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Do You Qualify for Veteran's Benefits?

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VA Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational Rehabilitation is a program which helps eligible disabled veterans get and keep lasting, suitable jobs. It also helps seriously disabled veterans achieve independence in daily living.

The program offers a number of services to help each eligible disabled veteran reach his or her rehabilitation goal. These services include vocational and personal counseling, education and training, financial aid, job assistance, and, if needed, medical and dental treatment. Services generally last up to 48 months, but they can be extended in certain instances.

Usually, you must first be awarded a monthly VA Disability Compensation payment. In some cases, you may be eligible if you aren't getting VA compensation (for example, you are awaiting discharge from the service because of a disability, OR you are entitled to VA compensation but have decided not to reduce your military retirement or disability pay).

Eligibility is also based on you meeting the following conditions:

  • You served on or after September 16, 1940 AND
  • Your service-connected disabilities are rated at least 20% disabling by VA AND
  • You need Vocational Rehabilitation to overcome an employment handicap AND
  • It has been less than 12 years since VA notified you of your eligibility

VA Medical Care

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care to eligible veterans.

VA provides a Medical Benefits Package, a standard enhanced health benefits plan available to all enrolled veterans. This plan emphasizes preventive and primary care, and offers a full range of outpatient and inpatient services within VA health care system.

The character of discharge you received from the military can be a factor. It is not an issue if you received:

  • An honorable discharge
  • A general discharge
  • A discharge under honorable conditions

If you have a different character of discharge, you may still be eligible for care. As with other VA benefits programs, the VA will determine if your specific discharge was under conditions considered to be other than "dishonorable."

The length of your service may also matter. It depends on when you served. There’s no length of service requirement for:

  • Former enlisted persons who started active duty before September 8, 1980, or
  • Former officers who first entered active duty before October 17, 1981

All other veterans must have 24 months of continuous active duty military service or meet one of the exceptions described below.

You do not have to meet the 24 continuous months of active duty service requirement if you:

Were a reservist who was called to Active Duty and who completed the term for which you were called, and who was granted an other than dishonorable discharge, or

  • Were a National Guard member who was called to Active Duty by federal executive order, and who completed the term for which you were called, and who was granted an other than dishonorable discharge, or
  • Only request a benefit for or in connection with:
    • a service-connected condition or disability; or
    • treatment and/or counseling of sexual trauma that occurred while on active military service; or
    • treatment of conditions related to ionizing radiation; or
    • head or neck cancer related to nose or throat radium treatment while in the military.
  • Were discharged or released from active duty for a hardship , or
  • Were discharged with an “early out”; or
  • Were discharged or released from active duty for a disability that began in the service or got worse because of the service; or
    Have been determined by VA to have compensable service-connected conditions; or
  • Were discharged for a reason other than disability, but you had a medical condition at the time that
    • Was disabling, and
    • In the opinion of a doctor, would have justified a discharge for disability (in this last case, the disability must be documented in service records)

However, even if you meet all of the above conditions, you may not be able to receive health care benefits from the VA. The number of veterans who can be enrolled in the health care program is determined by the amount of money Congress gives VA each year. Since funds are limited, VA set up priority groups to make sure that certain groups of veterans are able to be enrolled before others.

For more information, see the VA's Health Care Web site.

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