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More are eligible for traumatic injury payments

Sep. 16, 2011 - 04:49PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 16, 2011 - 04:49PM  |  
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The Department of Veterans Affairs will soon begin making retroactive payments to troops who suffered severe injuries outside a combat zone between Oct. 7, 2001, and Nov. 30, 2005, under the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program.

The benefit, which VA said could be worth up to $25,000 to $100,000 per qualifying veteran, is for those severely injured while serving in the military anywhere outside a combat theater.

Service members who were hurt in a combat zone already were eligible for the benefit.

Qualifying traumas include amputation, limb salvage, severe burns, loss of sight, hearing or speech, paralysis, facial reconstruction and other severe wounds.

The benefit is payable regardless of whether the veteran was covered by Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance at the time of the injury, VA said.

National Guard and reserve members also are eligible, even if the cause of their injuries was not related to military service.

"Now all our nation's service members who suffered severe traumatic injuries while serving their country can receive the same traumatic injury benefits regardless of where their injury occurred," VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a release.

Veterans who were previously denied coverage but believe they qualify are encouraged to refile claims, the VA said.

Service TSGLI branch offices have been taking retroactive claims applications since at least April. VA officials said payments will start going out after Oct. 1.

The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2010 required VA to expand coverage under TSGLI.

VA could not immediately provide information on how many people might be eligible for the retroactive benefits, or what the claims might cost.

More details, and a screening quiz to determine whether a veteran is eligible, is http://www.insurance.va.gov/sglisite/tsgli/retro/q1.htm">online.

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