Bill Harding, Veterans Service Officer

Bill Harding, Veterans Service Officer

Veterans Hotline: Vets may be eligible for recovery dollars

— It appears a "Veteran's Stimulus" one-time payment of $250 may be paid to some qualifying veterans by this summer.

To be eligible for the $250 payment, Department of Veterans Affairs beneficiaries must have received compensation, pension, dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) or spina bifida benefits at any time between November 2008 and January 2009.

Also, beneficiaries must reside within the United States or Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

No application is necessary.

The VA will use its existing payment records to determine eligibility for the $250 payment. Beneficiaries will receive payments the same way they receive monthly VA benefits, either by direct deposit or mail.

The VA will inform beneficiaries and the public when releasing the payments. This payment is not countable in determining eligibility for VA pension or Parents' DIC.

The law allows one $250 payment per individual, which is tax-free.

VA beneficiaries who also receive benefits from the Social Security Administration or Railroad Retirement Board will be paid through those agencies and will therefore not receive the payment from VA.

More details, including VA stimulus project timelines, will be available after May 1.

Vets can apply for VAHC enrollment

For veterans struggling financially because of a job loss or decreased income, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers an assortment of programs that can relieve the costs of health care or provide care at no cost.

"With the downturn in the economy, VA recognizes that many veterans will feel the effects," the new secretary of Veterans Affairs said. "Therefore, it is important that eligible veterans learn of the many ways VA has to help them afford the health care they have earned."

Veterans whose previous income was ruled too high for VA health care may be able to enter the VA system based upon a hardship if their current year's income is projected to fall below federal income thresholds because of a job loss, separation from service or some other financial setback.

Veterans determined eligible because of hardship can avoid co-pays applied to veterans with higher income. Qualifying veterans may be eligible for enrollment and receive health care at no cost.

Also eligible for no-cost VA care are most veterans who recently returned from a combat zone, who are entitled to five years of free VA care. The five-year "clock" begins with their discharge from the military, not their departure from the combat zone.

Any honorably discharged veterans who may be experiencing hardship issues are urged to stop by the nearest VSO office and see whether we can re-qualify you for VA health care.

Paid-up SBP premiums stop for eligible retirees

An article in the Defense Finance & Accounting Service Retired Pay newsletter states that the effective date on the Paid-up Survivor Benefit Plan arrived Oct. 1, 2008.

As of that date, all military retirees at least 70 years of age who have paid SBP premiums for at least 360 months - or 30 years - are no longer required to make monthly payments.

About 13,000 retirees qualify for this paid-up status.

Members who meet the criteria after Oct. 1 also will achieve paid-up status once they meet the age and number of premium paid months. No actions are required and the DFAs will notify members about their status.

There will be a dispute period, if you feel you are eligible, through June 30, 2009. All disputes must be made by completing a Department of Defense Form 2656-11.

You can go online at www.dfas.mil or come to the nearest VSO office.

Hometown Heroes picnic Saturday May 16

Hometown Heroes picnic will be held at City park, adjacent to the VFW club, Saturday May 16. More information will follow.

Memorial Day services planned in Craig

Memorial Day Services will be held in Craig at the cemetery on Ashley road at 11 a.m. and then at the Maybell cemetery at 3 p.m. More information will follow in the coming weeks.

Veterans signing up for social security benefits

Veterans signing up for their social security benefits should take along their discharge papers, form DD-214.

There are potential increases in the amounts received for honorable military service and overseas assignments from what veterans received from stateside non-military employers.

Grand Ole West Days parade May 23 at 3 p.m.

Grand Ole West Days parade will be led by the veterans trailer and flag display. The parade is May 23 at 3 p.m. All veterans are urged to attend and ride the float.

For information on these programs and/or other veterans' benefits, call 970-824-3246, or stop in the Moffat County VSO office at 480 Barclay St. (west of the Bank of Colorado parking lot). Veterans may also reach the office by fax at 970-824-7108. Our e-mail address is veterans@moffatcounty.net. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Other times can be arranged by appointment only. Bring a copy of your separation papers (DD-214) for application for VA programs and for filing at our office.

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