There have recently been a few significant changes to some VA benefits. Below are the most recent changes:
• Increase in VA compensation and pension: Veterans receiving service-connected disability compensation or non-service connected pension received a 3.6 percent increase in their benefits effective Dec. 1, 2011. The increase did not show up in their benefits until their January 2012 payment, which was actually paid on December 30, 2011.
• Loans: Effective December 1, 2011, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) no longer offers home loans, personal loans or home improvement loans.
• VA Healthcare Eligibility: In order to be eligible for VA healthcare, a veteran has to have a pre-qualifying factor or eligibility will be based on gross household income. The income limit has increased this year so if you were ineligible due to your income in past years, you may be eligible now. Income limits vary from county to county. The income limit for Oneida County is:
– Veteran Only: $37,785
– Veteran Plus 1: $43,175
– Veteran Plus 2: $48,565
– Veteran Plus 3: $53,955
• Navy Veterans and Agent Orange: Certain Blue Water (served on a ship off the coast of Vietnam) and Brown Water (served on a ship that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam) Navy veterans are eligible to file claims for diseases presumed to be caused due to Agent Orange exposure. The list of ships was just updated in January 2012, and there are 238 ships on the list. If you were told in the past your ship wasn’t on the list, it’s advisable to check again. You can get that list at va.gov, or by contacting your County Veterans’ Service Office.
• As I did last year, I will be holding three Saturday veterans’ information seminars throughout the year. The first one will be on Saturday, March 24 in Three Lakes at the American Legion Club. The second one will be in June in Rhinelander and the last one will be in September in Minocqua. No dates have been set for the Rhinelander and Minocqua seminars. Look for future news releases regarding these events.
Tammy Walters is available at (715) 369-6127, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.