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Q: I recently went to a compensation and pension examination pertaining to my claim for a service-connected disability. Due to the nature of the examination, the VA sent me to a non-VA facility and doctor, and they wanted to be paid for the exam upfront. What goes? I thought the VA covered the costs of C & P exams?

A: As the use of Veterans Choice has become prevalent for VA health care, payment at time of service has been brought into question. The non-VA facility and doctor normally bill the VA, which reimburses them according to a pre-agreed schedule. However, non-VA doctors who perform services on contract either through Veterans Choice or for C & P exams want to be paid at the time the service is rendered.

If this occurs, pay the bill and send a copy to the VA for reimbursement. The best way to gain quick reimbursement is to contact Latonya Yates at Latonya.yates@va.gov. She is the VA employee responsible for this transaction.

Q: I am in receipt of service-connected disability and receive Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits that compensate me at 100 percent even though my official rating is only 70 percent. I heard that the VA is sending letters to veterans that the VA may cut IU benefits to the original service-connected rating once the veteran begins receiving Social Security benefits.

A: IU benefits are a part of the VA’s disability compensation program that allows VA to pay certain veterans disability compensation at the 100 percent rate even though VA has not rated the service-connected disabilities at the total level.

To be eligible for IU, you must be a veteran; have at least one service-connected disability rated at least 60 percent; or two or more service-connected disabilities with at least one disability rated at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more; and unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities. (Marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial gainful employment for VA purposes.)

Early in 2017, the new administration indicated that non-concurrent receipt of Social Security retirement benefits and IU benefits would be a part of a comprehensive overhaul of the VA system. However, the major veteran organizations have been assured that the cut in IU benefits will not be a part of any VA overhaul effort.

Did you know?

The Medal of Honor (MOH) was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the U.S. government to a member of the armed forces.

The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty, in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously (after death).

The United States has awarded more than 3,500 Medals of Honor, including 19 second awards, to the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard since the decoration’s creation in 1861.

Our nation provides the following lifetime benefits and privileges for recipients of the MOH: A special pension of $1,303.51 per month above and beyond any other military pension or other benefit for which they may be eligible; special space “A” air transportation; a supplemental uniform allowance; commissary and exchange privileges including for eligible dependents; admission to the U.S. military academies for qualified children of recipients without nomination and quota requirements; 10 percent increase in retired pay; Medal of Honor flag; may wear the uniform at any time as long as the standard restrictions are observed; and interment at Arlington National Cemetery if not otherwise eligible. In addition, many states offer Medal of Honor automobile license plates and other benefits.

Veterans Corner publishes Monday. It is written by the McLean County Veterans Assistance Commission, 200 W. Front St., Bloomington, IL 61701; call 309-888-5140.

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