How do I get VA benefits?

VA stands for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a government organization that caters to the well-being of veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The VA provides veterans with many types of benefits, such as education assistance, health care coverage, guaranteed home loans, and life insurance. It provides disability benefits such as vocational rehabilitation, providing the disability occurred while the veteran was serving in the military.

VA Benefits Eligibility

In order to qualify for VA benefits, the potential beneficiary must be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, having served in one of the five branches of the U.S. military services: Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, or Coast Guard. The veteran must also have an honorable or general discharge (under honorable conditions) from that service. A military discharge is given when a member of the Armed Forces is released from their obligation to serve. Anything less than an honorable or a general discharge is not acceptable, and therefore disqualifies the veteran from receiving VA benefits. Discharge status is listed on a veteran’s discharge papers, otherwise known as a DD214.

In order to receive VA benefits, a veteran must first file a claim. This can be done by either visiting a regional department of Veteran’s Affairs office or a local Veteran center, or by visiting them on the web at va.gov; click the Veteran Services tab. It is a good idea to check out the VA benefits booklet in order to become acquainted with the different services the VA provides. This booklet will help you understand the benefits that relate to your circumstance, and your eligibility requirements.

Types of VA Benefits

The type of benefits a veteran is qualified for varies, depending on the circumstance. For instance, if the veteran has paid into the Montgomery GI Bill while in service and is seeking education benefits after discharge, he can call 1-800-442-4551, submit an electronic application online (see Resources), or visit a VA-certifying office at the veteran’s school.

If the veteran has been declared 10 percent or more disabled as result of a service-connected disability and is seeking employment after discharge, the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program can help him find work or retrain him in a job field that is more suitable to his abilities.

The VA also offers a program for veterans seeking to purchase a home. This program, called the Loan Guaranty Home Loan Program, guarantees 25 percent of the loan amount. Loan limits are dependent on the state and county of the home purchase. To qualify, the veteran has to have served at least 90 days on active duty during wartime, or 181 days of continuous active duty during peacetime. However, if the veteran was discharged for a service-connected disability, the time-in-service stipulation may not apply; a VA representative can further clarify these and other conditions of eligibility. To further qualify, the veteran must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from either a lender or by completing VA Form 26-1880 (see Resources) requesting eligibility and submit it to the VA Eligibility Center address indicated on the form.


Requirements for VA Loan Eligibility

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Benefits

How to Apply for GI Bill Benefits


VA Form 26-1880

Department of Veterans Affairs Electronic On-line Application

Department of Veterans Affairs

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