March 1, 2011
Dear Sharon Resident:
Some United States Military Veterans may qualify to be awarded benefits from the U.S. Federal Government or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
An example of federal entitlement is medical care at a Veteran Affairs (V.A.) facility for a disability related to active duty military service. Entitlement to receive medical care is not automatic. The V.A. must receive an application/claim submitted by the veteran. The claim must be specific as to disability as well as provide detail of the incident to allow the V. A. staff to research and obtain adequate documentation to determine the disability is a result of military service or occurred while on active duty. Upon approval by the V.A. the veteran can receive medical care at a V.A. hospital for the specific disability. The V.A. medical staff, on a case by case basis may allow treatment for non-service related illness for veterans authorized to receive medical care. If provided non-related health care, the veteran is charged for the care. Pharmacy issued medication will only be prescribed by a V.A. staff doctor. Veterans cannot bring in prescriptions to the V.A. pharmacy from a non-V.A.staff doctor.
Another example of
veteran entitlement is burial in a U.S. Veterans Affairs Cemetery which still
has lots available. The veteran and spouse may qualify for burial having
completed the minimum period of active duty and having been discharged under
honorable conditions. Otherwise eligible individuals found to have committed federal
or state capital crimes are barred from burial at a V.A.
Cemetery as well as related benefits. Veterans wanting
funeral, burial at a V.A. Cemetery or marker need
to pre-plan with their selected funeral director and have needed
documentation on file. The funeral director can contact the V.A. to determine eligibility and clarify what the veteran is responsible to pay for the funeral and burial. The V.A. does not provide a pre-approved burial plot. Further information can be obtained at website www.cem.va.gov or 1-800-827-1000
Federal entitlements are too varied and criteria is complex for some entitlement. Therefore I suggest you review the booklet Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents. The V. A. Web site www.va.gov, also provides an overview. A single copy of the booklet with approximately 140 pages cost $5.00. Call 1-866-512-1800 to order code 3514.
The Commonwealth allows some veteran benefits. Normally they are for specific situations and varied state agencies administer and approve the specific benefits for which they are responsible. An example of agency responsibility is obtaining a bonus for service during a war. Various acts authorized in varied years allow for specific veterans domiciled in Massachusetts immediately prior to entry in the armed forces to receive a bonus. Each war has a different dollar amount along with different continuous days of active duty requirements. Persian Gulf veterans must submit application to the Massachusetts Department of Veteran Services and all other war veterans apply to the Office of the Treasurer Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
A small dollar
amount is allowed by fiscal year (July-June) for residential property tax
exemption when a veteran has a disability over 10% approved by the Federal
Department of Veterans Affairs. Recipients of Congressional Medal of Honor;
Distinguished Service Cross; Navy or Air Force Cross; Purple Heart, Gold Star
Mother and Father as well as spouses of veterans who qualified may qualify for
Property Tax Exemption. Application must be made annually to the Town Board of
Assessors. Initial submission should be made when you have all needed
documentation. Recurring annual submission must be made by March 1st.
Again varied laws determine allowance for varied disability or awards.
Veterans or surviving spouses who have exhausted their savings and are not receiving income or benefits from
government or non-government entities may qualify for limited financial assistance.
The veteran has to be honorably discharged for service during a war and must meet the criteria of Chapter 115 Massachusetts General Laws. Application for Chapter 115 benefit is made to the Veteran Agent of the city or town in
which the veteran is a resident. Approval is determined by the staff of the Secretary Veterans Services Commonwealth of Massachusetts.See www.mass.gov/veterans
Veterans who have been given a disability rating by the V.A. may qualify for a reduced utility rate for electricity or natural gas. Each utility company has different policies. Contact each customer service office for determination.
The Veterans’ Laws and Benefits Booklet has been compiled by The Office of the Secretary of The Commonwealth. A copy of the booklet can be obtained by calling 1-800-392-6090. The staff of the Citizen Information Service located in Boston should be able to inform you as to method of requesting and receiving the booklet which provides an overview of State of Massachusetts and some Federal veteran benefits. Each state has their unique veteran benefit laws and method of administering veteran programs.
Based on the above overview, you may appreciate the complexity of entitlement. Many veteran benefits have been reduced or eliminated since the veteran was discharged prior to the year 2009.
Suggest veterans and family members review the above references to determine if you qualify and intend to apply for an eligible entitlement.
Very truly yours,
Paul R. Bergeron
Director Veteran Services