Compton: His basketball injury is considered service-connected

By George Compton
Saturday, January 12, 2008

Q. I injured my knee playing basketball in the service. I had surgery in Germany and for many years it was OK. I am now having pain in that knee. Will the VA help me or does it have to be a combat injury to get help?

A. You were in the service 24 hours a day so any injury would be service-connected unless the injury occurred because of willful misconduct. Playing basketball would certainly not be willful misconduct.

You need to enroll in the VA medical system to get help with your condition, and you need to file a claim for service-connected disability. Your surgery in the service will establish service connection. This office will help you file for disability and if you have a current diagnosis of your knee problem your claim will take less time to be resolved.

Q. I am rated 100 percent disabled by the VA. My award letter did not provide for education benefits for my children. How do I get those benefits?

A. Your award letter states that you will have re-evaluation at a later date. To be eligible for education benefits (Chapter 35) for your children you need a permanent 100 percent rating. Your current rating does establish eligibility for the California Fee Waiver.

Q. My mother has been receiving an annuity because my father had retired from the military. Last year, you had a question about this type of annuity, and you stated that the annuity would increase. Would you explain again?

A. The annuity from the Survivor Benefit Plan is based on 55 percent of military retired pay. For many years, when the survivor became eligible for the retirees Social Security, SBP was reduced to 35 percent. A change in the law eliminated the offset over 3 1/2 years.

Your mother’s annuity was increased to 40 percent in October 2005. Her annuity was increased to 45 percent on April 1, 2006. The annuity increased to 50 percent on the first of April 2007, and the final increase to 55 percent will be in a few months — this April. If she does not see an increase at the end of April, contact the Retired Activities Office at Naval Base Ventura County at 982-1023 for assistance.

— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura, Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366; fax: 385-6371; or e-mail: [email protected].