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Compton: Related health condition also covered

By George Compton
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Q. I am going to apply for combat-related special compensation from the Army for my diabetes, which I was awarded because of service in Vietnam. The VA rated me at 20 percent for my condition. My total rating is 40 percent because of neuropathy from the diabetes; can I have that considered also?

A. Secondary conditions are medical conditions caused by a service-connected condition. Those conditions are therefore service-connected.

Your diabetes and neuropathy are both combat-related and should be listed on your application. We will help you with the claim.

Q. I received a check from the VA with no explanation. My husband passed away three years ago, and he was drawing a small amount from the VA, but his death was not service-connected. Any idea why I got this check?

A. The VA is sending payment equal to the last month's compensation or pension to surviving spouses. The amount of the check you provided is what the VA withdrew from your direct deposit after your husband's death.

You were lucky the VA had you in its system; many surviving spouses are not in the VA computer. If you know someone who lost a husband who was receiving compensation or pension, have them call the Survivors' Call Center at 800-749-8387 to check on eligibility for the last month's check.

When calling that number, have the veteran's name, Social Security or claim number, veteran's date of birth, branch of service, service number (if available) and service dates (if possible).

Q. Have the types of injuries covered by the Traumatic Injury Protection Program been increased?

A. Effective Nov. 26, 2008, VA added injuries and liberalized the criteria of other injuries. A significant change is the payment of $25,000 to injured members hospitalized for 15 consecutive days as a result of a traumatic injury.

The changes are retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001, the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. The changes are on the VA Web site at http://www.va.gov. At that site highlight benefits, then insurance.

— George Compton, a 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.

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