Georgia

Are you a GA Veteran who needs Help Navigating the Complex System of Veterans Benefits?

Authored By: State Bar of Georgia Military and Veterans Legal Assistance Program

Information

Introduction

There are numerous benefits afforded to our nation's armed service veterans by the Federal Government andthe state ofGeorgia. Thiswebpagehopes to provide useful information to Georgia veterans who need help navigating the various routes toward receiving the benefits they deserve.

What Information do I need to get started?

To file a claim for federal or state benefits, it's a good idea to get a copy of your Duty Form-214 first.This form provides the general information related to your service in the Armed Forces that is needed to file your claim. GA veterans can callthe GA Dept. of Veterans Services at(404) 656-5940 to have a copy of the Duty Form-214 sent to their homealong with other files pertaining to their service.With the formand supporting informationin hand, veterans, their dependents or survivors, may then visit one of the GA Dept. of Veterans Service field offices to meet with a representative. A face-to-face conversation is often the most efficient way to communicate and get help in filing a claim. To find the nearest GA Veterans Service field office, click this link: http://sdvs.georgia.gov/00/channel_title/0,2094,26646926_27461370,00.html

I was Hurt while on Active Duty. Am I Entitled to Service-Connected Disability Payments?

Yes,Georgiaveterans with service-connected disabilities are eligible to file claims for federal disability compensation. These claims cover veterans who are disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. Disability compensation varies with the degree of disability and the number of veteran's dependents, and is paid monthly. Veterans with certain severe disabilities may be eligible for additional special monthly compensation, and the benefits are not subject to federal or state income tax. The payment of military retirement pay, disability severance pay and separation incentive payments, known as SSB (Special Separation Benefits) and VSI (Voluntary Separation Incentives) affects the amount of VA compensation paid to disabled veterans. To be eligible, the service of the veteran must have been terminated through separation or discharge under conditions other than dishonorable.

How do I File for Disability Compensation through the VA?

The process to file for veterans benefits can sometimes be confusing, but fortunately the Georgia Dept. of Veterans Service's mission is to serve veterans residing in Georgia, their dependents and survivors, in all matters pertaining to veterans benefits. The GA Veterans Service has field offices throughout Georgia to serve veterans state-wide. It's a good idea to work closely with a Veterans Service field office when filing a claim for state and federal benefits. These offices have staff that can provide help free of charge and can efficiently gather all the documents needed to file a claim properly. Do not hesitate to enlist the support of others to file your claim because the process can be quite confusing at times!

There are several ways to get the paperwork to file a claim for federal disability compensation. It is highly recommended for veterans to seek the help of the GA Veterans Services at all stages of this process and to not go it alone:

* Call the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 and request a 21-526 VETERAN'S APPLICATION FOR COMPENSATION AND/OR PENSION form as well as information about how to file.

OR

* Download Form 21-526 by clicking here.

OR

* Use the VONAPP site (Veterans Online Application). Follow this link to begin the online application: http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp

Where Can I Get Help?

If you have questions aboutveteransbenefits, you can get help in the following ways:

* By phone:

oCall the GA Dept. of Veterans Servicesat404-656-2300, and you can schedule an appointment at one of the numerous field offices to meet with a representative face-to-face.

o call the U.S. Dept. of VA general help line at 1-800-827-1000 or 1-800-829-4833 (Hearing Impaired TDD line).

How Long Does It Take to Receive Federal VA Disability Compensation Benefits?

The process to file a claim and receive benefits can take months, even years. Therefore, it's extremely important to keep detailed records of all correspondence and documents related to the claim. It's also a good idea to make copies of all documents sent the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in case something is lost in the mail. A well-organized file of all claim-related documents on your part will enable a speedy appeal to be filed if necessary.

What Do I do if I my claim for Disability Compensation is Denied?

If your claim is denied, you will have the opportunity to file a timely appeal stating the reasons why your claim should be approved. The appeals stage will go much smoother if your claim records are detailed and well-organized.

What are some other Benefits I Can Receive?

You can visit http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/ for an overview of all federal benefits available.

Federal Benefits include:

States Benefits include:

  • State homestead tax exemption for disabled GA veterans.
    • Who's eligible?
      • A wartime veteran who was discharged under honorable conditions and who has been adjudicated by the VA as being totally and permanently disabled.
      • A wartime veteran who is disabled in any of the following ways:
        • Due to loss or loss of use of both lower extremities.
        • Due to blindness together with the loss or loss of use of one lower extremity.
        • Due to loss or loss of use of only one lower extremity together with residuals of organic disease which makes the veteran wheelchair-bound.
        • Due to loss or loss of use of one lower extremity together with the loss or loss of use of one upper extremity.
    • How to apply for the benefit?
      • File the following documents with the county tax commissioner:
        • A copy of duty form-214
        • A letter from a doctor stating the qualifying disability
        • A letter from the VA or GA Dept. of Vet. Services stating the qualifying disability
  • State sales tax exemption on vehicle purchases made by certain GA veterans.
    • Who's eligible?
      • A disabled veteran who receives a VA grant for the purchase and special adapting of a vehicle.
    • How to apply for the benefit?
      • Provide the VA grant information at the point of purchase.
  • Exemption from annual state, county, and municipal ad valorem tax on a vehicle.
    • Who's eligible?
      • Anywartime veteran who was discharged under honorable conditions and who has been adjudicated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as being 100 percent totally and permanently disabled and entitled to receive service-connected benefits and any veteran who is receiving or who is entitled to receive a statutory award from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for:
        • Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet;
        • Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands;
        • Loss of sight in one or both eyes;
        • Permanent impairment of vision of both eyes of the following status: Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye, with corrective glasses, or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if there is a field defect in which the peripheral field has contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of visual field subtends on angular distance no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.
      • Any former prisoner of war who is a citizen and resident of Georgia and who attaches or presents a true copy of a Department of Defense Form 214, a military 201 file, or similar sufficient proof of his or her former prisoner of war status with his or her ad valorem tax return is granted an exemption from all ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal, and school purposes on one vehicle such former prisoner of war owns.
      • The unremarried surviving spouse of a deceased former prisoner of war who is a citizen and resident of Georgia and who attaches or presents a true copy of a Department of Defense Form 214, a military 201 file, or similar sufficient proof of the former prisoner of war status of the deceased former prisoner of war with his or her ad valorem tax return is granted an exemption from all ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal, and school purposes on one vehicle such unremarried surviving spouse owns.
  • Free license plate for a vehicle.
    • Who's eligible?
      • Any veteran who was discharged under honorable conditions and who served on active shall be issued a free motor vehicle license plate upon presentation of proof that such veteran is receiving or that he or she is entitled to receive a statutory award from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for:
        • Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet;
        • Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands;
        • Loss of sight in one or both eyes;
        • Permanent impairment of vision of both eyes of the following status: Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye, with corrective glasses, or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if there is a field defect in which the peripheral field has contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of visual field subtends on angular distance no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.
      • Any veteran who was discharged under honorable conditions and who has been adjudicated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as being 100 percent totally disabled and entitled to receive service connected benefits shall, upon application therefor, be issued a free motor vehicle license plate upon presentation of proof that he or she is receiving or that he or she is entitled to receive benefits for a 100 percent service connected disability, as long as he or she is 100 percent disabled. A veteran who claims that such 100 percent total disability is permanent shall furnish proof of such permanent disability through a letter from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • GA state income tax filing requirements are relaxed for veterans who have recently served on active duty.
  • Disabled veterans are exempt from payment of occupational taxes, administration fees, and regulatory fees imposed by local governments for peddling, conducting a business, or practicing a profession or semi profession upon meeting the following eligibility requirements:
    • Who's eligible?
      • Veteransdischarged under honorable conditions from the armed forces of the United Statesthathave 10 percent disability for certain wartime veterans or a 25 percent service-connected disability for peace time-only veterans; andhave an income that is not liable for state income taxes.
  • Permanently disabled GA veterans can get free GA hunting and fishing licenses.
    • Who's eligible?
      • Anypermanently disabledveteran who is a legal resident of Georgia.
    • How to apply to receive the benefit?
      • You must complete a Disability License application form (available from anyGAWildlife Resources Divisionoffice - call 800-366-2661) and send it to the WRD License Unit, along with certification from the Social Security Administration, the Veterans administration, the Railroad Retirement Board or some other governmental entity which certifies disability. Your disability must be both permanent and total. Partial disabilities do not qualify. The disability license is good for three years, and then must be renewed with proof of continuing disability.Disability is defined, for licensing purposes, as being unable to hold gainful employment because of a physical or mental impairment.
  • GA veterans may be entitled to a free driver's license.
    • Who's eligible?
      • Veterans who were residents of Georgia at the time of enlistment or commissioning and are residents at the time of application for the license, or who have been residents of Georgia for at least two years immediately preceding the date of application for the license, who served on active duty in the armed forces of the United States or on active duty in a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States, including the National Guard, during wartime or any conflict when personnel were committed by the President of the United States, whether or not such veteran was assigned to a unit or division which directly participated in such war or conflict, except for periodic transfer from reserve status to active duty status for training purposes, and who were discharged or separated under honorable conditions; and
      • All members or former members of the National Guard or reserve forces who have 20 or more years' creditable service therein.
    • How to apply for the benefit?
  • Reduced entrance fee to GA state parks and historic sites.
    • Who is eligible?
      • Any service connected disabled veteran who was discharged under honorable conditions
    • How to apply to receive the benefit?
      • Contact the GA State Dept. of Veterans Service to get a certificate verifying your status.
  • Treatment at the GAWar Veterans Homes.
    • Who is eligible?
      • All honorably discharged war veterans in the Georgia War Veterans Home, Milledgeville, and in the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, Augusta. The term "war veteran" for this benefit means any veteran who served on active duty in the armed forces of the United States, or on active duty in a reserve component, including the National Guard, during wartime or during the period January 31, 1955, through May 7, 1975. To determine eligibility, see your local SDVS office.

You can visit http://sdvs.georgia.gov/00/channel_title/0,2094,26646926_26692185,00.html for an overview of state benefits available.

Formoreinformation on the benefits a GA veteran, dependent, or survivor may be entitled, call the GA Veterans Service at (404) 656-2300. This number will connect to a general operator who can provide useful preliminary information on how best to proceed with a benefits claim.

Last Review and Update: Jan 07, 2010