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Human Resources

Disability Compensation or Pension

There are numerous types of claims that apply to disability compensation. They can be based on disabilities that existed when entering military service, but were made worse, disabilities that occurred during service, or disabilities that arose after you left military service. Additionally, there are claims that are filed for special circumstances.

Learn more about the many types of disability compensation.

Disability Compensation

Disability Compensation is a tax free monetary benefit paid to Veterans with disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Compensation may also be paid for post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbation or illnesses.

Direct

These claims are based on disabilities that are a result of an injury or disease that occurred in active service, and in the line of duty. Injuries or diseases as a result of the Veteran's own willful misconduct or abuse of alcohol or drugs may be excluded.

Secondary

These are claims for disabilities that developed as a result of or were worsened by another service-connected condition. In other words, it is recognized that a service-connected disability may cause a second disability. This second disability may not otherwise be considered service-connected.

Example 1

A Veteran has a service-connected knee injury that causes him to walk with a limp. He subsequently develops arthritis in his hip. Although the arthritic condition was not incurred during or aggravated by service, service-connection may still be established if the arthritis is a result of his knee condition.

Example 2

A Veteran was in the Army for twenty years. During her military service, she was diagnosed with hypertension. After her discharge, service-connection was established for hypertension. She was subsequently diagnosed with a heart condition. Service-connection for her heart condition may be established as secondary to the hypertension.

Aggravation

A Veteran enlists in the military and during the entrance exam, a doctor notes that he has flat feet. At this point, they are asymptomatic and therefore not necessarily a bar to service. The Veteran serves several years with ill-fitting footwear and begins to develop shin splints and/or foot pain. Upon separation, he may be eligible for compensation due to aggravation on the grounds that his military service worsened the condition.

Special Circumstances

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

VA can pay additional compensation to a Veteran who, as a result of military service, incurred the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities.

If a Veteran is service-connected at the 100% rate and is housebound, bedridden, or is so helpless as to need the aid and attendance of another person, then payment of additional SMC can be considered. The amount of SMC will vary depending on the level of disability.

Temporary Ratings

A temporary 100% rating is for convalescence based on surgery or immobilization of a joint by a cast without surgery for  a service-connected disability. The temporary rating may continue for 1 to 3 months depending on individual circumstances. Extensions up to an additional 3 months may be granted in severe cases.

Total Disability Due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

A Veteran is service connected for issues that are affecting her ability to sustain gainful employment. She files for an increase in compensation. Under certain circumstances she may be awarded TDIU and compensated at the 100% level.

Service Dogs

Under certain circumstances, the VA will recognize and provide benefits for a service animal. For more guidance concerning this benefit, refer to 38 CFR.

Non-service Connected (NSC) Pension

VA helps Veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income through the Veterans Pension benefit. Veterans Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime Veterans. Specific eligibility criteria apply.

VA's pension program provides monthly benefit payments to certain wartime Veterans with financial need, and their survivors. As Veterans and survivors consider applying for these benefits, VA would like to share important information about the pension program and organizations offering assistance with pension applications.

Don't be a victim! Be aware of pension poaching scams.