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Compton: Don't wait to file a discharge claim with Veterans Affairs

By George Compton
Saturday, December 15, 2007

Q. I will soon be leaving the Navy and moving to Arizona. I will be taking 60 days and traveling around the country before I get back home in Phoenix. Should I file a claim with Veterans Affairs now or wait until I get home?

A. Because of the backlog of claims, I recommend you file as soon as you are released from service. We can help you file, and we will send your claim to the VA Regional Office in Arizona. Bring a copy of your medical records and your discharge, and you will need to provide a mailing address in Arizona.

Q. In a recent column, you stated that a veteran must have wartime service to be eligible for pension. Could you explain how long a veteran had to serve, and will my service from 1989 to 1993 make me eligible?

A. To be eligible for non-service connected pension for service from the Gulf War, you must have served at least 24 months in the service, which you did. The Gulf War start date was Aug. 2, 1990, and an end date has yet to be established so you meet the service requirement. You still have to meet the disability and income requirements.

Q. My daughter will graduate from high school in June, and she will need to use the California Fee Waiver to attend college. How and when can she apply for the waiver?

A. This office will send you an application for the fee waiver. The application requires basic information about you and your daughter. We need the data on you to verify that you have a service-connected disability.

We will need a copy of your daughter's birth certificate to verify your relationship. If she is a stepdaughter, we will also need a copy of your marriage certificate. We will need information on which college she will attend.

There is an income limit for the student. For the current school year that limit is $10,488, and we have not received the limit for the next school year. When we get that data we will provide it with the application. I will also publish that information. There is no waiver on income; even $1 over the limit will prohibit a fee waiver.

We will need a copy of your daughter's tax return to compare her adjusted gross income with the income limit. If your daughter did not work and does not file for 2006, then we will need verification that she did not file. The easiest way to get that verification is for her to call the Franchise Tax Board at 888-852-5711 after April 15 and request the information. The Franchise Tax Board will provide verification in about two weeks.

Once we have a student in our database we send out subsequent applications in April of each year.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail: George.Compton@ventura.org.