List of Benefits for All Disabled Veterans: What Do You Qualify For?
As part of its mission to serve veterans and their families, VA provides disability compensation to eligible veterans who were disabled as a result of their military service. Veterans may be eligible for additional benefits depending on their combined disability rating. We will first discuss benefits all disabled veterans can qualify for, followed by a breakdown by VA rating.
VA Disability Compensation Benefits for All Disabled Veterans
As mentioned above, veterans are eligible for disability compensation as long as they have a qualifying condition for which they are service-connected. Disability compensation typically refers to a monthly monetary benefit paid to a veteran who is disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred in or aggravated by active duty military service.
Importantly, if veterans received one of these discharge statuses, they may not be eligible for VA disability benefits: other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge. However, there are a number of ways in which veterans can receive a discharge upgrade.
VA Health Care Benefits for Disabled Veterans
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States. It provides care at over 1,200 facilities and helps over 9 million veterans across the country. Each VHA facility is staffed with Patient Advocates who can answer any questions veterans may have about the healthcare system.
Generally speaking, to qualify for VA healthcare, veterans must receive an other-than-dishonorable discharge and be service-connected for a qualifying condition. Importantly, the veteran’s disability rating does not matter.
As long as veterans have a disability rating (e.g., 0 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent) for a service-connected condition, they are likely eligible for VA healthcare. Nonetheless, veterans who do not have disability ratings should still check on their eligibility status.
When veterans apply for enrollment, VA determines whether they are eligible for healthcare in general, and if so, will assign a Priority Group. A veteran’s Priority Group also determines whether veterans will be responsible for copayments for medications and different types of care at VA Medical Centers.
Services Exempt from Inpatient and Outpatient Copayments
All of the following services do not require inpatient and outpatient copays, regardless of the veteran’s Priority Group:
- Care related to a VA-related-service-connected condition
- Specialty registry examinations offered by VA to evaluate possible health risks associated with military service (e.g., Agent Orange Registry exam)
- Counseling and care for military sexual trauma
- Compensation & Pension examinations
- Care that is part of a VA research project
- Readjustment counseling
- Care for cancer of the head or neck caused by nose or throat radium treatments received while in the military
- Individual or group smoking cessation or weight reduction services
- Hospice care
VA Benefits for Vision Care and Hearing Aids
VA healthcare covers routine vision and hearing exams and preventative tests, but generally does not cover eyeglasses or hearing aids. However, VA will provide you with eyeglasses and/or hearing aids if you:
- Receive compensation for a service-connected condition;
- Receive increased pension for regular aid and attendance or for being permanently housebound;
- Are receiving VA benefits under 38 USC § 1151;
- Are a former POW; or
- Received a Purple Heart medal
There are a few other scenarios in which veterans may obtain eyeglasses or hearing aids from VA. More information about VA’s eyeglasses and hearing aid policy is available at this VA website.
Importantly, if a veteran’s hearing aids are recommended by the Audiology and Speech Pathology Clinic, the hearing aids themselves, the repairs, and future batteries will be at no cost to the veteran as long as they maintain eligibility. Veterans can request new batteries via the mail, over the phone, or via their eBenefits page.
Again, in order to receive hearing aids through VA, veterans will have to register at the health administration enrollment section of a VA Medical Center (VAMC), which can be done either in person or by filling out VA Form 10-10EZ and mailing it directly to a local VAMC.
Dental Care Benefits with VA for Disabled Veterans
Unfortunately, qualifying for dental care with VA can be very difficult as the requirements are strict. VA only offers dental care benefits to certain qualifying veterans, based on a “Class” system.
Class I Dental Care
Veterans with service-connected dental disabilities or conditions for which they receive compensation (i.e., monthly payments) are in Class I. Veterans in Class I qualify for any needed dental care.
Class II Dental Care
Veterans who served on active duty for 90 days or more during the Persian Gulf War era are in Class II. Veterans in Class II may qualify for one-time dental care if they meet all of the requirements listed below:
- They did not receive a dishonorable discharge; and
- They apply for dental care within 180 days of discharge or release; and
- Their DD214 certificate of discharge does not show that they had a complete dental exam and all needed dental treatment before they were discharged.
Class IIA Dental Care
Veterans who have service-connected non-compensable dental conditions (i.e., rated 0 percent) or a disability that is the result of combat wounds or service trauma are in Class IIA. Veterans in Class IIA may qualify for any dental care needed to make sure they have and can keep a functioning dentition (i.e., a working set of teeth). Importantly, a Dental Trauma Rating (VA Form 10-564-D) or VA Regional Office Rating Decision letter (VA Form 10-7131) will tell veterans the tooth/teeth/condition(s) that are trauma rated.
Class IIB Dental Care
Veterans who are signed up to get care through the Homeless Veterans Dental Program (VHA Directive 2007-039) are in Class IIB. Veterans in Class IIB may qualify for a one-time dental care that a VA dental care provider concludes they need to achieve at least one of the goals listed below. That is, the dental care must be needed to:
- Relieve the veteran’s pain; or
- Help them get a job; or
- Treat their moderate, severe, or complicated and severe gingival and periodontal conditions (i.e., gum infections that can lead to pain, swelling, and bone and tooth loss if not treated)
Class IIC Dental Care
Veterans who are former POWs are in Class IIC. Veterans in Class IIC may qualify for any needed dental care.
If a VA dental care provider has concluded that a veteran’s dental condition is linked to a service-connected health condition and is making that condition worse, they will likely be in Class III. Veterans in Class III may qualify for dental care to treat the oral conditions that a VA dental care provider concludes are directly making their service-connected health condition(s) worse.
Class IV Dental Care
Veterans with one or more service-connected disabilities rated 100 percent disabling are in Class IV. These veterans may qualify for any needed dental care; however, if they are being paid at the 100 percent disability rate based on a temporary total rating, they are not qualified for this benefit.
Veterans who are unemployable (i.e., unable to work) and receiving disability compensation at the 100 percent rate due to service-connected conditions (i.e., receiving TDIU benefits) are also in Class IV and eligible for the same dental care listed above.
Class V Dental Care
Veterans who are active in a 38 USC Chapter 31 Veteran Readiness and Employment program are in Class V. Veterans in Class V may qualify for dental care that a VA dental care provider concludes is needed to achieve at least one of the goals listed below. That is, the dental care must be needed to:
- Make it possible for you to be in the employment program; or
- Make it possible for you to reach the goals of your Veteran Readiness and Employment program; or
- Prevent you from having to stop your employment program; or
- Help you get back to your employment program faster if you have had to stop (and are in “discontinued” status) because of an illness, injury, or dental condition; or
- Make it possible for you to get and adjust to a job during the period of employment assistance; or
- Make it possible for you to be fully independent in your daily living
Class VI Dental Care
Veterans who receive VA care or are scheduled for inpatient care for a health condition and need dental care for a dental issue that is making their health conditions harder to treat are in Class VI. Veterans in Class VI may qualify for dental care to treat the dental issue that a VA dental care provider finds is making the health condition you are being treated for harder to treat.
Importantly, veterans who do not qualify for VA dental care (and are enrolled in VA healthcare) may purchase dental insurance at a reduced cost through the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). The VADIP plan covers many common dental procedures such as diagnostic services, preventive care, root canals, dental surgery, and any emergency dental care.
Long-Term Nursing Home Care for Disabled Veterans
Finally, all veterans who are enrolled in VA’s health care system are eligible for long-term nursing home care; however, veterans’ disability rating percentages determine the level of care available and the amount of payment coverage.
Life Insurance Benefits for Disabled Veterans
There are several types of service connection for which veterans may be eligible, including the following:
Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI)
Service-disabled veterans’ insurance (S-DVI) is a life insurance benefit for veterans who have service-connected conditions but are otherwise in good health. To obtain S-DVI, veterans must meet the following criteria:
- They were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions on or after April 25, 1991; and
- They received a VA disability rating for a service-connected condition (even if only 0%); and
- They are in good health, except for any service-connected conditions; and
- They apply within two years from the date VA notifies them that they have been approved for a new service-connected condition
The premium amount that veterans pay for S-DVI coverage depends on age, type of plan (term or permanent), and the amount of coverage. Importantly, only veterans who are rated totally disabled may apply to have premiums waived (see more below).
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
According to VA, life insurance programs were developed to provide financial security for veterans’ families given the extraordinary risks involved in military service. Veterans may be able to get veterans’ group life insurance (VGLI) if they meet at least one of the following requirements:
- Had part-time Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) as a member of the National Guard or Reserves, and they suffered an injury or disability while on duty – including direct travel to and from duty – that disqualified them for standard premium insurance rates; or
- Had SGLI while they were in the military and they are within one year and 120 days of being released from an active-duty period of 31 or more days; or
- Are within one year and 120 days of retiring or being released from the Ready Reserves or National Guard; or
- Are within one year and 120 days of assignment to the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) of a branch of service, or to the Inactive National Guard (ING). This includes members of the United States Public Health Service Inactive Reserve Corps (IRC); or
- Are within one year and 120 days of being put on the Temporary Disability Retirement List (TDRL)
Veterans can receive between $10,000 and $40,000 in life insurance benefits, based on the amount of SGLI coverage they had when they left the military.
For service-related deaths, VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001, or up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 11, 2001. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased veteran may be reimbursed.
VA Clothing Allowance Benefits for All Disabled Veterans
VA’s clothing allowance involves an annual stipend(s) provided to disabled veterans who have unique clothing needs as a result of a service-connected disability or injury. Specifically, VA can provide veterans with one or more clothing allowance payments if they:
- Use a prosthetic or orthopedic device (including a wheelchair) because of a service-connected disability; or
- Have a service-connected skin condition and use a medication that causes irreparable damage to outer garments
To receive payment(s), veterans must establish eligibility by August 1 of the year for which they are claiming clothing allowance. Each VA medical center (VAMC) should have a designated prosthetic department. Veterans can contact a representative in the prosthetic department at their nearest VAMC to apply.
VA Home Loan Guarantee Benefits for Disabled Veterans
VA provides home loan guarantees to help veterans buy, repair, rebuild, or keep a home. In general, VA home loans are provided by private lenders (i.e., banks and mortgage companies), and are guaranteed by VA so that veterans or service members can get more favorable terms on their mortgage.
VA has multiple types of home loans, but the overall idea remains the same. Veterans can enjoy lower interest rates on their loans and may be able to pay lower down payments for their homes as guaranteed by VA.
Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grants
Home improvement and structural alteration grants are available primarily to veterans with service-connected conditions (and some with non-service-connected conditions) who require home improvements or alterations for the continuation of treatment. Here, eligibility requires a medical determination that such improvements and alterations are necessary for effective medical treatment of the veteran’s condition.
List of Benefits for Veterans 10% Disabled
The following benefits, including those listed above, are available to veterans with 10 percent combined disability ratings:
Vocational Readiness and Employment (VR&E)
Vocational Readiness and Employment (VR&E) is a benefit designed for service members and veterans with service-connected conditions who are looking to increase their likelihood of obtaining employment. VA will evaluate the veteran’s interests, aptitudes, abilities, and assess how their disability affects their ability to work. VR&E also provides a range of career services including:
- Career counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment as job training, job-seeking skills, résumé development, and other work-readiness assistance
- On-the-job-training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
Again, to be eligible for VR&E benefits, veterans must be at least 10 percent disabled and have received a discharge other than dishonorable. In general, veterans must use all VR&E services within 12 years from whichever of the following is the later date: (1) the date they separated from active military service; or (2) the date that VA first notified them that they have a qualifying service-connected disability rating.
Veterans with 10 percent disability ratings are also eligible for VA healthcare priority group 3.
List of Benefits for Veterans 30% Disabled
In addition to the benefits listed above, veterans who are rated at least 30 percent disabled by VA may also add eligible dependents to their VA benefits, thereby increasing the amount of disability compensation they receive each month. For VA purposes, a dependent is a family member who relies on the veteran financially and meets certain criteria. Eligible dependents include the following:
- A spouse
- Unmarried children (this includes stepchildren, adopted children, and biological children) who are: (1) under the age of 18; (2) between ages 18 and 23 and attending school full-time; or (3) seriously disabled prior to reaching the age of 18
- Parents in the veteran’s direct care whose net worth and income are below the limit put in place by law
- Parents (biological, step, adopted, foster, etc.) are defined as those who, for at least one year, “stood in the relationship of a parent to a veteran at any time before their entry into active service”.
VA has a different form to add each type of dependent outlined above. If the forms listed below are submitted within one year of the veteran’s 30 percent disability rating grant, the effective date of the Veteran’s benefit increase should be that of their original grant of benefits. The forms are as follows:
- To add a child under the age of 18 or a spouse, veterans must submit VA Form 21-686c: Declaration of Status of Dependents
- To add a child attending school full-time between the ages of 18 and 23, veterans must submit VA Form 21-674: Request for Approval of School Attendance
- To add a dependent parent, veterans must submit VA Form 21P-509: Statement of Dependency of Parent(s)
Veterans with 30 percent disability ratings are also eligible for VA health care priority group 2.
List of Benefits for Veterans 50% Disabled
Veterans with 50 percent disability ratings are eligible for all the benefits outlined above, as well as the following:
VA Health Care Priority Group 1
VA health care priority group 1 includes the following benefits:
- Preventive care
- Inpatient (hospitalization) services
- Ancillary services
- Mental health care
- Geriatrics and extended care
- Medical equipment/prosthetic items and aids
- Dental care
- Nursing home placement
- Medically related travel benefits
- Hearing aids
- Automotive adaptive equipment (under certain conditions)
- Home improvement and structural alteration grants (under certain conditions)
- Clothing allowance benefits (under certain conditions)
- Dependents’ health care (if not eligible under TRICARE)
- Emergency care at a non-VA facility (under certain conditions)
- Foreign medical care (for service-connected and secondary conditions)
Concurrent Retired and Disability Pay
Concurrent retired and disability pay (CRDP) restores veterans’ service pay by eliminating the VA waiver (i.e., the amount the veteran receives in VA disability compensation subtracted from the amount they receive in retired pay to avoid “double-dipping”). Veterans will not receive a separate check for CRDP. Instead, the monthly check they receive from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the administrator of military retired pay, will be increased from the docked amount to their full retired pay.
Importantly, there is no application process for CRDP. If a veteran meets the eligibility requirements, DFAS will automatically eliminate the VA waiver, thus restoring their retired pay. To be eligible for CRDP, veterans must:
- Be receiving retired pay and VA compensation;
- Be a 20-year (or more) retiree; and
- Have a service-connected condition rated 50 percent or higher
List of Benefits for Veterans 100% Disabled
Along with all the benefits listed previously, veterans who are totally disabled (i.e., rated at 100 percent) are eligible for Priority Group 1 healthcare in addition to the following:
Dental Care Benefits for Veterans 100% Disabled
With a 100 percent disability rating or TDIU (i.e., total disability based on individual unemployability) status, veterans may be eligible to receive some or all of their dental care through VA. Eligibility for VA dental care is categorized into classes. The class the veteran is in determines the benefits they will receive.
Veterans with 100 percent disability ratings are categorized into Class IV. Importantly, these veterans are eligible for any needed dental care, such as scheduled cleanings and X-rays. It also includes restorative procedures such as fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures. Any oral surgeries that veterans might require, such as tooth extractions, root canals, and reconstructive surgeries due to trauma or serious illness are covered as well.
Civilian Health and Medical Programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
CHAMPVA is a health care program in which VA will share the cost of certain covered health care services that exist for the spouses and children of disabled veterans with 100 percent disability ratings. Examples of covered health care services under CHAMPVA include ambulatory services, hospice treatment, certain inpatient and outpatient treatments or hospitalizations, family planning, medical services, and medical equipment costs.
Specially Adapted Housing Program Veterans Benefits for Veterans 100% Disabled
The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program offers grants to veterans with certain severe service-connected conditions (typically rated 100 percent disabling, but not always). The grants assist with building, remodeling, or purchasing an adapted home. This can allow for independent living that might not otherwise be possible. The current maximum grant amount is $90,364. To be eligible for SAH grants, veterans must be entitled to disability compensation due to:
- Loss or loss of use of both legs;
- Blindness in both eyes, plus loss or loss of use of one leg;
- Loss or loss of use of one leg, and (1) residuals of organic disease or injury; or (2) loss or loss of use of one arm, affecting balance and ability to move without aid;
- Loss or loss of use of both arms at or above the elbows; or
- Severe burn injury
Dependents Education Assistance Program
The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally (i.e., 100 percent) disabled due to a service-connected condition, currently receiving TDIU benefits, or who died while on active duty, or as a result of a service-connected condition. DEA benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.
Read our blog for more: Additional Benefits for 100 Percent Disabled Veterans.
Tips for Veterans on Receiving VA Benefits
Many of the benefits discussed herein are contingent on receiving a discharge status other than dishonorable discharge. If veterans do receive a dishonorable discharge, there are ways to fight that. VA determines on a case-by-case basis whether the incidents that led to the other than honorable discharge may be found to have been “under conditions other than dishonorable,” and thus whether basic eligibility benefits can be established.
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