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The VA pays disability compensation for injuries or diseases incurred while on active duty and pensions for disabilities that prevent gainful employment.

 VA disability pensions can be service related, non-service related, or for survivors.

Coverage can be for partial disability as well as total disability.

The amount you receive differs depending on several factors.

There is no deadline for applying for disability benefits.

Money paid by the VA is tax-free.

For additional information, see:


Compensation Can Be For Partial Disability As Well As Total Disability

VA Disability programs differ from civilian pensions because a veteran can receive financial assistance even if she is only partially disabled. For programs such as Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), a civilian cannot collect a benefit if only partially disabled.

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SSDI 101

The Amount Of Compensation Differs Depending On Several Factors

The amount of compensation you receive is based on:

  • Your degree of disability.
  • The number of the veteran's dependents (spouse and children under age 19 or age 23 if a full-time student).
  • Whether the disability was service related or not.

Based on an analysis of your medical condition, you may be awarded a percentage of disability in increments of 10, such as 20% disability or 80% disability.

Veterans are permitted to collect full retirement and disability benefits. 

VA Disability Pensions Can Be Service Related, Non-Service Related, Or For Survivors

Service Related Pensions

Generally, to qualify for Disability Compensation:

  • The disability must have been incurred or been aggravated during active military service.
  • You must have separated from the service in a manner other than "dishonorable."

The condition must have been caused or aggravated directly as a result of your military duties. However, the rules are liberalized for people whose military duty occurred during a time of war or an officially designated national emergency.

There are some veterans who may be "presumed" to be eligible and receive a service related pension if they have been diagnosed with specific, listed conditions and have a history of:

  • Incarceration as a Prisoner of War for at least 30 days.
  • Exposure to Agent Orange or other specified herbicides.
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation while on active duty. OR
  • Certain symptoms of undiagnosed illness and active duty during the Gulf War.

Non-Service Related Pensions

It is possible to receive a VA pension due to disability that is not service related. In order to qualify for a non-service related pension you must:

  • Have served at least 90 days, of which at least one day was during a designated time of war.
  • Be 100% disabled from causes that are not service related.
  • Not have total assets that exceed the maximums which are set annually.
  • Not have total income from other sources that exceeds the amount established by Congress annually.

Survivors Benefits

Pension benefits are available to certain survivors of deceased veterans, generally to widows and widowers. In some instances, pension benefits are available to children of a deceased veteran.

Eligibility depends on the status of the deceased veteran at death, as well as your marital status now and at the time of the veteran's death.

How Do I Apply For Disability Compensation?

Fill out VA Form 21-526 which you can obtain at: offsite link. For help completing the form, contact a County or National Veterans' Service Organization or call the VA at 800.827.1000 or go to a VA regional office.

If you need to obtain copies of military records, go to offsite link. You can obtain form SF180 to request records at: offsite link