Pension Insider
By David Austin
September 19, 2018                       


Bill Assistance

Hidalgo County Community Service Agency is once again offering light bill assistance to honorably discharged veterans.  Operation Bravo Zulu is designed to assists veterans struggling to meet utility bill obligations.


Program Guidelines:

  • Veteran must be an Honorably discharged veteran living in Hidalgo County
  • Veteran must meet income guidelines (0%-200% FPL)
  • Complete Hidalgo County Community Service Agency (HCCSA) 2018 Program Application
  • Provide copy of DD Form 214 form or other military documentation that show Honorable discharge
  • 2018 VA Benefits Letter (for disabled veterans who are service-connected)


To contact HCCSA click here.












Credit With No Credit Check


Through the federal government employee shopping program, PayCheck Direct helps veterans buy what they want and need today, then make interest-free payments over 12 months. Now is a good time for veterans to shop for what they want to make their great outdoors greater and their season brighter.  With PayCheck Direct, veterans get: interest-free financing, low convenient payments and no credit checks.  Veterans can shop for thousands of name-brand products.  Call 866-441-9160 for details.


Helpful Grant Website


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Grants Management Services office developed a website to provide veterans and their family members the most current website links and information on VA's grant programs and providers that assist veterans. The website offers links on information for grant program offices and grantees plus links to opportunities with Federal partner agencies that provide veteran's grants. The website also includes a page specific to veteran-focused Federal financial assistance programs such as VA's Homeless Program and Veterans Cemetery Grants.











VA Protected Rating


A rating percentage is considered “protected” once it is in place for 20 years. There would be no danger of a decreased disability rating after the 20 year mark. Veterans whose ratings have been in place for less than 20 years may be somewhat assured that there has been no improvement in the disability before requesting a new evaluation or they could risk having their disability rating reduced.


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cannot by law, reduce a veterans rating unless the condition has medically improved.

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More Conditions Linked to Agent Orange Discovered


A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine details how higher rates of hypertension among Vietnam era veterans who handled Agent Orange directly and indirectly were otherwise exposed to the deadly dioxin.
Agent Orange contains the chemical dioxin, which Vietnam era veterans have maintained harmed their health, including conditions which have been passed on to their children, and in some cases, grandchildren. The new study found that the Army Chemical Corps of Engineers who directly handled Agent Orange had a higher rate of hypertension than those who did not. But Corps members who served in Vietnam, even if they did not handle Agent Orange directly, were also affected by the chemical.
A working group has been studying whether other illnesses should be added to the VA presumptive Agent Orange list for Vietnam veterans, Korean war veterans, and veterans who saw action in Southeast Asia. The VA was expected to announce their judgment about expanding eligibility this year, but that decision will now be left for the administration of President Donald Trump.