V.A. Service-Connected Disability Compensation

Disabled Vet

What is a service-connected disability under V.A. rules?

A service-connected disability is a physical or mental/emotional condition that meets both of the following criteria:

  • Affects a veteran's ability to perform the activities of daily life

  • Resulted from, or was aggravated by, injuries or diseases that happened while the veteran was on active duty, active duty for training purposes, or inactive duty for training purposes

Important: Disabilities may show up late in life. In order for a disability to be considered service-connected, the injury or illness need not have been disabling at the time it occurred, or even during the veteran's active duty. If at any time in a veteran's life he or she suffers a disability that results from an injury or disease that occurred while on active duty, that disability might be considered service-related. This kind of delayed disability is common in older veterans, whose injury or illness didn't disable them for many years but whose injury or disease has become disabling in advanced age.

How much compensation does the V.A. pay for a service-connected disability?

To receive any compensation for a service-connected disability, a veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

The amount of compensation a veteran receives for a service-connected disability depends on the seriousness of the disability. The V.A. does a medical and vocational (the ability to perform work) evaluation of a veteran who applies for compensation and then assigns the veteran a disability rating. This rating can be anywhere from 0 percent to 100 percent (assigned in 10-percent increments).

Compensation for a service-connected disability ranges from $123 to $2,673 per month for a single veteran with no dependents. The main factor in determining the amount of compensation is the veteran's disability rating. The amount of compensation also goes up slightly for veterans with a spouse or dependent minor children, or with a parent or parents who are financially dependent on the veteran for some part of their living expenses. The V.A.'s website maintains a table that shows the various compensation rates. In most (but not all) years, there's an annual cost-of-living increase.

Is there extra V.A. compensation for severe service-connected disabilities?

A veteran with a severe service-connected disability can receive special monthly compensation, often referred to by its initials SMC, that significantly raises the total compensation amount. SMC can be paid for service-connected disabilities that include:

  • Amputation or complete loss of use of a hand or foot.

  • Paralysis or complete immobility of a joint.

  • Loss of sight in an eye.

  • Deafness in both ears.

  • Inability to speak.

A combination of more than one of these disabilities raises the SMC even further.

SMC is also available to a veteran whose service-connected disability isn't on the specific SMC list but who's rated 100-percent disabled and who's housebound and in need of aid and attendance from a caretaker. The amount of this SMC depends on the amount of aid and attendance needed.

How do I apply for service-connected disability V.A. compensation?

A veteran applies for service-connected disability compensation by filing out V.A. Form 21-526. The form is available at any V.A. Vet Center or V.A. Veterans Benefits Administration office. You can also download Form 21-526, with instructions, from the V.A.'s website. Or you can request the form by phone at the V.A.'s toll-free line at 800-827-1000.

What will I need to apply for service-connected disability V.A. compensation?

In order to complete an application for service-connected disability compensation, a veteran must provide the following materials. Important: A veteran can begin the application process without having all the medical records. Once the application is filed, the V.A. itself can help obtain the necessary records.

  • The original or a certified copy of the veteran's military discharge document (Form DD 214, or other documents for World War II veterans discharged before 1950)

  • Service medical records: all service medical records, but particularly those that show the injury or disease during military service that ultimately resulted in disability

  • Current medical records that show the nature and extent of the disability now

  • Marriage certificate, if seeking compensation available for married veterans

  • Evidence of the veteran's parent's or parents' income, assets, and expenses, plus the veteran's contribution in support of the parent(s), if the veteran is seeking compensation available for veterans with dependent parents

Where can I get help applying for service-connected disability V.A. compensation?

If you're unable to locate a discharge document among personal papers, you can get a copy online through the National Archives' eVetRecs request system or by calling the V.A.'s toll-free help line at 800-827-1000.

You can get free assistance in filling out forms and gathering the necessary information by contacting by phone or in person one of the V.A.'s Vet Centers, which are located in every state. You can also get assistance by contacting the V.A.'s Veterans Benefits Administration office nearest you. The V.A. also has a toll-free telephone help line at 800-827-1000.


8 months ago, said...

My friend recently died. I do not know he exact level of disability, but it was over 50%.. What documentation is needed to make the case that his service-connect injuries contributed to his eventual death? Thank you.


over 1 year ago, said...

Very helpful info but know even after the vets meet all requirements it may take years if the vet files after separation and has no command is available I call it my longest yard to the award


over 1 year ago, said...

I was treated for shoulder injury at Fort Carson Colorado in 1978 ,I finished my term and have requested for medical records to file for service connected benefits but I only got DD 214 I believe it's called but no medical records due to fire that burned my medical records, so that is all the Va tells me I need to start a claim, I need help with the claim I need to file


about 3 years ago, said...

My dad is a Korean Veteran. I heard through another family member that he should be eligible for combat pay. He receives veterans disability pay for his injuries,however, I was not aware he could be receiving pay for both.


over 3 years ago, said...

Started having fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms after basic training and ait. applied for disability and was denied. I didn't know what to do about it and I let case closed. Now years later my condition has progressed where it affects my work. Considered reopening my case because I feel that is service related. What should I do?


over 3 years ago, said...

Any help w VA disability service connected marriage dependant issues? 2 step children with different last name, biological fathers- even though I supplied certified marriage certificate, divorce decree and 1040 IRS long forms- can VA disability deny my dependant award? Ex wife very uncooperative and nasty about required original birth certificates? Did not realize orginal birth certificates Are now new threshold when IRS yearly tax forms PROVE dependant a Any help is appreciated !!! Thankyou Chris B


almost 4 years ago, said...

As a ROTC cadet in college, I was injured and the VA awarded me a 20 percent service connected disability rating. I'd like to start a service connected business to obtain contracts and need a DD214. I was never issued one. Am I eligable and how do I obtain one


about 4 years ago, said...

I got copd hypertension and PTSD from working 9/11 for the army guard. my PTSD is severe and I.have been hospitalized several times for my copd. I just applied to be considered a veteran and to get va medical help and.monthly compensation. doctors said my copd will never go away. what are the odds of getting.monthly compensation and medical help


about 4 years ago, said...

i injured my foot 40 yearsago in basic traing a year later the army did extensive surgery on my foot, then a year later did another surgery since that time iwas lame but tried to get by, now i cant walk on it without severe pain, the pension exam person said i would be better off if i had my foot and anckle amputated. and said it was inservice connected. does anyone know what percentage on disability i have im 56 and can no longer work at what i do


over 4 years ago, said...

I am a 90% disabled veteran also suffering from Parkenson's - I have applied for a HISA grant for a walk-in bathtrub which was denied - the walk-in bathtub don't meet their specification


over 4 years ago, said...

I want to know how much is payed for a vet when they pass away


over 5 years ago, said...

Thank you for the information and keeping it simple.


over 5 years ago, said...

Hello robert mehan­, Thank you very much for your question. If you'd like, you can post it in our Ask & Answer section, here: ( http://www. caring.com/ask ). Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


over 5 years ago, said...

When is clothing allowance paid and how much is it ?


over 5 years ago, said...

Thank you for another informative and easy to understand article. Please keep up the good work.


almost 6 years ago, said...

I AM LOOKING FOR A TABLE OF DISABILITIES AND THE DISABILITY AMOUNT PAYABLE. IS THERE ONE?, IF SO WHERE DO I FIND IT? I HAVE SEARCHED ALL THE VA WEBSITES AND HAVE NOT FOUND IT.