United States Military Servicemen and women are granted a variety of benefits in recognition of sacrifices made for the country. These benefits are considered privileges rather than rights, however, and they may be forfeited under certain circumstances.
Veteran benefits include such things as VA Loans for homes, education and training, healthcare, memorial and burial benefits, disabled veteran assistance programs and pensions. Benefits such as pensions are accorded by time in service while education benefits can differ according to enlistment dates.
A Misconduct or Other Than Honorable Discharge will usually disqualify a veteran from receiving all benefits. There are exceptions made for veterans who were injured or otherwise harmed on duty.
A felony or misdemeanor conviction coupled with incarceration will cause a veteran’s benefits to be suspended or reduced. Pensions cannot be paid to a convicted veteran or the veteran’s spouse. Disability payments can still be received, but at a reduced rate. The veteran can submit a document of release to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs once the term of incarceration has ended that will reinstate the benefits from the date of release.
State Law Violations
Some states have laws in place that will cause a veteran to lose benefits. For example, Massachusetts, in conjunction with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, can cause a veteran to forfeit benefits through such acts as failure to provide for a family or determination that the veteran is habitually guilty of “unwholesome habits.”
If a veteran is disqualified from receiving benefits, there is an appeals process available. The veteran will receive a notification of discontinuance of benefits. The appeal must be filed within one year of the date this notification was issued. Specific details are outlined in the chapter 13 appeals section found on the United States Veteran Affairs webpage.
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs: Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors - 2010 Edition
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs: Incarcerated Veteran Program - Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Health Care
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs: Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors