Veterans Benefits For Dummies
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Veterans with disabilities or medical conditions that were caused or worsened by military service can receive compensation and other government aid. VA pensions are paid to disabled veterans under 65, and any wartime veteran 65 or older with limited income. Low-income veterans who are totally and permanently disabled due to non-service-connected medical conditions and disabilities can receive a disability pension.

Veterans with service-connected disability ratings of less than 50% must waive an equivalent amount of their military retirement pay in order to receive VA disability compensation. To compensate for this inequity, Congress created Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC), so any veteran with a combat-related disability can be paid a monthly special pay that is intended to reduce or eliminate the offset of military retirement pay.

Finally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a lifelong pension to veterans who have earned our nation’s highest military decoration — the Medal of Honor.

If you qualify for any of these, you must apply for them. In this article, you learn how.

Apply for veterans disability compensation or a VA pension

To apply for either VA disability compensation or a VA pension, use VA Form 21-526, Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension. If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage and children’s birth certificates), as well as proof of military service and discharge characterization.

You can obtain the form from any VA regional office or download it from the VA’s website. Return the completed application, along with the supporting evidence, to your closest VA office.

Apply for Combat-Related Special Compensation for veterans disability

To receive this benefit, you must apply through your individual military service. The application is made on DD Form 2860, Claim for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). The form is available at the Military Pay and Finance section on any military base, or you can download it from DTIC Online.

Along with the application, include any documentation that you feel is relevant. Examples of documentation you may want to send include copies of the following:

  • Retirement orders

  • 20-year letter or statement of service (for reservists)

  • Relevant pages in your VA or military medical records

  • VA ratings determinations

  • Purple Heart decoration award citations (if applicable)

  • Retirement Form DD Form 214

The Department of Defense (DOD) guidance doesn’t provide an exhaustive list of relevant documentation but instead states that decisions will be made on the significance of available documents. Keep in mind that the quality of the information is more important than the quantity.

Be sure to send copies — not original documents. Original documents won’t be returned.

Mail the completed application to the appropriate address (of the military service you retired from), listed on page 1 of the application form.

After a final decision is made, your branch of service will notify you in writing of approval or denial of your application. If approved, a copy of your approval letter will be forwarded to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which will start your monthly CRSC payments.

Apply for a veterans disability adaptive housing grant

You can apply for Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) and Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grants by completing VA Form 26-4555, Veterans Application in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptation Grant. The form is available at any VA regional office or online at the Veterans Benefits Administration. Return the completed form to your closest VA regional office.

You can apply for a Home Improvement and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant by completing VA Form 10-0103, Veterans Application for Assistance in Acquiring Home Improvement and Structural Alterations. This form is available from your VA medical center. It’s also available from the VA’s website. Return this completed form to the VA medical center that you receive your VA medical care from.

Apply for a veterans disability clothing allowance

Application for a clothing allowance is made by completing VA Form 10-8678, Application for Annual Clothing Allowance. This form is available at VA medical centers or online at the VA's website. Upon completion, submit the form to the VA medical center that provides your medical treatment.

About This Article

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Rod Powers is a recognized expert in all U.S. military matters. A military author, his articles have appeared in numerous military and civilian publications. Powers is the co-author of the successful ASVAB For Dummies, 2nd Edition, and serves as a military guide for

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