Can a Reservist Get VA Disability

Many Veterans are aware of their eligibility for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), regardless of whether they served in the reserves or on active duty. However, what some Veterans may not realize is that the VA processes these claims differently. While Reservists can qualify for VA disability benefits, it’s essential to grasp the differences they might encounter compared to their active-duty counterparts.

What is VA Disability Compensation?

Veterans who qualify for VA disability compensation receive monthly tax-free payments based on the severity of their service-related disability. The VA assigns disability ratings as percentages, with a minimum of 10% required for eligibility. The amount of compensation awarded depends primarily on the disability rating. The VA rounds each disability or condition to the nearest 10%, and it must be connected to active duty or active-duty training.

VA Disability Payment Amounts

Understanding VA Disability Payment Amounts can be challenging due to the complexity of the calculations involved. The VA employs specific equations to determine disability percentages for individuals with multiple conditions. Furthermore, Veterans who financially support spouses, children, or parents may be eligible for additional benefits, provided their disability rating is 30 percent or higher.

One particular complexity arises when a Veteran has multiple disabilities. Contrary to intuition, two disabilities each rated at 50% do not aggregate to a 100% disability rating. Instead, the VA assesses each disability independently, reducing the overall disability rating by the proportion of the individual’s remaining ability.

For instance, suppose a Veteran’s disabilities are rated at 50% and 30%.  The total rating becomes 70% disability. Given the intricacy of these calculations, we provide a complimentary VA disability calculator to help assess potential benefits accurately.

Who Qualifies as a Veteran for VA Disability Benefits?

According to Title 38 of the U.S. Code, anyone who served in the active military is considered a Veteran as long as they didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge. This includes individuals who served full-time in any of the following branches:

  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Coast Guard
  • Navy
  • Marine Corps

But even if a member didn’t serve full-time, they might still qualify. Certain members of the National Guard and Reserves who served on active duty or were disabled while training can also be considered Veterans for VA disability benefits.

VA Disability Compensation for Reservists

Depending on their service history and specific circumstances. Eligibility for VA disability compensation hinges on three main requirements:

  • Disability rating of at least 10% by the VA.
  • Service connection established for the disability.
  • Not caused by misconduct or substance abuse.

Even though Reservists are eligible for this benefit, it’s important to keep in mind that approval rates can be lower compared to active-duty Veterans.

Understanding the Differences Between Active Duty and Reserves

Active duty and reserve service differ in terms of healthcare coverage and obligations. Active-duty personnel are under DoD responsibility 24/7, while Reservists are primarily under DoD obligation while on orders. This flexibility comes with a different healthcare system and less documentation, which can impact proving service connection for disability claims.

How Reservists Can Navigate the VA System

Reservists can face unique challenges when working with the Veterans Affairs (VA) system, particularly when seeking disability compensation. Opposite of their active-duty counterparts, Reservists typically serve part-time and may find the claims process more intricate due to the nature of their service.

Unlike active-duty personnel, where the burden of proof lies with the VA to disprove service connection, the responsibility falls on the Reservist to demonstrate a clear link between their disability and an in-service event. This means meticulously documenting every aspect of the claim.

Key Points to Remember:

  1. On Orders: Proving the event occurred while on official orders is crucial. This includes documentation like activation orders, training schedules, and deployment paperwork.
  2. Medical Evidence: Detailed medical records are essential, starting from the initial injury or illness during the on-orders period. This includes doctor’s notes, diagnoses, treatment plans, and any subsequent care provided.
  3. Continuity of Care: Demonstrating a continuous need for medical attention after the on-orders period is critical. This shows the issue persisted and potentially worsened, leading to a disability.
  4. Nexus Letter: A Nexus letter, written by a qualified medical professional, is highly beneficial. It should explicitly link the current disability to the in-service event, explaining the medical progression and causality.

Additional Considerations:

  • Type of Service: The type of Reserve service (traditional, AGR, technician) can impact eligibility and documentation requirements. A lawyer can research specific guidelines for the situation.
  • Time Limits: It’s a good idea to apply for benefits within one year of discharge. Delays can complicate the claims process and evidence gathering.

Keep in mind that the VA is committed to supporting Veterans, including Reservists. By understanding the unique challenges and diligently gathering evidence, Reservists can help ensure their claims receive consideration.


Are There Other VA Benefits Available to Reservists?

1. VA Pension

VA pensions provide tax-free financial support to wartime Veterans facing financial hardship. Eligibility is based on two key factors: service requirements and income/asset limits.

Service requirements:

  • Generally, 90 days of active duty, including one day during wartime, are needed.
  • For Veterans enlisting after 1980, 24 consecutive months of wartime service are required.
  • Exceptions exist for Veterans discharged with service-connected disabilities, even if they don’t meet the minimum service time.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Have permanent and total disabilities
  • Reside in a nursing home due to disability
  • Receive Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Receive Supplemental Security Income

2. Education Benefits

The VA provides educational funding and training for National Guard and reserve members. Eligibility criteria include having at least 90 aggregate days in active service. This includes individuals called under Title 32 for national emergencies and full-time National Guard members serving in various roles under Title 32, such as organizers, recruiters, trainers, instructors, or administrators. Members of the selective reserve may qualify separately under the Montgomery GI Bill or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program.

3. Insurance

The VA provides life insurance for specific service members. National Guard and Reserve members undergo twelve periods of inactive training annually, and individuals volunteering for the mobilized category in the individual ready reserve may be eligible. Additionally, part-time coverage is available for other members who do not fulfill the inactive training requirements but serve at other times.

4. Healthcare

The VA provides health care benefits to Veterans, including outpatient and inpatient services. Veterans who served in combat operations after November 11th, 1988 can receive these benefits for up to five years after discharge. Other individuals may also be eligible for these benefits. More information on health benefits can be found on the VA website.

5. Vocational Rehabilitation

Certain Reserve and National Guard members with service-connected disabilities may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation and employment programs that aim to educate and train Veterans for new career opportunities.

Can Reservists Get VA Home Loans?

VA home loans provide guaranteed programs for National Guard and Reserve members, offering better interest rates and benefits like no down payment requirement. Reservists and National Guard members are eligible for this benefit after serving 90 days or more on active duty during wartime.

Veterans Serving Veterans

The team of Veterans disability lawyers at Berry Law is dedicated to assisting Veterans in their pursuit of disability benefits. If a Veteran served in the Reserves and was denied disability benefits by the VA or received a rating lower than expected, Berry Law can provide assistance with the appeals process. Those interested can contact Berry Law today at 888-682-0751 to schedule a case evaluation and proceed with seeking the deserved VA disability compensation.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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