On June 25, 2019, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was signed into law by President Trump. Veterans who live in California might be entitled to disability benefits. The legislation, which was championed by the American Legion, is designed to extend benefits to certain veterans for several conditions that have been connected to exposure to Agent Orange.
Veterans in California who were other-than-honorably discharged usually do not qualify for VA benefits. These veterans often need help for trauma related to their service, and suicide and substance abuse is common in this group. The VA has started a new program to allow these veterans to come to the VA for mental health care.
Veterans in California and across the country may be relieved to learn that their military retirement and disability benefits will see a 2.8 increase in December 2018. The cost-of-living increase is the largest boost veterans have seen to their pay in the past six years. The adjustment was announced by federal Social Security Administration officials in October 2018. This follows a 2 percent increase that came last year; in the prior three years, increases sat at only 2 percent when combined.
Veterans who are injured or otherwise disabled because of their time in the military may receive benefits to help pay for their care. Money might also be available to provide for the spouses, parents and children of those who were killed while in the military or while training to be in the military. Any benefits that a member of the military or their family member receives are tax-free to them.
Congress is working on a bill that would extend health benefits to Navy veterans living in California and elsewhere who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The bill, called the Blue Water Navy bill, is currently before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.
California readers may be interested in learning that Congress is working on a bill that would extend health benefits to approximately 90,000 sailors who may have been exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The legislation ran into resistance in November, but an effort to get it passed was resumed by the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs' chairman in early May.
Veterans in California and throughout the country may benefit from a recent executive order signed by President Trump that is set to take effect on March 9. The order would allow immediate access to mental health services for those out of the military for a year or less. Typically, an individual is only entitled to VA benefits once a health issue has been identified.
California veterans and their spouses might be eligible for a benefit to help to pay for their long-term care. Only 5 percent of the money that is set aside for this benefit is accessed because many eligible people simply do not know that the program exists.
California veterans and their spouses may have unique estate planning considerations. This is particularly true if they have children, who themselves may be entitled to certain benefits based on a parent's military service.
Spouses can receive the maximum benefits. If you are a wartime veteran, it is important that you understand the different benefits that may be available to you.