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New year time for veterans to review, update benefits earned in service
Beaver County Times - 1/14/2021
Jan. 14—The new year is a good time for veterans to review and update their military benefits, according to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The DMVA is reminding veterans to meet with an accredited veteran service professional to ensure they are receiving or maximizing the benefits they have earned through their service and sacrifice.
"Oftentimes veterans apply for benefits, accept the results and don't ever check later to see if there are updates that could work in their favor," said Joel Mutschler, director of the Bureau of Veterans Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration and Outreach.
"By meeting with an accredited veteran service officer, veterans can see if a life change or an update to benefit policies may have changed their eligibility, he said. "There are numerous accredited veteran service officers and veteran service organizations around the state that are eager to help."
Mutschler noted that a benefits review can take place by phone or virtually due to the pandemic.
He said safeguarding military paperwork, especially the DD-214, which is used to verify military service, is an important first step for securing benefits.
The easiest way to manage military documents is to make sure they are filed in a safe place immediately upon leaving the military. Veterans often find that filing their documents for free at their county courthouse of record is an easy way to secure them until needed, which can often be decades into the future.
Anyone needing assistance locating their military documentation can contact the DMVA by calling toll-free 800-547-2838 or emailing: RA-REQ@pa.gov.
Another key step, Mutschler said, is for veterans to apply for federal healthcare and state benefits by visiting their local county director of veterans affairs or area accredited veteran service organizations to take a look at what benefits they may be eligible for and to get help applying for those benefits.
In addition to connecting with a county director or an accredited veteran service organization, Mutschler recommends that every one of Pennsylvania's nearly 800,000 veterans should sign up for the DMVA Veterans Registry, an extremely helpful, free tool that electronically delivers timely information about the many state benefits, programs and services available to veterans. Veterans, family members and people who work with veterans can sign up by computer or mobile device at register.dmva.pa.gov.
Mutschler cautioned, "Veterans and their dependents should never pay for help to apply for veterans' benefits because an abundance of free, professional help is available. If someone tries to charge a veteran for this service, the veteran should decline the assistance. There are about 200 veteran service officers in Pennsylvania who work with organizations such as the DMVA, county veterans affairs offices, and several veterans service organizations. They are experienced, trained professionals who provide veterans with the best advice and assistance at no cost."
For more about the DMVA visit us online at dmva.pa.gov or follow us at www.facebook.com/padmva or www.twitter.com/padmva.
(c)2021 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.)
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