What Are The Requirements For Qualifying For Veterans Benefits?
Every law pertaining to veterans compensation benefits that has been passed by congress comes with specific eligibility criteria for a given benefit or set of benefits. In most cases, to receive benefits, simply being a veteran does not suffice.
To receive your veterans benefits, you’ll need to prove that you qualify. According to the Veterans Benefits Administration, qualifying for benefits or specific types of benefits depends on the following:
- The length of your service
- Where and when you served in the military
- The type of discharge you were given
The VA disability compensation rates are also based on your disability rating and the number of dependents you have. If you’re still wondering if you qualify, keep reading for a deeper understanding of this topic.
Length of Service
Most veteran’s benefits require a predetermined length of military service. For example, to qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill’s education benefits, you must serve in the military for at least three complete years. On the other hand, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits or VA medical care with just a single day of active duty.
Where and When You Served
When and when you served in the military can impact your eligibility for certain benefits.
For example, to qualify for a VA home loan, you need at least 90 days of active-duty service in case you served during Vietnam. However, if you served during the Gulf War, the requirement jumps to a minimum of 24 months of continuous active-duty service in order to qualify. Details regarding deployment locations and the requirements for specific benefits based thereon can be found on Gulf War VA claims.
Type of Service Discharge
There are many different forms of military discharge beyond honorable and dishonorable discharges which are the two types that are perhaps most commonly known. These include:
- Other than honorable
- Separation from service
Generally speaking, to maintain your eligibility for most veteran’s benefits, you need to receive an honorable or general discharge. If you receive a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge or receive a dismissal as a result of a general court-martial, you will lose your entitlement to veteran’s benefits.
Benefits and Priority Groups
If you receive an honorable or general discharge, you will be eligible for most veteran’s benefits. Before you enroll in a given benefits program, you will be assigned a priority group. The first three priority groups are as outlined below.
Priority Group 1 includes veterans who have service-connected disabilities rated 50% or more. This includes vets the VA has determined to be unemployable as a result of service-connected conditions or veterans who have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
Priority Group 2 includes veterans with service-connected disabilities rated either 30% or 40%.
Priority Group 3 is comprised of veterans who are one of the following:
- Are former Prisoners of War
- Were awarded the Purple Heart
- Were discharged for a disability that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty
- Have service-connected disabilities rated 10% or 20% percent
Applying for and receiving benefits can be a lengthy process, but you can find additional information on benefits and the application from the VA and nonprofits that are dedicated to helping veterans.
You may also wish to reach out to a veterans law attorney who can advise you throughout the application process. A lawyer can explain your legal options and walk you through each step.