Checklist: Do You Qualify for Veteran Benefits?
There are many brave ex-soldiers who have fought in many different wars on the side of the United States of America, and while many have also survived the wars and horrors which such wars bring, not all came back perfectly healthy and ready to be taken in society again.
That being said, we can’t even imagine what pain those people who risked their lives for their country are experiencing, not only physically, but also mentally.
The purpose of this article is to explain what makes an ex-soldier a veteran, what benefits do they have and what qualifies them for getting benefits like health-care and federal jobs.
We will be also making a checklist to see if you, a war veteran, can qualify for these kinds benefits that the government by law it ought to provide you with.
Being a veteran in the United States is a special status and surely you will get the benefits you deserve for your commitment in the army and don’t worry about any problems that you may have in the process of getting this status because your rights need to be fulfilled by law.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE STATUS AS A WAR VETERAN?
First of all, this is a difficult question to answer, mainly because some people who are entitled to this status, for example, those with an honorable discharge, don’t even know if they have the right to be called a war veteran, and this is usually because of lack of knowledge of federal law.
Actually, it may shock you that there is no standardized definition of a “military veteran” in the federal law of the United States, even though veteran benefits have existed for more than two hundred years.
The problem is they weren’t created all at one time, but actually one at a time and each time the Congress had to pass a new law authorizing a new veteran benefit which included eligibility requirements for that particular benefit.
The definition of the Department of Veterans Affairs proclaims:
“Under federal law, a veteran is any person who served honorably on active duty in the armed forces of the United States. Discharges marked “general and under honorable conditions” also qualify. Other qualifying events are any person who served in the active military, naval or air service of the United States and was discharged from the service due to a service-connected disability or filed a claim and was service-connected for a disability sustained while in the service”.
I would just add that in order to even be qualified to request the status of a veteran, you need to have at least 24 months of active military service to your name.
This is the shortest as it gets when defining who can get the status of a war veteran, if you fall under this category, you are by law allowed to be given special benefits from the government.
If you don’t fall under this category or was dishonorably discharged, by federal law, you don’t have the right to enjoy the benefits.
It seems simple enough, but things could get complicated and getting the legal status of a war veteran isn’t done overnight.
Also, keep in mind that it all depends on what veteran program and benefit you are applying to.
Now that we did our best to define the status of a war veteran, let us see the benefits that come with this legal status.
From free medical care to the entitlement of a burial in the National Cemetery, the benefits of being a military war veteran in the United States are surely honorable ones.
The U.S. has one of the best laws that specify how a veteran applies for such benefits and are all regulated so that veterans with high disabilities or who were high in rank in the army have a preference over the others.
The laws are constantly being altered in order to give anyone who has the status of a war veteran an equal chance of applying based on the type of veteran status.
If you do fall into the category of a veteran, you will surely be given some of these benefits, keep in mind that there are millions of veterans in the U.S. and the agencies are doing their best to provide you these benefits as quickly and accurately as they can.
1. Home Loan Guarantee
It is commonly referred to as “VA Home Loan”, ensuring every veteran with a house to his name during his pension days.
This is a great deal for veterans who either don’t have the money to buy a home or don’t want to worry if they can pay the full extent of the loan.
Military veterans are entitled by law to get home loan guarantee when they want to purchase a home, and the government, in this case, is a sort of a co-signer on the loan.
This guarantees that the lending institution will cover the loan if the veteran isn’t able to pay back the loan.
The downside is that this can result in a substantial reduction in interest rates, and a lower down payment requirement and the government is very careful when they issue such loans.
2. Burial in a VA National Cemetery
In order to qualify for the purposes of burial in a VA National Cemetery, you need to supply documentation of conditions and period of service in the army.
Any member of the Armed Forces who died on duty is eligible and will be given a proper burial following protocol.
Other than that any veteran who wasn’t dishonorably discharged is also eligible to apply for this benefit, the only thing that is required is a minimum of 24 months or the full period of active duty in the service.
Any type of dishonorable discharge such as undesirable or bad conduct doesn’t have the benefit of qualifying, but even that depends upon the decision of the VA Regional Office.
3. Military Funeral Honors
The Department of Defense or DOD is responsible for providing war veterans military funeral honors, and the request is made by the veteran’s family.
Upon issuing a request, every eligible veteran receives a military funeral honors ceremony which includes folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of “Taps” either by a high-quality recording or by a bugler, all of this must be followed by the protocol.
The federal law insists that at the funeral there must be at least two or more uniformed military persons, and at least one being a member of the veteran’s parent service of the armed forces, in order to give honors and respect to the deceased veteran.
4. Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill
Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill or ADMGIB grants the veteran $47,556 worth of education benefits, for his service of at least three years in active duty and expires after 10 years from the date that the veteran was discharged or retired.
In order to be eligible for this benefit, besides the three years of service, you could also get it if you signed a four-year active duty contract.
Some exceptions even consider 24 months of service
5. Service-Disabled VA Life Insurance
For a veteran to be eligible to basic Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance, he must have been released from active duty on or after April 25, 1951. Dishonorably discharged veterans can’t apply.
The veteran needs to hold a rating for a service-connected disability and must be in good health or can’t have any disability which isn’t service-connected in order to be eligible for this benefit.
If you fall under this category, an application must be submitted within two years of the granting of service-connection disability status.
Approximately 400.00 dollars are issued as life insurance in exchange for the documented verification of a service-connected disability.
6. VA Disability Compensation
Disability compensation is a benefit paid to war veterans for injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty or were made worse and caused by active military service.
It is also paid to certain veterans disabled from VA health care and the number of benefits paid depends on the nature and cause of the disability.
If you fall under the following categories, you may be paid additional amount:
- Severe disabilities or loss of limbs – paraplegia, quadriplegia or paralysis
- If you have a spouse, children, or dependent parents who can’t offer you treatment
- If you have a seriously disabled spouse who obviously isn’t in shape to offer you treatment and care
7. VA Disability Pension
Disability Pension is a benefit paid to war veterans with limited income who are no longer able to work due to either war-caused disabilities or mental disorders.
You are eligible if you fall under the following criteria:
- If you were discharged from service for any reason but for bad conduct or violation of duty
- If you served at least 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of wartime, giving that you have either been injured or gotten a service-connected disability or don’t have enough income for basic living.
- If you are permanently and totally disabled or age 65 or older, giving you the advantage of getting a disability pension over other veterans.
- If your family income is below a yearly limit set by law, or you or your family have a loan which will be compensated by your pension
8. VA Medical Care
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides a variety of medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care to eligible war veterans and any veteran with such status, even if he/she is dishonorably discharged, may be eligible for medical care if he/she passes the VA application checklist and the VA will determine whether your discharge was considered to be dishonorable or not.
The length of your service may also matter and it all depends on when you served your active duty, but there are no length service requirements for the following veterans:
- Former enlisted military personnel who started active duty before September 8, 1980.
- Former officers or generals who first entered their active duty before October 17, 1981.
Keep in mind that the number of veterans who are enrolled in the medical care program is determined by Congress and their funds which they give the VA each year.
Sadly the funds are limited so the VA is forced to set up priority groups to make sure that certain groups of veterans get enrolled before others.
FEDERAL JOBS APPLICATION
1. Federal Preference
Federal preference means that the veterans that are eligible to this status must have been discharged under honorable or general discharge.
If you are a retired member of the Armed Forces, however, you can’t apply for this program unless you are a disabled veteran, or you retired below the rank of major or its equivalent.
Usually, when you apply to a Federal position there are two separate referral lists that you need to take into consideration:
- External – with applicants who are not Federal employees; which means if there are a few veterans on this list a non-veteran can’t be selected. Some agencies use a point system – 5 or 10 points is added to the overall point total assigned to the applicant. More often than not higher qualified applicants don’t make this list.
- Internal – with applicants who are current or prior Federal employees; practically meaning there is no veterans’ preference. All applicants compete on a level playing field which is based on your resume, interviews, past performance, and other criteria.
There are two types of preference candidates:
- Candidates with a service-connected disability -formerly titled 10 point preference
- Candidates without service-connected disability -formerly titled 5 point preference
When hiring veterans the point system is being replaced with a category rating system, but until hiring reform is fully established, the 5 and 10 point preference terminology still applies. Preference candidates are divided into four basic groups:
- CPS – Disability rating of 30% or more – 10 points
- CP – Disability rating of at least 10% and less than 30% – 10 points
- XP – Disability rating less than 10% – 10 points
- TP – Preference with no disability rating – 5 points
The higher your points are, the likelihood of you getting recruited in the program rises, but keep in mind that candidates with a higher disability rating have more eligibility.
That being said the next step is the VRA, one of two major programs which will help you get the job you applied for.
The Veterans Recruitment Appointments or VRA is an application program to a job that is otherwise in the competitive service.
After two years of satisfactory service in this program, the veteran is then sent to a career-conditional appointment in the competitive service.
Veterans who are eligible to be appointed in this program include:
- Disabled veterans – take into consideration the previous disability ratings we talked about.
- Veterans who served on active duty in the armed forces during a war, or in a campaign for which a campaign badge has been issued and authorized
- Veterans who, while serving on active duty in the armed forces, participated in a United States military operation for which they were awarded an Armed Forces Service Medal
- Recently separated veterans – keep in mind that some agencies are limiting VRA to those within three years of discharge in some cases
There are all sorts of clarifications and criteria that you need to follow in order to be included in the program so be careful and cautious when applying.
The agency sometimes picks veterans who served in a specific war and in a specific year over the other, but either way, if you have a certain form of disability you still have a higher chance to be recruited.
Like I said these are the two most known programs for your recruitment in the roles of federal jobs, other programs do exist as well but it all depends on your needs and expectations.
When applying for the status of a military war veteran you will be given a checklist to fill out, most of them are yes or no question, they also offer multiple choice questions which you can circle or fill in and also they ask will ask you to describe your experience where that is needed.
The usual checklist contains questions which are listed below:
- Did you (or your spouse or family member) serve in the military?
- Did you serve on active duty?
- Did your service include combat, dangerous or traumatic assignments?
- Do you have a copy of your DD214 discharge papers?
- Did your spouse serve on active duty?
- Do you have any immediate family members that served or are serving the military?
- In which branch of the military did you serve?
- In which war era or period did you serve?
- Overall, how do you view your experience in the military?
- If available, would you like your hospice/staff to have military experience?
- Are you enrolled in VA?
- Do you receive any VA benefits?
- Do you have a service-connected condition?
- Do you get your medication from the VA?
- What is the name of your VA hospital/clinic?
- What is the name and contact information of your VA physician or Primary Care Provider?
- Would you like to talk to someone about benefits you or your family might be eligible to receive?
Take your time when answering these questions and for any information ask a staff member to help you.
Applying for veteran benefits is a big deal and you sure don’t want to make any mistakes while filling out the form, there are cases where people fill it out wrong and don’t get the status even though they are eligible.
To summarize this article and all that has been said, you first need to get the status of a war veteran and collect all documentation of service and medical reports in order to apply for any of these benefits.
Once you get that part done you will be directed to the program which best suits you and your needs.
The government and the VA are by law responsible for providing you your documentation and programs to assure that you get your benefits and that your rights as a veteran are fulfilled. It may take some time to get all the benefits that you are entitled to but rest assured that eventually, you will get them.
Every veteran who served in the military has the right to get his/her benefits if he/she falls under a specific category of a war veteran.
You are a survivor and a witness of war which is a title given to soldiers who came back from the battlefield and went home to their country and their loved ones; stating this fact I hope you get your benefits as soon as possible and somehow get compensation for all the active time spent in the line of duty.
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