Qualifications for VA Benefits

Veteran meeting with attorney to understand his VA benefits.

Americans who have served in the military deserve the support of their country, which is why the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) manages a number of programs for veterans. If you’re a veteran, you probably already know about VA health care and disability compensation. But the range of VA benefits extends far beyond those areas and into other parts of veterans’ lives. The mission of Disability Law Group is to help connect veterans with these programs and work to make sure they get them.

What are the Different Types of VA Benefits?

The VA supports veterans in several different ways, including the following:

  • Health care
  • Disability
  • Education, training, and employment
  • Pension
  • Housing assistance

How Do I Qualify for VA Benefits?

Most VA benefits require that the veteran was discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. National Guard and Reserve members can qualify for specific programs in certain cases. It’s important to remember that the VA oversees numerous programs, and requirements are constantly changing. If you’re a veteran who needs assistance, it’s a good idea to talk with an experienced VA benefits attorney to understand your rights and ensure you are receiving the full picture of benefits that you deserve.

Each of the above benefits, and others, have their own eligibility criteria. Some of these are explained below.

Health Care

These benefits cover numerous aspects of a veteran’s medical care, from treating illnesses and injuries to preventive care and health education. Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, may qualify if they served 24 continuous months or the full time for which they were called to active duty. However, these criteria may not be necessary to allow for health care benefits if any of the following are true:

  • You were discharged for a disability that was caused, or aggravated, by your active duty service
  • You were discharged for a hardship or early out
  • You served before September 7, 1980

Current or former National Guard or Reserves members must have been called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty. Those who had or have active duty status for training purposes only don’t qualify for VA health care.

Disability

If you have an injury or illness that was caused, or aggravated, by your active duty service, you could qualify for monthly disability payments. Both of these must be true:

  • You served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training
  • You have a qualified disability under the VA rating criteria for your service-connected condition

And at least one of these must apply:

  • You got sick or injured during service and can link this condition(s) to your illness or injury
  • You had an illness or injury before you joined the military, and your service made it worse or aggravated beyond the natural progression of the condition
  • You have a disability-related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you ended your service

Education, Training, and Employment

There is a wide range of educational, job training, and employment assistance programs available to veterans. These cover tuition, licensing and certification, vocational rehabilitation, career counseling, and much more.

The VA’s eligibility requirements depend on the program for which the veteran is applying. For instance, the Post-9/11 GI Bill applies to those who served on active duty for at least 90 days after September 10, 2001. Some of these benefits depend upon such criteria as to when you were or plan to be discharged, your length of active duty service, and your level of education.

If you are seeking support related to your education or your career, ask an experienced VA disability benefits attorney. There are numerous programs that may fit your exact situation.

Pension

Monthly pension payments are available to wartime veterans who did not receive a dishonorable discharge. To qualify for these you have to meet certain guidelines in the following categories:

  • Age
  • Annual family income and net worth
  • Duration and start date of active duty
  • Nature of disability, including whether you’re residing in a nursing home or are a long-term care patient
  • Whether you receive SSDI or SSI payments

Housing Assistance

The VA offers home loan programs to help veterans buy, build, improve, or refinance their homes. While conventional loans require down payments, most VA loans do not. VA loans are backed by the government but issued by private lenders. For your initial VA loan (not refinancing), the lender will likely consider your credit score.

The other qualifications are:

  • You completed at least 90 days of active service during wartime
  • You served at least 6 years in the Reserves or National Guard
  • You served at least 181 days of active service during peacetime
  • You’re the spouse of a service member who either died in the line or duty or as a result of a service-related disability

How Can a VA Benefits Attorney Help Me?

The above list of benefits is not exhaustive, but many veterans do not even know that a VA program may exist to help with a specific need. Moreover, there are programs available that can help veterans’ spouses and dependents as well.

Finding a particular program that fits your life, and for which you qualify, is step one of a veterans’ benefits attorney. Helping you apply and submit supporting documentation is the next. With respect to health care and disability, especially, there are requirements concerning medical records, exams, and more – this is where our veterans’ disability attorneys can step in to advocate for you and fight for you to win the benefits you deserve. Your active duty date, and duration, can also affect your eligibility. And of course, some programs have time deadlines or other critical dates. Our firm helps with each of these steps and we stick with you at every stage.

In some cases, qualifying veterans find that their applications are rejected. They’re entitled to benefits, but don’t know where to turn. Disability Law Group understands what it takes to challenge the VA’s decision through the appeals process.

If you’re in need of VA benefits, have a rejected claim, or simply have questions, turn to Disability Law Group. Our compassionate and knowledgeable team can walk you through your legal options and help you claim the compensation you deserve. Call us today.