My VA benefits were reduced or stopped while I was incarcerated. How do I restore or restart my VA benefits?
For disability compensation or pension benefits:
- The VA will not automatically resume paying benefits at the full amount once you are released. Once you have a release date, contact the VA as early as 30 days before that date. Provide official proof of your release date, such as VA Form 21-4193 (see Appendix M, PG. 547) or your parole papers. As long as you notify the VA within one year following your release, you’ll receive benefits dating back to your release date.
- The VA will backdate your benefits to the date of release if you provide the VA with proof of your release within one year of your release. If you do not provide notification of your release within one year, your benefits will only be retroactive to the date of the notification.
- You can use VA Form 21-4193 to notify the VA of your incarceration and/or release. (See Appendix M, PG. 547.) If you’re incarcerated, you can get this form from a correctional counselor. If you have Internet access, download the form at www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?documentID=203887&version=1. You can also call 1-800-827-1000 and ask that the form be mailed to you. The form must be signed by a correctional official to be valid as proof.
For health care benefits:
- If you don’t have your Veteran Identification Card, and/or if you plan to access services at a VA health care facility you haven’t visited before, complete VA Form 10-10EZ (see Appendix L, PG. 542) and send it to that facility. Doing this at least 6 months before your release can help ensure you’ll have access to health care when you get out. You can request this form by calling or writing to any VA health care facility, or by calling 1-877-222-8387.
- If you have your Veteran Identification Card, and if you plan to access services at a VA health care facility you’ve visited before, you should be able to access services there without submitting any forms.
Debts owed to the VA caused by incarceration:
- If you were paid VA benefits after your 61st day of incarceration you may have an overpayment. An overpayment may prevent you from receiving the full benefit amount to which you are entitled after you are released.
- Whenever an overpayment is established in any program under the jurisdiction of the Veterans Benefits Administration, the Debt Management Center (DMC) at the St. Paul, Minnesota, VA Regional Office assumes responsibility over your debt. The VA DMC may be contacted by mail or by calling 1-800-827-0648.
- You may request a waiver of your debt. The VA does not require the use of a specific form to request a waiver. The time limit for requesting waiver of an overpayment is 180 days from the date you are first advised of the existence of the overpayment and the notification specifies the amount of the debt. A request for waiver should be submitted to the DMC with a completed financial status report using VA Form 20-5655.
- If the VA incorrectly calculated your dates of incarceration, you may challenge the validity of the debt or the effective date of the debt. There is no official form for disputing the validity of the debt.
For the VA, being “released from incarceration” includes being on parole, participating in a work release program, or living in a halfway house. See Fact Sheet: Incarcerated Veterans (Aug 2012), U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/misc/incarcerated.pdf ↑
Depending on the type of disability, the VA may also schedule you for a medical examination to see if your disability has improved. See Fact Sheet: Incarcerated Veterans (Aug 2012), U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/misc/incarcerated.pdf ↑
Veterans Benefits Manual, § 9.2.2 (2014); 76 Fed. Reg. 2,766 (Jan. 14, 2011) (proposed rule). ↑
Once you have Internet access, you can find the form at www.va.gov/1010ez.htm or by visiting Appendix L. See also Arrested? What Happens to Your Federal Benefits?” (2006), Bazelon Center, www.kitsaPGov.com/pubdef/Forms/LinkClick.Benefits.pdf ↑
However, if you aren’t receiving service-related disability benefits, the VA may ask for information about your income for the prior year. Guidebook for California Incarcerated Veterans, 4th ed. (July 2013), U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, www.va.gov/HOMELESS/docs/Reentry/09_ca.pdf ↑
The DMC mailing address is P.O. Box 11930 St. Paul, MN 55111-0930 ↑
38 C.F.R. § 1.911(c)(2) (2014). A waiver will not be granted by the VA unless you request a waiver. ↑
Veterans Benefits Manual, 2014 Edition, sections 9.4-9.4.8. ↑
38 C.F.R. § 1.911(c)(1). ↑