As we had previously blogged, a number of veterans we represent involve the question of whether the veteran had sufficient service at or near Vietnam to qualify for presumption of service connection under 38 C.F.R. § 3.307(a).
In one such claim, located travel orders out of Vietnam provided sufficient information for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to grant service connection for conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. As often happens, the prior decision subject to Notice of Disagreement did not fully resolve all issues before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For that veteran, a recently promulgated Rating Decision granted 100% disability for ischemic heart disease (IHD) resolved many of the issues regarding current rating percentage. I’ll note, given the fact that the veteran’s level of disability unfortunately increased in severity shortly after issuance of the prior Rating Decision granting service connection for IHD, both factually and tactically the proper action was to file a claim for increase rather that a Notice of Disagreement.
There remains a few other issues pending, however, the Agency of Original Jurisdiction (in this case Newark Regional Office) has been pretty efficient with processing so I suspect all issues will be resolved in the near future. While the recent Rating Decision granting 100% permanently and totally (P&T) disabled was obviously favorable, there were a number of ancillary benefits that I needed to discuss with the veteran. These ancillary benefits commonly overlap with a veteran’s long-term estate and elder-care planning as detailed in a recent article from WealthManagement.com. These ancillary benefits include:
1) Change in Priority Group for the Veterans Health Care Administration. More information can be found at http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/;
2) Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI). More information can be found at http://www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/s-dvi.asp;
3) Enrollment in CHAMPVA for the veteran’s spouse. More information can be found at http://www.va.gov/hac/forbeneficiaries/champva/handbook/chandbook.pdf;
4) Eligibility for Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA). More information can be found at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/docs/pamphlets/ch35_pamphlet_2.pdf
5) Eligibility for Armed Forces Commissary and Exchange privileges. More information can be found at http://www.mcinfoex.net/?q=personal/commissary-and-exchange-privileges; and
6) State benefits, to include NJ Property Tax exemption. More information on the New Jersey property tax exemption, as well as other benefits for qualified veterans, can be found in the NJ Veterans Guide published by the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.