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Eligibility and Benefits Compensation Criteria

Eligibility and Benefits Compensation Criteria

To be eligible for disability compensation benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA):

  1. You must be a veteran of the United States military.
  2. You must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
  3. You must have a disability that is service-connected.

1. You must be a veteran of the United States Military

The Veterans Administration supports American veterans and their families by providing a wide range of programs and services. Disability compensation is given only to deserving veterans who are disabled by injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated by active military service. It is also paid to veterans who become disabled from negligent VA health care or injury resulting from the pursuit of training under vocational rehabilitation.

2. You must have been honorably discharged from military service

A veteran must have served under conditions characterized as “other than dishonorable” to be eligible for VA benefits.  A serious departure from the conduct performance expected of all military members brings discredit upon the service and would, therefore, disqualify that person from receiving benefits from the VA.

3. You must have a disability that is service-connected

Service connection generally means that a chronic disability arose coincidental with military service. It is important to establish that your injury or illness is service-connected to qualify for disability compensation. The following categories identify service-connected disability:

  1. Direct – The onset of disability is directly related to military service. Example: Complications from a gunshot wound to the left thigh.
  2. Secondary – A current disability caused by or aggravated by another service-connected disability. Example: Right knee problems from compensating for an altered gait because of the left-thigh gunshot wound.
  3. Aggravated – A chronic disability diagnosed prior to military service is aggravated beyond normal progression during military service. Example: A right-knee disability from high school football was aggravated by a parachute jump.
  4. Presumptive – A chronic disability that is related to some exposure during military service. Example: Diabetes mellitus type II related to exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide used during the Vietnam War.
  5. Paired Organ – A veteran has loss of use of one extremity or organ (i.e. kidney) due to service- connected disability and later develops loss of use of the other extremity organ.
  6. VA Medical Negligence – A disability that occurred while a veteran was undergoing VA health care.
  7. Injury Resulting from VA Vocational Training – Injury that occurred while pursuing a vocational training plan with the VA.

Wartime Service-Connected Disabilities

There are service-connected disabilities that relate to specific war periods.
World War II:  Exposure to radiation was common due to the extensive experimentation and nuclear testing of the Atomic Bomb. Diseases such as Leukemia, Lymphomas, Multiple Myeloma and Cancers could later manifest in veterans who were exposed to radiation at that time.

Korean War:  Veterans who fought in the Korean War may have experienced cold-weather injuries and, later on, residual effects of frostbite.

Vietnam:  Exposure to Agent Orange, the herbicide used to kill off dense plant life caused multiple conditions in veterans of that war. Twelve specific illnesses have been identified as service-connected disabilities.

Persian Gulf War and OEF/OIF:  Veterans have experienced chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed or unexplained chronic multi-symptom illnesses such as joint pain, fatigue, mental problems and headaches of unknown etiology.

Compensation is Based on Degree of Disability

Your compensation is based on a rating system that determines the extent, or degree, of disability.

  • The range of disability starts at 0 percent up to 100 percent disabled.
  • Each disability found to be service-connected is assigned a percentage rating based on its specific level of impairment.
  • If there is more than one disability, the percentages are combined to determine the total rating.

The amount of compensation is based on this combined rating percentage and is adjusted annually.

Here is an example of the monthly benefits a veteran with no dependents may receive based on level of disability (source: 2009 VA Compensation Pay Chart):

10% = $123          60% =$974

20% = $243          70% = $1,228

30% = $376          80% = $1,427

40% =$541           90% = $1,604

50% = $770          100% = $2,673

Conditions Identified as Service-Connected

For a comprehensive list of war-related health conditions that the Veterans Administration has identified as service-connected, please refer to the “Wartime Veterans” tab or the “Your Condition” tab located on the homepage of this Web site.

Apply for Benefits with an Alpha Advocate – Vets Helping Vets

If you do not receive a fully favorable decision from the VA, or you disagree with the percentage given to your disability, we can help you appeal for more.

It can take months, in many cases, years, for the VA to grant benefits. If you think you have a service-connected disability, or need help to prove that you do, the Alpha team is ready to help you.

Contact us to get started on your claim.

Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.


60 comments to “Eligibility and Benefits Compensation Criteria”

  • Alpha, February 28, 2012 at 9:44 am


    A dependent child is generally a person who is the biological person under the age of 18, or up to age 26 if attending higher education. A dependent child may also include those who were incapable of self support due to a mental or physical disease from childhood. If you feel that you are still a dependent child, you should reach out to the VA and request DIC benefits.

  • Sherry Pritchard, December 21, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I HOPE YOU CAN help!! I receive a DIC check from the VA. I remarried (after age 57) and was told yesterday that I can no longer have Navy benefits! I was told when I went to the VA regional center in Jackson,Ms that I would NOT lose my benefits. PLEASE HELP me!!! I didn’t lose my check or my health program (ChampVa) why would I lose my Navy I.D??? My husband was in the Navy and 100% disable at the time of his death! I know the only thing I really use is the Commasary.Please, clear this up for me. I went to the Navy web page says as long as I was over the age of 57 and I was. Thank you for your time.

  • Alpha, January 2, 2013 at 11:43 am


    I see no reason that you will lose any benefits. You should retain your check and health plan.

  • Rachell, March 11, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Had pains during basic and ait but didn’t seek treatment while on active duty. Came home for reserves and symptoms grew worse. Diagnosed with fibromyalgia and cfs in 2001. Filed va disability claim and was denied. Didn’t know what to do. Now 2013, still dealing with this debilitating condition with now ibs, anemia, fibro fog. Have to take days off from work. I feel something went wrong with my body during training and I’m having problems and can’t live my life to the fullest. What should I do?

  • Alpha, March 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm


    You brief period of basic training and AIT may be too short of time frame to reasonably conclude your condition originated while on active duty. The lack of evidence documenting any treatment while on active duty really undermines your claim. If you believe your problems may be associated with your military service, you may present new evidence to the VA requesting service connection. The new evidence should exceed the burden of arising coincidental with service and may require a causative factor. What happened to you or what were you exposed to that led to your current condition?

  • M. Edward Jackson, March 16, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I have been working with Paul Kachevsky, I request that he contact me. I need for him to file a claim under Title 38 U.S.C 1151 which I’m eligible.

  • Alpha, March 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve requested Paul contact you. He should contact you shortly.

  • Stephen A. O'Hearn, January 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    I am in the beginning process of evaluation for possible medical separation but have some special issues. The NARSUM was accepted an dthe med board packet will begin today. I have 13 years of continous active service, and now a Captain. (Former prior enlisted) and suffer from Loss of Hearing and severe tinnitus, I have had spine surgery and nerve damage to my leg and knee area and a total knee replacement. however my question is this,
    My sonis on EFMP and Echo benefits for Autism. I am unclear on coverage if I was to be medically separated for his BCBA, Behavioral Therapy covered by the ECHO Program. I have not recieved any clear concise accurate information regarding continued coverage.

    I am here in South Korea when it was decided to bump my profile to a2nd permanent putting me in the crosshairs for med board.
    Can you help?

  • Alpha, January 6, 2014 at 11:52 am


    Unfortunately I don’t have the specific details regarding issues related to the special needs to children belonging to active military and their pending separation. I recommend contacting the VA and inquiring there.

  • Carrington, October 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    What does the pending claim “Eligilibility Determination” mean. I have been recieving benifits since 2011 and now have this pop up… What is it??