What is the Chapter 115 Benefits Program?
The Chapter 115 Benefits Program is a Massachusetts state initiative that provides financial aid for food, shelter/housing, clothing, and medical care to veterans and their dependents who have limited incomes and reside in Massachusetts. The program is overseen by the Massachusetts Department Veterans’ Services (DVS), which runs the program in partnership with local Veterans’ Service Officers (VSOs).
What is a VSO?
Every town or district in Massachusetts has a Veterans’ Service Officer (VSO). VSOs must assist veterans and their dependents in learning about, applying for, and receiving Chapter 115 benefits. VSOs can also help you in applying for other benefits and connecting with local resources.
Visit http://www.mass.gov/veterans/ to find your local VSO or call the Department of Veterans’ Services at 617-210-5480 and ask for your VSO’s contact information.
What types of Chapter 115 Benefits are available?
You can get a monthly cash payment. Whether you can get this cash payment depends on your living situation, special needs, and income. For example, if you are a single applicant living alone, you might qualify for between $1 and $1436 each month.
Medical Expense Reimbursements
You can be reimbursed (in full or in part) for various types of medical expenses, such as insurance premiums, co-pays, dental work, hearing aids, and eyeglasses.
Even if you have too much income to get cash assistance, you still might be able to get medical expense reimbursements.
You might be able to get financial aid if you are behind on your mortgage, rent, or utility bills. You might be able to get financial aid for emergency home repairs or in cases of natural disasters.
Other State Veteran Benefits
DVS provides other benefits besides Chapter 115 benefits. These include Annuities, Bonuses, Burial Allowances, Moving Assistance, and Transportation to Medical Appointments.
How does the Chapter 115 Benefits Program work?
Your local VSO handles applications, gets approval from DVS, and gives out benefits. The program is funded by a combination of state and local funds. DVS pays for 75% and your city or town pays for 25% of approved benefits.
Who can get Chapter 115 Benefits?
There are three requirements to get these benefits. You must (1) be a veteran or a dependent of a veteran; (2) have financial need; and (3) live in Massachusetts
For more details on (1) what qualifies at a veteran or a dependent; (2) what income and household requirements must be met; or (3) living in Massachusetts, please refer pages 3-5 in our Self- Help Guide for Veterans and their Dependents.
Applications and Appeals
How do I apply?
You must contact your local Veterans’ Service Officer (VSO) and file an application (known as a Form VS-1). Use our VSO Finder page or visit http://www.mass.gov/veterans/ to find your local VSO. You can also call the Department of Veterans’ Services at 617-210-5480 and ask for your VSO’s contact information.
You should bring documents with you to apply, including:
- DD-214 or other discharge certificate
- Income information (such as pay stubs, public benefits award letters, or bank statements)
- Proof of residence (such as rent receipts, mortgage payments, or a letter from a homeless shelter or transitional housing program)
- For dependents: veteran’s or child’s birth certificate; veteran’s marriage certificate; or veteran’s death certificate
After you apply, the VSO will give you a written decision and explain why your application was approved or denied.
What if my application is denied?
You have the right to appeal any decision made by your VSO about your benefits. Your VSO will send you a notice about his or her decision. You have 21 days from the date on the notice to file an appeal. The chart on page 8 of our Self- Help Guide for Veterans and their Dependents explains how you can file an appeal and the three appeal levels available to you.