The Disability Evaluation System
Have you ever heard of DoD's Disability Evaluation System (DES) or Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) and wondered what, exactly, it is? Or why it matters to you? DoD's disability evaluation process provides disability compensation for servicemembers who are injured or become ill in the line of duty and are no longer able to perform their duties. The servicemember receives a single set of physical disability examinations, conducted according to VA examination protocols, and disability ratings prepared by VA that both DoD and VA use to ensure the earliest possible delivery of disability benefits. For more information, visit the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) website or contact your nearest VSO.
VA Mandated To Expedite Claim
Did you know that the VA is mandated to expedite an application for benefits if a veteran is receiving Hospice care?
Independent Living Program
The Independent Living program is to make sure that each eligible veteran is able, to the maximum extent possible, to live independently and participate in family and community life increasing their potential to return to work. Services may include the following:
- Assistive technology
- Specialized medical, health, and / or rehabilitation services
- Services to address any personal and / or family adjustment issues
- Independent living skills training
- Connection with community-based support services
Veteran's whose service-connected disabilities are so severe they are currently unable to purse an employment goal.
How Is The Determination Made?
When a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that employment goals are not currently feasible. An evaluation of the veteran's independent living needs will be conducted. The VRC and veteran will work together to identify the veteran's needs. Together they will determine services required to address the identified needs. An individualized Independent Living Program will be written providing the services necessary to meet the veteran's identified needs. Referral to specialized rehabilitation facilities and / or for consultation with other rehabilitation professionals may be necessary in the development and implementation of a veteran's ILP.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement & Modernization Act of 2017
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 was signed into law August 23, 2017. However, the new law does not take effect until February 2019. The law creates a new claims and appeals process, which features three separate avenues; (1) Higher-Level Review, which consists of an entirely new review of the claim by an experienced adjudicator; (2) Supplemental Claim, which provides an opportunity to submit additional evidence and (3) Appeal, which provides an opportunity to appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Before the implementation of the Veterans Appeals Improvement Act, the VA began a new program known as the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) on November 1, 2017. RAMP is a test program that allows eligible veterans with pending compensation appeals the option to have their decisions reviewed in VA’s Higher-Level Review or Supplemental Claim lanes outlined in the new law and mentioned above. If you receive a letter from the VA offering RAMP, please remember that participation is voluntary. VA will notify the Veterans and/or their Power of Attorney. Veterans must have an active disability compensation appeals in one of the following stages: Notice of Disagreement (NOD) Form 9, and Remand. If uncertain of the process see your local VSO as soon as possible. Time limits may be in place for certain documents.
Free Parking Downtown Houston, Texas
Parking in and around downtown Houston, Texas is free for disabled veterans with license plate tags that reflect veteran’s disabled status. Not only can veterans park in handicap spots downtown, but all metered parking in Government controlled spaces is free of charge for veterans. Only exception are spaces that are federally controlled.
If you are a veteran who is 65 years-old and older, or permanently and totally disabled you may be eligible for the VA Non-service Connected Disability Pension (NSC).
The VA NSC pension is a program that provides financial support to wartime veterans with a limited income. The amount payable under this program depends on the type and amount of income the veteran and his/her family members receive from other sources. Monthly payments are made to bring a veteran's total annual income (including other retirement and Social Security income) to an established level.
You may be eligible for the NSC pension if you were discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, and you served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time*, and your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law, and you are permanently and totally disabled, OR you are age 65 or older.
See a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) for more details.
*Note: Anyone who enlists after September 7, 1980, generally must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty. Service from August 2, 1990 to present is considered to be a period of war (Gulf War) in addition to other periods of war such as World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.