1. State Veteran Benefit Finder
2. Pre-Need Eligibility for National Cemetery Burial
3. PDBR Review of Disability Claims Continues
4. Compensation and Pension Examinations and Their Role in a VA Benefits Case

5. Your VA Benefits Eligibility Matrix
6. Understanding What It Means to Be Rated 100% Disabled
7. PTSD Coach Mobile App
8. Sensorineural Aids; Hearing Aids and Glasses
9. Arm Forces Medical Facilities closing to veterans
10. VA Veteran Money
11.Other Compensations That A Veteran Must Know
12.  VA telehealth
13. VA Caregiver Tip Sheet During Pandemic
14. Your Guide to VA Appeals
15. Financial Assistance as result of VA action
16. Women Veterans and VA Healthcare Benefits
17. Fiduciary Accounting Submission Tool (FAST)

18. Benefits for spouses, dependents, and survivors
19. Adapt Your Car with VA
20. Free Entrance to National Parks for Veterans and Survivors
21. 2021 Veterans disability compensation rates
22. The Veteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 became law on August 23, 2017 (Pub L. 115-55). It is also known as the Appeals Modernization Act.

​​23. Federal tools to help maximize GI Bill education benefits
24. VA COVID 19 vaccine availability
25. Support for Caregivers

1. State Veteran Benefit Finder

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) created the “State-Level Benefits Finder for Veterans,” which is a new online tool catalogue that displays benefits offered by each state across the U.S. according to CNAS. There is a total of 1,814 unique benefits which exist across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, there is significant variation across states in terms of available benefits, who is eligible to access them, and their value. For more information or to locate benefits that may pertain to you here in California and the rest of the states see State Benefits Finder.

2. Pre-Need Eligibility for National Cemetery Burial or Memorialization

Requesting Burial in a National Cemetery
To apply for pre-need determination, veterans should complete and submit a VA Form 40-10007 – Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, along with copies of supporting documentation, such as a DD Form 214. The documents should be sent to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office at: toll-free fax at 855-840-8299; email to;  or mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151.

Applicants may indicate a preference for a VA national cemetery on the application form, but a pre-need determination of eligibility does not guarantee burial in a specific VA national cemetery or a specific gravesite. VA assigns gravesites in cemeteries with available space once death has occurred and the burial is scheduled.

What to Expect After Applying
VA will review pre-need burial applications and provide written notice of a determination of eligibility (a decision letter). VA will save the information electronically for future reference and to expedite processing burial claims at the time of need. 

You should save a copy of all documents submitted and the decision letter received. It is also a good idea to communicate with one’s loved ones or estate planners where the documents are, and about the preference to be buried in a VA national cemetery.

At the time of need, the next-of-kin, funeral home or other representative responsible for making final arrangements should contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117 to request burial.

If the veteran didn’t complete a “pre-need determination” request prior to death, survivors or funeral directors can request burial in a National Cemetery by faxing eligibility documentation to 866-900-6417 or scanning and emailing the information to, survivors or funeral directors can also call the VA at 800-535-1117.

Eligibility for Burial in a National Cemetery
Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA’s 135 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service.  A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible. Spouses and dependent, minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery.

A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran prior to Oct. 31, 1990, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce prior to or on that date is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.  A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran prior to Oct. 31, 1990, and whose remarriage was still intact on or after that date, however, is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse who marries a nonveteran after Oct. 31, 1990, is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Note: For all the below benefits, see a Service Officer prior to applying.

The following benefits are available to Veterans and their families:
VA provides for a final resting place for eligible Veterans, spouses, and their eligible
dependents, as well as a headstone or marker, a flag to drape the casket and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

Memorial or Burial Flags:
A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. U.S. Post Offices are the primary issuing point for burial flags. Each family of a decedent is entitled to one flag.

Government Headstones or Markers:
VA can provide a single headstone, columbarium niche cover, or a flat marker for a Veteran’s final resting place (private, state or national cemeteries).

Cemetery Medallions:
VA can provide a medallion for use on a headstone or other memorial in a private cemetery to signify a decedent’s status as veteran. Multiple sizes are available.

Presidential Memorial Certificates:
VA can provide a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) to the family of the deceased Veteran. A PMC is an engraved paper certificate signed by the current President.

Burial Benefits and Burial Automatic Payments:

  • Burial benefits are paid to a spouse, designated family member, or executor to partially offset the cost of burial expenses, plot costs, and transportation costs for a Veteran’s remains.
  • These benefits are paid at different rates based on whether the Veteran’s death was service connected or non-service connected.
  • If the Veteran was receiving VA benefits prior to their passing and had a spouse of record, these benefits will usually be paid automatically to that spouse. However, additional funds may be paid, or payment made to another party, if an application is completed. Additional benefits, including a plot or interment allowance and transportation allowance, may also be payable.

Veterans Month of Death Benefits:
If a Veteran who is receiving VA compensation or pension benefits passes away, their last month of benefits can be paid to their surviving spouse. This payment is usually automatic, but if it is not received, it can be claimed via a phone call to 1-800-827-1000, or through your County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO).

3. PDBR Review of Disability Claims Continues
The Physical Disability Board of Review was created  in the FY2008 Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that reassess the accuracy and fairness of combined disability ratings of 20 percent or less for service members who were separated from service, rather than medically retired because of medical conditions. 

In order to be eligible for a PDBR review, service members must have been medically separated between Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2009, with a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less and found ineligible for retirement. Currently only 19,000 of the more than 71,000 eligible have requested a review of their claim. The Physical Disability Board of Review claims that more than half of the reviewed claims have been upgraded to a disability rating of 30 percent or more. 

The review panel is authorized to recommend an increase in a disability rating, uphold the previous finding or issue a disability rating when the previous board did not assign one. The board, however, is NOT able to recommend a lower rating. Eligible veterans can request a board review by submitting a Department of Defense Form 294, Application for Review of Physical Disability Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States.
This form is online at; < 

Veterans requesting a review must mail their completed and signed DD Form 294 to SAF/MRBR, 550 C St. W., Suite 41, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas 78150-4743. Applicants may submit statements, briefs, medical records or affidavits supporting their application.
For more information about the PDBR; <  


As a Service Officer I am often asked about why the VA does an examination even though you have provided medical evidence from your “Civilian Primary Care Doctor”. So I thought I would provide you with the reasons…Bud

A Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam, is a medical examination of a veteran’s disability, performed by a VA healthcare provider, or a VA contracted provider.  VA uses C&P exams to gather more evidence on a veteran’s claimed condition before issuing a decision and assigning a rating.  Most commonly, C&P exams are used to: 
1) confirm or deny service connection, and/or 
2) establish the severity of a veteran’s disability.  

Before the exam, the examiner will review your entire claims file, which contains previously submitted evidence and medical treatment records.  The exam itself usually only lasts about 15-20 minutes, but can range anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours.

A C&P exam is typically the first step in the VA disability claims process after a claim has been filed.  Namely, VA has a “duty to assist” veterans in obtaining evidence to support their claims.  Since medical evidence is crucial to a veteran’s disability case, C&P exams are provided by VA at no cost to the veteran.  After applying for service-connected compensation, VA will send a notice either informing you that an exam has been scheduled, or indicating that you will need to schedule one.  If an exam is already scheduled for you, VA will provide the date, time, and location that it will take place.  If you are responsible for scheduling the exam, you must respond promptly by reaching out to the Compensation and Pension Department at the VA in order to do so.  Either way, it is very important to attend a C&P exam once it is scheduled.  If you do not attend, your claim will likely get denied.

During the C&P exam, the examiners will ask questions about your disability and how it affects aspects of daily functioning.  VA examiners might complete a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) as well.  Each DBQ is drafted to correspond with a specific condition, and is formatted for examiners to “check a box” next to descriptions that most accurately depict the disability in question.  It is important for you to be honest about your symptoms so that they can be properly documented.

After the exam, the examiner will write up a report that includes a review of the exam’s findings, any clinical test results, and any medical literature used by the examiner to determine etiology – the cause or origin of a disease or condition.  If the examiner is trying to confirm or deny service connection, he or she will write up a medical opinion that states whether it is “at least as likely as not” (a 50% chance) that your disability was incurred in or aggravated by service.  The C&P exam is then added to your claims file as part of the evidence VA will use to make a decision.

You have the right to request and obtain a copy of your C&P exams by contacting the VA medical center where the exam was conducted, or your VA Regional Office.  VA decision makers often place significant weight on C&P exams when deciding claims.  Therefore, it is important for you to review the exam to determine if the results are favorable.  Furthermore, you can ensure that the exam was filled out completely and thoroughly, reflecting the most accurate information possible.

If you disagree with your C&P exam results, consider disputing or countering the examiner’s report by doing the following:

1. Gather “buddy statements”;
Buddy statements are written statements from people who know you, your symptoms, and how your disability affects your life.  Your “buddies” might include your spouse, children, other relatives, fellow veterans from your unit, co-workers, etc.

2. Request a hearing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals;

Attending a hearing allows you and your attorney to point out the specific problems with your C&P exam and present evidence that may counter or weaken the exam results.  If a Veterans Law Judge feels as though your C&P exam is lacking the adequate amount of information required to make an informed decision, they will remand, or send back your case to the Regional Office with specific instructions for additional development.  The Regional Office will then order a new C&P exam, and you will have to repeat this process.  After the proceeding, the transcript of your BVA hearing is added to your claims file.

3. Have your doctor complete a DBQ;
In theory, the DBQ allows you to submit a medical exam performed by a private physician who knows the history of your disability and can spend more than 15 minutes with you.  However, there are several downfalls that make the DBQ option potentially less effective.  For example, the DBQ form your doctor would complete is different than the evaluation guidelines for C&P exams.  Specifically, the DBQ forms do not ask your doctor to provide descriptions or rationales for any symptoms listed or conclusions drawn during the exam.  This often leads VA adjudicators to give DBQs less weight in making a decision on your claim.  Therefore, if you choose to pursue this option, let your doctor know that they should support their answers with a written explanation even if the form does not require it.

It is beneficial to gather information about your C&P exam in order to highlight the exam’s weaknesses.  For example, there are several common issues that come up in C&P exam reports that may be helpful to your case.

1. The examiner was not qualified to examine your disability; 
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that C&P exams are performed by non-physicians.  You may be evaluated by a nurse, a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant, or internist rather than a licensed doctor.  Some veterans have even been assigned a physician whose specialty is unrelated to their disability.  If this is the case, you can make a strong argument that the exam results should not be considered valid.  The name of your examiner will appear on your copy of the exam report.  By searching the internet, you will likely be able to find your examiner’s level of training, specialty, and perhaps even their CV or resume.

2. The examiner provides irrelevant or outdated medical research as rationale;
On C&P exams where service connection or etiology are being established, the VA examiner is required to reference medical research that supports his or her medical opinion.  Take a look at the medical literature they list on the report.  If the evidence referenced was published more than five or ten years ago, this could help you case.  Or, if the evidence referenced is regarding a different type of disability or does not discuss a connection between the type of in-service event or injury you experienced and your current disability, you should address this.

3. The examiner ignores favorable medical information; 
Examiners must provide a rationale for any medical opinions they provide.  If in the report, the examiner lists only medical treatment records or medical research that do not support your claim, an argument can be made that they ignored more favorable information.  For example, if you are claiming a back condition, an examiner might cite two doctor’s appointments in which you said your back pain was the worst pain you ever felt you have ever felt and you couldn’t walk for more than 2 blocks.

4. The examiner misreports what you said or suggests you are “malingering”;
Does the exam report match what you said in-person?  The examiner may have misstated or misinterpreted what you said.  It could also be possible that you did not understand the examiner’s question.  For example, if an examiner asks if you experience “radiculopathy” without explaining that it means “numbness and tingling”, you may have unintentionally answered incorrectly.  Additionally, an examiner might suggest that you are “malingering”, meaning you are exaggerating or faking your symptoms.  An assumption like this could undermine the C&P exam report and even other parts of your claims file, so it’s important to address this as well.  Buddy statements are particularly effective in this case if your “buddy” has witnessed your symptoms and can provide specific examples of how they affect your life.

5. Your VA Benefits Eligibility Matrix

Take a look at the eligibility matrix below to see what benefits you are eligible for based on your disability rating and keep it on your record file for future reference:

Rating of 0% – 20%:

  • Certification of Eligibility for home loan guaranty.
  • Home loan guaranty fee exemption.
  • VA Priority medical treatment card.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling under Title 38 USC Chapter 31 (must be at least 10%).
  • Service Disabled Veterans Insurance (Maximum of $10,000 coverage) must file within 2 years from the date of new service connection.
  • 10-point Civil Service preference (10 points added to Civil Service test score).
  • Clothing allowance for veterans who use or wear a prosthetic or orthopedic appliance (artificial limb, braces, wheelchair) or use prescribed medications for skin condition, which tend to wear, tear or soil clothing.
  • Temporary total evaluation (100%) based on hospitalization for a service connected disability in excess of 21 days; or surgical treatment for a service connected disability necessitating at least 1 month of convalescence or immobilization by cast, without surgery of more major joints.

Rating of 30%:

  • Additional allowance for dependent (spouse, child(ren), step child(ren), helpless child(ren), full-time students between the ages of 18 and 23 and parent(s).
  • Additional allowances for a spouse who is a patient in a nursing home or helpless or blind or so nearly helpless or blind as to require the regular aid and attendance of another person.

Rating of 40%:

  • Automobile grant and/or special adaptive equipment for an automobile provided there is loss  or permanent loss of use of one or both feet , loss or permanent loss of one or both hands or permanent impaired vision in both eyes with central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in better eye.
  • Special adaptive equipment may also be applied for if there is ankylosis of one or both knees or one or both hips.

Rating of 50%:

  • VA Medical outpatient treatment for any condition except dental.
  • Preventative health care services.
  • Hospital care and medical services in non-VA facilities under an authorized fee basis agreement.

Rating of 60% – 80%:
Increased compensation (100%) based on Individual Unemployability (IU) (applies to veterans who are unable to obtain or maintain substantially gainful employment due to service connected disability).

​Rating of 100%:

  • Dental treatment.
  • Department of Defense Commissary privileges.
  • Veteran’s employment preference for spouse.
  • Waiver of National Service Life Insurance premiums.
  • National Service Life Insurance total disability income provisions.
  • Specially adapted housing for veterans who have loss or permanent loss of use of both lower extremities or the loss of blindness in both eyes having light perception only plus loss of use of one lower extremity or the loss or permanent loss of use of one lower extremity with loss or permanent loss of use of one upper extremity or the loss or permanent loss of use of one extremity together with an organic disease which affects the functions of balance and propulsion as to preclude locomotion without the aid of braces, crutches, canes or wheelchair.
  • Special home adaptation grant (for veterans who don’t qualify for Specially Adapted Housing) may be applied for if the veteran is permanently and totally disabled due to blindness in both eyes with visual acuity of 5/200 or less or loss or permanent loss of use of both hands.

Rating of 100% (Permanent and Total):
In Addition to the Above:

  • Civilian Health and Medical Program for Dependents and Survivors (CHAMPVA).
  • Survivors and dependents education assistance under Title 38 USC Chapter 35.

Non Service Connected Pension Benefits:

  • 10 point veteran preference in Federal hiring
  • Health care enrollment (subject to income requirements)
  • Travel allowance for scheduled appointments for care at a VA medical facility or VA authorized health care facility
  • Burial and plot allowance

Non-Service Connected Pension with Aid & Attendance or Housebound Benefits:

  • 10 point veteran preference in Federal hiring
  • Health care enrollment (subject to income requirements)
  • Travel allowance for scheduled appointments for care at a VA medical facility or VA authorized health care facility
  • Free hearing aids
  • Free eye glasses
  • Burial and plot allowance
  • Aid & Attendance for spouse (only if spouse meets certain criteria)

Medal of Honor Recipient Benefits:

  • Medal of Honor Pension
  • VA administers a pension benefit of $1,329.58/month to recipients of the Medal of Honor. This entitlement is not based on income level or need.

Former Prisoner of War Benefits:

  • No cost health care and prescription medications
  • No cost dental care

Service Connected Disability with Anatomical Losses or Impairment – Benefits:

  • Special Monthly Compensation
  • Specially Adapted Housing/Special Home Adaptation Grant
  • Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance
  • Automotive Grant/Automobile Adaptive Equipment
  • Home Improvement Specially Adapted grant

Veteran Who Is Recovering From Surgery Benefits:
Temporary monetary compensation at the 100 percent rate   

Veteran With Joint Immobilized By Cast Without Surgery – Benefits:
Temporary monetary compensation at the 100 percent rate

Veteran Hospitalized 21 Days or More For Service Connected Disability – Benefits:
Temporary monetary compensation at the 100 percent rate   

Veteran Who Served In Vietnam or Korean DMZ and Has Biological Child With A Birth Defect – Benefits:

  • Monthly monetary compensation
  • VA Health Care
  • Vocational training for child

Spouse or Dependent Child of a Veteran Who Died From Disability Related to Military Service – Benefits: 

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (subject to income limitations for dependent child)
  • Dependents Educational Assistance
  • Special restorative training
  • Home Loan Guaranty benefit (surviving spouse only)

6. Understanding What It Means to Be Rated 100% Disabled 

Unfortunately, many of us are often confused about the VA’s 100 percent disability ratings and whether or not we are allowed to secure gainful employment if rated at 100 percent.  While sometimes confusing , let’s take a look at the four types of 100 percent disability ratings……

1. Combined. When a veteran’s service-connected disabilities are combined to reach 100 percent, he/she is allowed to work full time or part time.  For example, if a veteran is rated 70% for PTSD, and 30% for IBS, the two disabilities equal 100% (sometimes – see rating table), and the veteran is allowed to hold a full time or part time job.   

2. TDIU or IU.   Total Disability/Individual Unemployability.  This is a specific type of claim made by a veteran, requesting that he/she be paid at the 100 percent rate even though his/her disabilities do not combine to reach 100%. The request is often made because the veteran is unable to maintain “gainful employment” because his/her service-connected disabilities prevent him/her from doing so. The basic eligibility to file for Individual Unemployability (IU) is that the veteran has one disability rated at 60 percent or one at 40 percent and enough other disabilities that result in a combined rating of 70 percent or more. The one disability at 40 percent criteria can be a combined rating of related disabilities. Meeting the basic criteria is not a guarantee that the veteran will be awarded 100 percent under IU criteria. The medical evidence must show that the veteran is unable to work in both a physical and sedentary job setting. A veteran not meeting the percentage criteria may still be awarded IU if the disabilities present a unique barrier to gainful employment. If a veteran is granted 100 percent under IU he is prohibited from working full-time, because in filing the claim for IU the veteran is stating he/she is unable to work because of his/her service-connected disabilities. However, receiving IU does not necessarily prevent a veteran from all employment circumstances. The veteran can work in a part-time “marginal” employment position and earn up to a certain amount annually, but not allowed to surpass a certain amount.   

3. Temporary 100 percent rating. If a veteran is hospitalized 21 days or longer or had surgery for a service-connected disability that requires at least a 30-day convalescence period, the VA will pay at the 100 percent rate for the duration of the hospital stay or the convalescence period. For example, if a veteran has a total hip replacement for a service-connected hip disability, the VA will pay 100 percent compensation for up to 13 months, the standard recovery period for a replacement of a major joint. The duration of 100 percent temporary disability for any other type of surgery will depend on what the doctor reports as the recovery period.

4. Permanent and Total (P&T Rating).  A 100 percent “permanent and total” rating is when the VA acknowledges that the service-connected conditions have no likelihood of improvement and the veteran will remain at 100 percent permanently with no future examinations. The P&T rating provides additional benefits, such as Chapter 35 education benefits for dependents, among others. Veterans sometimes make the mistake of requesting a P&T rating simply because they want education benefits for their dependents. The one caveat that veterans need to keep in mind is that when P&T is requested, all of their service-connected disabilities will be re-evaluated. If improvement is noted during the subsequent examinations, a reduction from 100 percent can possibly be proposed. Because many veterans are service-connected for conditions that VA says have a “likelihood of improvement,” most ratings are not considered permanent and are subject to future review. The only time veterans can’t work a full-time position, that is considered a gainfully-employed job is if they were awarded 100 percent disability through a claim for IU. Additionally, a 100 percent rating under either IU or combined ratings may or may not be rated as permanent and total. A temporary 100 percent rating is just that: temporary due to being hospitalized or recovering from surgery on a service-connected condition.

7. PTSD Coach Mobile App

New PTSD Coach Mobile App Released: VA has released PTSD Coach, its first mobile app that features tools to help you manage stress symptoms, information about post-traumatic stress disorder and treatments that work, improved graphics to help track your progress, and new ways to personalize your app with the ability to turn on or off daily quotes and the distress meter. The PTSD Coach app is available for download at Google Play for Android users and iTunes for iPhone users. 

Additional information; <

8. Sensorineural Aids; Hearing Aids and Glasses

Did you know veterans who are enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system may be eligible to receive free hearing aids, glasses or contact lenses?  These “sensorineural aids” are provided at no charge to veterans who are determined to need the devices, even if the veteran is not “service-connected” for hearing or vision impairment.  

Such services are considered part of the preventative care package for all veterans enrolled in VA health care system who meet certain eligibility criteria.

For some veterans, there may be a $50 co-pay depending on the veteran’s enrollment priority group status. This are groups 2 through 8. There is no co-pay for the devices or the batteries, nor are there any charges for visits for the purpose of adjusting, repairing or modifying hearing aids and/or glasses.

To make an appointment, please call:
For Glasses – Mission Valley Optometry, 1st Floor, Room 1169 – (619) 400-5000 or
For Glasses, Contact Lenses, Hearing Aids – La Jolla VA Hospital, Atrium Clinic, 2nd Floor, Room 2A126 – (858) 552-8585

9. Arm Forces Medical Facilities closing to veterans

Folks, there are four Arm Forces Medical Facilities closing to veterans throughout the state. Here are the two affecting us

Facilities closing to non-active duty patients include:

  1. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Rancho Bernardo clinic
  2. San Onofre Marine Corps Base, California, San Onofre Health Clinic

10. VA Veteran Money
Comrades, did you know these VA programs will pay you and your surviving spouse in all matters financial?  As you explore these programs, keep in mind, it may be in your best interest to see a Veteran Service Officer should you elect in pursuing any of these programs.
Hidden VA Money:

  • Any veteran who is a senior citizen or his/her surviving dependents may be eligible to receive over $2,000 per month ($24,000 per year) in tax free income. The payments include annual cost of living increases.
  • A veteran can easily qualify for a VA Pension even if his annual income exceeds the limits set by the VA. For this program, a veteran may need a highly qualified VA attorney to help.
  • Recurring, non-reimbursed medical expenses of a veteran and the surviving spouse are deductible from gross income.  Veteran family members can be paid as caregivers, which is also a tax deductible expense.
  • If a veteran resides in an Assisted Living Facility the entire amount paid for the service is a deductible expense.
  • Veterans 65 years-old or older, are presumed to be disabled. It does not have to be proven.
  • There are many federal VA nursing homes, and private nursing homes with a federal VA Contract who will admit veterans for care even if the veteran does not meet the service connected disability requirements.
  • Veterans who are 100% service-connected IU may be eligible for an additional monthly entitlement of $62.50/mo. for catastrophic injury.

Catastrophic injury;

Based on a VA clinical decision, Veterans are considered to be Catastrophically Disabled when they have a severely disabling injury, disorder or disease that permanently compromises their ability to carry out the activities of daily living. The disability must be of such a degree that the Veteran requires personal or mechanical assistance to leave home or bed, or require constant supervision to avoid physical harm to themselves or others.
Veterans determined Catastrophically Disabled are placed into Priority Group 4 unless eligible for a higher Priority Group placement based on other eligibility criteria such as being a compensable service-connected Veteran, a former Prisoner of War, or a Medal of Honor or Purple Heart recipient.

  • A Catastrophically Disabled determination may be authorized when a VA clinician determines that
  • there is sufficient medical documentation without further evaluation. Veterans may also request
  • a Catastrophically Disabled evaluation by contacting the Enrollment Coordinator at their local VA
  • health care facility. It is VA policy to provide a Catastrophically Disabled Veteran an evaluation within
  • 30 days of the request. There is no charge for this examination.
  • DMAVA and the department of education jointly launched a program on October 5, 2002 to honor world war two era veterans who left school to join the military and have never received a high school diploma.
  • Veteran family members can be paid as caregivers, which is also a tax deductible expense.
  • If a veteran resides in an Assisted Living Facility the entire amount paid for the service is a deductible expense.
  • If the veteran is deceased and the surviving spouse is applying for low income pension, the spouse can be of ANY age and does NOT have to be disabled.
  • Reports indicate that a pension with aid and attendance is easier to obtain then Household Benefits.
  • A veteran who is healthy but has a spouse who is disabled, may be eligible for Improved Pension (Low Income Pension).
  • In order to receive service-connected disability rating a veteran’s disability does not have to be related to combat.
  • A VA rating of 70% or higher will allow a veteran-claimant to reside in a federal VA nursing home, at no charge.  Other stipulations may arise resulting in minimal fees.
  • When a veteran is rated at 100% disability or if rated as individual unemployability (IU), the veteran will receive the highest rating and the highest pay. Additionally, if a veteran is in need of additional aid of another person to help with activities of daily living (walking, bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.) there is an added supplemental compensation called “aid and attendance”.

11. Other Compensations That A Veteran Must Know:

  • If a veteran has a service-connected rating of 60% – 90% that causes unemployability, the veteran may be eligible for compensation at 100%.
  • If a veteran is hospitalized for 21 days or more, or inconvalescent care for one month or more for service-connected disabilities, the veteran will be compensated at 100% during the time period.
  • Any veteran rated 10% or more for a service-connected disability is eligible to receive training from Vocational Rehabilitation Training program.
  • Any veteran rated 10% or more for service-connected disabilities may have the Home Loan fee waived.
  • If your service-connected disabilities are disabling to the point you are unable to hold down steady, gainful employment, you may apply for total disability. To apply, visit your VSO or nearest VA office and complete VA Form 21-8940, which is the Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.
  • Compensation payments are exempt from claims made by creditors. With certain exceptions, compensation payments are not assignable and are not subject to attachment, levy or seizure except as to claims of the United States government.

12.  VA telehealth:
The Veterans Health Administration is heavily encouraging veterans to call their local medical center before they visit the facility and consider using VA telehealth. The VA’s telehealth providers can evaluate patient’s symptoms to make a diagnosis and provide comprehensive care from a telephone. For more information on VA telehealth, go online: 

VA telehealth; < 

13. VA Caregiver Tip Sheet During Pandemic: 

VA released a tip sheet: 
on “Caregiver Support Program Information for Caregivers During COVID-19.” During this time of social distancing, the tip sheet provides reminders of how to prepare: create a back-up plan, protect yourself, protect others, monitor yourself and the veteran for symptoms, and be aware of the additional caregiver support program resources. Remain connected with family, friends, clergy, and other caregivers through the phone, text message, video chat, or email. Maintain self-care and remember to refuel throughout the day, it can help prevent caregiver burnout.

Caregiver Support Program Website contains tips, tools, videos and links to resources for caregivers of
Veterans of all eras. The link is:

San Diego Caregiver Support Coordinator (CSC) 

VA San Diego Healthcare System
3350 La Jolla Village Dr.
San Diego, CA 92161

Phone Number for Caregiver Support Coordinators: 858-642-1215

14. Your Guide to VA Appeals
The Appeals Modernization Act helps Veterans who disagree with VA’s decision on their compensation claims. View the new Quick Start Guide; < to learn about the three review lane options: supplemental claim, higher-level review, or direct appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

15. Financial Assistance as result of VA action

VA Can Assist Veterans Resolve Community Care Debts: VA’s Office of Community Care (OCC) contact center can help veterans fix issues with credit reports or debt collection actions that are the result of an authorized VA community care claim. Once a veteran contacts VA’s OCC contact center, with their information regarding debt collection, staff will work one-on-one with the veteran to research and resolve collection-specific issues. Contact VA Office of Community Care;

16. Women Veterans and VA Healthcare Benefits

Women veterans are the fastest growing veteran group. A wide variety of VA healthcare benefits are available to eligible women veterans. To learn how to get started with Women Veterans Health Services. Go to; < to get the “Women Veteran Health Services Quick Guide”. Additionally you can access the Women Veterans Call Center and receive assistance with further information through their: 

17. Fiduciary Accounting Submission Tool (FAST)

VA’s fiduciary program ( protects Veterans and other beneficiaries who, due to injury, disease, or age, are unable to manage their financial affairs. Learn how the Fiduciary Accounting Submission Tool (FAST) makes the accounting process easier for Fiduciaries.

18. Benefits for spouses, dependents, and survivors

Health care;  
Find out if you may qualify for health care through our CHAMPVA program, the Department of Defense’s TRICARE program, or one of our programs related to a Veteran’s service-connected disability. If you already have health care through VA, learn how to manage your health and benefits. 
For spouse, dependent child, surviving spouse, surviving child

Education and training; 
Find out if you may be eligible for help paying for school or job training through our Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (also called Chapter 35) or the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship. And learn about how a Veteran may transfer their unused Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to you. 
For spouse, dependent child, surviving spouse, surviving child

Home loan programs or financial counseling;  
Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for VA home loan programs to buy, build, repair, or refinance a home. Or, if you’re having trouble making mortgage payments on a VA-backed loan, get help to avoid foreclosure and keep your house. 
For surviving spouse

Life insurance options, claims, and beneficiary assistance;
Learn how to apply for Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) coverage, explore other coverage options, and manage an existing policy. If you’re the beneficiary of a Veteran’s or service member’s policy, find out how to get free financial advice and will preparation services. 
For spouse, dependent child, surviving spouse, surviving child

Pre-need eligibility determination for burial in a VA national cemetery; 
Apply in advance for eligiblity to be buried in a VA national cemetery. This can help you plan ahead to make the burial process easier for your family in their time of need. 
For spouse, dependent child, surviving spouse, surviving child

Burial benefits and memorial items;
Get step-by-step guidance on how to plan a burial in a VA national cemetery, or in a state or tribal government Veterans cemetery. You can also apply for help paying for burial costs, request memorial items, and learn about bereavement (grief) counseling and transition support. 
For surviving spouse, surviving child, surviving parent

Survivors Pension (Contact Your Post Service Officer);
If you’re the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with wartime service, find out if you’re eligible for monthly pension benefits. 
For surviving spouse, surviving child

Compensation for surviving spouse and dependents (DIC) (Contact Your Post Service Officer);  
If you’re the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a service member who died in the line of duty, or the survivor of a Veteran who died from a service-related injury or illness, find out how to apply for this tax-free monetary benefit. 
For surviving spouse, surviving child, surviving parent

19. Adapt Your Car with VA
​If you have a service-related disability that prevents you from driving, VA can help you buy a specially adapted vehicle or adapt an existing vehicle to make it drivable for you! Learn how to apply for automobile allowance and adaptive equipment grants.

20. Free Entranceto National Parks forVeterans and Survivors

Starting Veterans Day 2020, all veterans and Gold Star Families became eligible for free access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests. In addition to receiving access to National Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have indefinitely waived entrance or standard amenity fees for veterans and Gold Star Families.

Please visit the National Parks Service website; for more information about how to access this new benefit.

21. 2021 Veterans disability compensation rates

Starting Dec. 1, all compensation benefit rates will increase by 1.3%. VA is required by law to match the percentage of cost-of-living adjustments made to Social Security benefits. These adjustments help to make sure that the purchasing power of your benefits keeps up with inflation.

View 2021 Veterans disability compensation rates. Use our compensation benefits rate tables to find your monthly payment amount. We base your monthly payment amount on your disability rating and details about your dependent family members.

22. The Veteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 became law on August 23, 2017 (Pub L. 115-55). It is also known as the Appeals Modernization Act.

The new law:
• Modernizes the current claims and appeals process
• Includes three review options for disagreements with decisions
• Requires improved notification of VA decisions
• Provides earlier claim resolution
• Ensures you receive the earliest effective date possible

What are the new options for review?

You have three options for review:

Option 1: Higher-level Review
Your claim is reviewed by a more senior claims adjudicator and involves:
• A higher-level de novo review (new look) of the decision
1. No submission of new evidence allowed
• The possibility of overturning the decision based on:
2. A difference of opinion
3. A clear and unmistakable error

The reviewer, who identifies or learns of a duty to assist error, can return the claim to the regional office for correction. You or the VSO can request an informal phone call to identify specific issues.

Option 2: A Supplemental Claim Lane
You can submit or identify new and relevant evidence to support your claim. Your  VSO will provide assistance in developing the evidence.

Option 3: Appeal Lane for Appeals to the Board
• This option allows you to appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. You can choose between three options:
1. Direct review: You have no new evidence and do not want a hearing.
2. Evidence submission: You have new evidence, but do not want a hearing.
3. Hearing: You have new evidence and want to testify before a Veterans Law Judge.

Note: A Lawyer dealing with appeals is highly recommended before going before a Veterans Law Judge/US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

23. Federal tools to help maximize GI Bill education benefits

Like any military mission, transitioning to civilian life takes research, planning and the right tools. One of the most powerful tools you can use is the GI Bill ®. Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill was implemented in 2009, VBA has provided more than $111 billion in educational benefits to 2.2 million Veterans and their family members.

As part of National Veterans and Military Families month, VA teamed up with the Department of Education (ED) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to highlight some of the federal tools available to help service members, Veterans and military families pick the right program and make a sound plan to pay for it.

Find more information on our joint podcast;

It is important that you do your own research before using your GI Bill benefits, as some schools have defrauded Veterans by falsely promoting educational benefits and using deceptive marketing tactics to target service members, Veterans and military families. In addition, though many schools offer similar majors, some may have better reputations that make their graduates more desirable in the job market. To maximize the career and financial payoff from your education benefits, you should find answers to questions like:
* Which schools offer the best programs for my career track?
* Where does my desired company or industry recruit from?
* What if my GI Bill doesn’t cover my whole tuition?
* How do I spot deceptive or fraudulent schools?

Where do I start?
If you are asking these questions, then you are in the right place and on the right track. Check out these featured tools to get the process started.

Step 1: Before you apply, use the GI Bill Comparison Tool
The GI Bill Comparison Tool;, provides key information for calculating your benefits. It provides a breakdown of tuition and fees, housing allowance and book stipend. This will be critical in your planning process for your family and finances.

It lists other important factors to consider, too, such as school accreditation and 
Yellow Ribbon Program;, availability. The Yellow Ribbon program helps you pay for higher out-of-state, private school, or graduate school tuition that the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not cover. It also lists the number of students that received VA education benefits in the last calendar year.

This tool also offers insights on potentially cautionary information from student feedback about the school submitted to the VA through the GI Bill Feedback system; Check out VA’s “Know Before You Go” video; get advice from other Veterans based on their experience using the GI Bill.

Step 2: Considering a State University, private college, or community college? Check out The College Scorecard
The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard website;, helps prospective students make informed postsecondary education choices. There are plenty of options to consider but finding the school that fits your goals and aspirations is critical to your success. Make your own college wish list and compare your options with The College Scorecard’s comprehensive data on colleges and universities, including costs, outcomes and more.

Key data elements featured on the College Scorecard include:
* Cost: Average annual cost for federal financial aid recipients, which is the tuition, living costs, books and fees minus the average grants and scholarships, as well as average cost by family income.
* Completion and retention: Graduation rate and the proportion of students who return after their first year.
* Debt: Typical cumulative federal debt of graduating borrowers by field of study and typical monthly payment.
* Earnings: Typical annual earnings of former students one year after graduation by field of study.

Step 3. GI Bill ✔️ College(s) Applied ✔️… Now how do you navigate financial aid and make a plan to pay for school?
Once you have received financial aid offers, you can evaluate them with the CFPB’s webtool, Your financial path to graduation (Grad Path). Grad Path guides you through information that will help you answer questions like, “Can I afford the loans I’ll need to finish my program?” and “Is this school worth it for me?”

Here are a few ways Grad Path can help you navigate paying for college:
* Break down the financial aid offer. Grad Path explains jargon in plain language. For each type of funding, it points out money saving strategies as well as potential pitfalls. As you examine each funding source (including the GI Bill, Military Tuition Assistance, and other programs like Yellow Ribbon), you will see your running total of uncovered costs.
Look at the whole picture. Students often overlook expenses, miss funding options, and forget to consider the total cost of a multiyear program. Grad Path provides detailed guidance about costs and resources, plus projections about total debt, and earnings at graduation to help you determine whether you can afford a particular program – now and in the long run.
* Decide whether the school is financially right for you. Understanding how a school fits into your academic goals and future job opportunities is just as important as planning how to finance your education. This tool provides key statistics to consider when determining whether a program is likely to pay off on the investment of your time, work, and money, including your service member education benefits.

24. VA COVID 19 vaccine availability

***COVID 19 vaccine is by appointment only and for enrolled VA patients.

As supplies allow, contacts to VA patients are coming out via letter or phone calls and vets will be asked to call 858-642-3810 to schedule a primary and secondary appointment within 24-28 days.

Patients should follow mitigation practices (masking, distancing, hand washing, necessary trip) before and after the vaccine following CDC guidelines as the Pandemic is not yet resolved.

Improving Veterans Appeals

VA is committed to helping you through your appeals process. Appeals Modernization provides Veterans with three review lanes from which to choose from. Learn how Veterans can appeal a compensation claim decision directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

25. Support for Caregivers

Caregivers play an important role in the health and well-being of Veterans. The Caregiver Support Program offers training, educational resources, and multiple tools to help you succeed. Eligible Veterans of all eras may benefit from these services, under the Program of General Caregiver Support Services. Call toll free 1-855-260-3274 or go to to learn more:

As part of the VA MISSION Act, the VA is working to increase access to the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), which is now only available to eligible Veterans injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001.

VA Benefits

Did you know you can follow Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) on Instagram? Be one of the first to learn about benefit updates, VBA job openings, events, and stories of fellow Veterans by following @vabenefits on Instagram today!