Understanding the VA and YOUR Benefits

If you take the time to understand how the VA is put together you’ll have a better chance of knowing the benefits you need and how to get them. Here we introduce to you, your friend, the VA.

How to use. As you scroll down this page, you will see titles with plus (+) signs on the left. When you click on the title, the content will pull down. We created these so that you can quickly access information about the benefits you are interested in while navigating on the same page. The VA website has all these benefits strewn all over their website in an impossible mess. We hoped to provide the same information to you in an easy to read format.

NOTE: we just transitioned to a new site format this Christmas. Some of the HTML codes have not transitioned yet. This means you will see things like this throughout this page: “[one_half_last]“. Just ignore it for now. Thank you for your patience.

The Veteran Population

There are a lot of us out there. Our large voting bloc caries weight in Washington D.C. so long as we all vote together. Keep in mind, over 75% of veterans are married. Most of us have children or parents. In sum, veterans and veteran families make up at least 25% of the vote every year. This means the Veteran Voting Bloc has power.

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  • There are 21.8 million living Veterans
  • Currently, 12 million Veterans receive benefits
  • The Veteran population is older than the American population – almost three-quarters of Veterans are over age 50
  • Less than 1 in 20 Veterans are under 30 years of age[/one_half]

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  • 9% of Veterans are women
  • 22% of Veterans are minorities
  • Almost half of the minority Veteran population is aged 45-64
  • The female Veteran population is slightly younger, almost half are 35-54
  • By 2021, minorities are expected to make up 25% of the living Veteran population[/one_half_last]

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General Veteran Population Trends

  1. VA experienced an increase in claims in fiscal year 2011
  2. In 2011, 1 million Disability Compensation and Pension benefit claims were filed – 60% were for monetary increases to benefits that Veterans were already receiving
  3. VA expects a surge in benefit claims over the next 5 years
  4. In 2011, the overall unemployment rate for Veterans was 8.3% while the rate for post-9/11 Veterans was higher at 12.1%

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Trends Among Women Veterans and Minority Veterans

  1. Many female Veterans don’t identify with the term “Veteran,” even though they served in the military
  2. VA’s outreach campaigns to women have made improvements to bringing visibility to active duty women and Veterans
  3. Homelessness is increasing among the women Veteran population though it is decreasing among the Veteran population as a whole
  4. Women Veterans perceive that they are assessed unfairly for benefits, especially regarding disability compensation
  5. Minority Veterans comprise approximately 50% of the homeless Veteran population

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VA Benefits by veteran type affected:

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Helping Disabled Veterans

  1. Disability Compensation
  2. Vocational Rehabilitation

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Helping improve lives

  1. Home Loans
  2. Education
  3. Health Care

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Helping through tough times

  1. Pension
  2. VRAP

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Helping families

  1. DIC
  2. Insurance
  3. Burial

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Common Factors Affecting VA Benefits Eligibility:

  • Length of Service
  • Service during a wartime or peacetime period
  • Income
  • Other than dishonorable discharge
  • Service-connected disability
  • Age

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The main population groups who are eligible for VA benefits:

  1. Servicemember, including National Guard and Reserve members
  2. Veteran
  3. Family member of a Servicemember or Veteran

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How to Use

Click on each title with a + sign. The title will drop down to reveal information about each benefit type.

 

Disability and related benefits

These benefits are for disabled veterans who were injured while in military service. OR, they became injured or sick after military service but the condition is linked back to military service by a medical professional, like a doctor.

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VA Benefits – Disability Compensation

Providing tax-free benefits for Veterans with a service-connected disability

  • Disability Compensation & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

Service-connected disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to Veterans for a disability that arose during service, was worsened or aggravated by service, or is presumed by VA to be related to military service.

 

Who is it for?

A typical beneficiary for disability compensation is a Servicemember or Veteran who became injured physically during service or has psychological issues related to service.

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to Veterans for a disability that they incurred or worsened during service.

  1. The key of this benefit is that the injury or disease must have resulted from military service – in VA terms, it must be “service-connected”
  2. It’s also important to know that VA can award disability compensation for both physical injuries and psychological issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder

Eligibility Requirements for Disability Compensation

  1. Service-connected disability
  2. Other than dishonorable discharge

Factors That Determine the Benefit Amount

  1. Degree of disability
  2. Number of dependents
  3. Loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities

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Presumptive Disability Benefits

VA presumes that some disabilities are due to military service. A Servicemember or Veteran may be eligible to receive disability benefits if he or she has a qualifying disability related to certain conditions of service such as exposure to Agent Orange or radiation, or being a former prisoner of war.

 

INDIVIDUAL UNEMPLOYABILITY is payable if a Veteran is unable to work as a result of his or her service-connected disabilities.

Basic eligibility requirements for disability compensation are that a Veteran has a service-connected disability, which means that the disability was incurred or worsened during military service, and that the Veteran has received a discharge other than dishonorable from service.The 5 most common disability claims VA received are for:

  1. Hearing Loss and Tinnitus, which is a ringing in the ear
  2. Post-traumatic stress disorder (P-T-S-D)
  3. Back strain
  4. Coronary artery disease, and
  5. Leg issues related to limitation of flexion
  6. There are multiple factors that determine the benefit amount that the Veteran will receive.

These factors include the degree of the disability (usually rated at 10% or more), how many dependents the Veteran has, and whether or not the Veteran has suffered the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities

  1. Some Veterans are eligible to receive individual unemployability, which entitles them to receive compensation at a 100% rate, if he or she is unable to work as a result of his or her service-connected disability

Disability Compensation Application Tips

  1. The best way to apply for disability compensation and track a claim is by obtaining an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov
  2. The applicant should have access to the following information to apply:
  3. Discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent), AND
  4. Medical evidence (doctor and hospital reports), AND
  5. Dependency records (marriage and children’s birth certificates)

Tip: Medical Evidence

Submitting all of the medical evidence that supports a claim for disability benefits (such as treatment records, or test results) at the time of application can speed up the VBA claims process.

  1. The best way for a Veteran to apply for disability compensation is to obtain an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov and apply there. Additionally the Veteran will be able to track his or her claim through this account
  2. Disability claims processing times vary. Veterans can speed up their claims processing time by submitting all of the medical evidence that supports their claim for disability benefits at the time of application. This might include information like treatment records, doctor reports, or test results

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[toggle_simple title="Other programs for Veterans with a Service-Connected Disability" width="Width of toggle box"]

Other programs for Veterans with a Service-Connected Disability

  1. Clothing Allowance – Annual payments for Veterans who have a service-connected condition for which they use prosthetic or orthopedic appliances, or for a skin condition which requires prescribed medication that irreparably damages the Veteran’s outer garments
  2. Automobile Allowance – A one-time allowance to purchase a new or used car to accommodate a service-connected disability
  3. Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program/Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant Program – helps those with service-connected disabilities purchase, construct, or modify a home to accommodate the disability
  4. Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) – Mortgage protection insurance that can help a disabled Veteran’s family by paying off the home mortgage in the event of the Veteran’s death
  5. Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) – Life insurance benefit for Veterans with service-connected disabilities but are otherwise in good health
  6. Special Monthly Compensation – An additional amount payable for Servicemembers and Veterans with certain severe disabilities that involve loss of use of organs, confine the applicant to his or her residence, or require aid and attendance

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[toggle_simple title="Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E)" width="Width of toggle box"]

VA Benefits – Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E)

Providing Veterans with vocational counseling, job search assistance, and other education, training, and independent living services

  • VR&E and Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

The VR&E program assists Veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment. Career counseling benefits are also available to recently separated Servicemembers and to those using VA education benefits.

 

Who is it for?

VR&E services are for Veterans with service-connected illnesses and injuries who:

  1. May not be able to work right now and need rehabilitation services
  2. Need specialized training and/or education
  3. Need flexible work arrangements
  4. Need help finding employment soon after separation
  5. Need rehabilitation to live more independently

 

Eligibility Requirements for VR&E

Generally, eligibility for VR&E requires that the applicant have a service-connected disability rating from VA of at least 10%, or 20% prior to discharge from the military. There are a couple of common exceptions:

  1. Severely ill or injured Veterans who have been referred to a military Physical Evaluation Board or are participating in the Department of Defense/VA Integrated Disability Evaluation System
  2. Servicemembers or Veterans participating in a VA education program
  3. Servicemembers and Veterans who have recently separated from the military

If a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that you have a Serious Employment Handicap (SEH), then you may be entitled to VR&E services even if you have passed the 12-year period of basic eligibility or your rating is less than 20%. A SEH is a disability that significantly impairs a Veteran’s ability to prepare for, obtain, or retain employment consistent with his or her abilities, aptitudes, and interests.

 

VR&E Application Tips

  1. The best way to apply for VR&E is by obtaining an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov
  2. In general, Veterans must use all VR&E services within a 12-year timeframe
  3. After the Veteran applies and VA determines that he or she is eligible to receive VR&E benefits, VA will schedule a meeting between the Veteran and a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) to conduct an assessment
  4. If a Serious Employment Handicap (SEH) is found, the Veteran’s basic period of eligibility for VR&E services may be extended
  5. Veterans without a Serious Employment Handicap can receive career counseling services and help in locating other resources to address rehabilitation and employment needs

 

VR&E Services After Evaluation

After the Veteran has been assessed, he or she will work with a VRC to determine which of the following options is the right fit:

  1. Reemployment: Consultation with the employer, job accommodations, job modification, and case management; coordination and referral for services, such as work adjustment services
  2. Rapid access to employment: Preparation to find employment including résumé development and job search assistance
  3. Self-employment: Services to help develop and implement a business plan including analysis of business concept, training in operating small businesses, and marketing and financial assistance
  4. Employment through long-term services: Training and education, including On-the-Job Training (OJT), internships, and higher education
  5. Independent living services: Assistive technology, independent living skills training, and connection to community-based support services

We have developed a course that helps many veterans access this benefit called the Voc Rehab Survival Guide. It helps veterans get the most out of this benefit and others.

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VA Benefits – Health Care

Providing a wide range of health services and specialized care

  • Health Care & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

VA provides a wide range of health services, including specialized health care for women Veterans, readjustment counseling, homelessness assistance, nursing home and community-based residential care, and hospital, outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy, and prosthetic services.

 

Who is it for?

Health care is for Servicemembers and Veterans who were recently discharged and meet certain service or income requirements.

 

Eligibility Requirements for Health Care

Servicemembers and Veterans must meet certain length of service requirements to receive health care benefits:

  • Veterans must have served 24 months of active service or the full period for which they were called to active service
  • National Guard and Reserve members must have been called to active duty by federal order and completed the full period for which they were called to service
  • Additionally, once an application is successfully processed, the applicant is assigned to one of 8 priority groups based on income

VA assists combat Veterans through a nationwide network of community-based Vet Centers. Services include individual, group, and family readjustment counseling, education, and medical referral.

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VA Caregiver Program

VA’s Caregiver Program connects people caring for seriously injured Veterans with support and service options. Through the program, Caregiver Support Coordinators help match the caregiver with services for which they are eligible, and provide them with information about resources. Some services that may be available include:

  • Home-based primary care
  • Adult day health care (SDHC) centers
  • Homemaker and Home Health Aide Program
  • Respite care
  • Home hospice care

VA’s Caregiver Support Line is available for caregivers who need immediate assistance, have questions about eligibility for services, or want to be connected with a Caregiver Support Coordinator. The toll-free number is 1-855-260-3274.

Additional VA services are now available to family caregivers of seriously injured post-9/11 Veterans. These services include monthly stipends, travel expenses, access to health care insurance, mental health services, and comprehensive VA Caregiver training. Encourage caregivers to apply now to learn more at www.caregiver.va.gov.

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[toggle_simple title="VA Pension: For low income veterans with nonservice-connected disabilities" width="Width of toggle box"]

VA Benefits – Pension

Providing supplemental income to wartime Veterans or their survivors  to help through tough times. The pension benefit provides supplemental income to Veterans with wartime service, or their survivors.

  • Pension & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

Pension is a tax-free benefit paid to wartime Veterans with limited or no income who are:

Age 65 or older, OR

Permanently and totally disabled due to a non-service-connected cause

 

Who is it for?

Pension is payable to wartime seniors with limited or no income, and to people with disabilities who served during a wartime period.

Eligibility Requirements for Pension

  • Service
  • 90 days active duty with one day during a wartime period if the Veteran entered the military on or before September 7, 1980
  • 24 months of active service or the full period for which they were called to active duty if the Veteran entered the military after September 7, 1980
  • Age 65 or older, OR has a total and permanent disability
  • Income is below the yearly limit set by Congress

Pension benefits are the difference between countable income and the annual pension limit set by Congress. VA also assesses an applicant’s net worth to determine if the applicant could live off his or her assets for a reasonable period of time.

  • Service requirements vary depending on which wartime period the Veteran served during. If the Veteran served before September 7, 1980, he or she must have served 90 days of active duty. Otherwise, the Veteran must have served 24 months on active service or the full period for which he or she was called to active duty
  • If the Veteran meets service requirements, and has limited income, then he or she is eligible for pension benefits if he or she is age 65 or older, or has a total and permanent disability
  • The term “limited income” refers to an amount of income which Congress sets on an annual basis. The Veteran’s annual amount of income must be below this level
  • In addition to these eligibility requirements, Veterans should be aware that the payable pension amount is the difference between countable income and the annual pension limit set by Congress. VA also assesses an applicant’s net worth to determine if the Veteran could live off his or her assets for a reasonable period of time without the pension benefit

 

Pension Application Tips

The best way to apply for Pension is by obtaining an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov

An applicant’s yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for Pension

A Veteran’s disability does not have to be service-connected to receive Pension

  • As with many other benefits, the best way for a Veteran to apply for pension is by obtaining an eBenefits account online
  • To qualify for pension, an applicant’s yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress
  • The disability doesn’t have to be service-connected to receive Pension benefits
  • A Veteran would qualify for VA disability compensation if he or she had a service-connected disability and you cannot receive both VA Compensation and Pension benefit

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Related Pension Programs for Veterans and Family Members

Aid and Attendance and Housebound – increased monthly Pension benefit paid to Veterans who require additional help to perform daily functions or are confined to their home

Survivors’ Pension – a monthly tax-free benefit payable to the un-remarried surviving spouse and child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service who meet the income threshold

  • As with disability compensation, VA pension recipients can receive supplemental amounts for pension benefits through Aid and Attendance and Housebound.
  • Aid and Attendance and Housebound are increased monthly payments to Veterans who need additional help to perform daily functions, or are confined to their home
  • Another pension-related benefit is Survivors’ Pension. This is a payment to the un-remarried surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who is deceased, has wartime service, and meets the income threshold

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Educational benefits

These benefits are for veterans and their family members.

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VA Benefits – Education

Providing financial support for education and training

  • Education & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

VA’s education programs may provide assistance for tuition, books, fees, housing, and On-the-Job Training. VA has four primary education benefit programs that offer different amounts of financial assistance and have different eligibility requirements:

– Post-9/11 GI Bill

– Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty

– Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve

– Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)

 

Eligibility Requirements for Education

Post-9/11 GI Bill

  • 90 days of active service after September 10, 2001, OR
  • 30 continuous days of service after September 10, 2001 and a service-connected disability
  • Should be used within 15 years from the last day of active duty

Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD)

  • 2-year continuous enlistment (minimum duty varies by service date, branch, etc.)
  • Should be used within 10 years from last day of active duty

Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR)

  • 6-year service obligation in the Selected Reserve
  • Should be used before the applicant leaves the Selected Reserve

Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)

  • 90 consecutive days of active duty service after September 10, 2001
  • Member of a Reserve component
  • Should be used within 10 years from when an applicant leaves the Selected Reserve or the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) if the applicant is released for a disability

 

Education Application Tips

  • The best way to apply for education benefits is by obtaining an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov
  • Each program offers different amounts of financial assistance. Choose the right program because only one education program can be used at a time
  • Education benefits must be used within a certain timeframe
  • Career Counseling – Recently discharged Servicemembers and anyone using a VA education benefit qualifies for VR&E career counseling benefits.

 

Related Education Programs

Yellow Ribbon Program – provides additional financial support to individuals who attend a school where tuition and fees exceed the maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit available by law

Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) –  allows Servicemembers to transfer unused benefits to their spouses or dependent children

Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) – offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans – learn more at benefits.va.gov/vow

Additional education benefits for Veterans may be offered in your state. Have the Servicemember or Veteran contact his or her state’s Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about state-level program.

  • Eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill is based on length of service after September 10, 2001
  • The Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty requires 2-years of continuous enlistment for eligibility, although minimum duty requirements vary by service date and branch
  • The Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve requires that the Servicemember or Veteran meet a 6-year obligation in the Selected Reserve
  • The REAP program requires that the Servicemember be a member of a Reserve component and serve 90 consecutive days of active duty service after September 10, 2001

 

Education Application Tips

The best way to apply for education benefits is by obtaining an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov

Each program offers different amounts of financial assistance. Choose the right program because only one education program can be used at a time

Education benefits must be used within a certain timeframe

Career Counseling – Recently discharged Servicemembers and anyone using a VA education benefit qualifies for VR&E career counseling benefits.

Learn more about specific eligibility requirements for each program at www.eBenefits.va.gov

  • Remind them that eligibility requirements vary by program. Additionally, there are time limits that determine whether or not a Servicemember or Veteran still has access to each of the education benefits
  • Finally, let Veterans know that Servicemembers and anyone using a VA education benefit qualifies for VR&E career counseling

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VA Benefits – Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)

Providing training assistance to unemployed Veterans. As mentioned earlier, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) provides training assistance to unemployed Veterans. It is a component of the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) program.

  • VRAP & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

VRAP offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans. The assistance must go toward an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate from a VA-approved program for a high demand occupation.

 

Who is it for?

VRAP is for unemployed Veterans between the ages of 35 and 60.

  • VRAP offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans. This assistance must go to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate from a VA-approved program for a high demand occupation. Veterans can find a list of high-demand occupations at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW
  • VRAP is for unemployed Veterans who are between ages 35 and 60

 

Eligibility Requirements for VRAP

  • Unemployed at the time of application
  • Between ages 35 and 60
  • Ineligible for other VA education benefit programs
  • Not enrolled in a federal or state job training program

The program is limited to 45,000 participants between July 1, 2012 and September  30, 2012. It is limited to 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012 through March 31, 2014. Learn more at www.benefits.va.gov/vow

  • In addition to the age requirement, applicants for VRAP must be unemployed at the time they apply and ineligible for other VA education benefit programs. They also cannot be enrolled in a federal or state job training program
  • There is a limit to the number of Veterans who can participate in this program. Currently that limit is 45,000 participants through September 30, 2012 and 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012 through March 31, 2014

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Additional benefits for veterans and family members

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VA Services for Homeless and At-Risk Veterans

Community Partnerships – A network of shelters, soup kitchens, and community partners

Employment – Puts homeless Veterans to as Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists

Housing Grants – grants to local community groups to provide temporary shelter;

Housing Vouchers - “Housing Choice” section 8 vouchers in partnership with HUD

Outreach/Education – works with communities to raise awareness; 24/7 hotline

Prevention Grants – provides grants to community groups that assist homeless and at-risk Veterans to maintain housing

Treatment – support Veterans who need a range of medical, psychiatric, vocational, or educational services

  • - VA offers services for homeless Veterans and those who are at-risk for homelessness
  • - Some of these services revolve around community partnerships and networks like the soup kitchens and shelters
  • - VA also offers housing grants and prevention grants to local community groups to help them provide temporary shelter to homeless Veterans or help Veterans maintain housing
  • - Other services include:
  • - Employment programs to help homeless Veterans find a job,
  • - Housing vouchers to help Veterans maintain permanent housing, and
  • - Treatment to support homeless Veterans who need medical, psychiatric, vocational, or educational services.
  • - Additionally, VA also has a 24 hour hotline for homeless Veterans to call: 1-877-4AID VET

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VA Benefits – Insurance

Valuable benefits to provide financial security for the veteran’s family. VA offers Servicemembers, Veterans, and families life insurance benefits to provide financial security

  • Insurance & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

VA insurance benefits were developed in consideration of the extra risks involved in military service. They provide peace of mind for Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families knowing they are protected.

 

Who is it for?

VA provides insurance benefits to eligible Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families to provide financial security.

  • VA life insurance benefits were developed in consideration of the extra risks involved with military service
  • VA insurance begins in-service and can continue if transitioned to a VA life insurance program for Veterans, or to a commercial policy

 

Eligibility Requirements for Insurance

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) – Servicemembers are automatically issued maximum SGLI coverage upon entry to active duty. Covered members receive 120 days of free coverage from their date of separation; they may extend coverage for up to two years

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) – Veterans can convert their SGLI to a civilian program of lifetime renewable term coverage after separation from service if they are separated or separating from the military, have a disability, or are members of the Individual Ready Reserve or Inactive National Guard

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) – automatic coverage for spouses and children of Servicemembers with SGLI coverage. Dependent children are automatically covered at no charge

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) – automatic coverage that provides payments to Servicemembers who suffer severe losses, such as amputations, blindness, and paraplegia, due to traumatic injuries that occur in service

 

VA offers several types of life insurance 

  • Servicemembers are automatically covered by Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance when they enter active duty. This coverage remains in place 120 days after their date of separation from the military, and can be extended for up to two years after separation
  • SGLI includes automatic coverage for spouses and children of Servicemembers, for a premium, called F-SGLI
  • SGLI also includes automatic coverage for Servicemembers who suffer severe losses, such as amputations or blindness due to traumatic service-related injuries, called T-SGLI
  • SGLI insurance can be converted to a civilian program called Veterans’ Group Life Insurance that can be renewed for life under certain conditions including separating from the military or acquiring a disability
  • If the Veteran wants to convert SGLI to VGLI, he or she must do it within one year and 120 days of separation from the military
  • Here’s a tip: If a Veteran converts his or her SGLI to VGLI within 120 days of separation from the military, he or she will not have to take a medical exam to prove good health

 

Application Tips for Insurance

The best way to apply for Insurance benefits is by obtaining an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov:

  • SGLI, FSGLI, and TSGLI all provide automatic coverage
  • Veterans who apply to convert SGLI to VGLI within 120 days from discharge can obtain VGLI coverage regardless of health
  • Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) automatically provides coverage to spouses and dependent children of Servicemembers insured under SGLI, but the Servicemember pays the premium for spousal coverage

Convert SGLI to VGLI – If the Veteran converts SGLI to VGLI within 120 days of discharge, he or she does not need to have a medical exam to prove good health

  • The best way to apply for insurance benefits is, once again, through eBenefits
  • Remember that Veterans who apply to convert SGLI to VGLI should try to do so within 120 days from discharge from service to obtain coverage regardless of health
  • Also, the Servicemember will pay a premium for spousal coverage under FSGLI coverage

 

Related Insurance Programs

Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) – life insurance for Veterans with service-connected disabilities, but are in good health otherwise

Supplemental S-DVI – additional supplemental insurance coverage for Veterans with disabilities

Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) – mortgage protection insurance that can help the family of a severely disabled Servicemember or Veteran by paying off the home mortgage in the event of death

Financial Counseling – free financial counseling for Servicemembers, Veterans, and their beneficiaries after they receive claim payment

  • VA offers several other insurance-related programs
  • Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) is life insurance for Veterans with a service-connected disability who are in good health otherwise
  • Supplemental S-DVI is additional supplemental insurance coverage for S-DVI policyholder who are eligible to have their S-DVI premiums waived because they are totally disabled
  • We touched on Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) earlier today which protects the family of a severely disabled Servicemember or Veteran by paying off their home mortgage in the event of the Servicemember or Veteran’s death
  • Finally, free financial counseling is available to Servicemembers, Veterans, and their beneficiaries after they receive claim payment

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VA Benefits – Dependents and Survivors

Providing support for Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ surviving spouse, dependent children, and parents. Dependents and Survivors benefits provide support for Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ surviving spouse, dependent children, and, in some cases, parents.

  • Dependents and Survivors & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

VA honors the sacrifices of Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ families through benefit programs including tax-free payments based on financial need; reimbursement for medical expenses; survivors’ pension; loans to help purchase, construct or improve a home; and assistance to obtain a degree.

 

Who is it for?

These benefits are for the qualifying surviving spouse, dependent child(ren), and parent(s) of deceased Servicemembers and Veterans.

  • Dependents and Survivors benefits vary. Some benefit programs provide tax-free payments based on financial need, while others provide reimbursement for medical expenses or even loans to help purchase a home

 

Benefits for Dependents and Survivors

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) — a monthly tax-free benefit paid to an eligible surviving spouse, dependent children, and/or parents of a deceased Servicemember or Veteran

Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) – provides assistance to obtain a degree and pursue other eligible education and training including certificate programs, apprenticeships, correspondence courses, On-the-Job Training (OJT)

Burial – a benefit that includes furnishing a headstone, marker, or medallion, a burial allowance, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and an American flag to drape over the deceased’s casket, as well as the option of burial in a VA national cemetery

Home Loans– a benefit that may be used to help purchase, construct, or improve a home. It may also be used to refinance a mortgage

Survivors’ Pension - a monthly tax-free benefit payable to the un-remarried surviving spouse and/or child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service who meet the income threshold

  • These are some of the specific programs available to eligible surviving spouses, children, and parents
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly tax-free payment to family members of a deceased Servicemember or Veteran
  • Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) provides assistance to dependents to obtain a degree and pursue other qualifying training programs including apprenticeships and On-the-Job Training
  • VA offers several benefits related to burial including an allowance provided to reimburse the person who bore the Veteran’s burial expenses

 

Eligibility Requirements for Dependents and Survivors

Eligibility for benefits varies by program:

  • Generally, an unremarried surviving spouse, dependent child(ren), and parent(s) of a Servicemember or Veteran may be eligible if the:
  • Servicemember died during active military service
  • Veteran died from a service-connected disability
  • Veteran died while a permanent service-connected disability existed
  • Living Veteran has a permanent service-connected disability
  • Remarried Surviving Spouses – There are some exceptions for surviving spouses who remarry after a certain date

 

How to apply

Eligible dependents and survivors should go to www.benefits.va.gov to learn more and apply:

  • While eligibility requirements vary per program, there are a few rules of thumb that you can follow
  • Generally, un-remarried surviving spouses, dependent children, and parents of a Servicemember may be eligible for a Dependent or Survivor benefit if the:
  • Servicemember died during active military service
  • Veteran died from a service-connected disability
  • Veteran died while a permanent service-connected disability existed, or
  • Living Veteran has a permanent service-connected disability
  • There are a few exceptions for spouses who remarry after certain dates
  • Eligible dependents and survivors can learn more about their VA benefits at www.benefits.va.gov

 

Related Dependents and Survivors Programs

Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship – provides children with financial need support for tuition and fees, books and supplies, and housing

Educational and Vocational Counseling – is available to help decide how to best use VA dependents’ educational assistance benefits. VA can also provide assessment and rehabilitation planning for dependents with disabilities to help identify the resources needed to achieve a successful outcome

Bereavement Counseling – is a counseling service available at community-based Vet Centers to parents, spouses, and children of Servicemembers, National Guard members, and Reserve members who die in service

Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) - a benefit that provides reimbursement for most medical expenses to certain surviving spouses and dependents of Veterans with permanent and total service-connected disabilities who are not eligible for TRICARE

  • VA offers other programs for Survivors and Dependents including
  • Educational and Vocational Counseling,
  • Bereavement Counseling,
  • Reimbursement for medical expenses, and
  • Educational assistance benefits

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VA Benefits – Burial

Honoring our nation’s deceased Veterans. As we mentioned a earlier, VA provides a range of burial services to honor our nation’s deceased Veterans.

  • Burial & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

VA offers memorial benefits to honor our Nation’s deceased Veterans. Veterans may be eligible for services including furnishing headstones or markers, partial reimbursement of burial or funeral costs, and burial at a VA national cemetery, among other benefits.

 

Who is it for?

VA provides various burial benefits to spouses, children, and parents to memorialize an eligible deceased Veteran.

  • Burial benefits options include headstones or markers, burial at a VA national cemetery, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and an American flag to drape over the deceased’s casket to memorialize an eligible deceased Veteran

 

Eligibility Requirements for Burial

Most deceased Veterans are eligible for a Presidential Medallion. Eligibility requirements for other Burial benefits differ based on type of service. Basic requirements include:

  • Service during a wartime period, OR
  • Died on active duty, AND
  • Other than dishonorable discharge

Qualifying spouses, children, and parents may also be buried in a national cemetery.

  • Most deceased Veterans are eligible for a Presidential Medallion. Requirements for other Burial benefits differ based on the Veteran’s type of service.
  • Basic requirements for burial benefits include that the Veteran:
    • - Served during a wartime period, or
    • - Died while on active duty and received an other than dishonorable discharge
  • Spouses, children, and parents who qualify may also be buried in a national cemetery

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VA Benefits – Home Loan Guaranty

Helping Servicemembers and Veterans purchase, adapt, or retain a home

  • Home Loan Guaranty & Typical Beneficiary

 

What is it?

VA’s home loan program helps Servicemembers and Veterans to purchase, build, or adapt a home. VA loans have favorable terms, including no down payment or mortgage insurance premiums.

 

Who is it for?

Home loan programs are available to Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve Servicemembers and Veterans, and in some cases, their families. Disabled Veterans may also be eligible for certain grants to help accommodate a service-connected disability

 

Eligibility Requirements for Home Loan Guaranty

• The applicant must qualify for the loan from the lender

• Service requirements vary based on whether the applicant served during wartime or peacetime:

– Veterans generally have to serve 90 total days or 181 continuous days, depending on the period to qualify

– Active Duty Servicemembers generally have to serve 90 continuous days to qualify

– National Guard and Reserve members generally have to have 90 days of active service, six years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, or are discharged because of a service-connected disability

– VBA’s website provides further information to learn about wartime and peacetime periods

 

The applicant must present a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from VA that verifies his or her spouse’s military service to the lender to qualify for a VA-backed loan. The easiest way to obtain a COE is through eBenefits at www.eBenefits.va.gov.

 

Home Loan Guaranty Application Tips

• Before applying for home loan benefits, the applicant needs to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The easiest way is by setting up an eBenefits account online at www.eBenefits.va.gov

• After obtaining the COE, the applicant can apply for a VA-guaranteed loan through any mortgage lender that participates in the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program

• There are no loan limits, but VA’s guaranty to the lender is capped, which may affect the amount a lender will lend the applicant

• Veterans generally have to pay a legislatively mandated funding fee which varies based on the loan type

 

Related Home Loan Guaranty Programs

• Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program – helps eligible Native American Veterans finance the purchase, construction, or improvement of homes on Federal Trust Land, or reduce the interest rate on a VA loan

• Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program/Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant Program – helps Servicemembers and Veterans with physical service-connected disabilities and certain severe permanent and total service-connected disabilities purchase, construct, or modify a home to accommodate the disability

• Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) – helps a disabled Veteran’s family by paying off the home mortgage in the event of the Veteran’s death

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