Brown County Browser: Dental & optical for vets, spouses, kids

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs State Soldiers Assistance Program or SSAP will pay up to $1,000 for dental care and up to $400 for optical care per application in a 12-month period. SSAP covers a Veteran’s spouse too, and any financially dependent children (up to 19 if out of school, or up to age 25 if in school).

SSAP was established in 1944 to provide financial support in the form of dental, optical, special needs claims and disaster relief. Many area Veterans received up to $1,000 when heavy rain waters flooded basements in 2014. When the 1998 disastrous tornado hit Comfrey and Hanska SSAP was there too.

Income and asset limits do apply for SSAP benefits. A household of two can earn no more than $2170 per month and have no more than $5,000 in the bank; this includes any Bonds, IRAs, Mutual Funds, Stocks, etc. There are higher income limits for families with children.

Another SSAP benefit is called the Special Needs Grant. This grant can be used once in a Veteran’s or their family member’s lifetime. Although income and assets are considered, the strict guidance for Dental/Optical is often relaxed. Local examples of Special Needs claims include hearing aids worth $5,000 for widows, car payments, rents, utilities for a Veteran injured on the job and unable to work. All applicants are required to show proof of Minnesota residency, income and assets by providing two months of their most recent financial statements. Applications are not on-line, and can only be made at your County Veterans Service Office. Find your Service Officer at: macvso.org

VA disability compensation is a monthly monetary benefit paid to Veterans who are disabled by injury or disease that was incurred in or aggravated by active military service. What is a service disability? It can be as simple as ringing in the ears, or a knee injury, PTSD, or as complex as traumatic brain injury due to blast wounds. The monthly monetary benefit ranges from $136 to $3,000; higher amounts to $8,500 are available for those rated for Special Monthly Compensation. These payments are tax-free and represent the loss in earnings that the specific disability may cause.

Why file for VA Compensation? If you are injured at your civilian employment would you file for Workman’s Compensation? Of course, because you were injured on the job. The same rings true for injuries incurred while on the job in the Armed Forces. Proof? Yes you will need proof that your military injury causes your current diagnosis, the VA calls that a “Nexus,” we call it a “link.” There are three elements required for the disability claim: 1. current diagnosis, 2. event in service, 3. nexus provided by a medical professional that explicitly links #1 & #2. Some conditions, called “presumptive” don’t need the nexus. Presumptive conditions are those that the VA is compelled by law to award disability compensation based on place of service like Vietnam, Korea, Camp Lejeune, etc. Presumptive conditions require only the diagnosis and proof of service in the geographic area. Most cancers linked to Agent Orange garner a 100 percent disability and a Vet’s widow generally receives a monthly stipend when the cause of death is linked to the disability. There are also presumptive conditions for Gulf War Vets too.

Are you looking at Assisted Living or Nursing Home costs and shaking your head? The VA can help pay for these too if you are a war-time (WWII/Korea/Vietnam/Gulf) Veteran or surviving spouse. This program is called Pension with Aid & Attendance. It’s for folks who need the aid or attendance of another person with their daily activities of living or ADLs which include: dressing, bathing, toileting, feeding, medication or money management, or memory care. Assets cannot exceed $80,000; irrevocable life-estates are considered a means to protect assets and are accepted by the VA. The max monthly payment for a Veteran is $1830 and $1170 for the surviving spouse.

Veteran’s benefits are an ENTITLEMENT, not a hand-out. Benefits are EARNED through the valiant deeds of our Armed Service Members. Our beneficiaries received over $15,000,000 last year. Call us today to apply for your benefits. Two Service Officers-One Benefit Team: Greg Peterson or John Schotzko 233-6636.

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Voting Update

Brown County has 14,902 registered voters. The deadline to pre-register for the Minnesota primary is Tuesday, July 24, 2018. Register at www.mnvotes.org or stop by the Auditor-Treasurer’s office to submit a paper registration.

On Minnesota primary day, voters may register to vote at their polling place. Voters can look up their polling place, sample ballot, voter registration status, and absentee ballot status at www.mnvotes.org. For more information about elections and voting in Brown County, visit www.co.brown.

mn.us/election.

All eligible voters in Brown County can vote absentee – either in person or by mail – now through Aug. 13.

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