A nationwide network of VA offices assists disabled veterans with understanding and accessing government benefits.…
There are two types of assistance the US government offers to veterans: veterans’ benefits and veterans’ compensation. Veterans’ benefits refer to programs and services to veterans and their families by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), such as health care, education, and home loan assistance. Veteran compensation, on the other hand, is a monetary benefit for veterans who live with a disability as a result of their military service and is available only to veterans who meet disability standards.
Veteran Benefits Overview
The VA provides a wide range of benefits broadly categorized in the following areas:
- Health care – The VA provides a comprehensive healthcare program for eligible veterans, including primary care, specialized care, prescription drugs, and mental health services
- Disability – Veterans living with a disability due to their military service may be eligible for tax-free monetary compensation. The compensation amount is related to the degree of disability the veteran experiences.
- Pension – Veterans who are permanently and fully disabled due to non-service-connected causes or age 65 or older may be eligible for a tax-free pension
- Education and career opportunities – The VA provides education and training benefits to eligible veterans, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which can apply to college, graduate school, vocational training, and employment opportunities
- Housing assistance – The VA provides home loan benefits to eligible veterans, including assistance with down payments and closing costs
- Life insurance – The VA offers several life insurance options for veterans and their families
- Family member benefits – The VA provides education and training benefits to eligible dependents and survivors of veterans
- Burial and memorial benefits – The VA provides burial and memorial benefits to eligible veterans and their families
Veterans and their families may be eligible to receive many other benefits and subsets of benefits. It is always important to check the official website of the VA, consult a VA representative, or retain a veterans’ benefits attorney to learn more about the available programs and understand eligibility requirements. Veteran’s benefits attorneys may also be found by searching for elder law attorneys.
The eBenefits portal is an online resource that links to tools and benefits-related information for veterans, wounded warriors, active duty service members, their families, and care providers. This single sign-on, central access will direct veterans to online benefits and related services.
Creating your online veteran account is free and permits access to your information, benefits application, and claims status tracking. Veterans must provide personal data, including name, date of birth, and Social Security number, before creating a username and password for future logins.
Create a My HealthVet Account
If you are a veteran and use or plan on using the VA healthcare system, it’s to your advantage to create a My HealthVet account online. Managing your healthcare in this portal allows you to:
- Refill your VA prescriptions, track the delivery, and view a current list of your VA medications
- Keep track of your upcoming VA medical appointments and receive reminders
- Securely communicate with your VA health care team and other VA staff regarding non-emergency data or questions
- View, print, or electronically download a copy of your VA medical record data, or enter your health information
Veterans can apply for benefits through the VA by following these steps:
- Gather the necessary documents – To apply for benefits, veterans must provide documentation, such as their DD-214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) discharge papers and other service records.
- Determine eligibility – Veterans can use the VA online Eligibility Tool to determine if they are eligible for certain benefits. This tool will ask for basic information, such as military service dates and discharge status.
- Submit an application – When veterans meet eligibility requirements, they can apply for benefits online using the VA’s eBenefits portal or by mail using VA Form 21-526, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits.
- Provide additional documentation – After applying, veterans may receive a request to provide additional documentation to support their claim.
- Wait for a decision – The VA will review your application and decide on your veteran’s claim. This process can take several months, and veterans can check the status of their claims
- Appeal a denied claim – If a veteran receives a claim denial, they have the right to appeal the decision and track its progress. The VA provides detailed information about the appeals process on its website.
It is important to note that the process can vary depending on the benefits application type and information availability. Checking the official website of the VA for the most current information and being aware of deadlines for claims submissions is highly recommended. In case of any doubt, veterans can contact a VA representative for assistance.
Do I need the help of a Veterans’ Benefits Lawyer or an Elder Law Attorney?
While there is no requirement to hire an attorney to apply for veterans benefits, some veterans may choose to work with a lawyer specializing in veterans benefits law. Your lawyer can help you understand the application process and ensure that your claim is complete and accurate, increasing the chances of the claim’s approval.
An attorney specializing in veterans benefits can help veterans with the following:
- Navigating the application process – An attorney can help guide veterans applying for benefits, including gathering the necessary documents and completing the application.
- Representing veterans at appeals – If a veteran’s claim receives a denial, a lawyer can help navigate the appeals process and present a strong case on their behalf.
- Reviewing and interpreting medical records – An attorney can help veterans understand the medical documentation required to support their claim and can assist in obtaining any necessary medical evaluations or examinations.
- Identifying and pursuing other benefits – An attorney can help veterans identify other benefits they may be eligible for and apply.
- Representing veterans at hearings – If a claim receives a denial, a veterans’ benefits lawyer can represent you at a hearing before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
A veterans’ benefits attorney can provide valuable guidance and assistance to veterans, which can help increase the chances of a successful claim. Choosing an attorney well versed in veterans benefits law and with experience working with the VA can help you get the full complement of benefits you deserve.
We hope you found this article helpful. If you would like to discuss your particular situation, please contact our New York office or call us at 607-271-9270. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.