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Summary of VA Benefits for Veterans

About VA

The "VA" is short for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA offers a wide range of benefits to our Nation's veterans, service members and their families.

What The VA Offers

VA benefits and services fall into these major categories:

Toll-Free Service Benefit Numbers

Apply for Compensation

Who Is Eligible

You may be eligible for VA health care benefits if you are a veteran.

You may be eligible for other VA benefits if you are:

  • A veteran
  • A veteran's dependent
  • A surviving spouse or child of a deceased veteran
  • A member of the military Reserves or National Guard
  • An active duty military service member

Disability Benefits

The VA administers two disability programs. Both pay monthly benefits to disabled veterans.

  • Disability Compensation: The VA can pay you compensation if you are at least 10% disabled as a result of your military service.
  • Disability Pension: The VA can pay you a pension if you are a wartime veteran with limited income, and you are no longer able to work or are age 65 or older.

Time Limits: There is no deadline for applying for disability benefits.

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Education and Training

The VA pays benefits to eligible veterans, dependents, reservists, and service members while they are in an approved training program. The VA's major programs are:

  • Montgomery GI Bill: Persons who first entered active duty after June 30, 1985, are generally eligible. Some Vietnam Era veterans and certain veterans separated under special programs are also eligible. The bill also includes a program for certain reservists and National Guard members.
  • Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP): This program is for veterans who entered active duty for the first time after December 31, 1976, and before July 1, 1985, and contributed funds to this program.
  • Survivors' & Dependents' Educational Assistance: Some family members of disabled or deceased veterans are eligible for education benefits.

Time Limits: Generally, veterans have 10 years from the date they were last released from active duty to use their education benefits. Reservists generally have 10 years from the date they become eligible for the program unless they leave the Selected Reserves before completing their obligation. Spouses generally have 10 years from the date the VA first finds them eligible. Children are generally eligible from age 18 until age 26. These time limits can sometimes be extended.

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Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment

The VA helps veterans with service-connected disabilities prepare for, find and keep suitable employment. For veterans with serious service-connected disabilities, the VA also offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible. Some of the services provided are:

  • Job Search: Assistance in finding and maintaining suitable employment.
  • Vocational Evaluation: An evaluation of abilities, skills, interests, and needs.
  • Career Exploration: Vocational counseling and planning.
  • Vocational Training: If needed, training such as on-the-job and non-paid work experience.
  • Education Training: If needed, education training to accomplish the rehabilitation goal.
  • Rehabilitation Service: Supportive rehabilitation and counseling services.

Time Limits: You generally have 12 years from the date the VA tells you in writing that you have at least a 10 percent rating for a service-connected disability.

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Home Loans

The VA offers a number of home loan services to eligible veterans, some military personnel, and certain spouses.

  • Guaranteed Loans: The VA can guarantee part of a loan from a private lender to help you buy a home, a manufactured home, a lot for a manufactured home, or certain types of condominiums. The VA also guarantees loans for building, repairing, and improving homes.
  • Refinancing Loans: If you have a VA mortgage, the VA can help you refinance your loan at a lower interest rate. You may also refinance a non-VA loan.
  • Special Grants: Certain disabled veterans can receive grants to have their homes specially adapted to their needs.

Time Limits: There is no time limit for a VA home loan, except for eligible reservists. Their eligibility expires September 30, 2009.

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Burial Benefits

The VA offers certain benefits to honor our Nation's deceased veterans.

  • Headstone and Markers: A monument to mark the grave of an eligible veteran.
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC): A PMC for eligible recipients.
  • Burial Flag: An American flag to drape an eligible veteran's casket.
  • Reimbursement of Burial Expenses: Generally, the VA can pay a burial allowance of $2,000 for veterans who die of service-related causes. For certain other veterans, the VA can pay $300 for burial and funeral expenses and $300 for a plot.
  • Burial in a VA National Cemetery: Most veterans and some dependents can be buried in a VA national cemetery.

Time Limits: There is no time limit for claiming reimbursement of burial expenses for a service-related death. In other cases, claims must be filed within 2 years of the veteran's burial.

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Dependents' and Survivors' Benefits

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is payable to survivors of:

  • Servicemembers who died on active duty.
  • Veterans who died from service-related disabilities.
  • Certain veterans who were being paid 100% VA disability compensation at time of death.

Death Pension is payable to some surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans. The benefit is based on financial need.

VA Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) shares the cost of medical services for eligible dependents and survivors of certain veterans.

Time Limits: There are no time limits to apply for the benefits described above.

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Life Insurance

Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) is low-cost term life insurance for service servicemembers and reservists. Generally, coverage begins when you enter the service. It is available in amounts up to $250,000. It generally expires 120 days after you get out of the service.

Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is a renewable five-year term life insurance for veterans. It is available in amounts up to $250,000. You may apply any time within 1 year from the date your SGLI expires.

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance, also called "RH" insurance, is life insurance for service-disabled veterans. The basic coverage is $10,000. If your premium payments for the basic policy are waived due to total disability, you may be eligible for a supplemental policy of up to $20,000. Generally, you have 2 years after being notified of your service-connected disability to apply for basic coverage.

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Health Care

The VA provides a number of health care services.

  • Hospital, outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy and prosthetic services
  • Domiciliary, nursing home, and community-based residential care
  • Sexual trauma counseling
  • Specialized health care for women veterans
  • Health and rehabilitation programs for homeless veterans
  • Readjustment counseling
  • Alcohol and drug dependency treatment
  • Medical evaluation for military service exposure including Gulf War, Agent Orange, radiation, or other environmental hazards

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Toll-Free Service Benefits Information and Assistance

Each VA benefit has its own eligibility requirements. For more information about specific benefits, you may visit the nearest VA office or call 1-800-827-1000

  • Special Toll-Free Numbers

    • Health Benefits (877) 222-8387
    • Education Benefits (888) 442-4551
    • VA Life Insurance (800) 669-8477
    • Office of SGLI (800) 419-1473
    • CHAMPVA (800) 733-8387
    • Gulf War (800) 749-8387
    • Headstones (status of claims only) (800) 697-6947
    • Telecommunication Device for Deaf (TDD) (800) 829-4833
    • Direct Deposit (877) 838-2778

VA External Web Site Addresses

Apply for Compensation, Pension or Vocational Rehabilitation benefits online:
http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov

For more information and links to the VA regional offices, go to:
http://www.va.gov

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