Joining the military means that interactions with law enforcement will have more consequences for you than for civilians. While you are an active service member, an arrest or criminal charges could lead to military consequences as well or even a dishonorable discharge.
When you have already secured an honorable discharge and continue to receive veteran’s benefits, a criminal conviction can be a reason to worry. Although criminal charges on their own don’t affect your benefits, a conviction possibly could.
Felony convictions can affect your disability benefits
A conviction for a felony offense that involves imprisonment could have an impact on veterans who receive disability benefits. If the incarceration lasts more than 60 days, their disability benefit rating becomes limited to 10%. If a veteran already has a 10% rating, they can expect the reduction of their benefits by half.
The same rules do not apply for those who are able to qualify for a work-release program or those living in a halfway house. Those on probation or other forms of community control and those incarcerated for a misdemeanor also don’t have to worry about a reduction of their disability benefits.
What about your other benefits?
During a period of incarceration, you likely won’t have access to care at veterans medical facilities. That’s not because you don’t qualify for health care benefits but because the facility housing you has the primary responsibility to provide your medical care until your release.
Those incarcerated for any kind of offense will lose their pension benefits after their sixty-first day of incarceration. There will also be limitations on education benefits depending on the circumstances. If there is a bright side to these consequences, it is that dependent spouses and children may be able to receive disability compensation that the incarcerated veteran does not receive. Dependent parents can also qualify in some circumstances.
It’s worth noting that at least some benefits will increase or resume after a veteran’s release, provided that they still meet the other criteria to receive the benefits. For veterans who depend on their benefits, fighting back against criminal charge rather than risking the consequences of a conviction may be the better approach.