By David Austin
October 30, 2018
If you are a veteran who is 65 years-old and older, or permanently and totally disabled you may be eligible for the VA Non-service Connected Disability Pension (NSC).
The VA NSC pension is a program that provides financial support to wartime veterans with a limited income. The amount payable under this program depends on the type and amount of income the veteran and his/her family members receive from other sources. Monthly payments are made to bring a veteran's total annual income (including other retirement and Social Security income) to an established level.
You may be eligible for the NSC pension if you were discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, and you served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time*, and your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law, and you are permanently and totally disabled, OR you are age 65 or older.
See a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) for more details.
*Note: Anyone who enlists after September 7, 1980, generally must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty. Service from August 2, 1990 to present is considered to be a period of war (Gulf War) in addition to other periods of war such as World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Veterans Without “Honorable Discharge” Now Eligible for Benefits
A new law looks to expand benefits for certain previously ineligible veterans.
The law, which went into effect on October 1, 2018, extends a range of state and municipal benefits that were previously only available to veterans who were Honorably Discharged or were released under honorable conditions from active military service.
Now, the benefits can accessed by veterans who received an "Other than Honorable" discharge characterization and who have been diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from military service
- Traumatic brain injury resulting from military service
- Victim of Military sexual trauma
The diagnosis must be made by an individual who is licensed "to provide health care services at a United States Department of Veterans Affairs facility" which includes Physicians, Psychiatrists, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), Psychologists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW).
Veterans applying for VA benefits must also submit all other required documentation.
A veteran with a "Bad Conduct" or "Dishonorable" discharge is not eligible for these benefits.
The Veterans' Recruitment Appointment Program (VRA)
Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA) is an excepted authority that allows agencies, to appoint eligible veterans without competition for jobs. To be eligible for VRA you would:
- Be in receipt of a campaign badge for service during a war or in a campaign or expedition; OR
- Be a disabled veteran, OR
- In receipt of an Armed forces Service Medal for participation in a military operation, OR
- Be recently separated veteran (within the last 3 years), and separated under Honorable conditions (this means an Honorable or General discharge), you are VRA eligible.
Law Provides Some Protection for Your Benefits
Not often used, and not thought of as a highly resourceful solution, one way a veteran can protect their benefits from garnishment is to use a Direct Express prepaid debit card. The funds can be electronically deposited to the card. The funds on the card are available to the cardholder only, and cannot be garnished. However, the cards are highly regulated and tend to have extremely high fees.
Keep in mind, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations for all veterans and should not be acted upon without specific legal or financial advice based on a veteran’s particular situation.