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.
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
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.