At times, Veterans can get wound up in conflicts with the criminal justice authorities and law enforcement, which can sometimes end up in them being incarcerated. On the off chance that something like this happens, Veterans must be aware of the VA benefits they have and the particular criteria of their eligibility for the benefits. Also, they should know how the status of their benefits changes if they are being incarcerated, and what specific programs are available to help them when transitioning back to the community after the process of incarceration.
Justice-involved Veterans must be aware of the benefits they are entitled to. These benefits are diverse and can cover things like education, pension, medical care, disability compensation, insurance, mortgages, employment, and funeral costs. An incarcerated Veterans re-entry program aims to facilitate the return of an incarcerated Veteran back into the normal world, providing them the essential care and assistance along the way. In the case of incarceration, the specific amount that a Veteran is deemed eligible for depends on the type of benefit being offered as well as the underlying cause of incarceration.
How Does Incarceration Affect VA Benefits?
VA Disability Compensation
If a Veteran has been charged with a felony and is incarcerated for over sixty days, the VA disability allowance is substantially reduced. Usually, the compensated amount is cut down to approximately half of the original amount. Upon completion of the incarceration period, the amount of disability compensation may get recalled, depending on the Veterans’ service-related disability at that particular time. The cutdown of disability compensation does not apply to the Veterans who are involved in the work release programs, living in halfway residential centers, or those who are under community regulation. The compensation amount stays the same for Veterans who are incarcerated for a misdemeanor.
VA Disability Pension
For the Veterans who are incarcerated in a local punitive institution, a Federal or State prison, the disability pension is withdrawn the moment you are past your sixty days of imprisonment. If the incarceration of Veterans goes unnotified, the financial benefits might be lost all together till the overpayment is settled.
Veterans who are incarcerated for anything apart from a felony are entitled to a full amount of benefits per month. Imprisoned offenders who are living in the halfway residential centers or those involved in the work-release projects are also eligible for a full monthly allowance. Applicants imprisoned for a felony conviction are entitled to receive the payment for educational necessities like tuition costs, fees, assisting material, books, and other supplies. This allowance if not provided if the Federal State or some other local program is already paying the amount in full.
Distribution to Children or Spouse
The Veteran’s share of benefits may be completely or partially apportioned amongst their family members or relatives depending on the particular circumstances and the extent of their needs. In the process of figuring out the exact needs of the person, consideration is given to factors like the petitioners’ living expenses, their income, the benefits available to be distributed, and any other specific needs of the claimant.
Important Information About Apportionment
- The VA will inform the Veteran who is subject to a reduction in the benefits of the right of their dependents to the apportionment during the incarceration period of the Veteran. They will also be informed of the specific guidelines for the resumption of the funds once the Veteran is released from incarceration.
- In the case that the dependents of the Veteran have been identified and located, the VA will inform them of their specific right to the apportionment.
- The person who is imprisoned in a local penal facility or a Federal State prison cannot be authorized to the apportionment.
- Apportionment of the incarcerated Veteran is not automatically transferred on to the dependents without their knowledge. An eligible dependent must claim their right for the apportionment for them to be considered in the first place.
Eligibility for Healthcare
Incarcerated Veterans are not entitled to health care; nevertheless, present guidelines refrain the VA from providing outpatient and hospital services to an imprisoned Veteran who has been incarcerated in a prison of some other government intervention, which is covering the medical care for the inmate. VA might cover healthcare if the Veteran is permanently released from the punitive institution. Veterans who are interested in getting enrolled in the VA medical care should get in touch with their local VA healthcare institution as soon as they release.
VA Programs for Justice-Involved Veterans
Health Care for Reentry Veterans (HCRV) Program
The HCRV program is dedicated to assisting incarcerated Veterans to efficaciously transition back into the community after completing their period of incarceration. One of the major responsibilities of the HCRV program is to educate the Veterans during their incarceration to prepare them for the process of reentry following their release. Having all the necessary information will guide the incarcerated Veterans to plan out their actions upon their release. The HCRV programs ensure that no veteran has to stay homeless after being reintegrated back to the normal world.
Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) Initiative
The Veteran Justice Outreach initiative is aimed at helping Veterans to avoid redundant interdiction of mental illness and protracted incarceration by making sure that the entitled justice-involved Veterans are provided with appropriate access to the VA medical care, particularly the mental health and addiction facilities and any other VA benefits that are required.
Veterans need to contact the VA to discuss the resumption of their benefits, preferably within the first thirty days of their release from incarceration. If the VA is informed of the notice well before time, that is a year before the release date; the Veteran can essentially walk out of prison with all their benefits and compensation resumed right away. In the case of a disability, the Veteran might be medically examined for an updated report on their disability and their eligibility for the consequent compensation. For a detailed insight and necessary guidance, you have to pay a visit to your local VA institute.
Emma Graham has been working as a senior editor and content creator for the past twenty-three years. Most of her work is contributed towards the incarcerated Veterans reentry program and raising awareness regarding the benefits and rights of Veterans.