Have you ever served in the military? As a veteran, you're entitled to certain special benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The type and amount of these VA benefits are affected by a variety of factors. Two of the most important factors are:
- Whether you have wartime service
- The length of your military service
Wartime or Peacetime Service
There are certain periods of time that Congress has designated as wartime. If even a small part of your military service falls within one of these time periods, you're considered to have wartime service. Time periods Congress has designated as wartime include:
- Mexican Border Period - May 9, 1916 through April 5, 1917
- World War I - April 6, 1917 through Nov. 11, 1918; time period is extended to July 1, 1921 for veterans who served in Russia from April 6, 1917 through April 1, 1920
- World War II - Dec. 7, 1941 through Dec. 31, 1946
- Korean Conflict - June 27, 1950 through Jan. 31, 1955
- Vietnam War - Aug. 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; time period starts Feb. 28, 1961 for veterans who served in-country in Vietnam
- Gulf War - Aug. 2, 1990 through a future date to be set by Congress or Presidential Proclamation
If you have wartime service, you're entitled to certain benefits that you wouldn't have if you served your entire time during peacetime. One benefit is a disability pension. You can receive this benefit even if your disability isn't related to your military service. Another benefit is extended VA health care. However, for this benefit, you must have served in a combat operation.
Military Length of Service
Many VA benefits have minimum length of military service requirements that must be met to receive them. However, you're eligible for some benefits by serving just one day of active duty. Some examples of VA benefits and their minimum service requirements include:
- VA disability compensation – 1 day
- VA healthcare – 1 day
- Military life insurance programs – 1 day
- Burial and memorial benefits – 1 day on or before Sept. 7, 1980
- VA pension – 90 days before Sept. 7, 1980
- VA home loan program – 90 days to 2 years depending on when enlisted
- VA pension – 2 years on or after Sept. 7, 1980
- Burial and memorial benefits – 2 years continuous active duty after Sept. 7, 1980
- Military health insurance – 20 years
- Military retirement – 20 years
Are you having trouble paying the co-pay under the VA healthcare plan? You can ask for a hardship exemption. This exemption will prevent any future billing for a set period of time. You must ask for an exemption in writing. This can be given to the medical center where you receive your care.
Questions for Your Attorney
- What are the benefits of having an attorney help me receive my benefits?
- Will it affect my VA benefits if I am dishonorably discharged?
- Does losing my job qualify me to receive a hardship exemption?