Most of America’s Veterans serve or previously served in one of the four primary branches: the Army, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, or the Navy. Because of this, these Veterans may qualify for VA benefits, including disability benefits.
You might wonder if Coast Guard veterans receive VA benefits, too. Let’s explain how to apply for VA benefits as a Coast Guard Veteran.
The Coast Guard is part of the US military. The six branches of the US military include the following:
In addition, the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are reserve components of the six primary branches. They operate under federal and state authority or direction.
Suffice it to say that the Coast Guard is a part of the military, just like any of the other branches. Therefore, military members who serve or served within the Coast Guard may qualify for VA benefits.
As a Veteran of the Coast Guard, you may qualify for VA benefits just like other military numbers. This is true both during your active duty service and after you retire from the military or are discharged. Here’s a breakdown of the VA benefits you can expect as a Coast Guard Veteran.
Coast Guard Veterans might qualify for VA disability compensation and related benefits if they received their disability from an in-service event or related injury. In essence, the Coast Guard Veteran has to have service connection or secondary service connection to qualify.
Service connection is awarded when the VA recognizes that an in-service event, like an illness or injury, caused or contributed to a Veteran’s disability directly. For example, if a Coast Guard Veteran is seriously injured while on duty and is disabled permanently afterward, they would be awarded service connection and ongoing disability compensation payments.
Secondary service connection is awarded to Veterans whose service-connected disability contributed to or caused another disabling injury or illness.
For instance, if a Veteran has service-connected PTSD, then the Coast Guard Veteran develops or aggravates their sleep apnea as a result, they could receive secondary service connection and additional disability compensation.
For a Coast Guard Veteran to receive disability benefits, they must prove:
Depending on the severity of their symptoms and the level of disability experienced, a Coast Guard Veteran will receive a disability rating of 0% to 100%. Sometimes, Veterans may qualify for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU). In this case, even if they have less than a 100% disability rating, they will receive disability benefits at the 100% rate.
Coast Guard Veterans may additionally qualify for VA disability pension benefits. These are need-based benefits that may be awarded for non-service-connected injuries. They are very similar to SSI or supplemental Social Security income.
For Coast Guard Veterans to qualify, they must be low-income, have served in wartime, and have a qualifying total and permanent disability.
In addition to the above benefits, Coast Guard Veterans may qualify for other VA benefits and compensation. For example, the surviving dependents of Coast Guard Veterans can modify for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits. These are available to any surviving dependents of Coast Guard Veterans who died due to a service-connected disability.
Depending on the specifics of a Coast Guard Veteran’s family situation, income level, and so on, they may qualify for benefits like:
Coast Guard Veterans are qualified to receive VA benefits in the same circumstances as any other military branch member. Generally, these requirements are:
Coast Guard Veterans don’t need to consider themselves separate from the other military branches. The process for acquiring VA benefits is the same as if they had served in any other military branch.
To file for VA benefits as a Coast Guard Veteran, your best bet is to contact knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law. As experienced Veterans law professionals, Berry Law can help you understand your choices and assist you when appealing denials.
The exact benefits filing process depends on which benefits you wish to claim. For example, if you want to claim disability compensation as a Coast Guard Veteran, you must file Form 21-526EZ. This is the same form you would file to recover disability compensation benefits as any other type of Veteran.
In addition, you’ll need to provide enough information to trigger an examination, such as current symptoms or an in-service event.
Next, the VA will look through your file and determine whether you qualify for disability benefits. If you do, you will need to sit through a Compensation and Pension exam, at which point your symptoms and disability level will be examined and determined by a VA- appointed physician.
After that, you’ll receive a disability rating, determining the monthly compensation benefits you can expect.
This process can be complex and time-consuming, even for Veterans who have progressed through it more than once. With trustworthy Veterans law attorneys on your side, you’ll find it much easier and less stressful.
Veterans law attorneys help by breaking down your benefits options and helping you understand which benefits you may qualify for. Furthermore, Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law can assist if your initial benefits application is denied.
Many benefits application systems have appeals processes. For instance, if you are denied disability compensation and don’t receive service connection, Berry Law can help you appeal that initial VA decision and potentially see it overturned.
Similarly, Berry Law can help you appeal a low disability rating if you believe it doesn’t accurately reflect your level of disability or symptoms. In that case, you may see an increase or improvement to your monthly disability compensation.
Don’t try to file for VA benefits as a Coast Guard Veteran alone. Do so with Veterans law attorneys who can make the entire process easier.
As you can see, Coast Guard Veterans do qualify for VA disability and other benefits if they were generally or honorably discharged. Like Veterans of other branches, though, it’s important to contact knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law to get your benefits as quickly as you can.
With Berry Law’s help, you’ll qualify for the maximum amount of disability compensation, plus understand other VA benefits you may qualify for. Contact us today to learn how we can help with your benefits application.
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