What are the Requirements for Entitlement to Veterans Benefits?

There are specific entitlement requirements inherent to each of the following benefits: Compensation, SMC, Pension, DIC, Aid and Attendance and Housebound Allowances, VA Healthcare and Burial Benefits.

Besides the benefits above, there are other benefits available to veterans or their survivors such as parents DIC, education assistance, loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation, life and disability insurance and a number of other support programs. We do not address these other benefits on this website and as such we do not address entitlement requirements for these benefits. If you want to know more about these other benefits you can go to the VA website to learn more them.

Entitlement to Compensation

In order to be entitled to this benefit, the veteran must meet eligibility requirements as outlined in the previous section. Go here for that information.

We discuss Compensation in much greater detail in another section of this website. Please go here for that information. On this page of the website we are only providing a brief summary of entitlement to this benefit.

Disability Compensation or simply Compensation is a graduated monthly payment available to a veteran who incurred an illness, disease or injury on active duty or had an existing disease or injury that was aggravated by active duty in the service. Compensation payments are available in a range from partial disability to total disability ratings in 10% increments from 0% to 100% or total disability. Monthly payments are based on the disability rating. There are two types of Compensation – Direct Service-Connected Compensation and Presumptive Service-Connected Compensation.

Direct Service-Connected Compensation requires 3 elements for entitlement. The first element is producing evidence that an illness, disease or injury occurred on active duty or an existing condition was aggravated by active duty. The second element is producing evidence that there is a current and chronic disabling condition that is assumed to be directly due to what was incurred in service. The third element is evidence of a continuity of symptoms from discharge or other evidence from the incurrence in service that proves the current condition is directly attributable to what was incurred in service. This is called establishing a Nexus. Sometimes this requires an opinion from a licensed medical provider that the current disabling condition is directly attributable to the incurrence in service.

Here are some examples of current disabling conditions that can be direct service-connected: PTSD, other mental disorders, certain diseases, cancer, musculoskeletal disabilities, conditions caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals, radiation or pressure changes such as hearing loss, sleep apnea, and a number of others.

There are about 120 medical conditions that are presumed to be service-connected. This is called Presumptive Service-Connected Compensation. For these conditions, a Nexus between what was incurred on active duty in the service does not have to be established for the current disabling conditions. The Nexus is presumed. This means that evidence is not required to establish service connection as long as the veteran had a particular assignment that was presumed to have resulted in a current disabling condition and the veteran has developed one or more of those particular conditions that are presumed to have been tied to that particular assignment. Examples of Presumptive Service-Connected Compensation are: a whole list of diseases that exhibit to a disability of 10% or more within one year of discharge, conditions related to exposure to herbicides in Vietnam, conditions related to assignment at camp Lejeune, Gulf War illnesses and a whole list of other conditions.

Entitlement to Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

We discuss SMC in much greater detail in a another section of this website. Please go here for that information. On this page of the website we are only providing a brief summary of entitlement to this benefit.

Special Monthly Compensation is available to veterans who are rated at 100% disabled and in some cases who are being paid at 100% due to individual unemployability. SMC is a larger monthly payout for certain disabilities or combinations of disabilities beyond the 100% monthly payout.

Entitlement to Pension

In order to be entitled to this benefit, the veteran or the deceased veteran must meet eligibility requirements as outlined in the previous section. Go here for that information.

We discuss Pension and Survivors Pension in much greater detail in another section of this website. Please go here for that information. On this page of the website we are only providing a brief summary of entitlement to this benefit.

Pension is available to certain veterans who served during a period of war – World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War. This benefit was intended by Congress to provide a non-service-connected monthly payment to these veterans to bring them up to a certain income level. It is primarily intended for low income veterans. However, a special provision in the rules allows veterans who are incurring large out-of-pocket costs for medical care to reduce their income to meet the income rule for entitlement. Thus, veterans who would not receive entitlement because their income is too large, can use this special provision to get a benefit. There is also an asset limit for this benefit and in many cases there is a need for a rating for aid and attendance or housebound.

Survivors Pension is available to surviving spouses of veterans who served during a period of war. The rules for entitlement to Survivors Pension are pretty much the same as the rules for entitlement to Pension. Survivors pension is a much smaller monthly benefit payment.

Entitlement to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

We discuss DIC in much greater detail in another section of this website. Please go here for that information. On this page of the website we are only providing a brief summary of entitlement to this benefit.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC is available to a surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a result of active duty service or whose death was attributable to a condition for which the veteran was receiving Compensation. It is also available for a veteran who died as a result of mistreatment from VA healthcare or vocational rehabilitation. In addition, if a veteran was rated 100% or being paid at 100% for at least 10 years prior to death, the surviving spouse is awarded DIC automatically. DIC is a monthly payment made directly to the surviving spouse.

Entitlement to Aid and Attendance and Housebound Allowances

We discuss aid and attendance and housebound allowances in much greater detail in another section of this website. Please go here for that information. On this page of the website we are only providing a brief summary of entitlement to this benefit.

Title 38 CFR Part 3 contains special provisions for veterans or survivors who are receiving benefits to be paid an additional monthly allowance due to the need for the aid and attendance of another person or to being housebound. These allowances are available for Pension, Survivors Pension, DIC, Compensation and as part of certain provisions available with SMC. There are 15 different allowances that are available with these various benefits.

Entitlement to VA Healthcare

In order to be entitled to this benefit, the veteran must meet eligibility requirements as outlined in the previous section. Go here for that information.

We discuss healthcare in much greater detail in another section of this website. Please go here for that information.

Entitlement to Burial Benefits

We discuss burial benefits in much greater detail in another section of this website. Please go here for that information. On this page of the website we are only providing a brief summary of entitlement to this benefit.

There are two categories of burial benefits – benefits due to service related death and benefits for non-service related death.

A service related death is one where the veteran was receiving service-connected disability and died as a result of one of the conditions for which the veteran was service-connected. VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001, or up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 11, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.

A non-service related death is one where the veteran was receiving benefits for Compensation or Pension or was entitled to receive them or died while in the care of a VA hospital or hospital that was being paid by VA. VA will pay up to $796 toward burial and funeral expenses for deaths on or after October 1, 2019 (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $796 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery).


Please refer to the table of contents in the top right column of this page for more topics on Eligibility for Benefits.