If you face criminal prosecution, possible consequences include jail time, probation or other restrictions. If you are a veteran, your benefits might be at stake.
Being charged with a crime does not jeopardize your benefits, but a conviction could. In fact, imprisonment for a conviction could potentially suspend or reduce payments.
Incarceration’s impact on benefits
Pleading guilty to a criminal charge could see the suspension of non-service connected pension payments or a reduction in disability compensation. Convictions affect military retirement pay or disability compensation differently, with felony convictions carrying 60-day imprisonment being the threshold for consequences. If your sentence involves a halfway house, work release program or community service, it is not the same as incarceration. These sentences would not impact benefits.
Options with loss of benefits
In some cases, you will not lose all of your benefits. If the conviction triggered a penalty for your military disability compensation, you may experience a reduction of half what is typically issued. If your rating was 40%, you could receive 20% going forward. However, in extenuating circumstances, such as the ability to prove hardship on a spouse or children with this reduction, you can request that the family directly receives the amount of reduced compensation.
For those serving time for either a misdemeanor or felony, a veteran’s pension terminates on day 61 of incarceration. If the VA does not receive notification of your incarceration, you may face financial liability for the pension payments received during your lockup once they find out.
It is possible to continue receiving benefits after your release, provided you meet eligibility requirements. The VA also offers special programs to help veterans reintegrate into society.