Getting VA Disability Compensation As a Drilling Reservist-Your Responsibilities

www.eBenefits.Va.gov

You’re a drilling reservist that has a VA compensation packet in the system. You’re waiting on the VA to give you a decision. While you’re waiting, some questions come to your mind. Will I get over 30%? How much over 30% will I get? Once I receive my compensation or pension, do I have to give up my reserve pay? Or, will I tell the VA that I could do without the VA compensation for the days the reserves pay me?

Finally, you get your VA packet in the mail. The VA’s decision has arrived. You’re getting a monthly compensation. Now you’re one of the reservists that receives both, VA disability compensation and reserve pay.

But, if you do nothing else, you’re going to get your full VA compensation, and your reserve paycheck. The longer you wait for the VA to find out about your reserve pay, the more money you’ll have to pay the VA back in the future.

You have to send your intentions to the VA at the end of each fiscal year.

At the end of each fiscal year, you’re going to complete a VA Form 21-8951-2. This is the “Notice of Waiver of VA Compensation or Pension to Receive Military Pay and Allowances,” form. This form is a declaration form, where you declare which pay you’re going to forfeit for the days you received training pay.

You could get this form from the VA, or you could search for it on the Internet and download it. Once you have the form, completely fill it out.

It’ll ask for your VA regional office address. This is the address that you’re going to send your form to. Put your VA regional office address in the “VA Regional Office” box.

Next, it’ll ask for the name and address of the veteran. Put your name and home address in this box.

The form will ask you for the following: VA file number, social security number, daytime phone number, and evening phone number. You’ll find your VA file number on the packet that the VA sends you — announcing your disability rate or compensation.

Next, you’re going to see a box for fiscal year and another box for training days. A fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. List the fiscal year that you did your training days under the fiscal year box. Under the training days, type in the number of days the reserves pays you for.

How do you know what days you got paid for?

Many reserve units list numbers, on their training schedules, right next to each scheduled weekend drill (Battle Assembly). Many reserve units list “4″ right next to a two day training weekend. A three day training weekend will have a “6″ right next to it. These units typically pay you for two training days in one day.

Let’s say you’re getting paid two training days for each drill day that you complete. Check with your unit, and find out how many training days you’re getting paid for each drill day in order to get an accurate number.

Your drill days are also known as inactive duty training periods, or IDT. You also have active duty periods; you get paid one training day for each day of active duty that you do. In the reserves, you have Active Training (AT), Active Duty for Training (ADT), and mobilization days.

Total your IDT points (2 per training day) and your AT points (1 per training day), that you did during the fiscal year. Place the total number of training days in the “training days” box.

Next, you’re going to let the VA know which of your pays you’re going to waive.

The first option allows you to waive your VA benefits for the days that you received training pay. The second option allows you to waive your military pay and allowances for the days that you received training pay. The third option allows you to inform the VA if you didn’t receive any military training during the last fiscal year.

Here’s how each option works.

Let’s say you chose to waive your VA benefits for the days you received training. Remember, each IDT day counts as two days of training. If all you did, for the month, was 2 IDT days, then the VA will take back a prorated amount of VA for that month.

Simply divide your monthly VA compensation rate by 30 days, then multiply it by the number of days you received training pay. Depending on your rank, and the amount of your disability compensation, your prorated amount could be lesser than your training pay.

In most cases, waiving your VA benefits for the days you received training pay results in keeping more of your money after the deductions are made.

Now, let’s say that you choose to waive your military pay and allowances for the days that you received training pay. This amount is usually bigger, per day, than a prorated amount of VA pay. After all the deductions are made to recoup that money, you’re going to end up with less money.

So, do your math, and compare what your daily prorated VA compensation is compared to the training pay you receive. In most cases, you’ll keep more of your money if you chose to waive your VA benefits for the days you received training pay.

The third option is for those in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR), Standby Reserves drilling for retirement points, or other reservists drilling for retirement points only. You simply inform the VA that you didn’t get paid that fiscal year. This is the easiest option, as it doesn’t require recouping pay for that fiscal year. www.eBenefits.Va.gov

After you complete that section, sign and date the form in the applicable sections. Go to the bottom of the form, and fill in your unit’s name and mailing address. Type/write in the unit telephone number section. You should have access to your online records, which should list the number of training days that you have. Print this out to help aid your unit administrator.

Take this form to your unit, and have the unit administrator verify and sign it. After you get it signed, make copies and mail a completed form to your regional office. This is something you’ll have to do, after each fiscal year, every year you receive VA compensation while in the reserves. eBenefits.Va.gov

Here’s a couple of helpful tips.

Contact your regional VA office, and ask them if they’ll take this form early, despite your not having your decision yet. If they say yes, send your form in at the end of each fiscal year. Coordinate with them when you do this. This way, what you owe can be taken out of your lump sum initial payment should you get a favorable decision.

Contact your regional VA office, or your reserve unit administrator, for questions and details related to this article. The procedures on the form that you use take precedence over this article if there’s a difference in information.

Travis is a freelance writer that specializes in information market, political writing, fundraising and communications.

Things That Veteran Should Know About the Best Va Loan Available

www.eBenefits.Va.gov

1. VA loans allow veterans to borrow 100% of the funds needed to purchase or refinance a home. In the current state of our economy, these types of guidelines do not exist for conventional borrowers no matter how good their credit is.

2. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan and does not require veterans to pay for monthly mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is required if less than a 20% down payment is used with conventional financing. Mortgage insurance can cost a anywhere from a hundred to several hundred dollars a month. Avoiding mortgage insurance is a huge advantage to the VA loan.

3. VA financing will allow the seller to pay all of your closing costs, including pre-paid items, meaning taxes, home owners insurance and any interest due from the day you purchase through the end of the month.

4. The income and credit score guidelines for VA financing are more flexible and allow for higher debt-to-income ratios compared to conventional financing. Higher ratios allow more veterans to qualify for the homes that they want. eBenefits.Va.gov

5. The VA has no cash reserve requirements. This means that a veteran may purchase or refinance a home without having any reserve cash in the bank. Conventional mortgage guidelines require the borrower to have anywhere from two to six times their mortgage payment in the bank as reserves. Most people’s bank accounts fluctuate each month and given the current state of the economy, this too allows more veterans to qualify for homes.

6. VA closing costs are usually lower than conventional financing costs because there are no “junk fees” allowed per the VA guidelines. This should be the rule on all types of financing. Unfortunately, there are many mortgage companies out there who charge all kinds of ridiculous fees.

7. One would think that with all these benefits there has to be a catch. Perhaps there is a higher rate? Absolutely not. Even with no down payment, the VA home loan rates are comparable and usually lower than conventional mortgage rates. When a low rate is combined with no money down, no monthly mortgage insurance, it is extremely hard to compete with. Being a veteran myself, I was always told that getting a VA loan was a hassle and that there was not much of a benefit. Nothing could be further from reality. I wish I had known the truth about VA loans when I bought my first house. eBenefits.Va.gov

Mike Dell’Ovo has been helping veterans obtain homes with no money out of pocket since 2003. If you would like more information on VA financing or have additional questions, please contact Mike through his online web form by visiting: http://www.MortgageWorkbench.com/contact.htm

VA Disability Benefits, Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability Too?

www.eBenefits.Va.gov

It would seem logical to assume that if you’re a veteran and you’re getting disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you would also easily get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). You certainly can get both, but being a veteran with a disability may not automatically qualify you for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). And here’s why.

Social Security’s disability eligibility criteria are quite different from the VA’s.

The VA Wants Proof of a Medical Connection to Military Service

At the VA, you have to prove that your medical condition is related to your military service. Once that connection is established, the VA decides the level, or percentage, of severity. The amount of your benefit is based on that percentage. You can also have more than one service-connected disability, each with its own rating. The key to getting compensated from the VA is to prove that your disabilities are related to your military service.

You Must Prove to SSA that You Can’t Work Because of Your Disability

To be eligible for disability benefits from Social Security you first have to be insured. If you have had jobs and paid into Social Security through payroll taxes, you are. However, you must have worked long enough, based on your age. For example, if you are over the age of 31, you must have worked 40 work credits – a total of five years – within the last ten years. Then you must prove that your medical condition is so severe you can’t work for a year or more, or your condition could result in death. The key to getting approved for disability benefits from SSA is to prove that you have a severe medical condition that makes it impossible for you to work at any job. eBenefits.Va.gov

About Your Cash Benefits

If you are approved for SSDI, your monthly cash benefit will always stay the same. This is because your benefit is calculated from your lifetime earnings. It is the same amount as your full retirement benefit and it cannot increase even if your condition worsens.

However, you can get more money from the VA if you can prove that your disability rating should be higher. If you choose to pursue a higher rating, getting the help of a veterans disability advocate to take on your case could make a difference in getting you more compensation.

Though the eligibility criteria are very different between the VA and SSA, there is one thing both federal programs share – very complicated and bureaucratic disability approval processes. eBenefits.Va.gov

Suzanna is an expert author on the subject of Social Security disability and Veterans disability and is employed with Freedom Disability and Alpha Veterans Disability in Shelton, Connecticut. Suzanna’s educational articles provide informative resources on disability issues. Visit: http://www.alphadisability.com.