The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

January/February 2005
Veterans Benefits Update
   
 

VA Benefits Changes

BY LEONARD J. SELFON, DIRECTOR

Here’s a summary of recent changes to Department of Veterans Affairs veterans’ benefits and services.

COST OF LIVING INCREASES

Pursuant to recent legislation, the VA has increased the dollar amounts of disability compensation, pension, and survivor’s benefits by 2.7 percent. The rate increase, which became effective December 1, 2004, is designed to keep pace with increased costs of living. These increases were reflected in beneficiaries’ January 2005 VA payment checks.

The general pay rates for veterans without dependents are:
 

Disability Percentage  Rate

10
 
$108

20
 
$210

30
 
$324

40
 
$466

50
 
$668

60 
 
$839

70
 
$1,056

80
 
$1,227

90
 
$1,380


100

 

$2,299


The general Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR, the maximum allowable household income for eligibility for nonservice-connected pension) is $10,162. To be eligible for deduction from the MAPR, out-of-pocket medical expenses must exceed 5 percent of MAPR (or $508).

The basic amount of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation in which the cause of the veteran’s death is service-connected and whose death occurred on or after November 1, 1993, is $993.

There also have been increases in the rates for special benefits allowances, including the automobile allowance ($11,000 once), the clothing allowance ($616 per year), and the Medal of Honor Pension ($1,027 per month). Burial, headstone, and plot allowances have increased to $2,000 for service-connected and $300 for nonservice-connected.

Monthly benefits amounts for children of in-country Vietnam veterans with spina bifida are now: Level I, $244; Level II, $844; and Level III, $1,440. Monthly benefits for the children of female Vietnam veterans who are born with certain birth defects are now: Level I, $111; Level II, $244; Level III, $844; and Level IV, $1,440.

Additional compensation, pension, and DIC amounts are available for veterans with dependent spouses, children, and parents. For more details, go to the VA website, www.va.gov, and link on “Compensation.”

HOME LOAN PROGRAM

Pursuant to the Veterans Benefits Act of 2004, the VA has increased the limits on guaranteed home loans to veterans. VA-guaranteed home loans are made by banks and mortgage companies to veterans, servicemembers, and reservists, with the VA guaranteeing a portion of the loan. The loans are made at favorable interest rates with no down payment required. The maximum home loan guarantee rate has been increased from $60,000 to $89,912. In addition, veterans with permanent and total service-connected disabilities due to the loss of—or loss of the use of—both upper extremities are now eligible for a specially adapted housing grant of up to $50,000. The grant may be used to improve an existing residence to accommodate the veteran’s disability.

OPERATIONS ENDURING FREEDOM AND IRAQI FREEDOM

The VA has launched a web site for returning active duty, National Guard, and Reserve servicemembers of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Aside from information on benefits, medical care, dependents issues, and transition assistance, the web site contains links to other federal agencies and organizations that offer related benefits and services. The web site is www.vba.va.gov/EFIF
 

   

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