If you have served in this nation’s armed forces, then you received a discharge at the conclusion of your military service. The discharge you receive does more than simply characterize the service you rendered to the United States while in uniform. Your discharge plays a determinative role in whether you qualify for VA benefits, including VA disability benefits.

One of the first and most basic determinations that the VA will make when considering your claim for benefits is whether you are a veteran with a qualifying discharge. This inquiry is deceptively simple.

va discharge benefits

A Dishonorable Discharge Disqualifies You from VA Benefits

There are a few clear-cut rules when it comes to VA disability benefits and your discharge. The first is this: if you received a dishonorable discharge, you are not eligible for VA disability benefits. A dishonorable discharge is only handed down as part of a court-martial and represents part of the sentence you receive for especially egregious conduct.

The second clear-cut rule is this: an honorable discharge makes you eligible for VA disability and other benefits. While your claim must still satisfy other elements before it will be approved, your discharge will not keep you from benefits.

When Your Discharge is Not Honorable or Dishonorable

Between the two extremes of an honorable discharge and a dishonorable discharge, there are a wide variety of other discharges you might receive. These include General – Under Honorable Conditions, General – Under Other Than Honorable Conditions, and Uncharacterized. Receiving VA disability benefits with one of these discharges on your record is more complicated and less certain.

For each of these types of discharges, the VA will make a case-by-case determination of whether you can pursue disability benefits. They will do this by looking at the underlying facts of your situation that led to your discharge. Generally speaking, a General-Under Honorable Conditions and Uncharacterized discharge will not exclude you from receiving disability benefits. 

Conversely, receiving a General – Other Than Honorable or Bad Conduct discharge will make it more difficult and less certain for you to receive disability benefits. Even still, though, it is worth speaking to an attorney and applying for disability benefits.

What to Do If I Am Not Eligible Based on My Discharge?

If you do hold a dishonorable discharge, or if the VA denied your application for disability benefits based on the type of discharge you received, do not abandon all hope. You may have a basis for obtaining an upgrade of your discharge. Doing so is not guaranteed and may be an uphill battle, but it may be worth investigating.

Contact Veterans Law Attorneys for Help with Your Appeal

While it may seem as if the VA could not possibly make mistakes when characterizing your service, errors can and do happen. That is why it pays to have Veterans Law Attorneys review your case to ensure the VA made its decision based on accurate information.

Let us help you with your appeal, no matter the reason for your denial. We will work diligently and efficiently to analyze the reason for your denial, advise you on your options, and help you take action. Call Veterans Law Attorneys at (866) 894-9773, or you can contact us online.

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