Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Difference Does It Make if the Client Is a #Veteran? None if You Don’t Ask About Veteran Status

Attorney Mary Ellen McCarthy writes:
"Often I hear that legal aid advocates “don’t see many veterans issues.” I believe that this occurs because advocates often fail to ask if the client is a veteran or a family member of a veteran.
The failure to inquire about veterans status results in a failure to recognize potential eligibility for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits that might help resolve other legal problems.
For example, a veteran who is ineligible for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to resources may qualify for VA health care and VA pension. For a client who is unable to make rent and utility payments, a VA pension may enable the client to afford these living expenses.
But if advocates don’t ask about veterans status, the client won’t tell..."
Read more at What Difference Does It make if  the Client Is a Veteran? None if You  Don’t Ask About Veteran Status from Clearinghouse Review. This article includes a Quick Screening Guide for eligibility for various programs, something you'll want to add to your intake interviews:
Quick Screening Guide

I. Screen for Veteran Eligibility
Are you a veteran or the dependent spouse, child, adult dependent child, or dependent parent of a veteran?
If yes, does the veteran receive any cash benefits or health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)?
If yes, advise the veteran to contact VA to inquire if additional benefits may be available.
If no, does the veteran believe that the veteran has a disability that was incurred or aggravated by active military service?
If yes, refer the veteran to apply for service-connected compensation and VA health care.
Also screen for veteran pension eligibility (below).

II. Screen for Pension Eligibility
Do you have a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable?
Did you serve during a period of war, such as World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or after August 2, 1990?
Do you have resources less than $80,000 not counting your home, normal personal effects such as furnishings, and motor vehicles used for normal transportation?
Is your income less than [current income amount for pension] after subtracting out-of-pocket medical expenses?
Are you 65 or older or permanently and totally disabled?
Refer a veteran who answers yes to all of these questions to VA for possible pension eligibility.

III. Screen for Surviving Spouse Eligibility
Are you the surviving spouse of a veteran?
If yes, were you married at the time of veteran’s death?
If no, stop. No VA benefits are payable.
If yes, have you remarried since the veteran’s death?
If no, screen for the veteran’s wartime service, character of discharge, and resources as outlined above and substitute current death pension income amounts for the family’s size. Note that the surviving spouse may be eligible
for a death pension even if not aged or disabled.
Refer a survivor who appears to meet the criteria to VA to apply for a death pension.

IV. Screen for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Eligibility
Did the veteran die of a service-connected disability or a disability that VA recognizes as presumptively serviceconnected due to service during the Vietnam or Gulf war or due to prisoner-of-war status?
Is the survivor currently remarried?
If no, refer the survivor to VA to apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
If yes, were you remarried after December 31, 2003, and after you were at least 57?
If yes, refer the survivor to VA to apply for DIC benefits.
If no, DIC benefits are not available while the survivor is married.
The above is from "What Difference Does It Make if  the Client Is a #Veteran? None if You  Don’t Ask About Veteran Status"
When screening, don't stop with the above; always check for eligibility with state and local programs as well. A little bit of time can have a huge impact.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The War Comes Home by Aaron Glantz

"The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle against America's Veterans is the first book to systematically document the U.S. government's neglect of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Aaron Glantz, who reported extensively from Iraq during the first three years of this war and has been reporting on the plight of veterans ever since, levels a devastating indictment against the Bush administration for its bald neglect of soldiers and its disingenuous reneging on their benefits. Glantz interviewed more than one hundred recent war veterans, and here he intersperses their haunting first-person accounts with investigations into specific concerns, such as the scandal at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"This timely book does more than provide us with a personal connection to those whose service has cost them so dearly. It compels us to confront how America treats its veterans and to consider what kind of nation deifies its soldiers and then casts them off as damaged goods."

---from the Amazon listing

Monday, February 18, 2013

Illinois: Military Education & Training Applies to Professional Licensing Standards

On February 6, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn ordered that his state's licensing boards consider military training & education in issuing professional licenses:

"Executive Order Applying Relevent Military Education and Training Obtained by Illinois Service Members to Professional Licensing Standards

WHEREAS, the veterans’ unemployment rate in Illinois runs consistently higher than the national average, and the unemployment rate for female veterans in Illinois in the 18 to 24 year-old age range is twice that of non-veteran women in the same age range; and
WHEREAS, approximately 35,000 Illinois service members will leave the military between now and 2016, returning to civilian life to face a difficult transition in a recovering economy; and
WHEREAS, Public Act 097-0710, the Expedited Licensure for Service Members and Spouses Act (the “Act”) requires that “[a]ll relevant training provided by the military and completed by a service member shall be credited to that service member as meeting any training or education requirement under any applicable occupational or professional licensing Act, provided that the training or education is determined . . . to be substantially equivalent to that required under any applicable Act and is not otherwise contrary to any other licensure requirement”; and
WHEREAS, as the Act recognizes, training and education acquired during military service may be relevant to requirements for professional and occupational licensure, but, to date, there has not been a process or mechanism that would allow such training and education to be considered for purposes of state licensure requirements; and
WHEREAS, further review and clarification of gaps between, on the one hand, military training and education, and, on the other hand, requirements for state professional and occupational licensure to which such training and education may be relevant, will allow educational institutions throughout Illinois to design programs that will enable service members to bridge such gaps;
THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, pursuant to the supreme executive authority vested in me by Article V of the Illinois Constitution, do hereby order as follows:
  1. Definitions

    1. “State licensing agency” means any department of the state that issues occupational or professional licenses.
    2. “Service member” means any person who, at the time of application for licensure to any state licensing agency, is an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces or any reserve component of the United States Armed Forces or the National Guard of any state, commonwealth, or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia, and shall also include any veteran whose active duty service concluded within the preceding two years before submitting his or her application for licensure.

  2. Creation

    1. There is hereby established an assessment process for applying military training and education to state licensure requirements in the State of Illinois.

  3. Purpose

    1. It is the intent of this Order to establish a statewide mechanism and process for determining how training and education acquired by service members during service in the military may be applied towards requirements for state licensure in certain civilian fields when they transition back into our communities as veterans. As set forth herein, all state licensing agencies are directed to assist in identifying gaps between, on the one hand, military education and training that is potentially relevant to a civilian field for which licensure is required, and, on the other hand, state licensure requirements in that field. Identifying such gaps will enable educational institutions to design programs (for subsequent approval by the relevant state licensing agency), through which service members may obtain any additional training and education necessary to obtain state licensure in the relevant field.

  4. Duties

    1. In addition to the state licensing agencies, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, (“DVA”), the Illinois Department of Military Affairs (“DMA”), and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”) are directed to participate in implementing this Order. The Director of DVA shall be responsible for coordinating efforts to implement this Order.
    2. Within 90 days of the effective date of this Order, DVA, DMA, IDES and all state licensing agencies shall collaborate to compile a list of professional and occupational fields requiring state licensure whose requirements for licensure may overlap with training and education acquired by service members during military service. To the extent possible, the list shall include information relevant to bridging the gap between military training and education relevant to each listed field and state licensure requirements relevant to that field, including but not limited to: the extent to which service members are likely to have obtained education and training in the military that is relevant to the listed field; statewide demand for professional or occupational services in the listed field; and the availability of resources to bridge gaps between relevant military training and education and state licensure in the listed field.
    3. Additionally, within 90 days of obtaining or receiving information detailing military training or education potentially relevant to a given career field from the Director of DVA or either directly or indirectly from the U.S. Department of Defense, any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and/or DMA, the relevant state licensing agency shall either: (i) independently identify any gaps between the military training and education identified as potentially relevant to the field and the Illinois state licensing requirements for that career field; (ii) submit documentation to the relevant governing board to identify any such gaps; or (iii) identify the specific need for additional information required in order to make a final determination as to any such gaps.
    4. Finally, within 30 days of its determination with regard to the gap between military training and education relevant to a given career field and the requirements for licensure in that field, the relevant state licensing agency shall submit to the Director of DVA information detailing any additional training that must be completed by a service member in order to bridge the gap to obtain a state license. Such information shall be posted on DVA’s website in order to aid educational institutions in building and obtaining approval for gap-bridging programs, as well as to aid service members in identifying outstanding requirements for licensure in that field...."
Read the full text here, and consider whether YOUR governor might want to do the same!