Effective Aug. 1, 2018, the entitlement available under the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program was reduced from 45 months to 36 months, but in October, the monthly allowance for eligible recipients will increase. These changes, part of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, aka "Forever GI Bill" were passed by Congress last summer.
Identification cards from the Department of Veterans Affairs' new program were in the mail, on their way to veterans starting May 4, VA officials said two months after they were initially scheduled to go out. Officials said in January that approved veterans would start receiving the free printed cards in early March. But when March rolled around, printing was delayed to April. Now, a VA spokesman says the cards will be sent starting tomorrow.
One often-asked question about the VA home loan process skips over the "home" part entirely: Can veterans use the benefit to buy land? The short answer: No. The long answer is more complicated. VA-backed loans are designed solely to help a veteran purchase a primary residence, so if there's no residence, there's no loan. But an eligible veteran can apply for what VA calls a "construction/permanent home loan" that includes money to purchase the land in addition to funding the new home construction. VA outlines the process in its Lenders Handbook, but here are the highlights:
There are two types of SBP/DIC beneficiaries. First are widows and widowers of service members who served a full career in the military and paid into SBP as a retirement. The second groups' sponsors died while on active duty and qualify for SBP by statute. As we continue to push to get the SBP/DIC offset abolished and we often get small improvements rather than a total abolition; the program gets more difficult to understand. But here goes. Following is where the program currently stands:
More than 133,000 veterans may qualify for a refund of federal taxes they paid on disability severance pay dating back to 1991 taxes that shouldn't have been collected in the first place. Within the next month, Defense Department officials will send notification letters to veterans that they may be eligible for the refund, said Army Lt. Col. David Dulaney, executive director of the Armed Forces Tax Council. Eligible veterans will have a year after they receive the notice to file a claim for the refund.
Military members and retirees, including Tricare for Life users, are used to slight drug price copay increases year over year. But when fees for 90 day supplies for prescription drugs received through the system's mail-order pharmacy, Express Scripts, went from free to $7 on Feb. 1, many Tricare for Life users said they were blindsided. They had been told they would be largely exempt from a series of major Tricare changes rolled out Jan. 1, including higher co-pays and enrollment fees.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is offering two opportunities for early participation in the new, more efficient claims decision review process outlined in the historic Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. These two opportunities will allow eligible veterans to receive a review of a decision on a claim much faster than the current appeals process.
Just because a veteran was not injured in combat does not mean he or she may not be entitled to receive Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). Many veterans may be missing out on hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every month because they have not applied for the special compensation. Don't let the term combat throw you; there are many circumstances which are combat related that could justify approval of extra tax-free money for you.
VA's onboarding process can be overwhelming at times. Veterans who have visited a VA outreach booth, VA eligibility office, or have gone through a Transition Assistance Program know that VA has no shortage of technical handouts, benefits books and materials. But, even with all of these resources, veterans are telling us "Where do I start?" Now, VA can point all veterans to the VA Welcome Kit. Click on www.vets.gov/welcome-to-va to check it out. No matter where you are in life, the new welcome kit will help you use the VA benefits and services you have earned.
The Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System is dedicated to processing claims for Vietnam Veterans who are claiming service connection for any of the following conditions who served in the Republic of Vietnam or in-land waterways between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. • Ischemic Heart Disease • Hairy Cell and other B-Cell Leukemias • Parkinson's Disease • Diabetes Type II • Prostate Cancer • Multiple Myeloma • Hodgkin's Disease