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Articles Posted in VA Benefits

Are you a veteran suffering from asbestos exposure in Michigan? If so, please contact my good friends at the Mesothelioma Center. They can be a great resource for veterans and their families facing asbestos related illnesses. Here is their information:

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of living veterans were exposed to toxic asbestos-containing materials during military service which could develop into mesothelioma. The Mesothelioma Center provides a complete list of occupations, ships, and shipyards that could have put our Veterans at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases. Our goal is to offer a one-stop resource on all asbestos and mesothelioma-related information ranging from occupational exposure to mesothelioma clinical trials.

Although many of you are, or can become, eligible for Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits (most commonly, Pension plus Aid & Attendance), there are many who would be better off applying for Service Connected Compensation. However, in order to ascertain which benefit would be best for you, one must fully understand SC compensation benefits.

Unlike NSC pension claims, there is no asset or income limitation for SC compensation (with the exception of a parent’s claim). For this reason, it may be possible to still obtain benefits for those clients with excessive assets who would not qualify for pension.

For veterans who are already receiving SC compensation, one should look at the rating of the disability and the amount that the veteran is receiving.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly the Veterans Administration and still commonly referred to as the “VA,” is the second largest Cabinet department reporting to the executive branch of our government, with over 275,000 employees and a $90 billion budget. Despite its size, the VA does run an efficient office; however, most people learn that its size will often lead to long delays and confusion.

Divided into 3 business units, the VA is made up of the Veterans Health Administration, the National Cemetery Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration. Veterans health care is often lauded as the best available and the national cemeteries honor our service men, women and families remarkably well.

Despite the apparent simplicity of the process, American military veterans who apply for compensation and pension benefits often end up angry, dazed and confused long before any benefits are received. Two important causes of the anger and confusion are (1) the long and growing delays in resolving claims and (2) the seemingly endless layers of rules, regulations, and practices that as often as not act as barriers to properly resolving claims rather that the guides for obtaining an award that they were intended.

Most veterans, in Michigan, are aware that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) provides benefits to those who suffer from “service” related injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. However, most veteran’s are unaware that the VA also provides “pension” benefits. Pension benefits are benefits provided to veterans that suffer from non-service related injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. These benefits can be provided to veterans based on criteria that are surprisingly easy to meet for most veterans.

The classification of these benefits is almost a misnomer in itself. Most believe that to qualify for pension benefits a veteran must retire from active service or see combat duty. This is not the case. In fact these benefits are rather loosely related to military service.

The minimal required qualifications required to become eligible for these benefits include:

Following a significant change to federal law in regard to applying for Veteran’s benefits, your adviser must be accredited with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in order to assist you with your claim for benefits.

In July of 2008, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs mandated that any individual representing a veteran pursuing VA benefits must be accredited with the VA in order to further a claim on behalf of the veteran. As a result, financial planners, attorneys and others have begun the accreditation process. This is important to understand here in Michigan as most veterans first learn of these benefits through non-accredited sources.

If your adviser is not accredited, there are alternatives. Pursuant to federal law a claimant may: (1) represent himself or herself directly; (2) seek assistance through a Veteran Service Organization that is accredited through the VA (American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or State VA offices) 38 CFR 14.628; (3) an individual who has been accredited by the VA; (4) a “one time” power of attorney person, who is usually the child or relative of the claimant ,38 CFR 14.631; (5) an attorney in good standing with the State Bar and has been accredited by the VA, as of June 23, 2008 38 CFR 14.629.

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