Did you know that multiple sclerosis (MS) has been associated with military service?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes that multiple sclerosis may be classified as a service-connected disability eligible for VA benefits. Includes in the resources section at the end of this article (posted on HealthCentral) are several studies published during the past decade examining aspects of MS diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment in US Veterans.
Established in 2003, the VA MS Centers of Excellence (MSCoeE) is dedicated to furthering the understanding of multiple sclerosis, its impact on Veterans, and effective treatments to help manage MS symptoms. The MSCoE utilizes a network of regional programs, telemedicine, and informatics to improve care for veterans with MS, to enhance MS educations for patients, caregivers and healthcare providers, and to promote research into the causes and treatments of MS.
The VA has provided an easy-to-use clickable map to help you locate the VA MS Specialty Clinic nearest you. The MSCoE also offers monthly MS Caregiver conference calls during which you may network, share experiences, discuss topics related to caregiving, and learn about available resources. Families and caregivers of people with MS are invited to participate on the 4th Monday of every month at 2-3 pm ET by calling 1-800-767-1750, then punch in 43157#.
I am a Veteran with MS. Am I eligible for disability benefits?
If an individual had symptoms of MS while in the military, or within seven years after honorable discharge, he/she may be eligible for service-connected disability. In this case, the Veteran should complete the Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension available online or at their local medical center.
If an individual separated from the military more than seven years prior to an MS diagnosis, he/she may still be eligible for disability benefits. In this case, the Veteran must be diagnosed by a healthcare provider, preferably a neurologist who specializes in MS, who directly links symptoms experienced during the first seven years post-separation to the current diagnosis.
To find out if you are eligible for benefits, read the VA eligibility criteria, or call the VA benefits line at 1-800-827-1000. You may also contact Veterans Service Organizations (VSO), such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and United Spinal Association, for support and assistance.
Keep in mind that the VA continues to provide healthcare services to veterans with MS from the time of diagnosis and throughout their life, regardless of whether their MS has been determined to be service-connected or not.
Multiple Sclerosis and the Military - In Honor of Veteran's Day