Can Veterans with a Criminal History Qualify for VA Disability Benefits?

HomeBlogBlogCan Veterans with a Criminal History Qualify for VA Disability Benefits?



Can Veterans with a Criminal History Qualify for VA Disability Benefits?

The truth is that serving your country in the military – while honorable – can take a considerable toll, and veterans are more likely to be arrested and booked than their civilian peers. While a criminal record can affect your veteran’s benefits, it shouldn’t permanently bar you from benefits, and turning to an experienced Illinois veterans disability benefits attorney for the skilled legal guidance you need can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim. 

If You Spend Time Behind Bars

If you are convicted of a felony charge that leads to more than 60 days behind bars, you will experience a reduction in your benefits. The amount of your reduction will depend upon your VA disability rating and will play out in one of the following two ways:

  • If you have a disability rating of 20 percent or higher, your compensation will be reduced by 10 percent. 
  • If you have a disability rating of 10 percent, your compensation will be reduced by half. 

Informing the VA

It is your obligation to inform the VA Regional Office as soon after you’re convicted of a felony that leads to at least 60 days of incarceration as possible. And some important points to keep in mind include:

  • Failure to notify the VA can lead to a total loss of benefits. 
  • Any overpayments you receive will need to be returned prior to the reinstatement of your benefits. 
  • Upon release from prison or jail, your compensation payments will need to be reinstated based on the severity of your disability at the time, but reinstatement is not automatic – you’ll need to apply following release. 

Your compensation will not change in relation to being on work release or in a halfway house.

If You Have Dependents Who Rely on Your Income

If you have a spouse, minor children, or parents who rely upon your veteran’s disability income and you are incarcerated, they can apply for a portion of your benefits, which can mean part or all of your disability benefits while you are behind bars. The factors the VA will take into consideration include:

  • Your dependent’s living expenses
  • Your dependent’s income
  • The amount of your total benefits that are available for apportionment
  • Any mitigating circumstances that apply

The appropriate family member must apply to receive apportionment benefits – they’re not automatic. For example, your spouse may apply on behalf of themself and your dependent children.

Don’t Wait to Consult with an Experienced Illinois Veterans Disability Benefits Attorney

Your service to your country entitles you to disability benefits if you were injured, you became ill, or a preexisting condition worsened as a result of your military career. While being convicted of a crime and spending time behind bars is a serious setback, it should not bar you from continued eligibility for benefits. 

James R. Comerford at The Comerford Law Office – Illinois is a trusted veterans disability benefits attorney who harnesses the full force of his experience and skilled legal advocacy for every veteran he represents. Learn more by contacting us today.

Our Cases

Results That Matter

Helping Veterans Since 2008.
You Don’t Have To Do This Alone.