-related disabilities. Today, led by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki (a Purple Heart recipient with a prosthetic foot), the agency is reaching out to vets with disabilities. This means, says Hall, that World War II – Korea-, and Vietnam-era veterans who may have been turned down by the VA in the past should reapply-especially because the agency is now much more aware of (and sympathetic to) service connected illnesses such as PTSD and ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

PENSIONS FOR WAR VETERANS

Although pensions were designed to help low-income veterans, the big surprise here is how much vets are allowed to deduct from income to determine if they meet the qualifying threshold. The Veterans Benefits Administration allows veterans to subtract all care-related costs, including the costs of assistance with activities of daily living nursing home care, and Medicare premiums. If the net income at that point is below $11,830 for a single vet (or $15,493 for a married one), the VA will provide a pension to bring the veteran’s income up to that level.

Another common misconception is that pensions go only to people who served in wars overseas. In fact, the pensions are available to anyone (other than those dishonorably discharged) who served even a single day during wartime, even if that service was stateside. What’s more, wartime period extend beyond the end of hostilities (for a definition of wartime periods, visit http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/pension/wartime.htm. Widowed spouses of war veterans may also be entitled to pensions, even if they later remarried.

HEALTH CARE

Eligibility to receive health care at any of the VA’s 1,400 hospitals and clinics is based on an income test (except in the case of wounded vets or those with service-connected disabilities), though it is not limited to veterans who serviced during wartime. The current national health-care income cap is $29,402 for a single veteran, $35,284 for a married vet. But this figure is adjusted for high-cost regions, using the geographic means test (GMT) established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and available at http://www4.va.gov/healtheligibility/library/pubs/GMTincomethresholds/ The GMT can push those limits much higher; in San Francisco, for instance, the income limit for eligibility is $63,350 for a single veteran.

Again, all family medical expenses, including Medicare premiums, are deducted in calculating income. Veterans with disability ratings of 50 percent or high received free care at the VA. In today’s VA system each veteran is assigned a specific primary care doctor who tracks that patient’s treatment-a big improvement over the old days, when vets were assigned whichever doctor was available when they came to the clinic.

IN-HOME CARE

Another surprise, homemaking assistance and aid and attendance services, provided by private companies contracted by the VA, are available to all veterans who need in-home care and who meet the income test (subject to availability in the area where they live). Also available: respite care to provide a break for a spouse or family members who are caring for an eligible veteran. The income cap for these services is the same as that for health-care eligibility. In general, unless there is a hardship finding, veterans with income above $25,000 are assessed a co-pay of $15 per day for services.

ASSISTED LIVING

Vets and their spouses can qualify for VA-provided aid and attendance services. The income thresholds for eligibility (set higher than those for ordinary health care) are $14,457 for a single housebound vet or $18,120 for a couple, and $19,736 for a single vet in assisted living or $23,396 for a couple, after all allowable deductions.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Here’s how good the VA drug plan is: all drugs are provided free or for $8 co-pay, depending on income. “So veterans may not need any Part D plan at all,” says Tom Pamperin, acting associate deputy undersecretary for benefits and programs at the VA. Additionally, pension recipients are exempt from co-pays for VA health services, including drugs.

NURSING HOME CARE

The VA owns and runs 132 nursing home facilities, and contracts with another 2,500 private homes in locations where it doesn’t own one. Congress has mandated that the VA find a place for those veterans with disability ratings of 70 percent or higher. Vets with lower disability ratings are eligible as well, but they could be placed on a waiting list because of limited availability in many areas. Most states also operate veterans’ nursing homes, some with more lenient admission requirements.

VA-GUARANTEED MORTGAGES

Many veterans and many mortgage lenders wrongly think you can take out only one VA mortgage in a lifetime. The fact is, you can get multiple mortgages, but usually just one at a time and you must have paid off the old one. These VA mortgages provide 100 percent financing no need for a down payment. Older vets seeking to buy a unit in a senior housing community may find this benefit useful- particularly in these days when home values are depressed and mortgages, especially mortgages with no down payment, are harder to come by. (The cost of the required funding fee- typically 2.15 percent- can be added to the total mortgage amount, so it isn’t necessary to pay this fee up front.)

In determining eligibility for all veterans’ benefits, the VA is less restrictive than Medicaid regarding personal assets and income. Federal aid (such as food stamps or Supplemental Security Income) is not counted. Also, unlike with Medicaid, the VA’s goal is to keep people in their own homes, so homes and cars are not counted as assets. Veterans are generally allowed to have $80,000 in household savings and investments and still qualify for pensions and health care. There is also no “look-back” period for signing over assets to relatives.

One word of advice, though. Navigating the VA bureaucracy can be tricky. Even registering with the VA can be daunting for some (you’ll need to have your discharge papers in hand or ask the government to locate them). Fortunately, every state and most municipalities and counties in the nation have an office of Veterans Affairs, staffed with trained people who can help you register and make your case for benefits. Various veterans’ organizations- Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, among them- do this, too; lawyers certified by the VA tackle more complex issues.

Even the VA itself recommends that people take advantage of such outside help. “I would encourage people seeking VA benefits to utilize the free services of veterans” organizations or county veterans” affairs people,” says an unknown VA Spokesman. “It’s a good idea to have an advocate.”

FOSTER CARE FOR VETERANS

Veterans can now have their own room and receives 24-hour care as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Medical Foster Care Program. Veterans pay between $1,500 and $4,000 a month to their caregivers. There are more than 600 veterans nationwide to be placed in private homes since 2000. The program now operates in 25 cities and serves Veterans who need nursing home-level care. For more information about the program, call 202 461-6786 or e-mail thomas.edes@va.gov.


New VA Web Portal “In Honor of Those Who Served”

eBenefits

1. What is eBenefits?

The eBenefits web portal is an online resource for tools and benefits-related information for Wounded Warriors, Veterans, Active Duty Servicemembers, their families, and those who care for them.

The President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (Dole/Shalala) established by Executive Order 13426 in March 2007 recommended the creation of a web portal to provide wounded ill and injured servicemembers, Veterans, their family members, and care providers a single and transparent access point to online benefits as well as related content and services. In response, VA and DOD collaborated on developing the eBenefits Portal where VA has primary responsibility for the project and is designated as the lead agent.

In April 2010, eBenefits will launch version 2.3 that will allow servicemembers and Veterans to:

  • check the status of compensation and pension claims
  • view payment history of received VA benefits
  • obtain or submit an application for the home loan certificate of eligibility
  • access MyHealtheVet directly from eBenefits
  • access and retrieve copies of official military personnel records to include DD-214s active/reserve orders

Future releases to eBenefits will include the capability to:

  • view status of your current benefits
  • change your address
  • change your direct deposit account

2. How do I apply for an eBenefits account?

eBenefits gives you access to your own personal information in VA, DoD, and eBenefits systems. To protect your privacy and your confidential information, we must confirm your identity before creating your account. We do this by offering two levels of access: Level 1 and Level 2.

3. What is a Level 1 account?

A Level 1 account will let you access information you enter into eBenefits yourself (such as Favorite Links, or categories of benefits you're interested in). You can also obtain a home loan certificate of eligibility. It's a lower form of access than Level 2, but can require less work on your part to obtain.

4. How do I apply for a Level 1 account?

Go directly to the eBenefits web site at www.ebenefits.va.gov. Fill in the eBenefits registration form. A one-time activation code will be displayed and you'll be directed to the DEERS DOD Self-Service Access Center to activate your DoD Self-Service Logon and get a username and password. Return to eBenefits. Click the Login button and use your username and password to log in.

What is a Level 2 account?

A Level 2 account gives you access to your personal information (pending claim information, your VA payment history, etc.) contained in VA’s and DOD’s computer systems.

6. How do I apply for a Level 2 account?

In order to access your personal information in eBenefits, all users must have a DoD Self-Service Logon (DS Logon) Level 2 access. This Level 2 access is required as a security measure to protect sensitive personal information accessible within the system.

In order to obtain Level 2 access and receive a DS Logon you must undergo an In-Person-Proofing (IPP) process. Proofing is the act of verifying a Veteran’s or beneficiary’s identity.

To complete the proofing process, you must apply in person to any of the following VA facilities:

  • VA Regional Office
  • VA Benefits Office
  • VA Medical Center*
  • VA Medical Clinic*

Note: *You must be a patient to apply at a VA medical facility. A patient is defined as someone with an inpatient or outpatient status, or someone enrolled with a Master Patient Index established. The proofing process will be completed for access to MyHealtheVet which will allow access to eBenefits from the MyHealtheVet portal. For more information on this process, go to: http://www.myhealth.va.gov/.

You will need the following documentation:

  • Social Security Number
  • Identification card with photograph
  • Document with current mailing address (if your address is not currently in the VA data system)

Once you have completed the in-person-authentication process, you will receive an informational letter in the mail from the DoD Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). You should receive this letter approximately 5 to 12 days after your visit to the VA facility. This information letter will contain a web site address (URL) to the eBenefits web portal and a onetime use activation code (PIN) to activate your DS Logon account. Simply go to the eBenefits website, enter your user name and PIN number, and navigate to your particular area of interest or need.

7. Is my personal information secure on eBenefits?

Yes. All sensitive personal information accessible within the system is protected and safeguarded through Level 2 credentialing. A Level 2 access is required as a security measure to protect your personal information.

8. Do I have to have a Level 2 credential to access eBenefits?

No. You may directly access the eBenefits web portal without undergoing the Level 2 credentialing process (considered a Level 1 access). Level 1 access will only allow you to explore the general information areas of the web portal (e.g., Favorite Links, Home Loan Guaranty information). It is important to understand that in order to gain access to your personal information you must posses a Level 2 credential. This requirement is for your protection to ensure the security of your personally sensitive information.

9. Why can’t I do the credentialing process by telephone?

In order to ensure the maximum protection and security of your personally sensitive information, a strict security protocol must be in place and maintained. Current security protocol requires an in-person proofing process to ensure the safeguarding of your personal information.

10. I am currently on active duty. Do I have to apply in person for Level 2 Access?

No. Active duty servicemembers may obtain Level 2 access if they register using their Common Access Card (CAC). Servicemembers holding a CAC card may apply for access directly and do not have to proof in person.

11. I am a military retiree. Do I have to apply in person for Level 2 Access?

No. Retired military personnel may obtain Level 2 access if they register using their Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) PIN. Retired personnel who have been issued a DFAS PIN may apply for access directly and do not have to proof in person.

12. I received my PIN and attempted to access eBenefits, but was unsuccessful. What do I do?

If you require any assistance activating your account or you have questions regarding the activation instructions, you may contact the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Center (DSC), toll-free at 1-800-477-8227. The DSC is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Federal holidays.

13. I can access my eBenefits account, but am having trouble navigating on the site. Can anyone help me?

If you require any assistance within the eBenefits web portal, you may contact the eBenefits Customer Support group, toll-free at 1-800-983-0937. A customer support representative will assist you Monday-Friday, 7am to 7pm CST.

General Information on Claims Information Contained in eBenefits

Note: For more specific detail, please refer to “eBenefits Release Guide (Version 2.3)” dated April 2010
(See Enclosure 5)

1. What type of claim status information will be available?

You will be able to view the following information online through eBenefits:

  • Date of Claim
  • Claim Type
  • Claim Status
  • Power of Attorney
  • Regional Office of Jurisdiction
  • Current Processing Location (if there is a temporary Station of Jurisdiction)
  • Claimed Conditions
  • Date Closed
  • MAP-D Tracked Item Paragraph Language

2. What type of payment history information will be available?

You will be able to view the following payment history information:

  • Payment Date
  • Payment Amount
  • Payment Type
  • Payment Method Mailing Address or DD/EFT (including Bank Name and Account Number)
  • Returned Payments
  • Payment Returned Date

3. What do the 3 phases of claim status mean?

The 3 phases in the claims process are:

Phase Definition
Development This is the initial part of the claims process. The claimant is provided information as to what information is needed for the claim and an opportunity to provide or identify any additional evidence to support the claim. All appropriate evidence is gathered and reviewed.
Decision All information and evidence are carefully reviewed to ensure we have everything we need to make an informed decision on the claim. If something is missing, the claim returns to the development phase to obtain that missing information. If all the needed evidence is received, a proposed decision will be made.
Notification Once the decision is reviewed carefully and approved, a notification letter is sent to the claimant. 4. I have an appeal pending but it is not shown in eBenefits. Why? Appeal information is not available in this current release of eBenefits. Throughout the next year, enhancements will be made to include information on the appeals process.

 



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