Overview of Veterans' Benefits
2017 VA Benefit Guide - Department of Veterans Affairs Benefit Guide
Annuity – MA Benefit for 100% Disabled and Gold Star
100% service-connected disabled and Gold Star parents and spouses are entitled to a biannual annuity paid by the Commonwealth.
If a veteran’s compensation claim is denied or is granted at a lower level than seems appropriate or if a VA Pension is denied, the vet may appeal the decision.
Bonuses for MA Wartime Veterans
Massachusetts provides a war bonus for veterans who entered the service from Massachusetts and served during wartime. There is no moratorium on applying for wartime bonuses and World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans who have not previously applied for their bonus are still eligible.
Burial in National Cemetery/State Veteran Cemetery
Veterans may be buried without cost in the Bourne National Cemetery or the State veterans’ cemeteries in Agawam and Winchendon. Arrangements have been greatly simplified for burial and for provision of a flag.
Burial for Indigent Veterans (MA)
Veterans who die without family or provisions for funeral expenses can be guaranteed a respectful funeral and burial under Massachusetts law.
Medical coverage for spouses and dependent children of veterans with a service-connected rating of 100%, total and permanent.
CRSC / CRDP – Removing Compensation Offsets for Retirees
In January 2004, military retirees benefited from two new offset-removal plans, CRSC and CRDP, which are designed to eliminate or phase out reductions in military retirement pensions due to service-connected disability compensation.
The VA will pay a small funeral/burial benefit for veterans who had a service-connected disability or who died in a VA facility. The VA will pay a larger benefit for veterans who died of a service-connected disability.
Available to all 100% disabled, veterans within one year of discharge, patients in a VA Rehab program or a VA hospital when the need for care occurs and veterans with a service-connected dental injury. Plans through VA- Delta Dental and MetLife also available for purchase.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of a military service member who died while on active duty, or whose eventual death resulted from a service-related injury or disease, or who was rated 100% disabled for at least 10 years immediately before death.
Disability Compensation Claims
For veterans who were injured on active duty or during a drill period. The injury, condition, effects or scarring must continue to exist and be a problem. Pre-existing conditions (those which existed before the veteran began active duty) may be claimed if the veteran can show that the condition was worsened by active duty or by drill periods. If a service-connected rating has been previously granted and the condition has worsened, the veteran may file for an increase.
Discharge Documents – Obtaining Copies
Honorable discharges are required for a host of purposes including all benefit filings, retirement programs, SSA, veterans’ preference and burials. Our office can assist you in obtaining military discharges or other military records including medical records.
Discharge - Upgrades and Corrections
Application may be made to upgrade discharges with a designation which is anything other than fully honorable. Additionally, application can be made for clerical corrections such as SSN, unit information, awards and medals.
Education – Dependents of 100% SCD’s or KIA’s
Pays for college for the spouse or children of a veteran who is 100% SCD (total and permanent) or who died in service or died from other causes but with 100%SCD or who is detained by a foreign power (POW).
Post 9/11 GI Bill (Ch. 33), Vocational Rehabilitation (Ch. 31), Dependents Education Assistance (Ch. 35) MGIB (Ch. 30 & Ch. 1606), MA National Guard Tuition and Fee Waiver, MA State Veteran Tuition Waiver, and Frye Scholarship.
Available to anyone enrolled in VA Medical or who has a 10% service connected disability or higher.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), usually called fuel assistance, helps low-income households in Massachusetts pay their heating bills. LIHEAP eligibility is based on gross household income. Chapter 115 recipients are automatically eligible. Both homeowners and renters in Massachusetts may apply for this low-income energy assistance program.
Grave markers can now be obtained in bronze or stone for a private cemetery plot even if the grave is already marked with a family marker.
Hearing Loss Claims/Hearing Aids
Prior to November 2004, all veterans who needed them were entitled to free hearing aids and free maintenance. In 2004 the VA changed the rules; veterans who are not enrolled in the VA healthcare system are now required to file for and be granted a service-connected disability for hearing loss in order to qualify for the free hearing aids.
Home Loan Guaranty
The VA Loan Guaranty is not a loan. It is a process whereby the VA will “guarantee” a mortgage made by a bank or mortgage company. This means that the veteran must qualify financially for the loan just as anyone else would. The Guaranty simply allows him to purchase the home without having to make the minimum 20% down-payment required by most banks. Loan funding fees are waived for 100% service-connected disabled veterans.
Income Subsistence (MGL Chapter 115)
Certain veterans, surviving spouses and eligible dependents may be eligible to receive income supplements and medical assistance under Massachusetts law provided that they meet income and asset limitations.
Insurance - Life Insurance - SGLI, VGLI, NSLI
These life insurance policies were usually offered while the veteran was on active duty. After discharge, options for retaining the policy were offered. A free $10,000 policy is available to veterans with 100% service-connected disabilities but must be claimed within 2 years of the original rating.
Insurance - Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance
A veteran can apply for S-DVI within two years of being awarded a new service-connected disability (even if only 0%). A veteran may NOT apply for S-DVI based on an increase in an existing disability.
Many plates are available from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Some are free and some require a fee. Available plates include: Veteran, Legion of Valor, EX-POW, Purple Heart, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Gold Star Family, Disabled Veteran.
Veterans or family members of a deceased veteran may apply for lost medals or medals that were never given to the veteran but are noted on their honorable discharge.
Available to all veterans who were granted a discharge under honorable conditions, provided that they meet financial criteria or have a service-connected disability. Also available for all Global War on Terrorism veterans who have been discharged during the past five years.
Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Exemptions
A number of exemptions exist related to motor vehicles depending on type of veterans disability or award. They include: Motor vehicle registration exemption for disabled veterans and ex-prisoners of war, Sales tax exemption for disabled veterans, Excise tax exemption for ex-prisoners of war and disabled veterans.
Health coverage for regular and reserve/NG retirees and their families.
Please visit www.massvetsadvisor.org for additional helpful information.