How Do I Find Out If I Am Eligible For Veterans Benefits?
Eligibility to receive veterans benefits through the many programs offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is determined by many factors related to the veteran’s service. The VA is in charge of operating and allocating benefits programs to veterans for a wide variety of causes. Eligibility requirements vary between programs, resulting in programs being available for certain veterans while other programs are not.
These eligibility criteria are often based on time served, discharge status, disability level, and annual income. Benefits programs run by the VA are intended to help veterans transition back into the civilian lifestyle while providing resources for continued support medically and financially for those that need it most. In this article, we will break down how to find out if a veteran is eligible to receive benefits and the criteria that must be met.
Visiting The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Website
The fastest way to verify eligibility for veterans benefits programs is by visiting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. This website cumulates all benefits programs into one easy-to-use platform that breaks down all the requirements needed to be eligible. Programs are detailed to give veterans a comprehensible understanding of the benefits provided if all eligibility criteria have been met. Visit the VA website at VA.gov Home | Veterans Affairs
Veterans can use the online portal to start the application process or contact a trained professional to answer any questions. Once eligibility has been determined, veterans can apply for benefits directly through each program’s website or by making an account on eBenefits. eBenefits makes it quick and easy to manage all programs and stay up to date on expiration dates and policy changes. For more info: Home – VA/DoD eBenefits
The reasoning behind a veteran’s discharge from the military is one of the most significant deciding factors when applying for benefits programs through the VA. While there are many different discharges, a Dishonorable Discharge will almost always prevent veterans from receiving benefits. In some cases, veterans may be able to apply for a discharge upgrade to increase their status and chances of obtaining access to VA programs.
All branches of the military consider upgrading a veteran’s discharge if it was related to any of the following criteria:
- Mental health conditions
- Traumatic brain injury
- Sexual assault or harassment
- Sexual orientation (Includes Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy)
Upgrading a veteran’s discharge may be the only chance they have at receiving benefits through the many programs offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Basic Eligibility For Health Benefits
Health benefits through the VA are offered to all veterans who meet the basic service and discharge requirements while offering priority benefits to those who need it most. To qualify for health benefits, a veteran must have served in active military, naval, or air service and received a discharge that is other than dishonorable. A Dishonorable Discharge is one of the only reasons a veteran is denied health benefits.
Veterans who were enlisted after September 7, 1980, or started active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served a minimum of 24 months or the entirety of their enlistment agreement. This requirement does not apply to veterans who were discharged early due to disability.
Basic Eligibility For Disability Benefits
Disability benefits are allocated to veterans living with an illness or injury brought on or worsened by their active military service. Benefits vary between financial assistance and health care options. To be eligible, veterans must have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training and have received a disability rating for their service.
Veterans must meet at least one of the following criteria.
- Became ill or injured while serving in the military (inservice disability claim)
- Had an existing injury or illness become worse while serving in the military (preservice disability claim)
- A disability become apparent after service in the military (postservice disability claim)
Other circumstances may qualify veterans and dependents for disability benefits, such as developing a chronic illness up to one year after discharge, becoming ill due to coming in contact with hazardous materials and contaminants, or have developed an illness or injury during time spent as a prisoner of war (POW). More information can be found here: Home – VA/DoD eBenefits.
Applying For Veterans Benefits
The fastest way to apply for veterans benefits programs is through the VA website. Each of the programs available for veterans is detailed in full, along with all the different ways to apply. Visiting or contacting your regional VA office is a great place to gain more information about the application process along with the required documents for veterans.
Applying can also be done through the mail, although this has proved to be the slowest method from the time veterans apply to the time they have received a decision. Claims are processed on a first-come-first-served basis, so starting the application as soon as possible will help veterans receive benefits in a timely manner. Apply here: Applying for Benefits – Veterans Benefits Administration (va.gov)
Veterans Benefits: Resources For A Comfortable Lifestyle
While eligibility criteria vary significantly between each of the veteran’s benefits programs offered by the VA, each of these has the veteran’s best intentions in mind. Adjusting back to civilian life can prove challenging for many veterans, raising the need for programs that help specifically with that endeavor. While we have only talked about a couple of veterans’ programs, there are many more out there!
Visiting the VA website or contacting your local VA office is a great place to start working towards a more comfortable lifestyle.
Those who qualify for veterans benefits may also qualify for other assistance programs like Lifeline. Check for eligibility in one easy click. Free Cell Phone Service With Government Program | StandUp Wireless