Special Tax Considerations for Veterans

If you are a disabled Veteran, you may be eligible to claim a federal tax refund if you have had  an increase in your percentage of disability from the Veteran’s Administration (which may include a retroactive determination) or, if you are a combat-disabled veteran applying for, and being granted, Combat-Related Special Compensation, after an award for Concurrent Retirement and Disability.

If this is the case, you will need to file an amended return, Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct a previously filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. An amended return must be filed as a paper return. Disabled veterans should include all documents from the VA and any information received from Defense Finance and Accounting Services explaining proper tax treatment for the current year.

Veterans should seek assistance from a competent tax professional before filing amended returns based on a disability determination. Refund claims based on an incorrect interpretation of the tax law could subject the veteran to interest and/or penalty charges.

VA Disability Benefits
Do not include disability benefits you receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in your gross income.  Some of the payments considered to be disability benefits include disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid either to veterans or their families, grants for homes designed for wheelchair living,

grants for motor vehicles for veterans who lost their sight or the use of their limbs, or

benefits under a dependent-care assistance program.

The VA publishes an annual benefits booklet, a comprehensive guide for Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors.

The Healing Blue Star

Winston Churchill is one of my heroes.  One of the quotes he is famous for is, “…never, never, never, never, never give up!”  I think of that often when I’m not achieving all I think I should.  I get angry and frustrated that I’m not a success at this or that, and I start putting myself down over it.  Sooner or later, I have to stop and give myself a mental shake and remember failure goes hand in hand with learning and many things require more than one effort before we get them right.  I think of Churchill’s words most often when I read of someone completing  suicide.

Suicide among veterans is at an all-time high: 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000 people compared to 8.9 per 100,000 for other Americans.  One fifth of all suicides in America are veterans.  That’s horrible.  Suicide has been called a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Things may look horrible today, but the sun will shine again.  The sad thing is that suicide is not an individual solution.  It hurts everyone who comes in contact with it, especially family members.

So, what do you do when you’re in such terrible pain (usually emotional as well as physical)?  Try anything…try everything!  Life is full of difficulties at every step.  But, life is also full of wonder, joy and beauty if you open your eyes enough to see it.  I know, you’re probably thinking, “What a Pollyanna!”  Maybe I am.  But I’d rather face the devil than quit and leave those I care about to suffer.

I know of what I speak.  My brother died of a drug overdose many years ago.  It was a horrible blow when I found out he was dead.  My mother found him lying back on his bed, already cold.  She ran upstairs to wake my father who came down and pronounced him gone.  All the family gathered to grieve and no one could fathom that he’d taken too many drugs on purpose.  Life had been extremely hard for him at that time.  But I’ve often wondered if he wouldn’t have found some peace and joy again if he’d waited it out?  I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t have.

So, you ask, what do I try?  As I said earlier, “everything.”  Many years ago, I had a period where I was sick for a very long time.  I was diagnosed with mononucleosis 3 times.  I had pneumonia winter after winter after winter.  I had chronic bronchitis, asthma, and arthritis.  I was depressed and miserable.  I was going to college at the time, and I took a class in alternative therapies.  I decided to try visualization for myself.  I chose an exercise called “The Healing Blue Star.”  It was funny when I first read it, but, what the heck?  What did I have to lose?  Nothing.

The Healing Blue Star involved visualizing a large, glittering blue star which I imagined moving through the air to sit above me.   As I watched it, it exploded into thousands of tiny blue stars.  I breathed them in and imagined them flowing through my body bringing healing as they flowed through me.  I felt their power as they entered my lungs, and I visualized my heart pumping them throughout my body over and over again, recharging my energy and ability to heal myself as they poured through me.

You know, it worked.  I have no explanation for it, except maybe it just helped me hang on until my own immune system recovered enough to step back into the picture.  I’ll never know what exactly it was, but I gradually began to feel better, and then to get better.  Was it worth it?  You bet it was.  I just wish I could have given that Healing Blue Star to my brother before it was too late.