USS Guide MSO-447

Iron Men Wooden Ships

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Composed by: Michael A. Harris – VSR/VVA
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Note: Some may apply for lesser ratings of 30% or more. This volunteer listing is not fully comprehensive so be sure to check things out with the VA.

A veteran can be rated 100% “Total” without being “Total and Permanent” (T&P). This usually happens when VA considers a disability may improve. You can tell if a 100% grant is Total and Permanent as the decision will approve “Dependents Educational Assistance” and “Chapter 35 Benefits”.

1) VA Co-Pay Reimbursement

If you have been paying Co-Pays and your new Rating Decision is retroactive then you can ask VA to reimburse you for those payments back to the date of the rating.

2) Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA):

This first proves that VA has deemed your disabilities to be "Total and Permanent" (T&P). It allows your spouse and children to be eligible for certain educational benefits.

A child is authorized 45 months of accredited schooling. VA presently pays a monthly stipend of around $805.00 for a fulltime student. They can receive guidance counseling, tutors, etc.

If VA deems it needful, a student may receive an extension on the initial 45 months.

A qualified student is usually 18-26 years of age, but I've seen some using the benefit up to 32. Usually the latter is based on a large retroactive benefit granted to the veteran.

If a child has been in school and then the veteran receives a retroactive benefit that includes that school dates, then the student can file for reimbursement for the months that he/she qualified on the retroactive date.

A spouse can also qualify for schooling.

Keep in mind that this is the student's or spouse's benefit drawn on the veteran's grant. The student/spouse must handle all of the paperwork, 

3) ChampVA Health Insurance for the Spouse and Dependent Children:

This is an excellent benefit for the spouse/children. Veterans must receive our care at the VA, but our dependents can receive their care in the private sector. Please DO NOT delay on applying.

ChampVA is located in Denver, CO and they are very easy to work with. ChampVA is the spouse's benefit so she will have to coordinate with them.

Of course any parent can coordinate for dependent children. The spouse will use the veteran's Claims File number (in upper right hand corner of the VA Rating Decision letter) in order to make the initial ChampVA application request.

VERY IMPORTANT: If a spouse/children have had any out-of-pocket medical expenses during the time of the veteran's retroactive grant period they can submit them to ChampVA after being approved and ChampVA will reimburse the expenses. This can be a substantial amount if there have been health issues with the spouse and/or children.

NOTE: ChampVA does not cover Dental, Eyeglasses and Electives.

VA Health Administration Center
P.O. Box 65023
Denver, CO 80206-9023

(800) 733-8387 Fax: (303) 331-7804

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Here is their website where can look over the benefits:

ChampVA has a "Meds by Mail" program that is very good.

A new law was passed awhile back that gives the spouse "ChampVA for Life". There are stipulations if a divorce is involved.

4) Dental Coverage:

All 100% service-connected veterans are allowed dental care.

Note: Veterans going through Vocational Rehabilitation are also eligible for some dental care.

5) VA Insurance:

When a veteran is deemed 100% Schedular or TDIU then VA will grant a $10,000.00 insurance policy and "waive" the premiums. VA criteria states that you must have been granted a "NEW" service-connected condition in the past 2 years to qualify. It cannot be an increase of an existing condition. You have only two years from the time of the decision to apply. Note: VA is now offering this to 70% veterans. The VA insurance division will determine if you qualify.

The key on the application is to write "WAIVED" in the monthly premium amount box when applying for the 10K amount.

VA also offers other small policies, but I hear they are not very competitive.

Call this number and tell them your new rating and that you would like to file for the insurance. It is in Philadelphia:

(800) 669-8477

You can file online:

6) Uniformed Services Identification Cards:

The veteran, spouse and children can apply for this card. They are very similar to our old military I.D. cards. They are issued by the Department of Defense and allow you to access military facilities.

If VA did not attach a letter/application then call your VA Regional Office and ask them to send you a Cover Letter stating simply that you are "100%Total or Total and Permanent". Be sure they understand that it cannot say anything less than 100%. At the same time ask them for the "Uniformed Services I.D. Card Application". I would suggest that you do not try filling the application out as it's one of the most complex one's I've ever seen. Just take it with you when you apply.

VARO: 1-800-827-1000

Once the application and Cover Letter arrives make copies of it so that you will have some extras to provide for other benefits.

Call the administrative department at your nearest Military Base and ask when they do the I.D. cards. I recommend not filling out the application that is provided. It is very complex. Simply take the application and your DD-214 (You), Marriage License (Spouse) and Birth Certificates (Dependent Children). They will make the I.D. cards.

The veteran's is "PERM" and is for life. The spouse/children I.D.'s are "TEMP" and must be renewed every 5 years.

These cards will say "MWR" on them. This means "Morale, Welfare and Recreation". You can use facilities at military bases to include: Exchanges, Commissaries and Recreation facilities. The latter can include Tickets for concerts, boating, weight room, etc. You can even rent items like boats, BBQ's, lawn mowers, rototillers, etc.

To find lots of information on MWR go to:

Then type in MWR.

You can also use the card for hotels/motels. I usually ask them what the rate is for AARP, AAA, etc. When they commit then I ask them for the "Government Rate". It's usually a few dollars less.

We are authorized to fly "Space A" on USCG transportation. There are bills in Congress to authorize all services, but it cannot seem to receive enough sponsorship to pass.

 You can stay at "Bachelors Enlisted/Officer Quarters" (BEQ/BOQ) on military bases for $15-30 a night or you can use their "Lodging" which can run $45-75. They are nice facilities.

7) Free or discounted Hunting and Fishing License/Tags:

Check your State using the link below:

8) Property Tax Break:

Check your State using the link below:

9) Golden Access Passport:

The name of this pass has been changed, but the benefits are very similar. If you have the old pass then you can use it as the Federal government will not give you a new one.

The new pass is called "America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass".

The pass allows for 50% off Camping/recreation in Federal Parks. Some State and County Parks will honor it. Here is a link. Be sure to take your Rating Decision letter:

 Oregon allows disabled veterans (10) free days per month at our State Parks. Some counties have chosen to do the same. Check with your State to see if this is offered.

10) To check for additional State benefits where you live click on this link:

11) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):

The DIC "Clock starts Ticking" once a veteran is rated 100% "Total" or "Total and Permanent". This allows his spouse and dependent children under 18 years of age to receive a monthly benefit if:

  1. a) The veteran passes of a "service-connected" disability within the first 10 years of being rated 100%.
  2. b) If the veteran lives the full 10 years then he can pass of any disability
  3. Here is the current compensable benefit:

 Veteran's Death Was On or After January 1, 1993

Effective 12/1/11

 Basic Monthly Rate = $1195 (38 U.S.C. 1311(a)(1))

 Additional Allowances:

  1. Add $254 if at the time of the veteran's death, the veteran was in receipt of or entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling (including a rating based on individual unemployability) for a continuous period of at least 8 years immediately preceding death AND the surviving spouse was married to the veteran for those same 8 years. (38 U.S.C. 1311(a)(2))
  2. Add the following allowance for each dependent child under age 18:
  3. Effective 12/1/11 $296 per child (38 U.S.C. 1311(b)
  4. If the surviving spouse is entitled to A&A, add $296. (38 U.S.C. 1311(c))
  5. If the surviving spouse is entitled to Housebound, add $139 (38 U.S.C. 1311(d))   

 12) Aid & Attendance or Housebound Benefits:

 Aid and Attendance or Housebound Benefits is an addition to the Veteran’s monthly compensation if either the service member, or spouse, have a disability or disabilities that requires extra attention.

 A veteran may be eligible for A&A when:

 The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, OR,

 The veteran is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR,

 The veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR,

 The veteran is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

 Housebound is paid in addition to monthly pension. Like A&A, Housebound benefits may not be paid without eligibility to pension.

 A veteran may be eligible for Housebound benefits when:

 The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100% disabling AND, due to such disability, he/she is permanently and substantially confined to his/her immediate premises, OR,

 The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100% disabling AND, another disability, or disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.

 A veteran cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.

 VA FORM 21-2680 is to be filled out by the claimant’s doctor.

 13) Travel Pay: (41.5 cents per mile)

 All veterans are allowed travel reimbursement for scheduled VA appointments if they are rated 30% service-connected or higher.

 VA will also pay travel pay on a “needs basis”. This means if a veteran is under a certain income level then he/she will be paid for scheduled visits.

 VA will pay for travel to “Claims and Pension” (C&P) examinations.

 As I said, this is not exhaustive. Do your best to not only acquire the benefits that are due you, but also to pass along the benefits to other fellow veterans who may not be in the know because VA is not forthright.

 13) There is a little known benefit called the “Independent Living Services Program” (ILSP). It is design to assist any disabled veteran to live a better quality of life despite their service-connected disabilities.

 The program shows up briefly on the Vocational Rehabilitation Form 28-1900. I believe that VA has changed the wording on the form to further disguise the program. In fact, they changed the name to “Independent Living Program”. Here is a link to the VA Form 28-1900:

 You’ll note on the instructions under “Rehabilitation Services” is states the following:

“If training is appropriate, VA will provide medical and dental care treatment, employment assistance to get and keep a suitable job, and other services you may need. If a vocational goal is not currently feasible for you, VA may provide services and assistance to improve your capacity for living independently.”

The key sentence is in red. There used to be more references, but VA has removed them from the form.

 Here is a link to the Independent Living Program on the VA website:


“The Independent Living program is to make sure that each eligible veteran is able, to the maximum extent possible, to live independently and participate in family and community life increasing their potential to return to work. Services may include the following:

  • Assistive technology
  • Specialized medical, health, and / or rehabilitation services
  • Services to address any personal and / or family adjustment issues
  • Independent living skills training

Connection with community-based support servi