The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has several benefits available to eligible Veterans after their discharge. Some of these benefits include healthcare, disability compensation, educational, housing, employment, and memorial services. Benefits available through the VA are considered federal benefits.
In determining a Veteran’s eligibility for benefits the VA may consider a combination of factors including the type of benefit sought, service history, disability rating, medical need, and/or income level. One factor that plays a large role in determining eligibility for many benefits is a Veteran’s discharge status.
For example, to receive VA disability compensation benefits generally Veterans with an honorable discharge status will be eligible. If a Veteran has a General Under Honorable Conditions, other-than-honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge status, the VA will review the record to make a determination if the Veteran’s service is “honorable for VA purposes.” If the VA concludes the Veteran’s service is not “honorable for VA purposes,” a Veteran will not be eligible. Once found ineligible, a Veteran would have to apply for and receive a discharge status upgrade changing the status to “honorable for VA purposes,” before being able to receive VA disability.
While the VA provides benefits for Veteran’s on a federal level, individual States also have various benefits available to Veterans and their families. New York State has a broad spectrum of State, local, and private Veterans’ benefits available. Some benefits available include, but are not limited to:
- State Gold Star Annuity
- State Income Tax Exemption
- State Vehicle Registration Fee Exemption
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Additional Civil Service Credits
- State Education & Scholarships
- Health Care benefits
- Property Tax Exemptions
- State Property Tax Extensions
- Supportive Housing Programs
- Veterans Home Loan Guaranty
- Veteran Status License
- National Park Passes
- Reduced Fee New York State Hunting and Fishing Licenses for Disabled Veterans
Similar to federal benefits through the VA, one factor determining eligibility to New York State Veterans Benefits is a Veteran’s character of discharge. A General Under Honorable Conditions, other-than-honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge, may render a Veteran ineligible for New York State benefits.
In 2019, the Restoration of Honor Act was signed into law in New York State. The act authorizes the New York State Division of Veterans Services (NYS DVS) to restore access to State Veterans Benefits to Veterans who have other-than-honorable or General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge due to:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
The Restoration of Honor Act is specific to New York State Veterans Benefits and does not change a Veteran’s official federally issued character of discharge. The NYS DVS determination only effects the character of a Veteran’s discharge in qualifying for New York State benefits.
A fact sheet, instructions, and an Application Packet to apply for Restoration of State Veterans Benefits under the Restoration of Honor Act, can be found on the NYS DVS website, available at: https://veterans.ny.gov/sites/default/files/nys-dvs-roh-packet-01jun20.pdf. Veterans are able to submit an application by mail or email.
Additional information on the Restoration of Honor Act can be found on the NYS DVS website, available at: https://veterans.ny.gov/content/restoration-honor-act. General information about available Veterans benefits in New York State can be fond at: https://veterans.ny.gov/.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.