News You Can Use
The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims has announced a landmark decision in the case of Haas vs. Nicholson, Aug 16, 2006. The Court's ruling states that Veterans Affairs requirement for “boots on the ground” as the definition of “service in the Republic of Vietnam” is unreasonable and does not align with Congress' intent. The law does not limit application of the presumption of service connection for herbicide exposure to those who set foot on the soil of the Republic of Vietnam. The Court cited that the law defines “service in the Republic of Vietnam” as including “service in the waters offshore, or service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam.” Veterans who have previously been denied VA disability compension due to Agent Orange exposure should reapply.
VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System Phone Numbers (Sept 2006)
Grand Island & North Platte 1-866-580-1810
Nurse VA 1-866-687-7382
After 4 pm weekdays, weekends, and holidays
Veteran's Special Issue Help Line: 1-800-749-8387, for information regarding
Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange, Project Shad,
Mustard Gas and Leucite
Current VA Compensation Rates Education Benefits Payment Rates
If you wish to receive the latest VA news releases and updated fact sheets, you can subscribe here www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/opalist_listserv.cfm
Reserve Education Assistance Program
Call Center for VA Billing Questions. If you have an outstanding debt with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) this is for you. In February 2006, the DVA established the Health Revenue Center to answer your billing questions.
1-866-347-2352 (toll free call)
Monday - Friday
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time
Trained VA Health Revenue Center staff in Topeka, Kansas are standing by to assist you with your questions related to your VA billing statement. They use a new computer system that allows them to view your billing records and get the information they need to answer your questions quickly. This system is accurate, secure, confidential.
Agent Orange Information
What is PTSD?
Survivor Benefit Plan. Military retirees who opted out of some or all Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage, have until September 30, 2006 to make their election. Those who took SBP coverage and later elected to terminate it under provisions of Public Law 105-85 are not eligible to make an open enrollment election.
Open enrollment elections require lump sum buy-in premium as well as future monthly premiums. The lump sum equates to all back premiums, plus interest, from date of original eligibility. The lump sum buy-in can be paid over a two-year period. To make an open enrollment election, complete and submit DD Form 2656-9 DD2656-9, "Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) Open Enrollment Election."
Upon a retiree's death, SBP provides an annuity of up to 55 percent of military retired pay. Reduced annuity for surviving spouses age 62 or older to 35 percent is projected to be phased out by April 2008. Then, the full 55 percent benefit will be paid regardless of spouse's age.
Retiree Pay Statement to Show Concurrent Receipt
Brain Cancer Link to Sarin Update
VA Health Benefits Eligibility
VA Online Grave site Locator Update. Grave locations of more than three million veterans and
dependents buried in national cemeteries can be found more easily due to maps that can be printed from home computers and at national cemetery kiosks.
Online since April 2004, the nationwide grave site locator http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov helps veterans' families, former comrades-in-arms and others find the graves of veterans.
The new records date from January 1997, the earliest time for which electronic records exist. The information comes from applications made for these veterans' headstones or markers. Beyond the 5 million records now available, VA continues to add approximately 1,000 new records to the database each day.
Last year, VA furnished nearly 369,000 inscribed headstones and markers for veterans' graves worldwide.
Veterans whose discharges are other than dishonorable, their spouses and dependent children may be buried in a national cemetery, regardless of where they live. No advance reservations are made. VA provides perpetual care, as well as a headstone or marker, a burial flag and a memorial certificate to survivors.
Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from a VA Web site at www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.
Entrepreneurship Training. As a service member or veteran you now have an opportunity to use your education benefits to learn how to start or enhance a small business. Entrepreneurship training allows eligible service members and veterans to use VA educational benefits to take courses offered by the Small Business Development Centers or the National Veterans Business Development Corporation, better known as the "The Veterans Corporation." Individual courses must be specifically approved for VA purposes to use your benefits. To apply eligible veterans must submit an application for benefits (VA Form 22-1990). (Military.com)
Online Prescription Refills. Veterans can now refill VA-prescribed medications online at www.myhealth.va.gov. This site is designed exclusively for VA patients to manage medications prescribed by VA doctors. Veterans will have to become registered users of the site which also includes a Personal Health Journal for recording and tracking your health conditions. (Naval Affairs, 11/2005)
Survivor Web Site. The Department of Veterans Affairs has created a new web site for surviving spouses and dependents of active duty service members and military veterans. This site is organized into two broad categories--one for survivors of service personnel who died while serving on active duty and another for survivors of veterans who passed away after their term of military service. Visit www.vba.va.gov/survivors for the latest benefit information. (Naval Affairs, 11/2005)
TRICARE For Life (TFL) is a program option available for military retirees, their spouses, and survivors age 65 and over who are entitled to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B. TFL is available as secondary coverage to Medicare in addition to offering access to TRICARE services that may not be covered under Medicare. TRICARE pays secondary to Medicare beginning on the first day of the month that the beneficiary turns 65. In most cases, Medicare will pay first, and the remaining out-of-pocket expenses will be paid by TRICARE.
- For TRICARE and Medicare-covered services, Medicare pays first in most cases, and TRICARE pays its share of the remaining expenses second.
- For services covered by TRICARE, but not by Medicare, TRICARE pays first and the beneficiary is responsible for any TRICARE deductibles and cost-shares.
- For services covered by Medicare, but not by TRICARE, Medicare is the only payer and the beneficiary is responsible for Medicare cost shares.
- For services not covered by Medicare or TRICARE, the beneficiary is responsible
- for all costs.
For services received from a civilian provider, the provider will first file claims with Medicare. Medicare will pay its portion and automatically forward the claim to TRICARE for processing. TRICARE will send its payment for the remaining beneficiary liability directly to the provider, and beneficiaries will receive a Medicare summary notice and a TFL explanation of benefits (EOB) that indicates the amount paid to the provider. See the description about filing dual-eligible claims in the section entitled, "Claims Processing and Billing Information."