Chapter 115 is a safety net program intended to aid veterans in times of financial crises exactly like these, and we strongly encourage any Massachusetts residents with financial need to apply if they served in the military or if they are the dependent or survivor of a veteran.
Due to social distancing, building closures, and other public health-related measures, there have been some changes in how the program is administered, but eligible veterans and their dependents and survivors still have the right to their benefits under the law.
The Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) has made temporary changes to the Chapter 115 application process to make the program more accessible during the public health crisis.
Important Changes to the Chapter 115 program during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Stimulus payments received as part of the Federal COVID-19 CARES Act package are not counted as income when applying for Chapter 115.
- You do not have to submit all of the necessary paperwork upfront in order to receive benefits. The basic info you need to prove eligibility is proof of military service, like your DD214, and proof of residency (see below for examples).
- Veterans’ Service Officers (VSOs) should be accepting applications by phone, email, fax, and/or mail. (You should not be required to meet in person.) In addition, VSOs should be flexible and make accommodations when needed for receiving any paperwork as part of the application process.
- Chapter 115 benefits will not be terminated for any recipients during this public health crisis.
Additional changes include:
- An authorization extension through September 1, 2020 on current and pending cases starting on March 20, 2020 – with the possibility of further extension as appropriate
- VSOs will approve qualifying applications without first obtaining DVS preapproval
- VSOs will exercise liberal judgment when evaluating an application and have been instructed to draw reasonable conclusions in favor of the applicant
- Applicants are only required to provide minimum proof of eligibility for benefits, which includes a service discharge document (DD214) and any of the following documents that proves residency: Mortgage statement or rental contract; Utility bill; Massachusetts’ Driver’s License of Massachusetts ID; Bank statement; Letter of residency from a shelter or transitional home; Current voter registration; Notarized “Letter of Residency”; US Postal contract agreement
- The requirement for unemployed applicants to actively be seeking employment has been suspended for the duration of the public health crisis
- Money received by the Federal government as part of the Federal COVID-19 stimulus package will not be counted as income for financial assistance
- The requirement to submit proper burial documentation for a veteran within 60 days of passing has been extended to 180 days, until further notice
- Applicants can appeal a Notice of Action via email or by mailing back the form after writing the following on the Notice of Action: “I wish to appeal to DVS”
- Until further notice, all DVS hearings will be held telephonically
- Applications shall not require signature
The statement of changes from DVS can be accessed here. If you have any problems contacting your VSO, submitting an application for Chapter 115 benefits, or receiving your benefits, you should contact DVS directly to seek assistance with your application. DVS can be reached at:
Mail: 600 Washington Street, 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02111
If you have trouble applying for Chapter 115 benefits or reaching your VSO, we want to hear about it. We are working to make sure all eligible veterans and their dependents get the benefits they need at this time. You can help by telling us about your experience with your VSO and Chapter 115 by filling out this quick survey.
If your application is denied or your benefits cut off, you have a right to appeal. If you want legal help with an appeal or have questions about Chapter 115 rules, please contact the Veterans Legal Clinic intake line at 617-390-2525 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After using the Benefit Calculator, you will have the option to download or email yourself a copy of your answers. We encourage you to save this copy if you are able, as it may be helpful in your application process.
If you are experiencing financial need at this time, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your VSO even if the Benefit Calculator indicates that you may not be eligible for assistance.
The current public health and financial crisis continues to evolve, as does the Chapter 115 program’s responsiveness. Updates will be posted to this page as more information becomes available.