VA Provides Benefits to Veterans with ALS and Families

May 13, 2013

Military veterans, regardless of the branch of service, the era in which they served, or whether they served during a time of peace or a time of war, are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if they had not served in the military.  For reasons as yet unknown, veterans are, in fact, twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALS as the general population.

In 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented regulations to establish a presumption of service connection for ALS, thanks to the efforts of The ALS Association, key members of Congress, and advocates.  Under the regulations, the VA presumes that ALS was incurred or aggravated by a veteran’s service in the military.  As a result, veterans with ALS and their families and survivors are eligible for “service connected” benefits.

Anyone who served at least 90 days of continuous active duty in the U.S. military may qualify for VA benefits.  Survivors of veterans may be eligible for benefits, including monthly compensation, regardless of when their loved one was lost to the disease.

Qualifying veterans with ALS are entitled to receive VA disability compensation, which is a monetary benefit paid to veterans who are disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated during active military service.  Disability compensation is paid monthly and varies with the degree of disability and the number of veteran’s dependents. Veterans with ALS may be eligible for additional special monthly compensation.  There is a minimum 100 percent disability rating for veterans diagnosed with ALS.  These benefits are not subject to federal or state income tax.  Tables listing current compensation levels are available at: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/.

The VA offers a full range of health care benefits, including prescriptions, medical supplies, prosthetic items, and home improvement and structural alteration grants to pay the cost to make the home more accessible.

In addition, there are a variety of other benefits available to veterans, spouses, and children.  Some benefits are available even if the veteran with ALS has passed away, such as dependency and indemnity compensation, which is a monthly payment to eligible survivors.  Other veteran and family benefits include, insurance benefits for dependents, special adaptive housing grants, automobile grants, adaptive equipment, and aide and attendance allowance to pay for care providers.

The ALS Association encourages veterans, family members and/or survivors to learn about the VA benefits and to take advantage of these resources as appropriate.  An overview of veterans’ benefits is available at http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp, and The ALS Association has created a special web page with a wealth of information.

Visit The ALS Association’s Wall of Honor to see and read the stories of courage about military veterans with ALS. If you would like to advocate for veterans with ALS, become an ALS Advocate at http://www.alsa.org/advocacy/get-involved/.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software