Helping veterans and their families is what the City of Boston’s Veterans’ Services Commissioner Robert Santiago does on a regular basis. Now, as tough economic times have hit due to COVID-19, he is urging veterans to access benefits that are available to many of them right now.
M.G.L. Chapter 115 is a state veterans benefits program that provides monthly financial assistance to low-income veterans across Massachusetts. These benefits can be used to help pay for everyday expenses like rent, utilities, groceries; or emergency expenses.
Commissioner Santiago notes that the City has already seen an increase in calls and emails about these benefits.
“Just in the last few weeks, since COVID-19 really began impacting our community and job losses mounted, we have seen a jump in calls and emails from veterans seeking financial assistance,” said Santiago.
Unfortunately, one challenge is that many veterans are still not aware of these benefits that they’re entitled to, nor do they know whether they are eligible for benefits they have earned and deserve. Now, there is a new online resource to help. The Massachusetts Veteran Benefit Calculator allows veterans to go online, provide basic information, and help determine if they may be eligible for Chapter 115 benefits.
“When we speak with veterans in Boston, we can, on the spot, with the calculator loaded on a mobile device, check and verify if a veteran may be eligible for Chapter 115,” said Santiago. “It’s very beneficial and a helpful tool for us when we’re on the road to be able to quickly check the eligibility of the veteran. It’s something they expect from us – to take care of them – help better their quality of life. Additionally, the veteran can utilize the calculator to check eligibility as well”.
The next step after utilizing the Benefits Calculator is for the veteran to get in touch with their local Veterans’ Service Officer to complete the application. Right now, in-person visits are on hold however the Boston Office of Veterans’ Services (OVS) is fully operational while working remotely. The final determination of eligibility is calculated after the veteran contacts their local Veterans’ Services Officer and the application is approved by the state’s Department of Veterans’ Services.
However, it’s important for veterans, dependents, and anyone who is applying for Chapter 115 to know that Massachusetts is still processing Chapter 115 claims. The application can be completed over the phone or email and some documents requirements are being waived during this pandemic.
Veterans across Massachusetts should contact their local VSO after utilizing the Calculator. If you are in the City of Boston, you can email Commissioner Santiago at firstname.lastname@example.org or call directly at 617-635-3026.
“This is an unprecedented time in our city’s history and I want veterans in our community to know that Boston OVS is up and running at 100% capacity and ready to help,” said Santiago. “We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all veterans and their families. If there’s anything we can help our veterans with, please contact us immediately.“
As Commissioner Santiago said, these are unprecedented times. We all have to come together to make sure we’re taking care of one another. Chapter 115 offers assistance to our veterans – right now. Veterans have earned these benefits, so let’s make sure they receive them.