hide my visit

Veterans’ Service-Connected Disability Compensation

What is a service-connected disability?

A service-connected disability is an injury or illness that occurred while you were on active duty.  In some circumstances it may be an injury or illness that you already had that was aggravated while you were on active duty.  The injury or illness must happen in the line of duty.

Why is a service-connected disability important to me?

An injury or illness that results from honorable service to your country may impact your ability to earn a future living for yourself and your family.  

How do I know if I have a service-connected disability?

You must file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs stating that you believe you have a service-connected disability. 

Are all my injuries and illnesses that occurred while I was on active duty considered service-connected disabilities?

No.  When you file your claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs you should list all injuries and illnesses that occurred or were aggravated while you were on active duty.  The Department of Veterans Affairs will determine which injuries and illnesses are considered service-connected disabilities and determine how much you will receive in monthly compensation for these disabilities. 

What does “in the line of duty” mean?

Generally any injury or illness that occurred or was aggravated during the time were on active duty is an injury or illness that occurred “in the line of duty”.  For example, injuries you sustained in an automobile accident while you were on active duty are considered injuries that occurred in the line of duty.

However, any injury or illness that resulted from your own misconduct or abuse of alcohol and drugs will not be considered “in the line of duty.”  Generally your claim for service-connected disability will be denied if the disability was a result of your own misconduct or abuse of alcohol and drugs.

How long do I need to serve on active duty before I can file a claim for service-connected disability?

There is no time limit.  A service-connected disability may occur anytime while you are on active duty.  

Does it matter that I did not serve on active duty during a period of war?

No.  You can still file a claim for service-connected disability compensation even though you did not serve on active duty during a period of war.  

Does the type and character of my discharge from the military matter?

Absolutely.  To be eligible for most veteran’s benefits and programs you must have been discharged or released from military service under conditions other than dishonorable.  However, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not describe the character of your military discharge in the same way that the military does.  So, the Department of Veterans Affairs will look at the character of service listed in box 24 of your DD Form 214 to determine if you were discharged or released from military service under conditions other than honorable.

You will always be eligible for veteran’s benefits and programs when the character of your military service is Honorable.

You may still be eligible for service-connected disability compensation if the character of your military service is listed as a Discharge Under Honorable Conditions or a General Discharge.

Generally, you will not be eligible for service-connected disability compensation if your character of military service is listed as Discharge Under Other Than Honorable Conditions, Undesirable Discharge, Bad Conduct Discharge or Dishonorable Discharge.

Does the type of my discharge really matter if I can prove that I have a service-connected disability?

Unfortunately it does.  Even if you can prove that you have a service-connected disability you will not receive compensation for this disability if you have been discharged or released from military service under conditions other than honorable.

How much compensation will I receive for my service-connected disability?

It depends.  Once the Department of Veterans Affairs makes a favorable decision that your injury or illness is a service-connected disability, your disability will be assigned a disability rating between 0% and 100%.

The lowest disability rating that you will receive compensation for is a 10% rating.  In 2016, a 10% rating is equivalent to $133.17 per month while a 100% rating is equivalent to $2,906.83.*

*Ratings depicted reflect the amounts received by single, childless Veterans. Additional compensation may be received for Veterans who are married as well as Veterans with children.

Is the disability rating assigned to my service-connected disability based on my medical condition and circumstances surrounding my condition?

Unfortunately not.  The Department of Veterans Affairs’ rating system is designed to compensate you in relationship to the impact that your service-connected disability has on the diminished wage earning capacity of an average veteran.

For more information…

The Department of Veterans Affairs website has useful information about service-connected disability.  Go to http://www.va.gov/.

Veterans’ Legal Assistance Project:     1-800-622-2520

Call our attorney-staffed legal hotline. Advice is free for low to moderate income Texas veterans earning up to twice the federal poverty limit, as well as their spouses, dependents, and survivors.