Veterans Health Care Benefits – An Overview
Black and Davison
If you have served your country, you are entitled to a wide range of benefits. Some benefits may be based on financial need and the benefits available to you can vary based on when, where and how long you served. One of the most important benefits available to former service members is health care.
Health Care Benefits for Veterans
If you have been honorably discharged from active service, chances are good that you are eligible for health care at one of the VA hospitals or clinics across the nation. If you served before September 7, 1980, there’s no minimum service requirement. However, if you enlisted after that date, you will only be eligible for health care benefits if you served a minimum of 24 months of uninterrupted duty (unless you were discharged for a service-related disability).
To receive health care benefits, you normally have to apply. There are circumstances, though, where you will be entitled to health care benefits automatically:
- If the care you are receiving is exclusively for a service-related disability, injury or illness
- If your service-related disability has been rated at 50% or higher
- If the Veterans Administration has determined that your disability is service-related, but has not issued a disability rating
Veteran’s Access to Health Care
Because the VA lacks the resources to provide the necessary care to all who require it and qualify, a priority system has been established to determine who gets treated first. As a general rule, the higher your disability rating, the higher your priority for treatment. In addition, if you have been a prisoner of war or have received certain medals or honors for your service (a Purple Heart or Medal of Honor, for example), you’ll be given special priority. Veterans who have been discharged within five years of enrollment are also eligible for enhanced health care access.