Did you know that there are different levels of disability? And did you also know that veterans can get benefits for different degrees of disability? In this blog post, we’ll explore what it means to be a 100% disabled veteran and also discuss some 100 percent disabled veteran benefits. So, if you’re curious about this specific benefit or want to learn more about veterans’ benefits in general, keep reading!
What Does It Mean To Be A 100% Disabled Veteran?
The 100 percent disabled rating by the VA means that the veteran is completely unable to work and earn money. Veterans awarded this disability receive monthly compensation from the government; however, there are certain criteria that must be met in order for a veteran to qualify for these benefits. There are various reasons a veteran may be rated 100 percent disabled, such as physical disability due to a traumatic injury or psychological disability due to post-traumatic stress while they were an active duty service member.
In order for a veteran to qualify for the 100 percent disabled rating, they must have been awarded either an Individual Unemployability (IU) or Schedular Rating 100%.
What Is A VA Disability Rating?
When a veteran first applies for benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assesses the disability and assigns a disability rating. A disability rating is based on the severity of the impairment(s). The VA determines what percentage of disabling condition each veteran has to give them their overall rating.
For example, if a Veteran had two conditions, each condition is rated and then added together to get the veteran’s overall disability rating. The VA may also assign a secondary disability rating for a related condition that has been aggravated by the veteran’s service-connected disability.
The VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) is used by the VA to assign diagnostic codes and disability ratings for service-connected condition(s). The rating criteria describe symptoms and/or treatment options for conditions, with ratings varying from 0 to 100 percent. Generally speaking, more severe disabilities will have higher rates.
A 0 percent rating provides no monthly monetary compensation, but it may make some veterans eligible for additional benefits, such as health care. A total disability rating offers the maximum schedular benefit in monthly compensation. For ratings between 0 and 100 percent, the monthly benefit increases incrementally with each higher rating.
The Department of Veterans Affairs generally assigns disability ratings through Rating Officers at the Regional Office level, or by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The type of rating official issuing a disability evaluation depends on where your case is at in terms of review (i.e., the Regional Office or Board).
Are 100% VA Ratings Permanent?
Although VA disability ratings of 100 percent are not always permanent, they can be given permanent status in certain cases. For example, if a 100 percent rating has been in place for more than 20 years, VA will not reduce the rating unless there is evidence of fraud involved in the initial assignment.
If it has been less than 20 years since the original assignment, VA may pursue a reduction but only if both significant improvement and routine improvement have occurred. Also important to note is that VA cannot rely on one isolated examination when issuing a reduced rating; material change and continuous progress must be demonstrated.
Your benefit rating is not automatically permanent after 20 years, but if VA decides that it can’t be lowered after that time, your 100% rating will stay the same.
What Are 100 Percent Disabled Veteran Benefits?
Below, we share some benefits a veteran with a total service connected disability can access:
Free VA Healthcare and Prescription Medications for 100 Disabled Veterans
One of the many benefits for disabled veterans is free care from the VA health care system. This applies to those who were disabled during their time in service and have a disability rating of 50% or higher, as well as to those who cannot otherwise afford to pay for medical treatment at a VA medical center.
Veterans with a 100 percent VA rating meet the eligibility requirements for Health Care Priority Group. They receive free VA care, including but not limited to emergency care, preventative care, primary care, specialty care, mental health services, and home health care.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) Benefits for 100 Percent Disabled Veterans
In addition to regular veterans’ benefits, the VA also provides Special Monthly Compensation (VA SMC). This benefit is tax-free and can be given to disabled veterans as well as their spouses, surviving spouses, and parents.
For veterans who were disabled during active duty, VA Special Monthly Compensation is a higher rate of compensation that is given out based on special circumstances. These can include the need for aid and attendance from another person or by having a specific disability. For example, SMC-K covers Erectile Dysfunction for men and Female Sexual Arousal Disorder for women who have lost function in creative organs.
100 Percent Disabled Veteran Student Loan Forgiveness Program
The Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge program, more commonly known as the Disabled Veteran Student Loan Forgiveness Program, has been increasingly successful in discharging Federal Student Loan Debt for 100 percent disabled veterans. What many people don’t know is that if you’re a veteran with a scheduler VA disability rating of 100 percent (neither P&T nor TDIU status apply to you), you’re also eligible for federal Disabled Veteran Student Loan Forgiveness!
CHAMPVA Health Insurance For The Dependents 100 Percent Disabled Veterans
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a health insurance benefits program for which eligible beneficiaries can receive assistance with the costs of most healthcare services and supplies that are medically necessary.
If you’re 100% disabled according to the VA, your dependents qualify for free healthcare! This is a tremendous benefit for veterans who are completely and permanently disabled. You must apply through the mail, and it usually takes 12-16 weeks to process your application.
Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) Benefits For 100% Disabled Veterans
The VA Chapter 35 benefits program, more commonly known as Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA), gives eligible dependents (children and spouses) of veterans or military service members access to educational opportunities and/or special restorative training.
You may be eligible to receive up to 36 or 45 months of benefits if you meet any of the following conditions:
- Independent study
- High school diploma or GED programs
- Vocational degree program
- Educational and career counseling programs
- Online distance learning or correspondence courses
- On-the-job training
- Career training certificate courses
A disabled veteran must, in most cases, be 100% P&T due to a service-connected disability for dependents to qualify.
Free Entrance To National Parks For Disabled Veterans
Disabled veterans with a 100% permanent and total VA rating are eligible to receive free access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas for their lifetime, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests.
America’s veterans, Gold Star Families, and current military personnel and their dependents have given so much to our country. The Military Pass is one way we can say thank you by giving free access to recreational opportunities on public lands and waters. Additionally, disabled veterans who have a permanent disability qualify for the Interagency Access Pass, which gives them lifetime free access.
Disabled Veterans Life Insurance Program
The Disabled Veterans Life Insurance program is a government-sponsored insurance policy for disabled veterans with service-connected disabilities. The base coverage, known as “RH Insurance,” offers up to $10,000 in coverage for eligible veterans. If you are totally disabled and unable to work, you may qualify for additional coverage of $30,000 or less.
VA Disability Compensation Pay At The Max Rate
The VA disability compensation pay is an excellent benefit available to 100 percent disabled veterans. If your disability condition was caused or made worse during active military service, you may be eligible to receive monthly compensation for life that isn’t taxed.
Veterans can file their own VA disability compensation claim for free by opening a Notice of Intent to File on the VA.gov website, whether they are increasing their benefits or filing for the first time. By putting in an “Intent to File,” you are letting the VA know that you plan on filing a claim, which is important because it sets an effective date for when you could start collecting benefits.
It also buys you some time while preparing your disability claim and gathering supporting documents (Note: You are only allowed up to 12 months’ worth of back pay from your Notice of Intent to File date, unless appealing).
VA Travel Pay and Reimbursement
If you’re traveling for care at a VA health facility or for approved care at a community facility, you may be eligible for travel pay reimbursement. The current VA travel pay reimbursement rate is 41.5 cents ($0.415) per mile for approved, health-related travel.
Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Benefits
VA Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU), sometimes referred to as IU or Individual Unemployability, is an additional benefit given to disabled veterans who qualify and cannot maintain gainful employment.
Usually, you must be unable to sustain “substantially steady work” to qualify for TDIU. For more information about VA TDIU eligibility and common questions people have regarding the topic, check out this resource.
Expedited Processing of Social Security Disability Benefits
Veterans who are 100% disabled according to the VA may have their applications for Social Security disability benefits processed more quickly. The SSA usually identifies veterans that meet the criteria, but in a few cases, the veteran needs to self-identify and provide proof in the form of a notification letter from the VA.
These are just a few of the many benefits available to disabled veterans. If you’re a veteran looking for information about additional benefits, contact your regional VA office or explore the VA website for more information on how to apply. Being aware of and taking advantage of these resources can help ensure that you receive all the support you deserve.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice! We hope this article has been helpful in providing information about the benefits available to disabled veterans. If there’s anything else we can do, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help!