Men and women who have served in the military are entitled to special benefits after they leave. These benefits are granted to them by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You're eligible for these VA benefits after you're discharged from active service, as long as you didn't receive a dishonorable discharge.
VA benefits aren't the only ones available. There are a variety of federal benefits that you can apply for along with your VA benefits.
Common VA Benefits
There are four major benefit programs provided by the VA:
- Disability compensation
- Pension programs
- Free or low-cost medical care
- Education programs
If you're injured while on active duty, you can receive disability compensation. This money is tax-free. Payments depend on the extent of your disability.
A VA pension is a benefit for veterans who have limited or no income. You have to be age 65 or older. If younger, you can receive the money if you're permanently and totally disabled. You must serve at least 90 days of active duty. One day must occur during a wartime period.
Veterans are eligible for medical care by the VA. You must fill out an application to enroll into the VA health care system. You're assigned a priority group once you enroll since the funds for the health care program are limited.
You may also be eligible for education programs. These programs can help you go to college or receive vocational training. This benefit is a great way to help you pursue a particular job after your military service is finished.
Other Federal Benefits
There are a variety of federal benefits you can pursue along with your VA benefits. These include:
- Social Security benefits
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Small Business Administration (SBA) programs
- US Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs
You can receive retirement, disability and survivor benefits under Social Security. You aren't penalized just because you already receive similar benefits from the VA. However, both departments can come to different conclusions as to your eligibility. For example, the VA may decide you're disabled and entitled to compensation. Social Security could decide you aren't disabled and deny benefits.
You can be eligible for SSI if you have little or no income, and are 65 or older. If you're younger than 65, you can still receive SSI if you're blind or otherwise disabled.
SBA can offer you multiple business planning courses and help with starting a small business. More than 1,000 small business development centers around the country are ready to assist your needs.
If you operate or plan to operate a farm, the USDA may be able to help you. Loans are available to buy, improve or operate farms. They're also available to buy homes in towns with a population up to 20,000.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Can you help me with my benefits applications? How about appeals?
- Will a dishonorable discharge impact my VA benefits?
- How does my length of service affect my VA benefits?