Federal Benefits

Disability Compensation

General Information About Compensation

Eligibility - You may be entitled to VA disability compensation for any medical condition or injury that was incurred in or aggravated by your military service if you were released from active military duty with an other than dishonorable discharge. There is no time limit to apply for VA disability compensation. However, you are encouraged to apply within one year of your release from active duty as entitlement is established retroactively to the date of separation if your claim is filed within this period. The effective date of eligibility for benefits will be based upon the date of your claim if you apply beyond the one-year period.

Other Benefits/Payments May Affect Your VA Compensation

Military Retired Pay - By law, the payment of VA compensation benefits is affected by the receipt of military retired pay. If you receive military retirement, you may initiate a waiver of your retired pay to receive the full amount of VA compensation. Until the waiver takes effect, your compensation will be adjusted or withheld depending on the amount of military retired pay you are entitled to. The advantage of waiving military retired pay for VA compensation is that VA benefits are not taxable.

Disability Severance Pay - By law, payment of VA compensation and military disability severance pay for the same medical condition or disability is prohibited. VA compensation will be withheld on a monthly basis until the total amount of military severance pay has been recovered.

Special Separation Benefit (SSB) - VA compensation will be withheld in full until the amount of the SSB has been recovered.

Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) - Your annual VSI payment will be reduced by an amount equal to the amount of VA compensation paid for the same period.

Selected Reserve and National Guard - By law, if you are an active member of the Selected Reserve or National Guard, your VA compensation will be withheld at the rate of one day of pay for each drill period served. Also, VA compensation is not payable while serving full-time on active duty.

Disability Pension

General Information About Pension

Eligibility - Generally, you must have 90 days or more of service of which at least 1 day must have occurred during a period of war, and you must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. You must have a disability(ies) that VA evaluates as permanent and total. For VA pension purposes, permanent and total means it is not likely that you will be able to maintain a substantially gainful job. Unemployability and age are factors also considered in VA's eligibility decision.

Healthcare & Medical

General Information About the Medical Benefits Package

This is a standard health benefits plan that is available to all enrolled veterans. It includes preventive and primary care, as well as prescription drugs. As of January 17, 2003, enrollment was limited by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to allow the VA hospitals to catch up on their patient workload. Priority Group 8 veterans are not being accepted for enrollment. Currently enrollment is based on service-connection and/or household income. This program offers full spectrum healthcare and prescriptions for veterans at their local VA Medical Centers and Clinics. There is a limited co-pay, and for many veterans with reduced income, there is no co-pay. This program does not provide healthcare for veteran’s dependents or survivors.

  • Do I have to enroll to receive health care?

    Normally, yes. You are NOT required to apply for enrollment if you fall into one of the following categories:

    • VA has rated you as 50% or more service-connected;
    • Less than one year has passed since you were discharged from military service for a disability that the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, but VA has not yet rated; OR
    • You are seeking care from VA for a service-connected disability only (even if the rating is only 0%)
  • How do I apply?

    You can apply for VA health care by completing VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits. The 10-10EZ may be obtained by visiting, calling, or writing any VA health care facility or veterans service office. You can also call toll-free 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387).

    Enrollment is an ongoing process. You can apply for enrollment at any VA health care facility. An important aspect of enrollment is for you to identify which VA health care facility you choose as your preferred facility.

    The preferred facility is where you receive your primary care. If for any reason a selected facility is unable to provide the health care needed by an enrolled veteran, then that facility will make arrangements for referral to another VA health care facility or to one of VA’s private sector affiliates to provide the required care.

Vocational Rehabilitation

General Information About the Vocational Rehabilitation Program

This program provides services and assistance necessary for service-connected disabled veterans to achieve independence and to obtain and maintain suitable employment. Vocational Rehabilitation can include college, technical school or on-the-job training or special training at rehabilitation facilities or at home when it is necessary because of a serious disability.

Vocational Rehabilitation services include, in part, assessment, counseling, training, subsistence allowances and employment assistance. VA also will assist you in job placement. While you are enrolled in a Vocational Rehabilitation program, VA pays the cost of tuition, fees, required books, supplies and equipment. VA also may pay for special supportive services such as medical and dental care, prosthetic devices, lip-reading training and signing for the deaf.


If you have an other than dishonorable discharge, you may be entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation benefits if BOTH of the following conditions are met:

  1. You have a service-connected disability(ies) and VA has awarded you at least 20 percent compensation. Effective October 1, 1993, a veteran with a 10 percent disability evaluation may also be eligible if a serious employment handicap is evident.
  2. VA determines that you need vocational rehabilitation to overcome an impairment to your ability to prepare for, obtain or retain employment consistent with your abilities, aptitudes and interests. Your service-connected disability must materially contribute to this employment handicap.

If you are eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation benefits, you may receive up to 4 years of rehabilitation services. Generally, you must complete a rehabilitation program within 12 years from the date VA notifies you of your entitlement to compensation benefits.

Burial & Death Benefits

  • What is a VA Burial Allowance?

    A VA burial allowance is a partial reimbursement of an eligible veteran's burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service-related, the reimbursement is generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot interment allowance.

  • Who is Eligible for a VA Burial Allowance?

    You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if:

    • you paid for the veteran's burial or funeral AND
    • you have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran's employer AND
    • the veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable

    In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:

    • the veteran died because of a service-connected disability OR
    • the veteran was getting VA pension or compensation at the time of death OR
    • the veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay OR
    • the veteran died in a VA hospital or while in a nursing home under VA contract
  • Who Gets A Burial Flag?

    A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran's military service to his or her country. Former members of the Selected Reserve are also eligible for a burial flag. The VA is authorized by law to issue one flag for a veteran's funeral and cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed or stolen.

  • How Does a Person Get Buried in a National Cemetery?

    Burial in a VA national cemetery is provided on a space available basis. Generally, deceased veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and service members who die while on active duty are eligible. Under certain circumstance, spouses and qualified dependent children of active duty military personnel and eligible veterans may also be buried in a VA national cemetery. Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved.

  • Does the VA Provide A Headstone or Marker?

    The eligibility criteria for a VA headstone or marker are the same as for burial in a VA national cemetery. A headstone or marker is also available to individuals with 20 years service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard. The VA does not provide headstones or markers for the deceased spouse of a veteran unless the spouse was also a veteran in their own right. Headstones and markers of the same style as VA headstones and markers can be ordered commercially for spouses and other family members of a veteran at the family's expense. A veteran does not have to be buried in a VA national or state cemetery to get a VA headstone or marker.

Your CVSO can assist you in obtaining relevant documents and submitting your claim to the appropriate VA regional office. Please contact us so that we may offer our assistance and guidance.

Other Resources
Veterans Linkage Line
Veterans Crisis Line
Fargo VA Medical Center