As health status changes, so can VA benefits
Is there a provision that a veteran who is rated as 100 percent disabled for five years receives a permanent rating? Is it locked in?
Answer: It is important to remember that each case is different. The rule of thumb is that if a veteran is granted a benefit at a certain level, then after 10 years that level cannot be reduced. If a veteran maintains a service-connected disability evaluation he is protected from it being severed after 20 years. The 20-year rule gives the veteran protection so that his rating for service-connection cannot be severed except for fraud. A word of caution. A veteran can ask that his service-connected disability case be reopened as the condition may have worsened. That could result in an increased disability percentage and an increase in disability pay. If the veteran chooses to do that and it is found during the resulting examination that the service-connected condition has in fact improved, the veteran's current disability percentage could be reduced, hence a lower monthly payment. When reopening a claim be sure and submit any evidence; i.e., medical records, doctor visits, etc., that substantiate your claim. For information on filing or reopening claims, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at (800) 827-1000.
Q: The VA has joined forces with Housing and Urban Development Department to increase funding for homeless veterans. Will this benefit Hawaii?
A: The VA and HUD recently announced $75 million to provide permanent supportive housing for an estimated 10,000 homeless veterans nationwide, including 70 in Hawaii. HUD's Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program will provide local public housing agencies with approximately 10,000 rental assistance vouchers specifically targeted to assist homeless veterans in their area. In addition, the VA and HUD will link local public housing agencies with VA medical centers to provide services and case management to eligible homeless veterans. In addition the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System will hire two new staff (one social worker and one other discipline). For information on Hawaii's homeless programs, call the VA Medical Center at 433-0600.
If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.