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Veterans Affairs

Military veterans, regardless of the branch of service, regardless of the era in which they served, and regardless of whether they served during a time of peace or a time of war, are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if they had not served in the military.

Click to download the ALS Association's ALS in the Military White Paper.

View these videos to learn more of ALS and its connection to military service.

ALS in the Military

The emotional wreath laying ceremony that The ALS Association held at Arlington National Cemetery at Advocacy Day in 2009.

VA Benefits Eligibility

Thanks to the efforts of The ALS Association, key members of Congress, advocates and the Department of Veterans Affairs, ALS has been listed as a disease entitled to presumptive service connection. This means that if a service member is diagnosed with ALS his or her condition will be presumed to have occurred during or been aggravated by military service and as such be entitled to service connection and full benefits. These benefits are described briefly below. An overview of benefits available to veterans, survivors and dependents is available from the VA here:


The benefits listed below apply to service connected individuals only.

  • VA compensation - Disability compensation is a monetary benefit paid to veterans who are disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities, including ALS, are considered to be service-connected. Disability compensation varies with the degree of disability and the number of veteran's dependents, and is paid monthly. Veterans with certain severe disabilities may be eligible for additional special monthly compensation. The benefits are not subject to federal or state income tax. Tables listing current compensation levels are available at:
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for Serious Disabilities - VA can pay additional compensation to a veteran who, as a result of military service, incurred the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities.
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) - a monthly payment to survivors if eligible.
  • Insurance benefits for your dependents
  • Specially adapted housing grant (SAH) - Certain veterans and service members with service-connected disabilities may be entitled to a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant from VA to help build a new specially adapted house or buy a house and modify it to meet their disability-related requirements. Eligible veterans or service members may now receive up to three grants, with the total dollar amount of the grants not to exceed the maximum allowable ($50,000 at the time of this writing).
  • Automobile grant - Financial assistance is available to purchase a new or used automobile (or other conveyance) to accommodate a disability for a veteran or service member with certain disabilities that resulted from an injury or disease incurred or aggravated during activity military service. The veteran or service member may only receive the automobile grant once in his/her lifetime. The grant is paid directly to the seller of the automobile for the total price (up to $11,000) of the automobile.
  • Adaptive equipment - The purchase of adaptive equipment and for repair, replacement, or reinstallation required because of disability or for the safe operation of a vehicle purchased with VA assistance.
  • Clothing allowance - Any veteran who is service-connected for a disability for which he or she uses prosthetic or orthopedic appliances may receive an annual clothing allowance.
  • Aide and attendance allowance - A veteran who is determined by VA to be in need of the regular aid and attendance of another person, or a veteran who is permanently housebound, may be entitled to additional disability compensation or pension payments. A veteran evaluated at 30 percent or more disabled is entitled to receive an additional payment for a spouse who is in need of the aid and attendance of another person.
  • Survivors' Benefits - and
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Other benefits

The VA also offers a full range of health care benefits, including:

  • Prescriptions
  • Medical supplies
  • Prosthetic items
  • Home improvement and structural alteration grant (HISA)

VA Health Care Benefits

These benefits may include medical and respite care and prosthetic items, such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, etc. Prescriptions and medical supplies also may be included, as well as a HISA grant.

Preventive Care Services

  • Immunizations
  • Physical Examinations
  • Health Care Assessments
  • Screening Tests
  • Health Education Programs

Ambulatory (Outpatient) Diagnostic and Treatment Services

  • Emergency outpatient care in VA facilities
  • Medical
  • Surgical (including reconstructive/plastic surgery as a result of disease or trauma)
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Mental Health
  • Bereavement Counseling
  • Substance Abuse

Hospital (Inpatient) Diagnostic and Treatment

  • Emergency inpatient care in VA facilities
  • Medical
  • Surgical (including reconstructive/plastic surgery as a result of disease or trauma)
  • Mental Health
  • Substance Abuse

Medications and Supplies

  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the counter medications
  • Medical and surgical supplies

Generally, they must be prescribed by a VA provider and be available under VA's national formulary system.

Summary Of September 23, 2008 VA Regulation

An interim final regulation, new 38 CFR 3.318, provides that:

  • The development of ALS at any time after discharge or release from active military, naval, or air service is sufficient to establish service connection for that disease. Veterans who have a diagnosis of ALS are considered service connected regardless of the number of years following discharge they were diagnosed.
  • The new regulation is effective immediately and applies to all applications for benefits that are received by VA on or after September 23, 2008, or that are pending before VA, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit this same date.
  • Veterans diagnosed with ALS are considered service connected regardless of when or where they served in the military. However, a veteran must have had 90 or more continuous days of active service.
  • The presumption of service connection for ALS does not apply if there is affirmative evidence that ALS was not incurred during or aggravated by service in the military or affirmative evidence that ALS was caused by the veteran's own willful misconduct.
  • The rating criteria for ALS in VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities is dependent upon the severity of the disease and its effect on the body systems involved. The minimum rating for ALS is 30 percent.

Click here to read the full Federal Register Notice

If you have further questions
please contact Patient Services

Phone: (212) 619-1400

Recursos en espaƱol disponibles. Por favor llame al (212) 619-1400. Gracias.

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