National Guard benefits and Reserve benefits are extensive, ranging from opportunities for increased pay to other monetary incentives. What’s more, if you’re injured while training or when called to active duty, you could be entitled to disability benefits.
National Guard & Reserve VA Benefits and Services
The following are some of the services and benefits made available to eligible Guard and Reserve members:
- burial benefits;
- disability benefits;
- dependents’ and survivors’ benefits;
- opportunity for life insurance;
- education and training benefits; and
- home loans.
Being a member of the Reserves or National Guard also brings with it benefits such as free flights, shopping discounts, and opportunity for healthcare coverage. If called to active duty by the federal government, your civilian job is protected upon your return. The federal law does not protect guardsmen called to state active duty, but most states have laws protecting returning guardsmen.
Disability for National Guard & Reserve Members
The VA offers two types of disability programs. The first is a disability pension plan, which is needs-based and available to veterans ages 65 and older who are totally and permanently disabled. In addition, he or she must have served during war.
Meanwhile, monthly disability benefits may be paid to reservists or guardsmen with service-connected disabilities, or whose existing condition is made worse as a result of time spent on active service.
To meet these requirements, the disability must be service-related. This means proving that the disability is the result of an event or environment to which the servicemember was exposed through the course of his or her service.
Some conditions, are presumed to be connected to military service and make obtaining monthly disability benefits easier:
- multiple sclerosis;
- Tuberculosis; and
- certain chronic diseases.
However, the diagnosis must be within a certain time period. So if a reservist or guardsman was not active for the past decade and is diagnosed with one of the presumed conditions, it may not be considered service-connected. The timeframe varies depending on the condition.
As mentioned previously, injuries or illnesses that are made worse during service may qualify, too. Not only will proof be necessary to establish that active duty aggravated the condition, but it must have been listed as a pre-existing condition when the reservist entered the military.
Receiving VA Disability Benefits
These National Guard disability benefits and Reservist benefits can only be received after an application has been filed. The forms are available at local Veterans Affairs (VA) offices or online.
There will be a variety of additional documentation that must be submitted along with the application, such as:
- medical records;
- discharge/separation papers;
- birth records of dependent children; and
- divorce/marriage certificates.
Despite undergoing a medical examination by the reservist’s own physician, a VA doctor or hospital may also conduct an examination.
The amount of the benefit will depend on the rating assigned to the disability. The higher it is, the more severe the condition is considered to be. These ratings start at 10 percent and increase in 10 percent increments all the way up to 100.
Reserve and National Guard benefits may also be available in higher amounts of the veteran has dependent children or a spouse. To qualify, the disability rating must be at least 30 percent.
Payments may also be increased for more severe disabilities. Examples include loss of a limb or blindness.
There are some circumstances in which VA benefits will not be available. Reservists who are dishonorably discharged or go AWOL won’t qualify. Additionally, when misconduct is the cause of a disability, benefits won’t be available.
Besides the monthly payments, vocational rehabilitation services can assist severely disabled reservists or guardsmen in Fayetteville or elsewhere in North Carolina and across the country. Employment assistance and educational opportunities are additional types of National Guard benefits and Reserve benefits aimed to help those who serve our country.