There are three administrations under the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). This post will focus on the VBA.
The VBA is responsible for administering the department’s programs that provide non-medical assistance to veterans, their dependents, and survivors. Their major benefits include veterans’ compensation and pension, survivor benefits, rehabilitation employment assistance, educational assistance, home loan guaranties, and life insurance coverage.
Their mission “in partnership with the Veterans Health Administration and the National Cemetery Administration, is to provide benefits and services to the veterans and their families in a responsive, timely, and compassionate manner in recognition to their service to the nation.”
The following are some of the programs administered by the VBA
Compensation and Pension Service
These programs provide direct payments to veterans’ dependents and survivors because of the veterans’ service-connected disability or because of a financial need.
- Disability Compensation—This is a monetary benefit paid to veterans with disabilities that are a result of illness or injury, that occurred or was aggravated, during active military service. The degree of severity of disability determines the amount of the benefit, on a scale from 10%-100% (increments of 10). It is possible to have a non-compensable rating of 0% for a disability. In this case, the veteran can receive free medical treatment in the VA medical system but will not receive compensation.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)—These benefits are payable to survivors of service members who died while on active duty or to survivors of veterans who died from their service-connected disabilities.
- Pension Programs—These programs provide income support to veterans with wartime service and their family, for a non-service-connected disability or death. This program is generally for low-income veterans and survivors.
- 2258, Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2014—This act provides for a guaranteed COLA increase by 1.5% for disability compensation and other specified categories.
These provide resources to veterans, service persons, reservists, and some veterans’ dependents to help with readjustment lost because of service to our country.
- Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)—This program is available to eligible veterans who entered active duty between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985. Contributions paid while on active duty determine benefits. Veterans have 10 years after separation to use the benefit.
- Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB)—This program provides educational benefits that may be used while on active duty or after separation. Generally, a veteran will receive 36 months of entitlement and has 10 years after separation to use the benefit.
- National Call to Service—This program provides educational benefits that may be used while on active duty or after separation. The person must have enlisted on or after October 1, 2003, under the National Call to Service program and selected one of the two education incentives provided by that program. Benefits are provided based on the incentive selected. These two incentives are 1. Education benefits of up to 12 months of MGIB benefits (3-year rate) or 2. Education benefits of up to 36 months of the MGIB benefits (half the two-year rate).
- Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEAP)—This program is designed to assist dependents of veterans who 1. 100% disabled due to a service-connected condition, 2. Died due to a service-connected condition, or 3. Died while on active duty.
- Post 9/11 Educational Assistance Program (Post 9/11 GI Bill)—Assistance for certain individuals with a qualifying period of active duty service after September 11, 2001. The assistance is in the form of tuition/fees, monthly housing allowance, and a books and supplies stipend. This new program also provides certain veterans the opportunity to transfer any unused educational benefits to their spouses and dependents.
These programs provide life insurance at a standard premium rate to members of the armed forces. Veterans are eligible to maintain their VA life insurance coverage following discharge.
- Service members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)—This insurance provides up to $400,000 of life insurance coverage to active duty members, members of the reserves, cadets, and midshipmen of the four service academies. SGLI also offers Family Service Member Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) for up to $100,000 of coverage for a spouse, if the service member is on active duty or a member of the Ready Reserve. All dependent children automatically have insurance of $10,000 at no charge.
- Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)—Members who separate from service with SGLI coverage can convert their coverage to VGLI. They can do this, regardless of health, by applying with the first months’ premium within 120 days of discharge. After 120 days, that person could still be granted VGLI coverage provided it is submitted within one year of the end of the 120-day period. If the member is totally disabled at separation, SGLI can continue free of charge for 2 years.
- Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (SDVI)—A veteran that has a VA service-connected disability rating but is otherwise in good health, may apply for life insurance coverage of up to $10,000 within 2 years of being notified of the VA service connected status. This program is limited to veterans who left service after April 25, 1951. Also, if a veteran is totally disabled, the premiums are waived and that person may apply for an additional $30,000 of coverage.
This aids veterans, spouses, and service members to allow them to buy and retain a home. In most cases, a qualified veteran can obtain a loan without making a down payment.
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grants—These are available to veterans who have specific service-connected disabilities so that they can construct or modify a home to meet their needs.
- Servicing Assistance—This program provides help for borrowers having difficulty making their payments. This assistance can take many forms, but the goal is to keep the veteran in their property and avoid foreclosure.
- Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)—Mortgage life insurance protection for up to $200,000 is available to severely disabled veterans who receive an SAH grant.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
This program is authorized by Congress under Title 38, USC. Chapter 31 and Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, sometimes referred to as the Chapter 31 program. It assists veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep suitable employment. This program also provides services to those who have a severe disability to help to improve their ability to live as independently as possible.
Services included in this program are:
- A comprehensive rehab evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment.
- Vocational counseling and rehab planning for employment services.
- Employment services such as job training, job seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance.
- Assistance in finding and keeping employment.
- On the job training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences.
- Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical, or business school.
- Supportive rehab services such as counseling and medical referrals.
- Individual living services for veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disability.
For a complete list of services offered under the VBA, click here.
If you are a veteran now working as a federal employee and you have an injury or illness that is preventing you from performing your essential job duties, please contact us. You may qualify for a federal disability retirement. Contact us at 877-226-2723 or fill out this INQUIRY form. We would be honored to help you in any way we can!