Incarcerated Veterans and VA Benefits

by Cameron Kroeger, Attorney at Law and US Air Force Veteran

The rigors and stressors of military life bring out the best in our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.   It can also bring out the worst.  To say that the military leaves its mark on a service member’s soul and psyche is an understatement.

As it is unfortunately well known, when Veterans leave the service, many have trouble readjusting to civilian life. The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that on any given night, 40,056 veterans are homeless.  The VA estimates that every day, 22 Veterans commit suicide. An estimated 181,000 Veterans are in prison or jail.

This blog addresses those veterans who are or who have been recently incarcerated.

Unfortunately, the VA can make it difficult to continue receiving benefits if a veteran is or has been recently incarcerated.  The VA will reduce the veteran’s payments after sixty days of incarceration for a felony. If they are entitled to 10% disability compensation, the VA will reduce the benefit to 5%.  If they are entitled to 20% disability compensation or higher, the VA will reduce the benefit to 10%.  However, there is a way to get around this reduction.

Apportionment

If the VA is limiting compensation benefits due to incarceration, the balance of the benefits may be “apportioned” to a spouse, children, or dependent parents based on individual need.  Either the Veteran or his family members can apply for apportionment.  Unfortunately, application for apportionment is often overlooked due to the stress of imprisonment, or if the veteran has lost touch with his family.

Date of Resumption of Award

When the veteran is eventually released from imprisonment, the VA will not resume paying of the award automatically.  The VA requires notice that the veteran has been released before they will begin resuming pay of his full compensation rate.  If the VA receives notice within a year of release, the effective date is the date the Veteran was released.  If notice is received after a year from release, the effective date is the day the VA received notice from the veteran.

Where veterans get into a bind is when they file for increase after this year window.  The VA may grant the increase, and decide to pay the veteran retroactively, starting on the date of release. The VA may later decide that the veteran did not provide notice within the year window, and then try to reclaim this portion of the Veteran’s increased benefit.

Veterans Serving Veterans

Berry Law Firm was founded by Vietnam War Veteran and legendary trial lawyer John Stevens Berry Sr. We are proud to have many military Veterans among our attorneys and staff who understand what it means to serve and know, firsthand, the struggles many of our clients face every day.

If your VA disability claim has been denied, Berry Law Firm may be able to help. We have been successfully representing Veterans for decades. Contact us today for a free evaluation.