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What is Veterans Disability Compensation?

Disability Compensation is awarded to a veteran to help compensate that veteran for a partial or complete loss of ability to maintain gainful employment. This inability to work is caused by an injury or illness incurred during active duty service.

Disability Compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a veteran for a service-connected disability that happened as a result of injury, aggravation or disease during active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty for training or injury from VA healthcare. Cash income payments for Compensation range from a low of $142.29 a month to a high of about $9,189.08 a month in 2020. Special benefits, like grants for new automobiles or modifying existing automobiles, grants for constructing or modifying homes, clothing allowances and so on are payable for severe service-connected disabilities. A veteran cannot receive Pension (Aid and Attendance) and Compensation at the same time and a surviving spouse cannot receive Death Pension and DIC at the same time. A choice must be made which benefit the beneficiary wants to receive.

An aid and attendance or housebound benefit in the form of Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is available to the veteran who is 100% disabled. Without SMC, a single veteran rated for 100% disability will receive a check for $3,106.04 a month in 2020 and if the veteran has a spouse the amount is $3,279.22 a month. A 100% disabled veteran meeting the SMC Schedule (l) for aid and attendance can receive $3,864.90 a month in 2020 and if that veteran has a spouse, the amount can be $4,038.08 a month. Higher amounts are possible if the aid and attendance involves certain severe disabilities. An SMC benefit is also available to a veteran who is housebound.

This aid and attendance allowance with SMC is not an automatic benefit and most veterans don't even know about this special assistance and never apply for it. If the veteran receiving Compensation is not 100% disabled, it may be possible to increase the rating up to 100% or be paid at 100% due to unemployability. Even retired veterans can be considered unemployable. Most veterans receiving Compensation don't have a clue as to their eligibility for aid and attendance or housebound benefits that are not related to the Pension benefit.

Also, an aid and attendance allowance is available due to the need for these services for a disabled spouse of a veteran where the veteran is 30% or more disabled. The amount goes up as the disability rating goes up. For example, for 2020, a 30% disabled veteran can generate an aid and attendance allowance of $48.00 a month benefit as a result of his or her disabled spouse needing aid and attendance. A 100% disabled veteran can generate an aid and attendance allowance of $158.82 a month for his or her spouse. Again, it is not common knowledge these additional aid and attendance allowances are available and VA does not normally notify people of their existence.

Of particular note for Disability Compensation are Agent Orange claims for each and every veteran who was stationed in Vietnam – or other locations this herbicide was stored or used – and who has developed presumptive health conditions such as certain forms of cancer, type II diabetes, ischemic heart disease (lack of proper blood flow to the heart), B cell leukemia and Parkinson's disease.

Veterans with service-connected hearing loss can also make claims and receive free hearing aids and a lifetime supply of free batteries. This hearing disability rating will also get them into the health care system. Many veterans don't know of the existence of Agent Orange claims or the fact that they might be eligible for service-connected disability for hearing loss.

Please refer to the table of contents in the top right column of this page for more topics on VA Disability Compensation.