We are here for you... free of charge!
As a Congressionally charted veterans' service organization (VSO), Paralyzed Veterans of America is here for you! Our National Service Officers are available to help ALL Veterans and their family get the benefits they have earned and deserved.
National Service Officers are accredited experts in VA benefits, and can legally represent Veterans, dependents and survivors before the VA.
Set yourself up for success: Eligibility and Appeals
Set yourself up for success
Applying for VA Benefits can be an overwhelming process. Keep organized, and ask for help when you need it.
- Create a home filing system to help you find important documents. Many documents can now be managed electronically, so you may want to create a folder on your computer as well.
- Create a file of Veteran-related contacts.
- Take your time. Be legible on your forms. If you have a more complicated form to fill out, make a photocopy and practice filling out that form first.
- Don't make up answers. If you don't know how to answer something, check references or ask for help.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. PVA's National Service Officers are trained to help you!
PVA acts as your legislative advocates! PVA is a critical voice before Congress and state legislatures to ensure that Veterans are getting the best benefits possible.
We also have accredited national service officers (NSOs) that are able to help you navigate the benefits claims process free of charge.
Managing your benefits claim
If you disagree with your disability rating, or any other component of your benefits eligibility, here's what you need to know.
- Make an appointment with an NSO to discuss your case.
- Have confidence in the person representing you. If you are not comfortable with someone, you have time to look for another, since you generally have one year to file an appeal.
Your NSO will be at your side at every part of the benefits claim process. If you need to appeal your claim or manage your existing appeals case, contact your NSO for more information.
Types of Benefits Provided by VA
VA provides a variety of benefits to eligible Veterans. Scroll down to learn more about each benefit, or click the titles below to go to the corresponding section.
Burial & Funeral
Veterans can continue to receive health care from the military after they are discharged, but the majority apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs for benefits, a disability rating and health care. The Veteran will receive healthcare from the Veterans Health Administration, but must first be given a disability rating by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).
- Veterans Health Administration (VHA): The VHA is the USA’s largest integrated health care systems consisting of 167 medical centers, more then 1400 outpatient clinics, community living centers, Vet Centers and Domiciliaries. These health care facilities provide comprehensive care to more then 9.1 million Veterans each year.
PVA provides healthcare advocacy and collaborates with the healthcare providers and our National Service Officers (NSO) at 25 Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D) Centers and over 100 outlying VA Medical Centers across the country. PVA NSOs specialize in helping Veterans with:
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Other Spinal Cord Diseases and Motor Neuron Diseases (MND)
There are 25 VAMC Spinal Cord Injury and Rehabilitative Centers across the US, which provide lifelong, highly specialized, expert care to Veterans with SCI. Services include medical/surgical care with specialized nurses, therapists and physicians; Psychosocial support with individual and group therapy, peer mentorship, household assistance and caregiver assistance; Sexual health, infertility, and Genito-Urinary expertise; Physical, Occupational, Speech, Recreational and Kinesiotherapy services; Vocational Rehabilitation; Adaptive Driving Education; Comprehensive Wound Care; Women’s Health Care; Diet and Nutrition; SCI education; Caregiver Support, and much, much more.
The PVA Medical Services team of healthcare experts collaborates with these teams across the country, ensuring they have the resources and means from the VHA to continue to offer these services to every Veteran with SCI who needs it.
PVA is the only Veteran Service Organization that specializes in advocacy for Veterans with all four types of MS. While there is no cure for MS, treatments commonly involve medications to slow the progression of the disease and therapies to promote comfort and prevent complications. MS is a presumptive condition, which means that it is presumed the disability is caused by military service if diagnosed within a certain time frame. With a service connection, Veterans with MS can receive all of the latest treatments and therapies for their disease at little-to-no cost to them.
All of the 25 SCI/D Centers and many of the outlying VAMCs offer comprehensive health care for Veterans who have been diagnosed with MS. The PVA Medical Services Team works with the Subject Matter Experts at the MS Centers of Excellence, which create national standards of care and collaborate with over 90 VHA MS Centers of care across the country, and also with the neurologists and care teams at VAMCs across the country.
Most Veterans with ALS qualify for 100% service-connected VA benefits rating. The PVA Medical Services Team consists of Subject Matter Experts (SME) in the healthcare needs of Veterans with ALS and the multitude of needs of their families. PVA provides collaborative support with the Neurologists and ALS Health care teams at over 200 ALS clinics and 11 ALS Treatment Centers of Excellence across the country, which exceed nationally accepted standards of care. Our compassionate SME Team understands the progression of ALS, and the needs of physical, emotional, functional, and social needs of Veterans diagnosed with their disease and their caregivers.
Our NSOs and the ALS teams at each SCI/D Center ensure Veterans with ALS quickly obtain desperately needed durable medical equipment, Specially Adaptive Housing grants to build, buy or remodel an accessible home, Automobile grants to buy a disability-accessible vehicle, and Aid and Attendance funds to help pay for care at home. Veterans with ALS can easily receive care from a healthcare team dedicated to ALS. This team includes a Neurologist, Nursing Professionals, Psychologist, Social Worker, Speech Language Pathologist, Registered Dietician, and Occupational, Physical, and Respiratory Therapists. They are also introduced to other service organizations that serve people with ALS, including Veterans.
Veterans seeking care at these Centers receive compassionate, highly skilled care from a multitude of disciplines, and PVA continually works with these teams to recognize and share best practices to Veterans and Centers across the country. Veterans with ALS can expect the full spectrum of supportive care from PVA and healthcare experts at the VAMCs.
Other Spinal Cord Diseases include, but are not limited to, Syringomyelia, Poliomyelitis, Transverse Myelitis, Spinal Cord Tumor, Cauda Equina Syndrome and Spinal Stenosis. Other Motor Neuron Diseases include, but are not limited to, Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP), Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA), and Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS).
Many of these diseases are treated with expert SCI/D teams at VAMCs across the country, and treatments and therapies for these diseases often mimic those for MS and ALS as appropriate. The PVA Medical Services team works with the NSOs and staff at the SCI/D centers to ensure all healthcare needs of Veterans diagnosed with these diseases are met.
While they are less common than MS and ALS, these diseases impact the functional, physical and emotional wellbeing of Veterans and their families. The PVA Medical Services Team understands this, and works tirelessly to ensure Veterans get the expert care they need and deserve.
Learn more about the benefits available by reaching out to you by reaching out to a National Service Officer.
In order to receive benefits and receive healthcare from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans must:
- Have proof of an honorable discharge from their service. Veterans must c For more information on the types of discharges, and to see whether you qualify, click here.
- Complete an Enrollment Application for Health Benefits.
- Complete a physical evaluation.
Veterans will then be given a disability rating. This disability rating may be different from the military rating. However, the Veteran can decide which rating is most beneficial. After the Veteran has completed the application for benefits and are rated by VA, they become the responsibility of the Veterans Administration and will receive free, high-quality health care the rest of their life.
The VA assigns each Veteran into one of eight priority groups based off of the VA's evaluation of your medical condition, your service experience (if you were a POW or awarded the Purple Heart).
Your priority group may change if your income changes, or if you are given a higher disability rating.
See which priority group you fall into and how it impacts your access to care on the VA's website.
The VA has established health registries for Veterans exposed to environmental toxins during their service. The registries offer free medical examinations, laboratory and other diagnostic tests. Learn about the different types of exposure recognized by the VA on their website.
The PACT Act expands VA benefits to Veterans exposed to certain toxic substances, and adds to the list of presumptive conditions caused by exposure to toxic substances. See if the PACT Act impacts your benefits on the VA's website.
The VA provides outpatient dental care to eligible Veterans. See if you're eligible to receive VA dental care on their website.
The Veterans Health Administration has specialized care at some of its hospitals that specialize in the treatment of catastrophic disabilities. There are:
- 25 VA centers of Spinal cord injuries and disease (SCI/D) that are scattered around the country. They are Hubs to which surrounding VA Medical centers are attached as spokes. The Hub and spokes system will insure that all SCI/D patients are linked into the SCI system of care.
- 5 Polytrauma Rehabilitation centers of care VA Amputation system of care.
- 7 Regional Amputation Centers system of care
- 13 Blind Rehabilitation Centers
VA offers specialized services for women Veterans. Learn more about the healthcare options available for women Veterans on their website.
The VA provides a variety of long-term services to eligible Veterans, including nursing home care, short-term rehabilitation services and home healthcare.
Care settings may include:
- Nursing homes
- Assisted-living centers
- Private homes where a caregiver supports a small group of individuals
- Adult day health centers
- Veterans’ own homes
Learn more about your options on the VA's website.
Need help getting these benefits and others? Connect with one of our National Service Officers (NSO):
Prosthetics are items and services used to help a disabled person regain independence and mobility. The VA will provide these to an eligible disabled Veteran as part of their health care.
All VA facilities have clinicians and teams that work with the Veteran to determine what kind and type of prosthetic device or service does the patient need to regain as complete function as possible. The team can send a Veteran who has specialized needs to one of the hospitals that specialize in that particular disability if necessary. Functioning similarly to a pharmacy, the Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service will fulfill prosthetic orders upon request from a VA physician. The VA is the only healthcare system with a prosthetics service.
The VA will replace and repair prosthetics for the Veteran for the rest of their life, free of charge.
The health care team has two goals for the Veteran to achieve:
- Independence, which is the ability to take care of themselves: to Wash their face, comb their hair, to feed themselves, use the toilet, dress themselves, and all the activities of daily living.
- Mobility, which is the ability to transport one’s self from place to place. Whether it be crutches, scooter, wheelchair, modified vehicles or cane.
In the VA, Prosthetics and Sensory Aids are considered to be any inorganic device or service that goes to replace or support a bodily function. The obvious items that come to mind are wheelchairs and artificial limbs, but there are thousands of items that are available in health care and the marketplace to be used in returning function to an individual.
Overall, the VA is authorized to provide the following categories of prosthetics:
- Adaptive household items
- Adaptive recreation equipment
- Artificial limbs
- Cognitive items that compensate for a loss of cognitive abilities (ex. hearing aids, eyeglasses, speech assistive devices)
- Communication devices (ex. computers)
- Home exercise equipment
- Home medical equipment
- Home respiratory equipment (ex. oxygen, CPAP machine)
- Improvements or alterations to an existing feature or fixture of a home (This may also be covered by a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant or Home Improvements and Structural Improvements (HISA) grant. See more under "Home Benefits").
- Mobility aids
- Orthotic aids
- Visual aids
All VA facilities have clinicians and teams that work with the Veteran to determine what kind and type of prosthetic device or service the patient will need to regain as complete function as possible. The team can send a Veteran who has specialized needs to one of the hospitals that specialize in that particular disability if necessary. The process occurs as follows:
- These devices and services are prescribed by the VA clinician and sent to the Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service to fill the prescription and provide it to the patient. This is unique to the VA system because in the civilian health care system there is no uniform single department to send the prosthetic prescription to.
- After receiving the prosthetics, the Veteran will be monitored and provided items and services including repairs and replacements as long as the Veteran is alive.
The clinical team is responsible for determining what items and devices the patient will need, and the training they will need on how to use that equipment. For instance, how to transfer on or off the wheelchair chair, and how to use grab bars in the bathroom. The more complicated and or catastrophic the disability, the more need for sophisticated items and services, the more need for training in the use and maintenance of the equipment.
Veterans who are rated for a Service-Connected disability for which he or she uses prosthetic or orthotic appliances may receive an annual clothing allowance. Learn more about the clothing allowance on the VA's website.
The VA supports guide and service dogs for Veterans approved for those dogs by their clinician.
Veterans approved for a guide or service dog will be referred to Assistance Dogs International-accredited agencies. The VA will pay for veterinary care and the equipment (e.g. harness and/or backpack) required for optimal use of the dog.
Learn more on their website.
The Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE) program provides adaptive equipment to allow a Veteran to safely operate and enter/exit from their personal vehicle. Veterans are trained, through the VA Drivers Rehabilitation Program, how to safely operate their vehicle on our nation’s roadways. The VA also provides necessary equipment such as:
- Platform wheelchair lifts
- Under vehicle lifts (UVLs)
- Power door openers
- Lowered floors/raised roofs
- Raised doors
- Hand controls
- Left foot pedals
- Reduced effort and zero effort steering and braking
- Digital driving systems.
Additionally, VA’s program provides reimbursements for standard equipment including, but not limited to:
- power steering
- power brakes
- power windows
- power seats
- other special equipment necessary for the safe operation of an improved vehicle
Additionally, you may be eligible for a one-time payment to buy a specially adapted vehicle.
Learn more on the VA's website.
Need help getting these benefits and others? Connect with one of our National Service Officers (NSO):
VA education benefits help Veterans, service members, and their qualified family members with needs like paying college tuition, and finding the right school or training program.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill broadened the educational benefits available to Veterans who served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001. These benefits can be used on any approved program offered in the United States for an associates degree or higher.
To be eligible, you must have served at least 90 aggregate days and:
- Have been honorably discharged from active duty
- Released from active duty and placed on the retired list or temporary disability retired list
- Released from active duty and transferred to the Fleet Reserve or Fleet Marine Corps Reserve
- Released from active duty for further service in a reserve component of the Armed Forces
- Honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability after serving 30 continuous days after September 19, 2001
The length of your service will determine what percentage of benefits you're eligible for.
The percentage of benefits covered depends on the time of your monthly service. The percentage of each benefit paid out is as follows:
- At least 36 months- 100%
- At least 30 continuous days and discharged due to a service-connected disability- 100%
- At least 30 months (but less than 36 months)- 90%
- At least 24 months (but less than 30 months)- 80%
- At least 18 months (but less than 24 months)- 70%
- At least 12 months (but less than 18 months)- 60%
- At least 6 months (but less than 12 months)- 40%
- At least 90 days (but less than 6 months)- 40%
The following benefits include:
- Tuition or other education programs
- The VA will cover tuition up to the cost of the most expensive in-state school
- The VA will also pay a monthly housing allowance in the same zip code of the school you are attending. This benefit does not apply to those in remote learning programs or enrolled half time or less.
- Books and supplies benefit
- The VA will pay up to $1,000 per year for books and supplies
- Transfer of benefits to a spouse, child or both
- Correspondence courses or distant learning
- Apprenticeship/on-the-job training
- Flight training (if you already have a private pilot's license and valid medical certification)
- National testing programs required for admission to undergraduate programs (SAT/ACT) or graduate programs (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, etc.)
- Professional licensing and certification tests
You need to make "satisfactory progress" towards your education to continue receiving payment, meaning you have to meet your school's minimum requirements for passing as you meet your objective.
If you have failed a course needed to graduate, the VA will pay for you to retake that class in most circumstances.
If you drop out of school or a training program, you may still be able to be recertified or use your benefits at a later date. If you return to the same institution, your school will need to recertify you to the VA.
Need help with educational planning and benefits? Connect with one of our Veterans Career Program (VCP) Counselors:
Home Ownership and Modification Benefits
VA can help you make improvements to your home for greater accessibility, and purchase a new home with great loan programs.
Although the VA doesn't directly lend money for homes, it does guarantee them. Qualified Veterans can borrow up to $417,000 with no down payment (your lender may ask you pay a down payment on a percentage of the remainder, if any).
You can also use VA-guaranteed financing for other purposes as well, such as:
- Buying a townhouse or condominium unit.
- Building a home
- Repairing, altering or improving a home.
- Simultaneously purchasing and improving a home.
- Refinancing an existing home loan.
- Refinancing an existing VA loan to reduce the interest rate and add energy-efficient improvements.
- Buying a manufactured (mobile) home and/or lot.
- Buying and improving a lot on which to place a manufactured home you already own and occupy.
Learn more about the VA Home Loan Program on the VA's website.
Veterans discharged in other than dishonorable conditions must meet active-duty requirements in order to be eligible for the VA Home Loan Program, which varies depending on the period served. Learn more about criteria eligibility on the VA's website.
Unmarried surviving spouses of a Veteran who died on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability are also eligible for the home loan benefit.
The VA offers the following categories of loans:
- Purchase loans
- Native-American Direct Loan Program (NADL)
- Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)
- Cash-out refinance loan
Learn more about each type of loan the VA offers on their website.
The VA's home improvement and structural alterations (HISA) benefit provides medically necessary improvements and structural alterations to Veterans/Service members primary residence for the following purposes:
- Allowing entrance to or exit from the primary residence.
- Use of essential lavatory and sanitary facilities (e.g. roll in showers)
- Allowing accessibility to kitchen or bathroom sinks or counters (e.g. lowering counters/sinks)
- Improving entrance paths or driveways in immediate area of the home to facilitate access to the home through construction of permanent ramping
- Improving plumbing or electrical systems made necessary due to installation if home medical equipment
Learn more about the specific amounts offered and eligibility requirements for a HISA grant on the VA's website.
Need help getting these benefits and others? Connect with one of our National Service Officers (NSO):
Post-Military Career Benefits
There are many resources available to connect you with meaningful employment that uses the skills you learned in your time in the military.
Veterans receive preference in the civil hiring process, and may be entitled to additional preference depending on their service.
To get Veterans' preference, you must fall under the following criteria:
- You must have an honorable or general discharge
- Your military rank must have been below major, lieutenant commander (or higher) unless you are disabled
- Your military service must be more than Guard or Reserve active duty for training purposes.
- You must claim preference on your application when applying for Federal jobs
You can also apply for five or ten-point preference if you fall under additional criteria.
To meet the five-point criteria, you must have served during the following time periods:
- December 7, 1941-July 1, 1955
- More than 180 consecutive days any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 or before October 15, 1976
- During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990 through January 2, 1992 (If you are a Gulf War Veteran or medal holder, you must have served continuously for 24 months or for the full period called to active duty, unless you were separated from the line of duty for disability or hardship, or you have a service-connected disability).
- In a campaign or expedition authorized by a campaign medal, such as El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Southwest Asia and Bosnia
- On active duty for more than 180 consecutive days any part of which occurred after September 11, 2001 or ended on the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom
To meet the ten-point criteria, you must:
- Be a Veteran with a present service-connected disability or who is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits or pension from the military of Department of Veterans Affairs.
- You received the Purple Heart Medal.
Unmarried spouses and parents of Veterans who died in service or who are permanently and totally disabled may also apply for ten-point preference.
If you are claiming a 10-point preference, you must complete SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference.
The Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) provides states grants for employment and training services to eligible Veterans through the Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program and Local Veterans' Employment Representative (LVER).
Local Veterans' Employment Representatives are employed at the state level, but you can reach out to your Regional Veterans' Employment Coordinator to be connected with opportunities in your area.
Additionally, Transition Assistance Programs (TAPs) are also available for transitioning servicemembers.
You can also receive vocational counseling from PVA's Veterans Career Program.
The Small Business Administration offers numerous programs to support Veteran entrepreneurship, including the Veterans Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC). Learn more on their website.
The VA provides vocational rehabilitation services to Veterans with service-connected disabilities that prevent them from finding employment through their Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program. Additionally, the VA offers Compensated Work Therapy at all of their locations, which provides individualized vocational assessments and work experiences to eligible Veterans.
Need career assistance? Connect with one of our Veterans Career Program (VCP) Counselors
Burial & Funeral Benefits
VA can help with your end-of-life planning and ensure that you have a funeral and burial that honors your service.
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) honors Veterans and their families with final resting places in national shrines and with lasting tributes that commemorate their service and sacrifice to our nation.
If the death is service-related, the VA will pay up to $2000 towards burial expenses. If it is not service-related, the VA will pay up to $300, as well as $300 for plot-internment allowance.
For Burials at a National Cemetery
Your survivors will need to provide a copy of your discharge documents to prove your service and discharge status.
Since there are no viewing facilities available, no funeral services can be held at national cemeteries. However, a final committal service may be held at a committal shelter a distance from the grave.
The VA will provide a headstone (upright marble or upright granite) or marker (flat bronze, flat marble or flat granite) of eligible Veterans. The National Cemetery Administration will handle the markers of those buried at national cemeteries. For those not buried at national cemeteries, your next or kin or representative must apply for a VA headstone using VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veterans' Cemetery and include a copy of the Veteran's military discharge papers.
The Department of Defense, rather than the VA, is responsible for providing military funeral honors. The honors include folding and presenting the U.S. burial flag and playing "Taps". Two or more uniformed military persons will be a part of the funeral honors details, one of who will be from the Veteran's branch of Armed Forces.
If the Veteran is being buried in a VA national cemetery, the National Cemetery Administration will coordinate military honors. Otherwise, the funeral home director can request these honors.
Veterans are also entitled to have their caskets draped with the U.S. flag. Families must apply for a flag completing the VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purpose. Your survivors may also obtain a flag at any VA Regional Office or U.S. Port Office.
VA can also help take care of your loved ones.
Dependents of eligible Veterans are entitled to receive healthcare through the VA healthcare system through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
Individuals must fall under the following four categories to be eligible for CHAMPVA:
- The spouse or a child of a living Veteran who has been rated by a VA Regional Office as permanently or totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability.
- The surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who died from a VA-rated service- connected disability.
- The surviving spouse of a Veteran who was at the time of death rated permanently or totally disabled from a service-connected disability.
- The surviving spouse or child of a military member who died in the line of duty (please note that in most of these cases, the family members are eligible for coverage through the Department of Defense's healthcare program, TRICARE, rather than CHAMPVA).
Learn more about CHAMPVA on the VA's website.
The Dependents' Educational Assistance program offers 45 months of educational benefits to dependents of eligible Veterans, including finishing a degree, certificate program, apprenticeship program or take on-the-job training at programs approved by the State Approving Agency (SAA) or the VA.
Generally, to be eligible, dependents must be a child between the ages of 18-26 or a spouse of a Veteran who has died, missing in action, a former prisoner or war, or is permanently or totally disabled as a result of a service-connected disability.
Learn more about specific eligibility requirements and educational benefits on the VA's website.
Additionally, you may be able to transfer unused GI Bill benefits to your dependents. Learn more about how to do so here.
You can convert your Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI). If you want to obtain VGLI without proof of good health, you must apply within the first 120 days after separation. Your life insurance coverage will be dependent on the life insurance you had while you were enlisted.
Veterans who become totally disabled or terminally ill may be eligible for additional benefits. Additionally, Veterans totally disabled at the time of separation are eligible for SGLI coverage an additional two years following separation.
Learn more about Veterans' Group Life Insurance on the VA's website.
The VA provides Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for an eligible survivor of a Veteran who died to a service-related injury or illness.
If you believe that you are eligible to receive VA DIC but were previously denied under the PACT Act, you may submit a new application.
Learn more about eligibility for DIC on the VA's website.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) allows state courts to divide military pensions according to the divorce law in that state. In some states, courts have awarded former spouses an amount based on the rank and pay of the servicemember at the time of the divorce, while others have based it on the rank and pay of the servicemember at the time of retirement, even if the divorce was finalized years earlier.
The USFSPA does not include disability pay (unlike military retirement pay) in the calculation of "disposable pay".
It is crucial that any divorce settlement clearly specifies the division of military retirement benefits, and Veterans receiving disability pay should check what is included as "disposable pay" at the time of separation.