Articles Posted in Veterans Benefits

Texas Veterans Benefits: Who Qualifies?

Under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) current framework, only individuals deemed a “veteran”, may be eligible for VA benefits. Assuming the member met the active service requirement, the VA relies on the individual’s character of service designation (COD) to determine whether a former service member was separated from their branch “under conditions other than dishonorable.” Despite their service, the VA consistently denies these soldiers access to necessary services and benefits. Under this framework, the VA fails to recognize hundreds of thousands of former members of the Armed Forces as veterans. This regulatory scheme has left many Texas veterans without VA benefits, such as service-connected benefits and the VA pension.

The Department of Defense provides service members with a discharge status which may be honorable, general under honorable conditions, uncharacterized, other than honorable (OTH), bad conduct (misdemeanor), bad conduct (general court-martial), dishonorable. Traditionally, the VA requires a COD for service members who received an uncharacterized, OTH, or bad conduct (misdemeanor) discharge. Historically, the VA denied benefits to service members who received Other Than Honorable (OTH) or Bad Conduct discharges. The VA would consistently find that these veterans engaged in “persistent or willful misconduct.” The VA would fail to find that the COD was “under conditions other than dishonorable.” However, many of these service members served in active combat and received these CODs due to their physical and mental wounds.

1.20.20“In 2018, 9.4% of all reports to BBB’s ScamTracker came from military personnel, veterans or their spouses, BBB of Metropolitan New York said.”

The scam victims who were military personnel, veterans or their spouses reported higher median losses than non-military consumers, the BBB said. says in its recent article entitled “Veterans warned to beware of scams that target military families” that a common scam is “pension poaching,” which targets elderly and disabled veterans and their families.

11.8.19Veterans who qualify for both the Post 9/11 GI Bill program and the older Montgomery GI bill may have access to expanded veterans education benefits. It all hinges on a recent federal court decision and a possible appeal by VA officials.

Tens of thousands of veterans could be impacted, if Veterans Affairs officials decide to appeal a court decision regarding veterans education benefits, reports The Military Times in a recent article, “Court ruling could give veterans an extra year of GI Bill benefits.” The decision is being watched closely by the education sector as well.

The recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims held that the Department of Veterans Affairs practice of making veterans give up their Montgomery GI Bill eligibility to receive post-9/11 GI Bill payouts is improper. Department officials have argued in the past that it’s needed to ensure veterans aren’t duplicating benefits. However, a 2-1 decision by the judicial panel ruled that federal language prohibiting such “double-dipping” more appropriately means that “someone may not receive assistance from more than one program during a single month, semester, or other applicable pay period, but may switch freely between programs.”

2.4.19Following the adoption of new rules, there will now be options for veterans to appeal their disability benefits. The hope is that these three new processes will speed cases.

It took more than a year and a half, but the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that new appeals rules have been enacted that will streamline the appeals process. Veterans whose disability benefits have been rejected, will now have one of three options to pursue their claims. Reforms were passed by lawmakers in 2017, so this has been a long time coming.

In the past, disability appeals languished for years. The VA is now hoping that the most difficult reviews can still be finished in less than a year in most cases, reports the Military Times in the article “VA’s benefits appeals process will see a dramatic changeover next month.” The target for cases that don’t go before the Board of Veterans Appeals is an average of about four months for a final decision.

What is the VA Pension Benefit? 
The Veterans Administration pension program provides monthly tax-free benefit payments to certain wartime Veterans or their surviving spouses who meet the financial and medical requirements. Claimants who are eligible for VA pension may also qualify for supplemental monetary payments, such as housebound or aid & attendance, if they meet additional medical requirements. 
What are the new guidelines to applying and receiving VA Pension Benefits?
The recent regulation changes regarding eligibility requirements for needs-based benefits include:

* A thirty-six month look-back period in which certain transfers or gifts could be penalized. 
* A new formula for calculating a claimant's net worth and a bright-line net worth limit.
* Restrictions on the amount of acreage of a claimant's primary residence which can be excluded in net worth calculations. 
* Clarification on certain medical definitions and allowable medical deductions. 

The new regulations go in to effect on October 18, 2018 and may drastically change a claimant's eligibility as well as their planning options. If you have questions about your current VA pension benefits or about obtaining VA pension benefits, please contact a VA accredited attorney today. 


Veterans Planning Workshops
Discover how Veterans Benefits and long term-care planning can impact and lead to a better quality of life for you and your loved ones. We delve into the new VA regulations and changes to how Veterans and surviving spouses will receive pension benefits.


This blog will be updated frequently as we process the full regulations and changes to the VA Pension. Please plan to check back regularly. 


For those who joined the military in recent years, a big decision is looming for their future. They have to make a choice next year between staying in the old retirement system or opting for the new one.

Figuring out whether or not to stay with the current military retirement system or choosing to join the new system may be a challenge, but you have an entire year to educate yourself as to which one is best suited for you and your family.

Kiplinger’s recent article, “The Big Pension Decision Military Service Members Must Make in 2018,” explains that if you joined the military from 2006 through 2017, then you have from January 1 to December 31, 2018, to decide whether to switch to the new “blended retirement system.”

VIC cardsThe Veterans Administration recently announced their new application process to apply for the Veterans Identification Card (VIC). Back in 2015, The Veterans Identification Act ordered the VA to issue a VIC to veterans, also referred to as the universal photo ID. The VA was supposed to have this card available by 2016, and just released it's plan to apply this November. It's said that veterans who apply this December, should have their physical cards within 60 days, and their electronic cards by mid-December. 

Veterans with honorable service will be able to apply for the ID card, which is supposed to be safer, and more convenient than carrying around your standard DD-214, and the card provides a photo. The VIC will be accepted by majority of vendors and retailers that offer discounts to veterans as well as government agencies.


5.12.2016It is not easy to be a member of a military family. They face many challenges that civilians do not, and—all too often—they do not receive the support in two critical areas that could make a difference.

Risks for Houston military families include accidents during training, battlefield injury and the stress of frequent moves. Service members have a far greater than average chance of becoming disabled or dying prematurely. This makes it especially important for military families to have access to financial and estate planning advice.

The Wall Street Journal article, "How to Serve Military Families," says that in many instances military spouses are young and financially immature. Military families don't settle in one place for very long, so a nonmilitary spouse may have trouble finding a steady job that would provide a second income and a retirement plan. In that situation, if something happens to the service member, and benefits are paid out, they need to be able to access them immediately. It's more likely that young military families will need help getting these estate documents in order and updating their beneficiary designations.

Military man saluting flagA lieutenant colonel serving in the U.S. Army Reserves was in Afghanistan on his third tour of duty, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and enduring a bad foot injury in 2011 when a letter arrived at his home, as described in Harvard Magazine's "Fighting for Veterans, Learning the Law." It was an important, time-sensitive letter.

The letter contained information on how he could file an appeal for disability compensation and stated that he had to respond within 120 days of receipt. But Ausmer wouldn't return home for another five months.

By the time he read the letter, he'd lost his one chance to appeal his benefits case. The Veterans Benefits Administration gave him no help, but a trio of Harvard Law School students did. They took his case, arguing that the clock on an appeals claim should start only after a veteran has returned home—rather than when a letter arrives in his or her mailbox back home.

Military man saluting flagA survey conducted by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, National Council on Aging and UnitedHealthcare reveals a frightening statistic in the United States of Aging survey. 97% of professionals supporting people 60 and older believe that seniors will not be able to afford their health care costs as they age. Only 3% are very confident older Americans will be able to manage health care costs. Not a pretty picture.

The high and ever-increasing cost of long-term care is the leading reason that professionals do not believe that seniors will be able to afford their health care. The median price of a private room in a nursing home now costs about $91,000 – an increase of 4% from last year. The survey on aging, reported on in an article in Forbes, offers a glimmer of hope with a look at a little-known program from the VA:  "The VA Program That Pays For Long-Term Care for Vets."

About half of us will someday use nursing home care, and many others will need long-term care in assisted living facilities or at home.

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