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1. Federal Benefits forVeterans, Dependents and Survivors 2012 Edition Department of Veterans Affairs 810 Vermont Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20420Cover: Airmen of the the…
  • 1. Federal Benefits forVeterans, Dependents and Survivors 2012 Edition Department of Veterans Affairs 810 Vermont Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20420Cover: Airmen of the the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron per-form a retreat ceremony on Veterans Day at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.The ceremony was on the roof of a Soviet-built aircraft control tower. U.S. AirForce photo by Tech. Sgt. Brian Davids.
  • 2. U.S. GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL EDITION NOTICE Use of ISBN This is the official U.S. government edition of this publication and is herein identified to certify its authenticity. Use of the 0-16 ISBN prefix is for U.S. Government Printing Office Official Editions only. The Superintendent of Documents of the U.S. Government Print- ing Office requests that any reprinted edition clearly be labeled as a copy of the authentic work with a new ISBN. Legal Status and Use of Seals and Logos The seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs au- thenticates the 2012 edition of Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors as the official summary of benefits that have been separately pro- mulgated under Federal regulations established underRegister Act. Under the provisions of 38 Code of Federal Regula-tions 1.9(f), it is prohibited to use the official seal, replicas, reproduc-tions, or embossed seals of the Department of Veterans Affairs onany republication of this material without the express, written permis-sion of the Secretary or Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Anyperson using official seals and logos of the Department of VeteransAffairs in a manner inconsistent with the provisions of 38 Code ofFederal Regulations 1.9 may be subject to the penalties specified in18 United States Code 506, 701, or 1017 as applicable. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing OfficeInternet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; DC area (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2104 Mail: Stop IDCC, Washington, DC 20401 978-0-16-090303-8
  • 3. ContentsChapter 1: VA Health Care Benefits 1Chapter 2: Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities 28Chapter 3: VA Pensions 40Chapter 4: Education and Training 43Chapter 5: Home Loan Guaranty 53Chapter 6: VA Life Insurance 64Chapter 7: Burial and Memorial Benefits 70Chapter 8: Reserve and National Guard 76Chapter 9: Special Groups of Veterans 83Chapter 10: Transition Assistance 89Chapter 11: Dependents and Survivors Health Care 98Chapter 12: Dependents and Survivors Benefits 101Chapter 13: Appeals of VA Claims Decisions 110Chapter 14: Military Medals and Records 112Chapter 15: Other Federal Benefits 115VA Facilities 121Index 178
  • 4. IntroductionVeterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for abroad range of benefits and services provided by the U.S. Depart-ment of Veterans Affairs (VA). These benefits are legislated in Title38 of the United States Code. This booklet contains a summary ofthese benefits effective Jan. 1, 2012. For additional information, visitwww.va.gov/.La versión en español de este folleto se encuentra disponible enformato Adobe Acrobat a través de el link: http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book/federal_benefits_spanish.pdfGeneral EligibilityEligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from activemilitary service under other than dishonorable conditions. Activeservice means full-time service, other than active duty for training,as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, CoastGuard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service,Environmental Science Services Administration or National Oceanicand Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor, the Coast andGeodetic Survey. Generally, men and women Veterans with similarservice may be entitled to the same VA benefits.Dishonorable and bad conduct discharges issued by general courts-martial may bar VA benefits. Veterans in prison and parolees mustcontact a VA regional office to determine eligibility. VA benefits willnot be provided to any Veteran or dependent wanted for an outstand-ing felony warrant.Certain VA Benefits Require Wartime ServiceCertain VA benefits require service during wartime. Under the law, VArecognizes these war periods:Mexican Border Period: May 9, 1916, through April 5, 1917, forVeterans who served in Mexico, on its borders or in adjacent waters.World War I: April 6, 1917, through Nov. 11, 1918; for Veterans who
  • 5. served in Russia, April 6, 1917, through April 1, 1920; extendedthrough July 1, 1921, for Veterans who had at least one day of ser-vice between April 6, 1917, and Nov. 11, 1918.World War II: Dec. 7, 1941, through Dec. 31, 1946.Korean War: June 27, 1950, through Jan. 31, 1955.Vietnam War: Aug. 5, 1964 (Feb. 28, 1961, for Veterans who served“in country” before Aug. 5, 1964), through May 7, 1975.Gulf War: Aug. 2, 1990, through Nov. 11, 1998 Important DocumentsIn order to expedite benefits delivery, Veterans seeking a VA benefitfor the first time must submit a copy of their service discharge form(DD-214, DD-215, or for World War II Veterans, a WD form), whichdocuments service dates and type of discharge, or provides fullname, military service number, and branch and dates of service.The Veteran’s service discharge form should be kept in a safe loca-tion accessible to the Veteran and next of kin or designated repre-sentative.The following documents will be needed for claims processing re-lated to a Veteran’s death: 1. Veteran’s marriage certificate for claims of a surviving spouse or children. 2. Veteran’s death certificate if the Veteran did not die in a VA health care facility. 3. Children’s birth certificates or adoption papers to determine children’s benefits. 4. Veteran’s birth certificate to determine parents’ benefits. eBenefitseBenefits is a joint VA/Department of Defense Web portal that pro-vides resources and self-service capabilities to Servicemembers,
  • 6. Veterans, and their families to apply, research, access, and managetheir VA and military benefits and personal information through asecure Internet connection.Through eBenefits Veterans can: Apply for benefits, view their dis-ability compensation claim status, access official military personneldocuments (e.g., DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Dischargefrom Active Duty), transfer entitlement of Post-9/11 GI Bill to eligibledependents (Servicemembers only), obtain a VA-guaranteed homeloan Certificate of Eligibility, and register for and update direct depos-it information for certain benefits. New features are added regularly.Accessing eBenefits: The portal is located at www.ebenefits.va.gov. Veterans must register for an eBenefits account at one of twolevels: Basic or Premium. A Premium account allows access to per-sonal data in VA and DoD systems, apply for benefits online, checkthe status of claims, update address records, and more. The Basicaccount allows access to information entered into eBenefits by theVeteran only. Basic accounts cannot access VA or DoD systems.To be able to register for an eBenefits account, Veterans must be list-ed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)and first obtain a DoD Self Service (DS) Logon. Note: For thosewithout a DEERS record, VA will first need to verify military serviceand add the information to DEERS. This is most likely for Veteranswho served prior to 1982. Individuals should contact a VA regionaloffice for assistance in being added to DEERS.A DS Logon is an identity (user name and password) that is used byvarious DoD and VA Websites, including eBenefits. Those registeredin DEERS, are eligible for a DS Logon. A DS Logon is valid for therest of your life.Identity verification: Many people will be able to verify their identityonline by answering a few security questions. Others will need to visita VA regional office or TriCare Service Center to have their identitiesverified. Servicemembers may verify their identity online by usingtheir Common Access Card. Military retirees may verify their identityonline using their Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)Logon. Veterans in receipt of VA benefits via direct deposit may havetheir identity verified by calling 1-800-827-1000 and selecting option7. My HealtheVet users may use their secure My HealtheVet identityto obtain an eBenefits account.
  • 7. AbbreviationsALS – Amyotrophic Lateral SclerosisCHAMPVA – Civilian Health and Medical Program of VACLC – Community Living CenterC&P – Compensation and PensionCOE – Certificate of EligibilityCRDP – Concurrent Retirement and Disability PaymentsCRSC – Combat-Related Special CompensationCWT – Compensated Work TherapyCZTE – Combat Zone Tax ExclusionDIC – Dependency and Indemnity CompensationDoD -- Department of DefenseFHA – Federal Housing AdministrationFSGLI – Family Servicemembers’ Group Life InsuranceHUD – Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentIRR – Individual Ready ReserveMGIB – Montgomery GI BillMIA – Missing in ActionNPRC – National Personnel Records CenterNSLI – National Service Life InsuranceOEF – Operation Enduring FreedomOIF – Operation Iraqi FreedomOND – Operation New DawnOPM – Office of Personnel ManagementPOW -- Prisoner of WarPTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderSAH – Specially Adapted HousingSBA – Small Business AdministrationS-DVI – Service-Disabled Veterans’ InsuranceSGLI – Servicemembers’ Group Life InsuranceSSB – Special Separation BenefitsTAP – Transition Assistance ProgramTSGLI – Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury ProtectionUSCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration ServicesUSDA – U.S. Department of AgricultureVA – Department of Veterans AffairsVEAP – Veterans Educational Assistance ProgramVEOA – Veterans’ Employment Opportunities ActVGLI – Veterans’ Group Life InsuranceVHA – Veterans Health AdministrationVMET – Verification of Military Experience and TrainingVMLI – Veterans’ Mortgage Life InsuranceVR&E – Vocational Rehabilitation and EmploymentVSI – Voluntary Separation IncentiveWAAC – Women’s Army Auxiliary CorpsWASPs – Women Air Force Service Pilots
  • 8. 1 VA Health Care Chapter 1Chapter 1Health Care BenefitsVA operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system withmore than 1,500 sites of care, including hospitals, community clinics,community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counselingcenters, and various other facilities. For additional information on VAhealth care, visit: www.va.gov/health. Basic EligibilityA person who served in the active military, naval, or air service andwho was discharged or released under conditions other than dis-honorable may qualify for VA health care benefits. Reservists andNational Guard members may also qualify for VA health care ben-efits if they were called to active duty (other than for training only) bya Federal order and completed the full period for which they werecalled or ordered to active duty.Minimum Duty Requirements: Veterans who enlisted after Sept.7, 1980, or who entered active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, must haveserved 24 continuous months or the full period for which they werecalled to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty re-quirement may not apply to Veterans discharged for hardship, earlyout or a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty. EnrollmentFor most Veterans, entry into the VA health care system begins byapplying for enrollment. Veterans can now apply and submit theirapplication for enrollment (VA Form 1010EZ), online at www.1010ez.med.va.gov/sec/vha/1010ez/. Veterans can also enroll by calling1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.Eastern time, or at any VA health care facility or VA regional benefitsoffice. Once enrolled, Veterans can receive health care at VA healthcare facilities anywhere in the country.Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system are afforded privacyrights under federal law. VA’s Notice of Privacy Practices, which de-scribes how VA may use and disclose Veterans’ medical information,is also available on line at www.va.gov/vhapublications/viewpublica-tion.asp?pub_ID=1089
  • 9. Chapter 1 VA Health Care 2The following four categories of Veterans are not required to enroll,but are urged to do so to permit better planning of health resources: 1. Veterans with a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more. 2. Veterans seeking care for a disability the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, but which VA has not yet rated, within 12 months of discharge. 3. Veterans seeking care for a service-connected disability only. 4. Veterans seeking registry examinations (Ionizing Radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War/Operation Iraqi Freedom and Depleted Uranium). Priority GroupsDuring enrollment, each Veteran is assigned to a priority group. VAuses priority groups to balance demand for VA health care enroll-ment with resources. Changes in available resources may reducethe number of priority groups VA can enroll. If this occurs, VA willpublicize the changes and notify affected enrollees. A description ofpriority groups follows:Group 1: Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 50 per-cent or more and/or Veterans determined by VA to be unemployabledue to service-connected conditions.Group 2: Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 30 or 40percent.Group 3: Veterans who are former POWs. Veterans awarded the Purple Heart Medal. Veterans awarded the Medal of Honor. Veterans whose discharge was for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty. Veterans with VA service-connected disabilities rated 10% or 20%. Veterans awarded special eligibility classification under Title 38, U.S.C., § 1151, “benefits for individuals disabled by treatment or vocational rehabilitation.”Group 4: Veterans receiving increased compensation or pension basedon their need for regular Aid and Attendance or by reason of being
  • 10. 3 VA Health Care Chapter 1permanently Housebound. Veterans determined by VA to be catastrophically disabled.Group 5: Nonservice-connected Veterans and noncompensable service- connected Veterans rated 0%, whose annual income and/or net worth are not greater than the VA financial thresholds. Veterans receiving VA Pension benefits. Veterans eligible for Medicaid benefits.Group 6: Compensable 0% Service-connected Veterans. Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation during atmospheric testing or during the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Project 112/SHAD participants. Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations from Aug. 2, 1990, through Nov. 11, 1998. Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after Nov.11, 1998, as follows: Veterans discharged from active duty on or after Jan. 28, 2003, for five years post dischargeGroup 7: Veterans with incomes below the geographic means test income thresholds and who agree to pay the applicable copayment.Group 8: Veterans with gross household incomes above the VA national ncome threshold and the geographically-adjusted income thresh old for their resident location and who agrees to pay copays Veterans eligible for enrollment: Noncompensable 0% service- connected and: Subpriority a: Enrolled as of Jan. 16, 2003, and who have re- mained enrolled since that date and/ or placed in this subpriority due to changed eligibility status. Subpriority b: Enrolled on or after June 15, 2009 whose income exceeds the current VA National Income Thresholds or VA National Geographic Income Thresholds by 10% or less
  • 11. Chapter 1 VA Health Care 4Veterans eligible for enrollment: Nonservice-connected and Subpriority c: Enrolled as Jan. 16, 2003, and who remained enrolled since that date and/ or placed in this subpriority due to changed eligibility status Subpriority d: Enrolled on or after June 15, 2009 whose income exceeds the current VA National Income Thresholds or VA National Geographic Income Thresholds by 10% or lessVeterans NOT eligible for enrollment: Veterans not meeting thecriteria above: Subpriority e: Noncompensable 0% service-connected Subpriority f: Nonservice-connectedVA’s income thresholds can be located at: http://www.va.gov/health-benefits/cost/income_thresholds.asp. Recently Discharged Combat VeteransVeterans, including activated reservists and members of the NationalGuard, are eligible for the enhanced Combat Veteran benefits if theyserved on active duty in a theater of combat operations after Nov.11, 1998, and have been discharged under other than dishonorableconditions.Effective Jan. 28, 2008, combat Veterans discharged from activeduty on or after Jan. 28, 2003, are eligible for enhanced enrollmentplacement into Priority Group 6 (unless eligible for higher enrollmentPriority Group placement) for five-years post discharge.Veterans receive VA care and medication at no cost for any conditionthat may be related to their combat service.Veterans who enroll with VA under this Combat Veteran authoritywill remain enrolled even after their five-year post discharge periodends. At the end of their post discharge period, VA will reassess theVeteran’s information (including all applicable eligibility factors) andmake a new enrollment decision. For additional information, call1-877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m.and 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
  • 12. 5 VA Health Care Chapter 1 Special Access to CareService-Disabled Veterans: who are 50 percent or more disabledfrom service-connected conditions, unemployable due to service-connected conditions, or receiving care for a service-connected dis-ability receive priority in scheduling of hospital or outpatient medicalappointments. Women VeteransWomen Veterans are eligible for the same VA benefits as maleVeterans. Comprehensive health services are available to womenVeterans including primary care, specialty care, mental health careand reproductive health care servicesVA provides management of acute and chronic illnesses, preventivecare, contraceptive services, menopause management, and cancerscreenings, including pap smear and mammograms, and gynecol-ogy. Maternity care is covered in the Medical Benefits package.Women Veterans receive maternity care from an OB/GYN, and carefor their newborn children is covered for seven days after birth. In-fertility evaluation and limited treatments are also available. WomenVeterans Program Managers are available at all VA facilities to assistwomen Veterans in their health care and benefits. For more informa-tion, visit http://www.womenshealth.va.gov/. Military Sexual TraumaVA health care professionals provide counseling and treatment tohelp Veterans overcome psychological issues resulting from sexualtrauma that occurred while serving on active duty, or active duty fortraining if service was in the National Guard or Reserves. Veteranswho are not otherwise eligible for VA health care may still receivethese services. Appropriate services are provided for any injury,illness or psychological condition resulting from such trauma. For ad-ditional information visit: www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury/DisordersVHA has established SCI Centers at 24 VA medical centers andtrained SCI Primary Care Teams at each medical center without anSCI Center. Services include: orthotics, prosthetics, sensory aids,assistive technology, videofluoroscopic studies of swallowing, pulmo-nary function tests, chronic pain management, gynecology, mentalhealth, environmental modifications, peer counseling, reproductive
  • 13. Chapter 1 VA Health Care 6assessment, substance abuse treatment or rehabilitation, swallowingevaluation and training, geriatrics and gerontology, medical nutritiontherapy, rehabilitation engineering, speech and language pathology,dental services, and services to address parenting issues. VAMCswithout a SCI center provide access to primary care through physi-cian, nurse and social worker to meet the primary care needs andthese staff make appropriate referrals to their designated SCI C
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