Overview of Veterans Benefit Act of 2010

The Veterans Benefits Act of 2010, Public Law 111-275, made a few relatively minor changes in veterans’ benefits laws that might be of interest to readers. None of the changes in the law go into effect until October 1, 2011.

A few of the changes in the law follow:

1. There will be a cost-of-living increase in dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) payable to surviving spouses with dependent children under 18.

2. Burial allowance will increase from $300 to $700 for veterans who die while hospitalized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

3. The VA is authorized to exclude up to $5,000 of income from a state or municipality that is paid to the Veteran due to injury or disease when determining annual income for Veterans pension benefits.

4. The VA’s authority to reduce VA pension benefits to $90 per month for Veterans, surviving spouses, and children with no dependents who reside in nursing facilities and received Medicaid benefits is extended through May 31, 2015. This authority was scheduled to expire on September 30, 2011.

5. Eligible survivors of prisoners-of-war (POWs) who are continuously rated 100% disabled for one year prior to death will be able to file for DIC benefits, regardless of when the POW died (current law states that the POW veteran’s death had to have taken place after September 30, 1999).

6. Retired military veterans or veterans who have separated from active duty due to a catastrophic disability will begin getting compensation benefits from the date of the award, instead of from the first day of the next month after filing.

7. The automobile assistance allowance is increased from $11,000 to $18,900.

There are other changes in the Veterans Benefits Act of 2010 that might be relevant to specific claims or individuals. A letter from the VA providing an overview of the changes made by the law is attached here: VA Letter.