As a veteran, you probably know that your service makes you eligible for many benefits. What you may not know, however, is that it is possible to lose these.
There are some circumstances in which the federal government may sever disability benefits for veterans. Understanding what these circumstances are could prevent you from losing the benefits you earned in service to your country.
1. Severed Service Connection
If the Veterans Administration (VA) discovers that you were awarded your disability based on fraud or if there is a clear, unmistakable error in your award, they may sever your service connection.
There are protections in place for veterans, however. The VA must give notice that they are proposing to sever the connection and provide you with a chance to argue against it. If the VA finds that the severance was warranted, they will discontinue your disability payments. If you have been service-connected for ten years or more, the VA can only cut off connection if there is evidence of fraud.
2. Overpayments by the VA
If the VA overpays you and discovers it, you will be required to refund the additional money. In most cases, they will garnish a portion of the monthly disability benefits for veterans until they recover the overpayment.
While typically they only take a portion of the disability payment, there are instances where the VA takes all benefits until the overpayment is resolved. A situation like this may occur if a veteran did not notify the VA of the death of a dependent, or in case they were incarcerated.
If you believe there wasn’t an overpayment or you cannot afford to have your benefits garnished, you may be able to request a waiver. It is best to contact a specialized lawyer to help you fight for what you deserve.
3. Severance or Separation Pay
If you were given separation or severance pay when you left the military and were later awarded disability, you have to return the severance or separation sum. You are not permitted to receive both under federal law.
Besides, VA regulations prohibit the payment of disability if you received any of the following:
- Disability Severance Pay
- Readjustment Pay
- Reservists’ Involuntary Separation Pay
- Special Separation Benefit
- Voluntary Separation Benefit
There are regulations on how the payment must be refunded, including how much can be withheld from monthly compensation. However, if your disability occurred after the service for which you received separation benefits, you do not have to refund them.
4. Incarceration for Felony
The VA may reduce benefits if they find you have been incarcerated. If you are behind bars, the VA will reduce your payment down to the 10 percent rate on the 61st day of your imprisonment.
In case you are only receiving 10 percent disability, your benefits will be reduced by half. On the day you are released, VA is supposed to reinstate your payment, but it is up to you to notify them. VA benefits are not affected if you are incarcerated for a misdemeanor.
5. Fugitive Felon
If you are deemed a fugitive convict, all disability payments will be discontinued. A fugitive felon is someone who has violated a condition of probation or parole ordered after they have been convicted of a felony.
The benefits are usually discontinued from the date the warrant was issued although payment can resume after you are no longer considered a fugitive. The rate will be determined based on either the date of the arrest or the date the warrant is determined to be invalid.
Contact a Lawyer
If you are a veteran and the VA has notified you that your disability benefits are being reduced or stopped, contact a lawyer today to see what rights you may have under the law. You could even arrange for a no-obligation consultation. It is easy to get in touch with an expert. You can call a lawyer directly or fill out an online form on their website.