Hello, I know this is an older thread so hope this will reach you. I am also 100% SC P/T from Desert Storm. I am leaving in July 2015 for the Caribbean
. I plan to take a year or so with my family
to get to the USVI to settle permanently. You had a number of questions so I will address what I know for sure.
You can record
a "traveling" status with the VA that you currently are enrolled. This is important because if they schedule visits for you, C&P exams, etc. they always do it in the region that you are enrolled. Putting them on notice that you are traveling is good so that they don't do that. It would be prudent that you do an exam once per year, somewhere there is a medical
facility. The VA maintains a long list. Keep in mind that the VA maintains a strong presence on US territories. 100% gets you a lot of things. I would do the following if you haven't yet:
1. Register on Ebenefits. You can see everything here and print many needed items while you are traveling. You can order meds, etc. You can update a mailing address from time to time as needed. You can view upcoming exam requests by the VA and reschedule as needed.
2. Get your DV military ID for you and your family
on a base in the US before you leave. This will get you access to any base world wide. Take your 100% letter and birth certificates, marriage license
, etc. and they will print them on the spot.
3. Enroll your spouse and kids
in ChampVA. This is free insurance. They can be seen at many private doctors and VA clinics. Remember that if you need medical
care at a private location while outside the US, The VA will pay or reimburse you for it- just like in the states.
4. You need not have a mailing address.
5. Disability pay is nontaxable abroad or in the states. It is specifically excluded on IRS forms and if that is your only income
, no tax or reason to file. If you reside in a US territory, no tax or reason to file with the IRS for anything. Once you establish residency in a territory, you file a form with the IRS to advise them that you are no in a state and they understand that no further IRS forms will be required.
6. Direct deposit goes through as normal and you get your money
7. You can settle anywhere that is not on the US list of countries where you can't collect military or SS benefits and get your money
. The list isn't long and I doubt that you would settle in one of those countries anyway.
8. If you are unlikely to get much mail you may want to get a stateside address for a mail drop like someone stated. If you are in a port for sometime, you can pay for the mail drop to bundle up your mail and send it to you. You fill out forms to authorize this. A relative or close friend is a good idea bc they can open your mail and send you a message.
9. US Coast Guard provides free transport on space A status for you and your family if you have an ID Card. This is a cool option and free. There is no option outside of CG at this time.
I don't know how much money you need but my pay plus SSDI is enough to use and save substantial amounts while I am on my boat. I am enrolled in school FT and using the VA Vocational Rehab program for online school now and while I am aboard. I think the VA knows that disabled vets travel and they aren't giving me a hard time. Your exam schedule is more a reflection of your disability and requirement for future exams. None of my disabilities are subject for improvement and I am PT forever with no exams. I am currently evaluated with the VA for 130% scheduled SC by their standards. That may not be the case with you. I would stay away from advice from the DAV and VFW. Find doe vets that have done what you are considering on forums
and verify the advice you get. If course there are a lot of people with opinions who haven't actually done what they are advising. Good luck Brother.