How Do I know What I Am Eligible For?
Veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for a broad range of benefits and services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and their state Offices of Veterans Affairs. Some of these benefits may be utilized while on active duty. These benefits are codified in Title 38 of the United States Code.
Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions. Active service means full-time service, other than active duty for training, as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, Environmental Science Services Administration or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor, the Coast and Geodetic Survey.
Dishonorable and bad conduct discharges issued by general courts-martial may bar VA benefits. Veterans in prison must contact VA to determine eligibility. VA benefits will not be provided to any Veteran or dependent wanted for an outstanding felony warrant.
Certain VA Benefits Require Wartime Service: under the law, VA recognizes these periods of war:
- Mexican Border Period: May 9, 1916, through April 5, 1917, for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders or in adjacent waters.
- World War I: April 6, 1917, through Nov. 11, 1918; for Veterans who served in Russia, April 6, 1917, through April 1, 1920; extended through July 1, 1921, for Veterans who had at least one day of service 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 a date to be set.
Important Documents for Claiming Benefits
Veterans seeking a VA benefit for 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), which documents service dates and type of discharge, or provides full name, military service number, and branch and dates of service.
The Veteran's service discharge form should be kept in a safe location accessible to the Veteran and next of kin or designated representative.
The following documents will be needed for claims processing related to a Veteran's death:
- Veteran's marriage certificate for claims of a surviving spouse or children.
- Veteran's death certificate if the Veteran did not die in a VA health care facility.
- Children's birth certificates or adoption papers to determine children's benefits.
- Veteran's birth certificate to determine parents' benefits.
eBenefits is a joint VA/Department of Defense (DoD) Web portal that provides resources and self-service capabilities to Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families to apply, research, access, and manage their VA and military benefits and personal information through a secure Internet connection.
Through eBenefits Veterans can: apply for benefits, view their disability compensation claim status, access official military personnel documents (e.g., DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty), transfer entitlement of Post-9/11 GI Bill to eligible dependents (Servicemembers only), obtain a VA-guaranteed home loan Certificate of Eligibility, and register for and update direct deposit information for certain benefits. New features are added regularly.