Tagged: veterans benefits
- After the Military
- a Base Installation Guide
- Benefits for Veterans and Dependents
- Getting Uncle Sam to Pay for your College Degree
- Guard and Reserve
- Military Children’s Scholarship
- US Military
- US Military Retired
- Veterans Healthcare Benefits
- Are within six months prior to discharge from active duty.
- Are within one year following discharge from active duty.
- Currently receive educational assistance under Chapters 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 1606, 1607.
- Are Veterans and qualified dependents who are eligible for and have entitlement to education assistance under Chapters 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 1606, 1607.
WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2013) – Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”
For the first time, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar. Until this year, that was required by law. Veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment.
For Veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available at www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp.
The COLA increase also applies to disability and death pension recipients, survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation, disabled Veterans receiving automobile and clothing allowances, and other benefits.
Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits. The last adjustment was in January 2013 when the Social Security benefits rate increased 1.7 percent.
In fiscal year 2013, VA provided over $59 billion in compensation benefits to nearly 4 million Veterans and survivors, and over $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 Veterans and survivors.
For Veterans and separating Servicemembers who plan to file an electronic disability claim, VA urges them to use the joint DoD/VA online portal, eBenefits. Registered eBenefits users with a premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.
For more information about VA benefits, visit www.benefits.va.gov, or call 1-800-827-1000.
#2014COLA #VAbenefits #veteransbenefits
In light of the government shutdown, here are some of the best things we’ve found on twitter regarding this glorious example of democracy in action…
DENISE ™ @denisealondra
“After the sequester, they will cut back on airport security. We will have to pat ourselves down.” @LateShow #shutdownjokes
Adam Armus @AdamArmus
Grand Canyon closed. Visit Congress for alternative gaping hole. #ShutdownSuggestions
The Daily Show @TheDailyShow
Museums are closed. Hit up nursing homes to see old stuff instead. #ShutdownSuggestions
The Canada Party @theCanadaParty
Move to Canada. Open 24 hrs. #ShutdownSuggestions
Note to self: Do not get infectious disease today. Or apparently tomorrow. And possibly the day after.
The Milky Way @milkscone
have you tried turning it off and on again? #ShutdownSuggestions
Cory Confesses @CoryConfesses
@TheDailyShow Will my taxes be prorated during the shutdown? #ShutdownSuggestions
Making light of these circumstances is just one way of coping. But on a serious note, we don’t think that 800,000 people without jobs is funny, nor do we think that the loss of veterans programs, benefits, or military paychecks isn’t a very serious situation. Our thoughts are with all those directly impacted by the furloughs. Which, truly, is all of us.
We the people must look after each other. Those that are able, please consider donating to your local food pantries, shelters, churches, or other support organizations.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars has released a statement saying it is “disgusted” with the current crop of politicians in Washington. “Yesterday’s news that the government will not transport or make a death assistance payment to grieving military families was the last straw,” the statement read. “It is absolutely appalling and nothing short of a travesty that elected officials continue to receive paychecks and benefits while not providing for those who deserve it most.”
The statement, attributed to the VFW’s National Commander, William A. Thien, went on: “Because of failed leadership, we have 56 closed Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices, 7,000 furloughed employees, and more than 4 million disabled veterans and survivors who were told next month’s disability or survivor benefits check will be delayed. We also have a hypocritical National Park Service that closes our nation’s war memorials to veterans and a federal government that continues to make foreign aid payments while our own national security is threatened because Congress has failed to pass a defense budget or put an end to the sequester.
This is totally unacceptable and disgraceful that our elected leaders in Washington would allow this to happen,” said Thien. “We need leadership, not more rhetoric, and if the government is unable to take care of veterans, then the government should quit creating us.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs is finally starting to show signs of progress in reducing the stubborn backlog of claims pending for 125 days or more. As of last week, the VA was reporting a backlog of 536,400 cases. That is still much higher than it was when Eric Shinseki took the Secretary of Veterans Affairs job in 2009. But at least the number is beginning to decline: The VA reported a backlog of 608,000 claims in March.
The Secretary has established an ambitious goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015. That looks like it’s not going to happen. But the recent progress is encouraging – and is the result of a monumental commitment of both human and technological resources.
What’s helped? First of all, the Department has been increasingly successful in digitizing the claims process. This is a huge issue, as the old paper-based system was slow cumbersome and prone to routine errors such as transcription problems and lost documents. Merely storing the huge number of records in paper files was becoming an increasingly unmanageable problem for the VA.
Last month, though, the Veterans Administration completed its roll-out its new electronic platform – the Veterans Benefit Management System (VBMS) – in all 56 of its regional offices. Despite some significant hiccups, the rollout was completed six months ahead of schedule.
“This is a big cross-over year for us,” Shinseki said recently to a gathering of VA claims-processing employees in Manchester, New Hampshire. “We have for decades sat astride rivers of paper. Now we are in the process of turning off paper spigots and turning on electronic ones.”
This is an auspicious event for a couple of reasons:
First, the electronic system makes the claims-tracking process itself more efficient. So even if the original file is still on paper, fewer additional man-hours need be spent on the process of entering data into a system to track progress.
Second, the new electronic system means that fewer paper applications are coming in. The process on new claims becomes much more efficient.
Additionally, veterans in the backlog have benefitted from an end to the war in Iraq, which had tragically been contributing a steady stream of new combat and deployment-related claims. Furthermore, the flood of newly-initiated coming from Agent Orange-related incidents has subsided, reducing the new-claims workload. The VA had experienced a surge in claims from Vietnam War veterans once the Obama Administration indicated that they were looking favorably at Agent Orange-related claims. The VA also expanded benefits eligibility for conditions related to service during the Gulf War.
Technically, a claim is categorized as “backlogged” if it is still pending adjudication after 125 days. Appealed claims that receive an initial adjudication are not considered “backlogged.” In September of 2009, when Shinseki came on the job, the backlog stood at 180,000 claims. Since then, the VA has been processing claims at a higher rate than ever before – but the furious pace was still not enough to keep up with the new claims piling in.
The Veterans Administration also sought to enlist the support of organizations like Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion to help veterans in the process of documenting and preparing their claims. This led to fewer incomplete applications and quicker processing times, because these claims tended to be more complete and more fully-documented prior to even reaching the VA processing center.
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) condemned President Obama’s proposed cuts in military retirement pay and benefits fee hikes, saying the President’s proposals “cross the line.”
The MOAA further announced that intends to use its influence and that of its 380,000-plus members to fight both proposals. The following is verbatim from the MOAA statement of April 11th, 2013:
“MOAA opposes the suggested pay cap for currently serving members of the uniformed services of 1% (versus a 1.8% raise by law) and the Pentagon’s plan to shift$25+ billion in costs to military beneficiaries over 10 years by:
- Raising annual fees by $1,000 or more for retired families of all ages.
- Imposing means-testing of military retiree health benefits – which no other federal retirees endure.
- Dramatically increasing pharmacy copays to approach or surpass the median of civilian plans.
“Military pay along with strong health care and retirement benefits are the foundational elements necessary to not just recruit, but also sustain an all-volunteer force,” MOAA President and CEO, Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr. said. “The last time the government cut back on military pay and benefits, the results were disastrous by the late ‘90s. It simply didn’t work then and it’s taken the past 12 years to rebuild what was lost,” he concluded.
DoD cites the need to impose these benefit cuts in order to curb “exploding” personnel cost since 2000 reiterating that health care and personnel costs now consume “one-third of the defense budget.”
“DoD’s own documents prove military health costs are not ‘exploding’ – the combined personnel and health costs are less than one-third of DoD budget the same as they’ve been for 30 years,” Ryan stated.
The Pentagon proposed similar fee increases last year and in the past; however, Congress dampened those proposals enacting selected current and future increases in 2011 and 2012, but explicitly limited discretionary increases by DoD.
Congress rejected larger increases on the basis that:
- Pentagon leaders need to do more to more effectively manage costs instead of penalizing beneficiaries.
- Achieving savings by driving beneficiaries away from using service-earned benefits is inappropriate.
“Significant cuts to the crucial incentive packages that sustain a top-quality career force will undermine long-term retention and readiness,” Ryan stated. “These proposals cross the line. Not only do they affect the equities of military personnel and their families, they also affect the ability to support long-term national security,” he concluded.”
The Military Officers Association of America is the nation’s largest association specifically made up of current and former military officers. It is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.
WarriorSongs, a non-profit organization to help veterans recover from combat experiences, military sexual trauma or other military-related mental health challenges, will be holding a workshop from June 19th to the 23rd at Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Structured as a poetry and songwriting retreat, director and songwriter Jason Moon, himself an Iraq war veteran, will guide participants through a weekend of creativity, music, poetry, reflection, healing and bonding.
The event will take place at Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center founded in 1930. Lodging is available on site. Full scholarships are available from Warriorsongs.
Jason Moon, the founder and director of Warriorsongs, returned from a deployment to Iraq with a combat engineer company in 2004. Struggling with PTSD, Moon abandoned his pre-war passion for songwriting and instead turned increasingly to alcohol and risky behavior, in an attempt to recreate the kind of adrenaline rush he experienced in Iraq.
“Before the war, songwriting was my greatest joy, and suddenly, I couldn’t write about anything,” he says. “Even writing about something happy just reminded me of how sad I was.” Moon took a five year hiatus from songwriting – ending shortly after he was hospitalized for depression and suicidal ideation culminating in an attempt to take his own life by overdosing on prescription drugs and alcohol.
While recuperating, he participated in the filming of On the Bridge, a film by Oliver Morel on the struggle to overcome PTSD. Morel asked Moon to contribute some original songs – and the floodgates opened.
Since beginning his workshops, Jason and Warriorsongs have been featured prominently by the Associated Press and the Huffington Post, and have had favorable mentions in many local papers where Warriorsongs has held workshops and events across the country.
The Wallingford retreat is limited to 17-18 participants. Scholarships are available. Contact Warriorsongs for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.