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Incarcerated Veterans Program


Administered by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Incarcerated Veterans Program is designed to address the readjustment and reentry needs of Veterans returning to society following a period of time incarcerated.

The goal of the program is to:

  • Help incarcerated Veterans become aware of their entitlements and benefits and available community resources.
  • Assist them in verifying their Veteran status.
  • Provide counseling to address service-related problems.
  • Help incarcerated Veterans successfully reintegrate back into the community upon release.


How incarceration impacts VA benefits eligibility:

  • On the 61st day of imprisonment on a felony conviction, Veterans with a disability compensation rating of 20% or higher will have their monthly VA payments reduced to the 10% level.  For Veterans with a 10% rating, the payment is reduced by one-half.   
  • On the 61st day of imprisonment, payments will be terminated for Veterans in receipt of VA non-service-connected pension.
  • Incarceration does not completely terminate VA education benefits.
    • Beneficiaries incarcerated for a non-felony offense can receive the full monthly VA education benefits for which they are eligible.  
    • Beneficiaries incarcerated for a felony offense can be paid the costs of tuition, fees, and necessary books, equipment, and supplies. The VA cannot make payments for tuition, fees, books, equipment, or supplies if another Federal State or local program pays these costs. 
  • VA benefits payments are not reduced for recipients participating in work release programs, residing in residential reentry centers, or under community control. 

Apportionment of Benefits to Family Members

All or part of the compensation not paid to the incarcerated Veteran may be apportioned to VA-approved dependents; based on a showing of financial need by the dependent(s). 

The VA will not apportion benefits to an eligible dependent automatically. The beneficiary must file the proper paperwork with the VA for this apportionment to occur. 

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Video: Apportionment Claim with DVS and DOCCS




Debt Waivers

If you're facing difficulties repaying a VA debt, a waiver could be an option worth exploring. Here, we'll guide you through the process of requesting a waiver for debt related to VA disability compensation, non-service-connected pension, or education benefits. 

How does a waiver work? 

A waiver is essentially an agreement to forgive a VA debt. If you're unable to afford your full debt balance, even with smaller monthly payments over time, you can request a waiver. Depending on your circumstances, VA may grant a waiver for part or all of your VA debt. If your waiver request is approved, you won't be required to repay the waived amount.

Is there a time limit for requesting a waiver? Yes, there are specific time limits to keep in mind when requesting a waiver:

  • You have 30 days for education debts and 90 days for other types of debt to avoid late fees, interest, or other collection actions while we review your request.
  • VA can only consider waiver requests within 180 days for education, disability compensation, or pension benefit debt, and within 1 year for home loan debt from when you receive your first debt letter.

Can a representative request a waiver for a Veteran? Absolutely. We can assist with that.

How do I request a waiver? To request a waiver, you'll need to submit two items: a Financial Status Report (VA Form 5655) and a personal statement explaining why you believe you shouldn't have to repay the debt. Make sure to include additional information to support your waiver request that hasn't been provided in writing or isn't already in your VA records. You also have the option to request an oral hearing.

What can I expect after I request a waiver? Once a decision is made, you'll receive one of three outcomes: a full waiver (no repayment required), a partial waiver (partial repayment required), or a denial (full repayment required).

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VA Debt Waiver - NYS DVS and DOCCS


Restoring Benefits

Within 30 days of a Veteran’s anticipated release date, a Veteran may contact the VA to have their benefits resumed. In doing so, the Veteran needs to provide evidence verifying their scheduled release date. 

If the VA receives notice of the Veteran’s release within one year following the Veteran’s date of release from incarceration, then the VA will provide benefits payments dating back to the Veteran’s date of release. (Example: If the Veteran were released from incarceration in January 2019, but the VA did not receive notice of the Veteran’s release until November 2019, and the Veteran remains eligible for VA benefits, then the Veteran will receive a lump sum payment for all of the months going back to the Veteran’s date of release in January 2019). 

NOTE: For purposes of restoration of VA benefits, parole, participation in a work release program, or participation in a residential reentry center qualifies as “release from incarceration” that can trigger restoration of VA benefits.  

For additional information, visit VA Incarcerated Benefits

Contact Assistance

If you need assistance, or just want to learn more about the benefits and services you may be eligible for, schedule an appointment with one of our Veterans Benefits Advisors, all Veterans themselves.

  • Call 1-888-838-7697 to speak to an advisor.
  • Schedule a phone or video consultation online.
  • Use our search to find a Services Office near you.