U.S. veterans and their spouses may become eligible for disability benefits from the government if the veterans suffered injuries or disease while on active duty or if their condition became worse because of active military service. In some cases, veterans also may qualify for benefits if they became disabled due to VA health care. Benefits are determined by the extent of the disability and family circumstances.
The spouse of a disabled veteran may benefit from extra disability compensation paid to the disabled vet. Disability compensation is money paid to veterans with service-related disabilities, provided they were not discharged under dishonorable conditions. In 2010, Military.com reported that the basic benefit paid ranged from $123 to $3,100 per month, depending on the veteran’s level of disability and whether the veteran had a spouse, children or dependent parents. Veterans also may qualify for additional payments if their spouses are seriously disabled.
Spouses may qualify for health care assistance from the government if they are married to a veteran who is rated “permanently and totally disabled” due to a disability related to service. Benefits are provided under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The CHAMPVA program provides reimbursement for medical expenses such as “inpatient, outpatient, mental health, prescription medication, skilled nursing care and durable medical equipment.” Spouses are not eligible for CHAMPVA if they are eligible for TRICARE, which is a Department of Defense medical program for civilian dependents.
Under some conditions, the spouse of a disabled veteran may also qualify for education benefits under the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program, or DEA. This program is only available to a spouse if the veteran became permanently and totally disabled due to active service in the Armed Forces. The DEA program provides up to 45 months of benefits that may be used for “degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship and on-the-job training.” In some cases, the benefits also may be used for correspondence, remedial, deficiency and refresher courses. Generally, eligibility for the program ends 10 years from the date the spouse was found to be eligible for DEA.