Frequently Asked Questions

Paralyzed Veterans of America’s employment program, PAVE, provides FREE employment support and vocational counseling assistance to ALL transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and caregivers. 

Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans work closely together on issues of mutual concern. However, PVA is focused solely on the needs of veterans with catastrophic disabilities and paralyzed veterans. DAV’s members have a variety of abilities and they primarily focus on veterans’ benefits and health care. PVA’s programs reflect a more expansive view of the needs of our members to include not only veterans’ benefits and health care, but also their right to access their communities as people with disabilities. We are the leader in the veterans’ community for disability civil rights, including the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act for all people with disabilities.

No. In fact, the programs offered by Paralyzed Veterans of America compliment those offered by government programs. PVA offers critical assistance to and oversight of benefits and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. PVA also helps veterans with catastrophic disabilities who encounter barriers in their communities by empowering them to advocate for their removal. In a time when government services are underfunded, PVA often fills an important void. Without our assistance, many paralyzed veterans would not have proper access to the benefits, services, and rights that they have earned.

Find out how you can support our vital veterans programs.

Yes. Our legal services department can help with your claims for benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Our attorneys have litigated hundreds of VA benefits cases on behalf of our members and other veterans to ensure that they receive all the VA benefits they have earned. If your claim for VA benefits has been turned down and your appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals has been denied as well, PVA can file a federal lawsuit on your behalf with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. In certain cases, we may also appeal an adverse decision from the Veterans’ Court to other federal appellate courts.

Our Appellate Services legal staff also provides appellate representation for VA benefits claims that have been initially denied by a VA Regional Office before the VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Our Appellate Services staff will work directly with you (or a member of your family) and your local PVA National Service Officer to gather evidence and present a written and/or oral argument before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

Paralyzed Veterans of America will also, in certain cases, provide free legal representation to veterans and active duty service members at hearings before military Physical Evaluation Boards, Boards of Correction for Military Records, and Discharge Review Boards.

While PVA does not provide direct legal representation in other kinds of cases, such as domestic relations matters, bankruptcies, criminal misconduct, negligence, and other civil matters, we may be able to provide you with other sources of pro bono (free) or discounted legal services.

Learn more about our legal services.

Membership is free and open to anyone who:

  • Is a citizen of the United States
  • Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces whose discharge was other than dishonorable
  • Has suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of trauma or disease which resulted in paralysis of more than one limb. The injury or disease does not need to be service-connected and can have occurred following a veteran’s discharge or retirement from military service.

Learn more about Membership

The Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, funds the following categories:

  • Basic Science – laboratory research in the basic sciences to find a cure for SCI/D
  • Clinical  – clinical and functional studies of the medical, psychosocial and economic effects of SCI/D, and interventions to alleviate these effects
  • Design and Development  –  of assistive technology for people with SCI/D, which includes improving the identification, selection and utilization of these devices
  • Fellowships  – for postdoctoral scientists, clinicians and engineers to encourage training and specialization in the field of spinal cord research

Learn more about the PVA Research Foundation

Each year, the Research Foundation issues a call for research proposals in the areas listed above. Typically, we receive 65-75 proposals for grants to conduct research projects. Our grants go through a three part review. The first two are conducted by experts in the field of spinal cord research to assure the quality and feasibility of the proposals. The third and final review is by the members of the PVA Research Foundation. All voting members are PVA members who live with spinal cord disabilities themselves. They select grants for funding that they believe will impact the lives of veterans living with spinal cord injuries and diseases.

Each Principal Investigator (PI) submits a final report at the completion of the grant, summarizing the work and the results. The PIs also make presentations at national conferences and meetings, including the PVA Healthcare Summit, about their project. They also publish articles in journals and magazines, including PN magazine about their results.

View 2019 Research Grant Foundation winners

There are frequently opportunities available for veterans to take part in the clinical applications research projects. Often, the PI will send out recruitment requests through VA SCI/D Centers and other VA hospitals. Some place ads in PN/Paraplegia News magazine and others ask PVA to help recruit. The PVA Research and Education Department often sends out information to PVA members about research opportunities through the organization’s membership email list.

The best way to learn about clinical trials in spinal cord injury, MS or ALS, go to and type in your disability (spinal cord injury) and specific studies you are interested in (bladder, pain, stem cells) and it will list all of the studies available.

Donations from individuals, families, health professionals, PVA chapters, the Combined Federal Campaign and corporations are used to fund PVA research.

PVA provides a variety of adaptive sports and recreation opportunities during each calendar year. Our events take place all throughout the United States. For more information on our current event schedule, please visit: You can also follow us on Facebook @PVASports.

PVA works closely with its chapters and other organizations to help identify potential funding sources for athlete grants. The sports and recreation program does not have an ongoing grant program for individual athletes. Please follow us on Facebook @PVASports to stay updated on future funding opportunities.

The PVA sports and recreation program does not provide endorsements for individual athletes or teams.

Paralyzed Veterans of America has 33 chapters across the country and each one has its own volunteer program offering a wide variety of service opportunities. PVA National has additional volunteer opportunities through the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, Code of Honor Wheelchair Rugby tournament and other PVA National events. 
Find a Paralyzed Veterans of America Chapter near you
If there isn’t a chapter where you live, you can also volunteer with your local Veterans Administration’s (VA) Voluntary Service program. When you sign up with the VA, just let them know that you are volunteering your time in the name of Paralyzed Veterans of America.


PVA adaptive sports programs are open to all individuals with disabilities, including people with amputation, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Only the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are exclusively for military veterans. Learn how to get involved with our sports programs.

Disability compensation is a tax-free financial benefit paid to veterans who are considered at least 10 percent disabled due to an injury or disease that occurred or became worse during active military service. This is true even if the disability arises after active service is over. The disability can be a physical condition, such as spinal cord injury, or a mental health issue, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
To learn more about your eligibility for disability benefits, call the Veterans Benefits Helpline at 1-866-734-0857 send an email to, or speak with a Paralyzed Veterans National Service Officer in your area.

The benefit amount ranges from 10 percent to 100 percent, depending on the veteran’s disability rating. (“Disability Rating” refers to the level of impairment a veteran is living with.) Special Monthly Compensation may also be provided when the level of impairment exceeds 100 percent. Disability compensation may be affected if a veteran receives military retirement pay, disability severance pay, or separation incentive payments. Learn more about veteran benefits.

The VA provides tax-free, supplemental income to low-income wartime veterans through the Veterans Pension benefit. To qualify, a veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period.
Veterans entering active duty service after Sept. 7, 1980, generally must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which they were ordered to active duty (with some exceptions) with at least one day during a wartime period.
The pension benefit also requires that veterans be:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Totally and permanently disabled
  • A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income

In addition, the veteran’s yearly income must be less than the amount set by Congress.
Learn more about veteran benefits.


You can apply for benefits through our network of National Service Offices. One of our trained  National Service Officers will work with you to submit and manage your claim with the VA. Find a National Service Office in your area.
Any service member, veteran, dependent or survivor seeking benefits, entitlements and medical care from the VA is eligible for the free services offered by our Veterans Benefits Department.


Yes. Any decision made by the VA regarding an application for benefits — including disability, health care, or cemetery benefits — can be appealed for any reason. Veterans have up to one year from the date of their first denial to appeal the decision. Find out how our legal services department can help with an appeal.