Disability Benefits for Former Prisoners of War (POWs)

Are you a former POW now living with a disability? Find out if you can get disability compensation or benefits.

Can I get disability benefits from VA?

You may be able to get disability benefits if you have a current illness or injury (known as a condition) that affects your body or mind and:

  • We believe your time spent as a POW caused your condition, and
  • At any time following active-duty service, your condition became at least 10% disabling. We use a disability rating system to measure the severity of your disability.

What conditions do these benefits cover?

These benefits cover conditions that we believe were caused by time spent as a POW (called presumptive disabilities). We’ve decided to cover these conditions because of studies that have been done on the long-term effects of captivity, deprivation, trauma, and cold injury.

For former POWs held captive for any length of time

Conditions that affect your body, including:

  • Osteoporosis (for claims filed on or after October 10, 2008, and you have a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD)
  • Lasting damage from frostbite
  • Posttraumatic osteoarthritis (pain and swelling in your joints that happens when a past injury causes a joint—such as your knee or elbow—to wear out)
  • A stroke or problems caused by a stroke (such as memory loss, loss of speech, or weakness in an arm or leg)
  • Hypertensive vascular disease, including hypertensive heart disease, and related problems (such as a stroke, blood clots, or other serious issues)

Conditions that affect your mind, including:

  • A neuropsychiatric condition
  • Psychosis
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Any of the anxiety states (such as PTSD)

For former POWs held captive for 30 days or more

Conditions that affect your body, including:

  • Osteoporosis (for claims filed on or after September 28, 2009; no PTSD diagnosis required)
  • Helminthiasis
  • Peripheral neuropathy, except where directly related to an illness caused by an infection
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Chronic dysentery
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

Any nutritional deficiency, including:

  • Avitaminosis
  • Beriberi, including beriberi heart disease
  • Malnutrition, including optic atrophy connected to malnutrition
  • Pellagra

Who’s covered?

Veterans

What kind of disability benefits can I get?

  • Health care
  • Compensation (monthly payments)

How do I get these benefits?

You’ll need to apply for benefits. When you apply, please include any documents that confirm you spent time as a POW. You’ll also need to include a doctor’s report stating that you have 1 or more of the conditions listed here—and that the condition is at least 10% disabling. Apply for benefits.