VA Myth Busters
We find that there are many misconceptions about VA benefits. One sad result is many veterans eligible for VA benefits think they are not entitled to these earned benefits and never apply.
Here are some common myths about the VA and the benefit system:
1) I have a Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD) or an Other Than Honorable (OTH) so I am not eligible for VA Benefits.
Not true. Eligibility for most VA benefits is based on discharge from active military service under other-than-dishonorable conditions. Even if you have a BCD or OTH, you are still eligible for most VA benefits.
2) I am a military retiree receiving a retirement check and if I receive VA Disability Compensation, the military will reduce my retirement check by the amount of my VA Disability Compensation.
This is true only for military retirees with a disability rating of 40% or less. For military retirees with a disability rating of 50% or higher, Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP) restores retired pay on a graduated 10-year schedule. The concurrent receipt payments increase 10% each year through 2013. Veterans with a 100% disability rating are entitled to full CRDP without any phase-in period.
3) I didn't serve in the Military during a period of War so I am not considered a veteran.
Even if you never served during a War, you are still considered a veteran and eligible for most VA benefits. Some VA benefits – such as VA Pension – require that a Veteran have served at least one day during a period of War. But benefits such as Disability Compensation have no such requirement.
4) My husband died of mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer, but he never filed a VA Disability Compensation claim so I am not entitled to survivor benefits such as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
Wrong. The VA can approve claims for DIC even if the veteran never filed a disability claim. While it is true that it can be more difficult to get approved for DIC when a disability claim was never filed with the VA, it is certainly not impossible. The difference? The spouse must convince the VA that the veteran’s greatest asbestos exposure occurred on active duty. That is easier for the veteran to do than the spouse, but there are plenty of situations where we have helped surviving spouses apply for – and get – approval for DIC after the veteran did not file a disability claim.
5) If I apply for VA benefits, the VA will make me go to a VA doctor.
Not true – and this is a common misconception. Securing a VA Disability Rating will make you eligible for VA Health Care, but you are not required to enroll. And even if you are in the VA Health Care system, you are in no way obligated to use it. If you have your own insurance and your own doctors, you can keep them with no obligation to use the VA Health Care system.
6) I didn't serve in one of the four main military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines), therefore I'm not eligible for VA Benefits.
Also not true. Active military service means full-time service (as opposed to active duty for training) as a member of the Armed Services, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, Environmental Science Services Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or its predecessor, the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Active duty for training for the National Guard and Reserve does not qualify as full-time service, but if you were activated for reasons other than training you would qualify.