Veterans Affairs (VA) has a number of benefits and programs designed to help veterans with their transition back to civilian life. Many of these programs feature lifelong benefits designed to help you succeed over the long term. Veterans disability benefits is one such program.
Injuries received during the course of duty, both physical and mental, should not hold you back. Veterans Disability Benefits were created to help retired soldiers achieve a higher standard of living through compensation for those injuries. But how do you know if the injuries that you sustained during service qualify you for the program?
Determining your eligibility
In order to apply for the program, a retired service member must satisfy the following criteria:
- Been an active duty service member
- Been evaluated for a disability by a medical professional
- Received the injury during the course of active duty OR
- Had a pre-existing condition made worse by active duty
It should be noted that for certain disability types, veterans can qualify for disability benefits even if the condition appeared after their service as long as a medical provider feels it is the direct result of their military experience.
Qualifying conditions for disability benefits
Now that we’ve reviewed basic eligibility, let’s turn our attention towards qualifying conditions. Bear in mind that qualifying conditions can be either physical or mental in nature.
The VA maintains a strict set of physical disabilities which establish a soldier’s eligibility for participation in the program. Those conditions include:
- Back pain
- Breathing issues
- Hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Scar tissue
- Issues with range of motion that impact day-to-day activities
- Ulcers and other stomach issues
It should also be noted that the VA gives soldiers who spent time as a prisoner of war or those exposed to harmful chemicals during combat extra consideration when determining their eligibility.
Service impacts everyone differently. For some, that means physical scars. For others, the wounds are emotional. The key mental conditions that qualify a retired soldier for disability benefits include:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Trauma from sexual assault
While this list includes the most common physical and mental ailments used to establish eligibility, it is not exhaustive. If your health and wellbeing have been negatively impacted by your military service, the first step is to visit your primary care provider in order to document your disability.