The Effect of a Criminal Conviction on VA Disability Benefits

The Effect of a Criminal Conviction on VA Disability Benefits

If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, you and your family are facing a very difficult time. One concern for individuals receiving Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits is having those benefits reduced. This is especially true for disabled veterans with family members that depend on those benefits. Fortunately, it is possible for family members to apply to continue to receive benefits.

Reduced Benefits

After a disabled veteran is convicted of a felony offense that results in imprisonment of over 60 days, his or her disability benefits will be reduced. If the person was at least 20 percent disabled, the benefits are limited to the 10 percent rate. A person that was considered 10 percent disabled is limited to the five percent benefit rate. After the person is released from prison, the full amount of benefits the person was entitled to may be reinstated. It is important to note that benefits are not reduced for individuals participating in a work release program, residing in a halfway house, or under community control. In order to have benefits reinstated starting from the date of release, the person must notify the VA within one year of the release date. If the person waits until after one year, the benefits will resume from when the VA receives notice of the release. The person may be required to undergo a medical examination to determine if the disability has improved before having their benefits reinstated.

Help for your Family

A major consideration for people sentenced to prison is how their family will get by while they are serving their time. It is possible for your spouse, children, or dependent parents to apply to continue to receive the benefits you were entitled to. The determination is based on need and is known as “apportionment,” which simply means the benefits are paid. The VA will contact a veteran and his or her family to inform them of the possibility of apportionment as a result of the veteran’s reduced benefit because of incarceration.

Family members can contact their local VA office to apply or begin the process by filling out VA Form 21-0788, which provides information to the VA for apportionment. The VA considers many factors in determining whether family members will be allowed to continue to receive benefits, including:

  1. Income
  2. Living expenses
  3. Amount of compensation available to be apportioned
  4. Needs and living expenses of other claimants
  5. Special needs of the claimants

It is important to make a claim for apportionment within one year of the date in which the VA notified the veteran of the apportionment rights. By doing this, apportionment will begin on the 61st day of the veteran’s prison sentence. If a claim is made after this one year period, entitlement to apportionment can be no earlier than the date the VA receives the claim.

Disability Benefits Attorneys

At the Klok Law Firm LLC, we have experience in helping individuals apply for and retain both Social Security disability benefits and veterans’ disability benefits. We understand the importance of obtaining these benefits for you. If you have any questions, contact us today. We would be happy to help.