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Treatment of Veterans Benefits

Former military members may be eligible to receive a number of different veterans benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Possible benefits include disability compensation, pension benefits, life insurance, educational benefits and more. Title 38 of the U.S. Code addressing veterans benefits dictates that the benefits are off limits to creditor claims. However, Title 38 has special provisions regarding the support of family dependents. Accordingly, receipt of veterans benefits can be counted as income for support purposes.

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Veterans benefits cannot be divided as an asset in a divorce case. This is due to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). The Pennsylvania Divorce Code confirms this rule. Under 23 Pa. Section 3501(a), discussing the definitions for marital benefits, veterans benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure are defined as non-marital. The definition goes on to draw a distinction between any benefits received in lieu of military retired pay. A similar distinction arises in support cases as far as whether the benefits can be garnished for payment of an award. Garnishment of veterans benefits is only permissible where the service member has waived military retired pay to receive the veteran benefit.

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