For those who have served in the United States Military, there are a number of benefits. There are also some benefits for the families of veterans.
- Health benefits;
- Disability benefits;
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs home loans;
- Education assistance and training programs;
- Life insurance;
- Burial services;
- Assistance for Homeless Veterans: includes resources helping homeless veterans find shelter and get any care they may be eligible for; and
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment: counseling available at VA centers for service members and their families.
Many of the above benefits have eligibility requirements. The requirements for health and disability benefits are discussed in more detail below.
What Health Benefits are Available for Veterans?
While healthcare is free to those who are currently serving in the military, and available at little cost to their immediate family members, healthcare benefits are only potentially available to veterans (unless they serve until they retire, in which case, healthcare benefits remain).
These benefits are potentially available to those who have served on active duty, and, in some cases, to those who served in the Reserves or National Guard and who were called up for active service. To be even potentially eligible, veterans must have served 24 months, and must have received a discharge that was not dishonorable.
The issue with eligibility is lack of funding to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). Although, potentially, all veterans should be eligible for healthcare through the VA, lack of funding has forced the VA to sort veterans into “priority groups.” Veterans with greater degrees of disability receive higher priority, and are more likely to receive healthcare services through the VA. If granted services, health benefits available to veterans include:
- Preventative care;
- Diagnostic and treatment services; and
Please note that combat veterans are eligible for VA services five years after their separation (if released after January 28, 2003) from military service.
There is a transition program, called the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP). This provides up to 180 days of healthcare for eligible veterans and their families while the veteran is transitioning from military service to civilian life. Veterans may also be eligible for up to 18 months of military healthcare (called Tricare) if they pay 100% of the cost themselves.
For those eligible for VA services, there are also long-term care options. Some of these options are: geriatric evaluation, adult day health care, respite care, home care, and hospice, or palliative, care.
What Disability Benefits are Available for Veterans?
The VA provides several types of disability benefits for veterans. The first of these is the healthcare benefits described above. Secondly, there is disability compensation, which provides monthly compensation payments based on the veteran’s disability rating. Third, disability pensions may be awarded to veterans who served during wartime and received a disabling injury.
To obtain any healthcare or disability benefits, you must file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA will then determine which services you are eligible for.
What If My Claim for Veterans Benefits was Denied, Can I Appeal?
If you receive a decision from the VA regarding your eligibility, and you do not agree with it, you may file an appeal with the VA.
If you have received a denial of eligibility for benefits, and you wish to appeal the decision, you will first need to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of your notice of denial. The NOD can be written on a form provided by the VA. The statement basically states that you disagree with the decision and wish to appeal it. Once the form is completed, you can take it to your local VA or mail it to the address listed on the form.
After filing your NOD, a Decision Review Officer reviews your appeal. If they disagree with your appeal, they’ll send you a Statement of the Case document in which they summarize their review. It will come along with a form (VA Form 9) which you must complete and return within 60 days if you wish to appeal further, to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. You may request a hearing with a Veterans’ Law Judge. The Board then reviews your appeal and makes a decision, which will be relayed to you in written form.
What Can I Do If My Appeal for Veterans Benefits is Denied?
If your appeal is still denied following the Board’s decision, you can further appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. This court is independent of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims can be a complex process. If you wish to appeal to the Court of Veterans’ Claim, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney.
Do I Need an Attorney for Issues with My Veterans Benefits?
Making a claim or appeal with the Department of Veterans Affairs can be very complicated. An attorney can help you better understand exactly the benefits to which you are entitled. If necessary, a government lawyer can help you with filing a claim or appealing a decision.