As a veteran, you’re used to hard work. Whether you were in for four years, or 24, you’ve done your fair share of struggling through challenges big and small; it was just part of your time in the service. So why does it seem like navigating the VA benefits system is the toughest challenge you’ve faced yet?
If you’re leaving the military soon, or you have a loved one who is looking to take advantage of their VA benefits, this list of Frequently Asked Questions might be a good place to start. Patriot Angels is all about empowering veterans to live their best lives after they leave the military. Read on to find answers to your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I Eligible To Collect VA Benefits?
This is perhaps the question we hear the most. Fortunately, it has a pretty straightforward answer. If you served in the active military, naval or air service and you left under conditions other than dishonorable discharge, you may qualify for benefits. Essentially, if you left the military in normal circumstances, you can get your VA benefits.
What Documents Do I Need?
To file for benefits, you will need your discharge papers. Your discharge papers are known as a DD-214. The DD-214 is provided to each veteran through the Department of Defense, and lists the veteran’s conditions for discharge, whether you discharged honorably, generally, other than honorably, dishonorably or for bad conduct. This Report of Separation is important because it contains the information you need to apply for benefits. Your DD-214 includes necessary information like:
- Time and place of your entry into active duty
- Home address at time of entry
- Time and place of separation from active duty
- Last duty assignment, rank and job specialty
- Awards and decorations
- And more
What Is Disability Compensation?
Being in the military comes with its fair share of risks. Beyond the obvious risk of combat, you might be injured, or become ill for a myriad of reasons while serving. Disability compensation is designed to provide you funds to offset the costs of managing your disability after you have left the service. This compensation also covers any injuries or illness that you may have had before your service. If these pre-existing conditions were made more pronounced by your service, disability compensation will help cover these as well.
Can My Survivors Receive My Benefits?
Your VA benefits can help your spouse and dependents as well as yourself. Your benefits also have Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. This means that your surviving spouse and children under the age of 18 may be entitled to compensation if you pass away due to a service-related or non-service-related disability. Additionally, some benefits, like the GI Bill, are transferable to your spouse and children. If you are filing for claims related to a veteran’s death, you will need their DD-214, in addition to the veteran’s marriage certificate, and children’s birth certificates or adoption paper to determine whether the surviving spouse and children are eligible to claim the deceased veteran’s benefits.
What Is The Aid And Attendance Pension?
To receive the Aid and Attendance pension, the veteran or surviving spouse must already be
eligible for disability pension. If the veteran requires the help of a caretaker or another person to continue participating in everyday activities, they may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance pension. Other conditions under which a veteran is made eligible for the pension is if the veteran is bed ridden, or if the veteran is in a nursing home as part of mental or physical care. The pension may also apply to veterans who are housebound due to a disability that is rated at 100-percent. Patriot Angels specializes in helping veterans and their families get the Aid and Attendance pension.
Can I Use My Existing Health Care Too?
Yes, you can continue to use your existing health care coverage in addition to the health benefits and care provided by the VA. If you currently have Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance, you can use your VA benefits in addition to the benefits provided by these programs. It is highly recommended that you work with both groups to ensure your health care coverage is comprehensive and adequately meets your needs. This may mean regular communication between both service providers to ensure that your health records are up-to-date with both groups.
What Are VA Priority Groups?
Because the VA is funded by Congress, they can only accept a certain number of new enrollees based on the amount of funding the VA was given that year. Because these funds are limited, the VA established a priority group system to ensure that certain veterans are enrolled before others. After you apply for enrollment, your eligibility is reviewed. After this review, you are a given a priority group, range from group 1-8. Group 1 is the highest priority group, and 8 is the lowest. Several factors affect which priority group you will be assigned to. These factors might include:
- Discharge related to an aggravated disability during service
- If you’re a recently discharged combat veteran
- You received a Purple Heart
- You are a former POW (or Prisoner of War)
- Other factors can have an effect on your positioning in a priority group.
Still Looking For Answers?
If, after reading all this, you’re still not sure how to best get the care you deserve, don’t panic. Patriot Angels has you covered. Our team of VA benefits experts has been working since 2012 to help veterans applying for the Aid and Assistance pension. We understand that every veteran’s health needs are different, and we’ll work with you to ensure they are met. Contact us today to see how we can help you!