What Constitutes Willful Misconduct for Disability Ineligibility?

Man Signing Papers

Willful misconduct is an important term to know when determining disability eligibility. The Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) will not accept an application for disability if the illness or injury arose out of “willful misconduct.”

What Is Willful Misconduct, Then?
Willful misconduct is defined as “an act involving conscious wrongdoing or known prohibited action” that “involves deliberate or intentional wrongdoing with knowledge of or wonton and reckless disregard of its probably consequences.”

Examples of willful misconduct include alcohol and drug use, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and suicide.

As mentioned above, veterans may not receive disability benefits, including compensation, if the incident causing injury or illness was found to be willful misconduct by the VA. Even in the case of death, the VA will not approve survivor applications for dependency claims, if the death is caused by willful misconduct, such as suicide.

It is important to note that the VA is bound by service department rulings. If the service department determines than an injury, illness, or death was not caused by willful misconduct, then the VA must follow the ruling, unless significant evidence is presented otherwise.

If you need assistance with disability eligibility or questions about willful misconduct, please contact us today at (855) 312-5575.