Military Veterans’ Disability: Six Things You Should
- Some veterans are eligible to receive both service-connected compensation
through the VA, as well as Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) – without
- If there is medical malpractice at a Veterans Hospital, a veteran – or if
applicable, a surviving spouse – can file for service-connected compensation
from the Veterans Administration (38 U.S.C. §1151). If there has been a recovery
from a Federal Tort Claims Act case, the benefits will be offset. However,
there is no time limit for filing a claim through the VA, so even if the
statute of limitations has expired for a F.T.C.A. case, a veterans disability
claim can still be filed.
- There are certain statutory presumptions for Vietnam veterans. For
example, if a veteran who served in Vietnam during the war is diagnosed with
diabetes mellitus and if that disability is rated at least 10 percent, there
is a presumption that the disease is service-connected.
- In one sense, there is no res judicata concerning veterans claims.
Even if a veteran’s claim for service-connected benefits was previously denied, he or she
can file a new claim for the same benefits at any time, if the veteran can prove
there is “new and material evidence.”
- If a veteran was in the service during a period of war (whether or
not he or she was in the war zone) and is permanently and totally disabled,
he or she may be eligible for a non-service connected pension, even if the
disabilities are not service connected. As with SSI, the veteran seeking
benefits for non-service connected benefits has to meet certain financial
requirements and there is a setoff for Social Security disability benefits.
- A service-connected disability, whether injury or disease, does not
have to be incurred during combat. As long as the disability began when the
claimant was in service, it is service-connected. For example, if a person
was assaulted while in service or if there is evidence that an illness began
while a veteran was on active duty, he or she can make a claim for service-connected
Alan J. Nuta, who served in the Army from 1961-1963 and graduated from
Georgetown Law School in 1971, represents clients in their veterans disability
and Social Security disability claims. His primary office is in Gaithersburg,