All Veteran’s Guide to VA Benefits

Thu Nov 30 2023


Trying to claim benefits for your service? Start here, and we’ll walk you through the how-tos of what you’ll need.

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The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, is there to aid those who have served the nation through veteran services. This federal agency leads programs focusing on health care, disability compensation, education, pension, and life insurance provision.

The VA supports veterans after their time in service, whether it be finding jobs, getting an education, or finding support for everyday insecurity.

What are VA Benefits?

Veterans Affairs benefits include many privileges, entitlements, and services. The federal government provides this aid to those who have served. These benefits are the country’s way of taking care of and acknowledging the sacrifices of these brave individuals.

VA benefits range from health care and financial aid to educational assistance; from vocational training to disability compensation. Each of these benefits serves a distinctive purpose and has different eligibility requirements. These programs are in place to help support veterans after coming home from their service. 

Types of VA Benefits

  • Disability Benefits: Veterans can apply for compensation for disabilities, diseases, or other injuries that they received (or were worsened) because of service. You can submit a VA Form 21-526EZ to get started.
  • Pension Benefits: If you’ve served at least 90 days on active duty (with at least one day during wartime),  you may qualify for a pension. Also, you must be permanently disabled and/or over 65. Pension applications require VA Form 21P-527EZ.
  • Education and Training Benefits: The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers the full cost of public in-state tuition and provides a stipend for books and housing. If you have at least 90 days of total service post-September 10, 2001, apply through
  • Employment Services: These benefits include job training, employment accommodations, and coaching on skills for job-seeking. They’re available for any previous service member looking to enter the workforce and sustained a service-related disability (See also VA Form 28-1900).
  • Health Care: Veterans have access to high-quality health care for both primary and specialized medical needs. Your eligibility mainly depends on your service history and income level. Submitting VA Form 10-10EZ to see if you qualify.
  • Home Loans and Housing-Related Assistance: The VA includes loan programs to help veterans buy, renovate, or refinance a home—and these extend to their families, too. Whether you’re a discharged service member or a deceased veteran’s surviving spouse, may be eligible to request a Certificate of Eligibility through VA Form 26-1880.
  • Life Insurance: The VA provides various life insurance benefits to give financial security to the individuals and families who have sacrificed so much for their country (you’ll need to complete form SGLV 8286 to apply).

Eligibility for VA Benefits

To qualify for VA benefits, one must meet certain stipulations set out by the VA. First, the applicant should be a veteran or a close relative of a veteran (such as a surviving spouse or child). Additionally, the veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged. Furthermore, the eligibility requirements for VA disability benefits may vary.

Education and training benefits have specific service requirements; healthcare eligibility depends on service history and income level. Veterans should study the eligibility criteria for each benefit they are interested in. Only apply if you are sure you meet the criteria. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you have questions, though! Preparation will raise the chances of submitting an application that may be accepted.

(Eligibility for specific VA benefits always depends on several factors, including the nature and length of military service, disability status, and current income level.)

Challenges Veterans May Face When Applying for Benefits

If your application is denied you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process involves submitting a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of your denial. The VA will review your request to appeal and provide you with instructions on how to proceed with your appeal. Gather evidence or documentation that supports your claim during the appeals process. Consulting with Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) can be helpful during the appeals process.

Remember, understanding eligibility criteria and providing all documentation will increase the chances of approval. The VA has resources to help you through the application process and help with any issues you may find.

If any of these challenges are ones you’re facing, contact a VSO, who can walk you through the application journey. Their specialized knowledge provides guidance that ensures you receive the support you deserve.

Tips for Maximizing VA Benefits

Maximizing benefits helps better support veterans where needed. You first need to know what’s available to you and what the process looks like when applying. 

Seek from the Veterans Benefits Administration’s website or local VSOs. Legal help through lawyers specialized in veteran affairs is available to veterans. This may be useful for complex cases, denied applications, or difficulties providing proof. Legal professionals can lend expertise that leads veterans to the benefits they deserve.

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