How to Apply and Application Assistance
Provided below is information and links regarding benefits and services potenitally available to you. We strongly recommend, if you are considering requesting services or submitting an application to the VA, that you contact your County Veterans Service Office. Their Service Officers specialize in assisting veterans and their family members with claims, applications, and appeals to the VA.
Please visit our County Veterans Service Offices web page to obtain your County Veterans Service Office's contact information.
Military Retiree Information
Do I qualify for a Military ID Card?
If you are 100% Permanent and Total you are eligible for a Commissary privileges card. You may obtain your card from any base ID card office, some Guard and Reserve centers have an ID card section. To qualify, the veteran must present a letter from VA specifying that are in receipt of 100% disability.
When the Military Retiree is deceased the military ID must be updated reflecting the change. The Sponsor/Service/Status block changes to Branch of Service/DEC for deceased. The dependent ID card will continue to show the Sponsor's Social Security number for 10 years. After that time, the surviving spouse's social security number will appear in the relationship block.
Regularly check the expiration of your ID to ensure it is up to date.
For questions call DEERS: 1-800-538-9552.
Applying for your Guard/Reserve Retired Pay
For most military members your retirement pay does not automatically appear in your bank account when you turn 60. In order to receive your retirement pay you must complete a Reserve Retired Pay Application first. Remember to return the packet on time (some branches mail it to you as early as your 58th birthday) otherwise you may face penalties. For more information or to request your packet:
- Air Force Reserve and National Guard
Air Reserve Personnel Center Retirements Branch - HQ ARPC/DPPR
6760 E. Irvington Place
Denver, CO 80280-1900
- Army Reserve and National Guard
US Army HRC Attn: AHRC-PDR-RCR
1600 Spearhead Division Ave.
Dept 420, Fort Knox, KY 40122-5402
800-813-5298 or 888-276-9472
- Coast Guard Reserve
Coast Guard Personnel Center
444 S.E. Quincy St.
Topeka, KS 66683-3591
785-339-2200 or 866-772-8724
- Marine Corps Reserve
Marine Corps Mobilization Command
15303 Andrews Road
Kansas City, MO 64147
800-255-5082 ext. 3395/3396/3397/3398
- Navy Reserve
Navy Reserve Personnel Center
5722 Integrity Drive
Bldg. 239, Millington, TN 38054
Retired Military Pay
Colorado has a pension/annuity subtraction where some retired funds are not taxed.
Retirees of the Armed Forced 55-64 may exclude $20,000 for Social Security and qualified retirement income.
Retirees 65+ may exclude $24,000 for Social Security and qualified retirement income.
Wearing Your Military Decorations
Military Retirees and Veterans may wear their decorations only on clean, serviceable garments during suitable situations. These are Patriotic Holidays, military service organization meetings, formal dress occasions, funerals, weddings, Scout or government functions. They look best on a clean suit jacket. Females should take care that their medals do no compete with jewelry or other accessories.
If you still fit in your uniform you may wear your decorations on it. If your uniform does not fit or is no longer serviceable, do not mix and match old and new uniform items, You may only wear a uniform from your service period or a complete new set. If you are a retiree, wear your retiree pin on your lapel.
Your ribbons and medals must at all times be in a good repair - no stains or frays, pinned down flat as in active duty and all displayed in their proper sequence. Your DD214 will list your authorized ribbons.
If you have list your decorations you may request a duplicate set:
Honoring the American Flag
During the Pledge of Allegiance: Military retirees and Veterans may place their hand over their hearts.
During the passing, raising or lowering of the flag: Military retirees and Veterans may salute the flag.
During the National Anthem: Military retirees and Veterans may salute the flag.
VA helps Veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income through the Veterans Pension and Survivors Pension benefit programs.
VA offers two broad categories of Pension benefit programs:
Veterans Pension: Tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime Veterans.
Survivors Pension: Tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service. The survivor did not have to be married tot he veteran while he was still in the military to file a DIC or pension claim.
Veterans and survivors who are eligible for Pension benefits and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible to receive additional monetary amounts.
Pension benefits are needs-based and your countable family income must fall below the yearly limit set by law. Veterans must have least 90 days of active duty, including one day during a wartime period.
Wartime periods include:
- WWII: December 7, 1941 - December 31, 1946
- Korea: June 27, 1950 - January 31, 1955
- Vietnam: February 28, 1961 - May 7, 1975
- Persian Gulf: August 2, 1990 - present
If the active duty occurred after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called up (with some exceptions). You must also be:
- Age 65 or older with limited or no income, OR
- Totally and permanently disabled, OR
- A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
- Receiving Supplemental Security Income
The Veteran must have met the service requirements above for surviving spouses and children applying for the Survivors Pension.
How to Apply for Veterans Pension
To apply for Veterans Pension make an appointment with your Veterans Service Officer who will explain the entire process and packet to you.
To contact your Veterans Service Officer please find their contact information on the County Veterans Service Offices page.
Filing a Claim for Disability or Pension
Filing a claim
In order to file a claim for benefits call our office at 303-284-6077 and make an appointment. When making an appointment, be prepared to provide the last two numbers of your Social Security number as this will assist us in booking an appointment for you with the corresponding State Service Officer. If you live on the West side of the greater Denver-metro area and would like to been seen in our Lakewood location please call that office at 303-914-5832 for an appointment.
Federal VA Benefit System
The Federal VA benefit system is a legal system based on the Code of Federal Regulation 38 sections 0-17. In order to qualify for benefits, veterans and family members must file a claim against the United States proving they are eligible for these benefits through the submission of legal, military, medical, and other evidence.
Compensation vs Pension
One of the biggest misunderstanding in veterans benefits is the difference between compensation for a service-connected disability and war-time veterans pension. Most veterans who say they are receiving a VA pension are actually in receipt of service-related compensation. Every veteran and situation is unique so discuss your individual case with a veterans service officer.
- Compensation is awarded to a veteran based in an injury or illness related to military service and the amount is based on the severity of the illness or injury. Many veterans with honorable, general under honorable condition and medical retirement have a similar baseline of benefits. However, due to ongoing changes in regulations, veterans may have vastly different benefits depending on when, where and how long they served.
- Pension is a benefit for war-time veterans who have extremely limited incomes (the benefit may be avaiallb3e for certain family members as well - talk to your service officer), are unable to work or who are 64 or older.
How do I make an appointment?
Contact your local County Veterans Service Officer/Office.
VA Regional Office
155 Van Gordon
Suite 201 (first floor)
Lakewood, CO 80228
303-914-5832 fax 303-914-5414
Hours are 08:00-16:30 M-F
Closed on Federal Holidays
What do I need to bring to an appointment?
In general at a minimum:
- Discharge/DD214 Member Copy 4
- Marriage and divorce certificates/decrees (if applicable) and spouse social security number
- Copies of private medical evidence/records (non VA Medical Center records) we cannot copy for you
- Direct deposit information
- Children's birth certificates (if applicable) and social security number(s)
- For adopted children, a copy of the adoption decree
- Death certificate (if applicable)
- If claiming pension and/or Aid and Attendance, we need any financial award documents, bank statements, etc. Call before hand for specific information needed.
When you make your appointment we can let you know specifically what you need to bring.
When can I expect a return call/email?
Returned calls are mostly within 2 business days however this has been impacted with the volume of calls we are receiving regarding the new Pact Act.
Do we take walk-ins?
Please contact your local County Veteran Service Office (at the CVSO Link) to see if an appointment is required.
What evidence can I bring to my appointment to support my service connection claim?
- Service medical records if you have them
- Private Medical Records OR Doctors name, address and phone number with dates of treatment. Generally it is better if you can obtain private medical records and bring them as this greatly speeds up the claim process. It is your responsibility to ensure the VA receives all records not in the possession of a Federal department or agency.
- Discharge Paperwork/DD214
- Buddy statements - written statements from those you knew in service who can provide verification of the illness, injury, event, etc.
- Written statements from family, friends, employers, neighbors, co-workers, etc.
- Proof of diagnosis of the illness/injury/condition
- Direct deposit information
What the evidence must show for service connection (from 38 U.S.C. 5103)
The evidence must show three things:
- You had an injury in military service, or a disease that began in or was made worse during military service, or there was an event in service that caused injury or disease.
- You have a current physical or mental disability shown by medical evidence.
- There is a relationship (nexus) between your disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship. However, under certain circumstances, VA may conclude that certain current disabilities were caused by service even if there is no specific evidence proving this in your claim. The cause of a disability is presumed for the following veterans who have certain disabilities:
- Former prisoners of war
- Veterans who have certain chronic or tropical diseases that become evident within a specific period of time after discharge from service
- Veterans who were exposed to ionizing radiation, mustard gas, or Lewisite while in service
- Veterans who were exposed to certain herbicides, such as by serving in Vietnam
- Veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War
What the evidence must show for an increased evaluation
To support your claim for an increased evaluation of your service-connected disability, medical or lay evidence must show a worsening or increase in severity and the effect that worsening or increase has on your ability to work.
What the evidence must show for secondary service connection
In order to support your claim for compensation based upon an additional disability that was caused or aggravated by a service-connected disability, the evidence must show:
- You currently have a physical or mental disability shown by medical evidence, in addition to your service-connected disability AND
- Your service-connected disability either caused ro aggravated your additional disability. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship. However, the VA may presume service-connection for cardiovascular disease developing in a claimant with a certain service-connected amputation(s) of one or both lower extremities.
Can I email you my documents?
Yes and no. You may email us, however, we cannot receive personally identifying information, medical information or other sensitive information via email as it is not encrypted. You may fax your documents to: 303-284-3163.
I received a letter from the VA regarding my claim - should I call or make an appointment?
- Within approximately 60 days of filing a claim you will receive a one page letter letting you know that the VA received your claim. Call if this letter does not arrive within 60 days.
- VCAA Letter/Duty to Assist - This letter discusses what evidence, if any, the VA needs for your claim. Call/make an appointment with your service officer to go over this letter as failure to provide the information the VA is requesting could result in a denial. This letter typically contains forms and may contain language seeking as if the VA is requesting information they already have. Your service officer will go over this letter and help you with anything that needs to be done.
- Rating Decision and/or Award letter - Make an appointment as soon as you receive your rating decision and/or award letter. Your service officer will go over the information with you and discuss options with you. Note your rating decision and award are time sensitive documents.
What is a Compensation and Pension Exam?
This exam, often called a C&P Exam, is set up by the VA and is a VERY important element in your case. This exam is by a VA Medical Professional and/or Provider who examines you and provides a detailed report to the VA Regional Office and becomes part of the evidence for your claim. Failure to report for your exam(s) will result in a denial of your claim. Call the number given to you if you need to reschedule.
How soon will I hear about my case/how soon will my case be settled?
You may anticipate a letter from the VA within 6-8 weeks upon filing a claim acknowledging receipt of your claim. If you do not receive this letter, contact our office right away.
You will receive another letter letting you know what the VA has received and what else, if anything, the VA needs for your claim. Contact your Veteran Service Officer to go over this letter.
Depending on the complexity of your case, the VA case load an many others factors it is impossible to predict with accuracy the time it takes to complete your claim. Once the claim is decided, the VA will mail you a Rating Decision. Call your Veterans Service Officer to go over this decision and he/she will discuss with you your options at that time.
The time for settlement of a case depends on many factors such as complexity and type. Thus, one claim may take a few months while others may take a year or more.
How the VA determines the disability rating
When disabilities are found to be service-connected the VA assigns a disability rating based on the Code of Federal Regulation 38 sections )-17. The rating is changed if there are changes in the condition(s). Depending in the disability involved the VA assigns a rating from 0% to as much as 100%. The VA uses a schedule for evaluating disabilities. This is published as Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 4. The following is considered when determining the disability rating:
- Nature and symptoms of the condition
- Severity and duration of the symptoms
- Impact of the condition and symptoms on employment
Claims for Pension with or without Aid and Attendance
Due to the individual specifics of these claims, eligibility, etc., call and make an appointment with a Veterans Service Officer and he/she will go over the details needed for these claims.
Should I call or correspond directly with the VA?
We recommend Veterans and claimants to keep in touch with the VSO throughout the claims process instead of corresponding directly with the VA. This helps ensure your claim flows smoothly and avoids delays.
If I change my address or phone number with the VA Medical Center do I need to inform you as well?
Yes. We will not only update our records, we will inform the VA as well on your behalf.