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Federal Benefits

Benefit Programs For Veterans

Disability Compensation- Monetary benefits and health care are provided to veterans who are disabled by injury or disease incurred or aggravated during active military service. The veteran must have separated or been discharged under conditions that were other than dishonorable.

Pension Veterans with low incomes may be eligible for monetary support if they have 90 days or more of active military service, one day of which was during a recognized period of war. The discharge from service must be other than dishonorable.

Education And Training-

Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty)

Eligibility- Individual must enter active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985, and receive an honorable discharge. An individual also may qualify for the full benefit by initially serving 2 continuous years on active duty, followed by 4 years of Selected Reserve service. Participation- Servicemembers have their military pay reduced $100.00 a month for the first 12 months of active duty.
Discharge- The discharge must be honorable. Discharges designated "under honorable conditions" and "general" do not establish eligibility.

Montgomery GI Bill (Selected Reserves)

Period of Eligibility- If a reservists stays in the Selected Reserve, benefits end 10 years from the date the reservist became eligible for the program. VA may extend the 10-year period if the individual could not train due to a disability caused by Selected Reserve service. If a reservist leaves the Selected Reserve because of a disability, the individual may use the full 10 years. VA may also extend the 10-year period if the reservist was called to active duty during the Persian Gulf War.

Counseling- Counseling may be available for individuals who are eligible for VA educational assistance; who are on active duty and within 180 days of discharge; or who have been discharged one year or less under conditions other than dishonorable.

Work-study Students who are drawing benefits under any veterans education program are eligible for work-study. Participants must train at the three-quarter or full-time rate. They will work under the supervision of a VA employee may provide outreach services, prepare and process VA paperwork, work at a VA medical facility or perform other approved activities.

Vocational Rehabilitation-
Eligibility- Veterans and Servicemembers are eligible for vocational rehabilitation if three conditions are met: (1.) They suffered a service-connected disability or disabilities in active service, and are receiving at least 20 percent compensation or would do so but for receipt of military retirement pay. (2.) They were discharged of released under other than dishonorable conditions or are hospitalized awaiting separation for a service-connected disability. (3.) They need vocational rehabilitation to overcome an employment handicap caused by their service-connected disability.

Benefits- A disabled veteran will be given an evaluation to establish eligibility. An eligible disabled veteran may receive employment assistance, self-employment assistance, training in a rehabilitation facility and college and other training. Severely disabled veterans may receive assistance to improve their ability to live independently.

Period of Rehabilitation program- The veteran must complete a rehabilitation program 12 years from the date of discharge. This period may be extended if a medical condition prevented the veteran from training or if the veteran has a serious employment handicap. Disabled veterans may receive services until they have reached their rehabilitation goal, up to 48 months. VA may provide counseling, job placement and post-employment services for up to 18 additional months. Rehabilitation program costs- While in training and for two years after completing training, eligible veterans may receive subsistence allowances in addition to their disability compensation or retirement pay. VA may pay the costs of tuition and required fees, books, supplies and equipment. VA may also pay for special support, such as tutorial assistance, prosthetic devices, lip-reading training and signing for the deaf.

Life Insurance Two regular and two disabled insurance programs are currently open for new policy holders. Servicemen's Group Life Insurance is open to active-duty members of the uniformed services. Veterans' Group Life Insurance is available to individuals released from active duty after August 1, 1974, and to reservists. Service Disabled Insurance is available to veterans with service-connected disabilities. Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance provides mortgage life insurance for veterans granted specially adapted housing grants.

Burial Benefits

Burial in National cemeteries- Veterans, Service members and dependents are eligible for burial in one of the VA's 114 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years of service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the U.S. in a war also may be eligible. Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of Service members also may be buried in a national cemetery. If a surviving spouse of an eligible veteran marries a non-veteran, and remarriage was terminated by death or divorce of the non-veteran, the spouse is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery and state veteran cemeteries have a few different eligibility requirements. For information on these, contact your County Service Officer.

Headstones and Markers- VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military post cemeteries.

Burial Flags- VA provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran or reservist entitled to retired military pay. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate. VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a service member who was missing in action and later presumed dead. Flags are issued at VA regional offices and national cemeteries, and post offices.

Home Loan Guaranties

VA guarantees loans made to Service members, veterans, reservists and unremarried surviving spouses for the purchase or refinancing of homes, condos and manufactured homes. VA guarantees part of the total loan, permitting the purchaser to obtain a mortgage with a competitive interest rate, even without a down payment if the lender agrees. VA requires a down payment for the purchase of a manufactured home. With a VA guaranty, the lender is protected against loss up to the amount of the guaranty if the borrower fails to repay the loan. A VA loan guaranty can be used to:

  1. Buy a home.
  2. Buy a residential condominium.
  3. Build a home.
  4. Repair, alter or improve a home.
  5. Refinance an existing home loan.
  6. Buy a manufactured home with or without a lot.
  7. Buy and improve a manufactured home lot.
  8. Install a solar heating or cooling system or other weatherization improvements.
  9. Purchase and improve a home simultaneously with energy-efficient improvements.
  10. Refinance an existing VA loan to reduce the interest rate and make energy-efficient improvements.
  11. Refinance a manufactured home loan to acquire a lot.

Eligibilities- Applicants must have a good credit rating, have an income sufficient to support mortgage payments, and agree to live in the property. To obtain a VA certificate of eligibility, complete VA Form 26-1880, and submit it to the nearest VA regional office.

Guaranty Amount- The amount of the VA guaranty available to an eligible veteran is called the entitlement, and may be considered the equivalent of a down payment by the lenders. Up to $50,750.00 in entitlement may be available to veterans purchasing or constructing homes to be financed with a loan of more than $144,000.00 and to veterans who obtain an Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan of more than $144,000.00. The amount of entitlement varies with the loan amount. VA does not establish a maximum loan amount. No loan for the purchase of a home, however, may exceed the reasonable value of the property. A loan for the purpose of refinancing existing mortgage loans or other liens secured on a dwelling is generally limited to 90 percent of the appraised value of the dwelling. A veteran who previously obtained a VA loan can use the remaining entitlement for a second purchase. The amount of remaining entitlement is the difference between $36,000, or $50,750 for special loans, and the amount of entitlement used on prior loans.

Required Occupancy- Veterans must certify that they intend to live in the home they are buying or building with a VA guaranty. A veteran who wishes to refinance or improve a home with a VA guaranty also must certify to being in occupancy if the buyer is on active duty. In refinancing a VA-guaranteed loan solely to reduce the interest rate, veterans need only certify to prior occupancy.

Closing costs- Payment in cash is required on all home loan closing costs, including title search and recording, hazard insurance premiums, prepaid taxes and a 1 percent origination fee which may be required by lenders in lieu of certain other costs. In case of refinancing loans, all such costs may be included in the loan, as long as the total loan does not exceed 90 percent of the reasonable value for the property.

Benefits For Survivors

Dependency And Indemnity Compensation (DIC)- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation payments may be authorized for surviving spouses, unmarried children under 18 and 23 if attending a VA-approved school, and low-income parents of servicemembers or veterans who died from: (1) a disease or injury incurred or aggravated while on active duty; or (2) an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty while on inactive duty training; (3) a disability compensable by VA. Death cannot be the result of willful misconduct.

DIC payments to Surviving Spouse- Surviving spouses of veterans who died after Jan. 1, 1993, receive $861.00 a month. An additional $187.00 a month is added to the basic rate if the deceased veteran had been entitled to receive 100% service-connected compensation for at least 8 years immediately preceding death and the surviving spouse was married to the veteran for those years. For a spouse entitled to DIC based on the veteran's death prior to Jan. 1, 1993, the amount paid is based on the veteran's pay grade while in the service.

DIC payments to Children and Parents- There are additional payments for dependent children and for children with no surviving spouse. The monthly DIC rates for parents of deceased veterans depend upon the income of the parents. The maximum annual income for two parents is $12,977.00; the maximum for one parent is $9,654.00.

Aid and Attendance Allowance- Surviving spouses and parents receiving DIC may be granted a special allowance to pay for aid and attendance of another person if they are patients in a nursing home or require the regular assistance of another person.

Housebound- Surviving spouses receiving DIC who are not so disabled as to require the regular aid and attendance of another person but who, due to disability, are permanently housebound, may be granted an additional special allowance.

Death Pension- Surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime service may be eligible for a nonservice-connected pension based on need. Children must be under 18, or under 23 if attending a VA-approved school. Pension is not payable to those with estates large enough to provide maintenance. The veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and must have had 90 days or more on active duty, at least one day of which was during a period of war, or a service-connected disability justifying discharge for disability. The Improved Pension program provides a monthly payment to bring an eligible person's income to a support level established by law. The payment is reduced by the annual income from other sources such as Social Security paid to either the surviving spouse or dependent children.

Dependents' Education- Educational assistance is available to spouses and children of:

  1. Veterans who died or are totally disabled as the result of active duty service.
  2. Veterans who died from any cause while rated permanently disabled from service-connected disability.
  3. Servicemembers listed for more than 90 days as currently MIA or captured in the line of duty.
  4. Servicemembers listed for more than 90 days as currently detained or interned by a foreign government.

Monthly Payments- For full time students, the rate is $404.00 a month, with less money for part time training. A person may receive educational benefits for full-time training for up to 45 months.

Health-care Benefits

Hospital and Outpatient Care- Eligibility for VA hospital and outpatient care is divided into two categories: In the first category, the VA shall provide any needed hospital and outpatient care to the extent and in the amount that congress appropriates funds. In the second category, the VA may furnish any needed hospital and outpatient care to the extent resources and facilities are available if the veteran makes a copayment. To find out which category you fall under, see your County Service Officer.

Nursing-Home Care- Nursing care in VA or private nursing homes is provided for veterans who are not acutely ill and not in need of hospital care. If space and resources are available in VA facilities, VA may provide nursing-home care. Veterans who have service-connected disabilities are given first priority for nursing-home care. For further information, contact your local County Service Officer.

Alcohol and Drug Dependence Treatment- Veterans eligible for VA medical care may apply for substance abuse treatment. Veterans without service-connected disabilities, whose income exceeds the threshold for free medical care, may be authorized treatment for alcohol and drug dependence only if the veteran agrees to make copayments. After hospitalization for alcohol or drug treatment, veterans may be eligible for outpatient care or may be authorized to continue treatment or rehab at the VA expense in a private facility.

Home Improvements And Structural Alterations- This program helps pay for home improvements necessary to provide disability access to the home. VA will pay up to $4,100.00 for alterations for a veteran being treated for a service-connected disability or a veteran with a disability rating of 50% or more. Up to $1,200.00 may be paid to other eligible veterans. Contact your nearest County Service Officer.

Services And Aids For Blind Veterans Blind veterans may be eligible for services at a VA medical center or for admission to a VA blind rehab center. Services are available at all VA medical facilities through the Visual Impairment Services coordinator.

Medical Care For Dependents And Survivors- CHAMPVA, the VA civilian health and medical program, shares the cost of medical care for dependents and survivors of veterans. Dependents are not eligible for CHAMPVA benefits if they are eligible for medical care under CHAMPUS or Medicare, Part A, as a result of reaching 65.

Beneficiaries age 65 or older who lose eligibility for CHAMPVA by becoming eligible for Medicare, Part A, or who qualify for Medicare, Part A, benefits on the basis of a disability may re-establish CHAMPVA eligibility by submitting documentation from the Social Security Administration certifying they are not entitled to or have exhausted Medicare, Part A, benefits.

Other Federal Benefits

Job-finding Assistance- State employment offices help veterans find jobs by providing free job counseling, testing, referral and placement services. Veterans are given priority in the referral of job openings and training opportunities. Disabled veterans receive the highest priority in referrals.

Job-training Partnership Act- This Act provides for a national job training program for disabled, Vietnam Era and recently separated veterans. Job training programs may be conducted through public agencies and private nonprofit organizations. Veterans should apply at the nearest state employment office.

Disabled Veterans Outreach Program- The Labor Department's Office of Veterans Employment and Training locates disabled veterans and helps them find jobs. Outreach staff members are usually disabled veterans themselves. Most staff members are located in offices of the state employment service but some may be stationed in the VA regional offices.

Small Business Administration A number of SBA programs are designed to help small businesses, including businesses owned or operated by veterans. Help available from SBA includes business training, conferences, counseling, surety bonding, government procurement and financial management assistance. Most SBA loans are made under its Load Guaranty Program. The loan amount is advanced by the bank or other lending institution, with SBA guaranteeing up to 85% of the total amount. In each SBA field office a veterans affairs officer is designated as the contact person to assist veterans.

Death Gratuity Military services provide a death gratuity of $6,000.00 to a deceased servicemember's next of kin. The death gratuity is payable for death in active service or for retirees who died within 120 days of retirement as a result of service-connected injury or illness.

Correction Of Military Records- The secretary of a military department, acting through a board for correction of military records, has authority to correct and military record when necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. Applications for correction of a military record, including review of discharges issued by court-martial, may be considered by a correction board. A request for correction generally must be filed by the veteran, survivor or legal representative within three years after the discovery of the error or injustice.

Replacing Military Records- A veteran and next of kin should be aware of the location of the veteran's discharge and separation papers. If the veteran cannot locate discharge papers, duplicate copies may be obtained by contacting the National Personnel Records Center. For help in this area, contact your local County service Officer.


Board Of Veterans' Appeals- This board makes final decisions on appeals on behalf of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. A claimant may be represented by a veterans service organization, an agent or an attorney. The board reviews fee agreements between appellants and attorneys or agents. The Board also determines whether attorneys are eligible for payment of fees from a claimant's past-due benefits. Appellants have the right to present their case in person to a board member at a hearing in Washington D.C., or at a VA regional office.

U.S. Court Of Veterans' Appeals- A VA claim may be appealed from the Board of Veterans' Appeals to the Court of Veterans Appeals. This court is independent of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Only claimants may seek a review by the court; VA may not appeal BVA decisions. To appeal to the court, the claimant must have filed a Notice of Disagreement on or after November 18, 1988. The notice of appeal must be filed with the court with a postmark that is within 120 days after the Board of Veterans' Appeals mails its final decision.

Where To Go For Help For questions about any of the above information or anything concerning veterans' benefits contact your local County Service Officers at:

Lancaster Co. Veterans' Service Center
2202 S. 11th St.
Room 150
Lincoln, NE 68502
or call: (402) 441-7361
or E-mail

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