After serving and protecting the country, you finally come home to tell the tale. But like many in the U.S. Armed Forces, you have suffered injuries, leaving you with a disability. It's a common scenario faced by nearly a third of the 12 million U.S. veterans aged 21 to 64.
Still, you were able to land a job in the federal government. However, you worry that you can't start work immediately due to medical treatment.
In that case, the Disabled Veteran Leave program may have you covered. If you qualify, you can get paid time off from work.
This guide provides an overview of the program, so please read on.
What Is the Disabled Veteran Leave?
The DVL is a one-time benefit under the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act. It entitles eligible Veterans to receive up to 104 hours of leave. Vets can use this to undergo medical treatment for any qualifying service-connected disability.
The eligibility period for the DVL begins on the "first date of employment." This could be the Veteran's hiring date or the effective date of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) disability rating. The later date is the primary consideration.
The DVL also has a continuous 12-month eligibility period. It then expires within one calendar year from the date of entitlement. Veterans can't request an extension once it expires.
Who Are Eligible for the DVL?
Veterans must have had a discharge or release term other than dishonorable. They must also be an employee of the federal government with a hiring date on or after November 5, 2016.
The Veteran's service-connected disability must have a VBA rating of at least 30%. To help you better understand these ratings, here's a helpful guide on VA math for disability.
How Do Veterans Apply for DVL?
First, gather documents proving you have a VA disability rating of 30% or higher.
You must then file your DVL application before your intended dates of leave. You can file a written, oral, or electronic form; the exact method depends on the agency (your employer). Include a personal self-certification that you will use the DVL for medical treatment.
Some agencies accept personal statements alone. However, others may require you to furnish a certification from your healthcare provider. If they ask for additional documentation, you must usually provide it within 15 days.
Typically, when agencies require certification from a doctor, it must include the following:
- The dates and times of the treatments or procedures
- A statement from the doctor indicating the treatment's relation to the service-connected disability
What if you have to get an emergency or urgent treatment?
In that case, you may not have to file for a leave in advance. However, your doctor must certify that you had to get emergency or urgent treatment.
Apply for Your DVL Before It Expires
With the Disabled Veteran Leave, you can get paid time off from work for medical treatment. However, it has a short eligibility period of 12 months, so if you qualify, please apply ASAP. If you miss the deadline, you'll have to forfeit your benefits.
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