Playing one’s part as a member of the United States Armed Forces is a bold and honorable sacrifice, and it’s only right that US veterans should be honored and rewarded for their time and service when they return to civilian life.
This is why a range of veteran benefit programs have been established by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but unfortunately, a lot of veterans and their families aren’t fully aware of all the many benefits they might be eligible to apply for.
New and old veterans alike need to know that they can get help with a wide range of day-to-day aspects of their lives, from medical aid and healthcare to education and homeownership assistance too.
This guide will cover some of the many benefit options you could be missing out on and don’t forget that new bills regarding veteran benefits are being signed into law on a regular basis, offering even more opportunities for veterans to get care and aid.
There are two main types of pension benefits available from the VA:
The veterans’ pension is a need-based VA pension benefit for veterans who have served for at least one day at war. It’s aimed at those with low incomes, and in order to be eligible, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Aged 65+
- Suffering from a permanent and total disability
- Living in a nursing home or receiving regular nursing care
- A recipient of Supplement Security
- A recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance
The Survivors Pension, meanwhile, is a benefit exclusively aimed at low-income surviving spouses of members of the military, as well as unmarried surviving children of veterans.
Many veterans returning to civilian life want to find new jobs and start new chapters of their lives, and there are various benefits that can assist you if you plan to head back to school or enter the world of work.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment or VR&E program is aimed at helping veterans get the education, training, and job-hunting skills they need to secure employment. It can also help those who wish to begin their own businesses.
Any veterans who served a minimum of 90 days after September 10 of 2001 could be eligible for GI Bill benefits, which include full payment of educational fees for in-school and online classes and courses, housing stipends for those who will be living on or near campus, a supplies stipend to pay for books and other learning essentials, and other benefits too.
Dependents’ Educational Assistance
Any dependents of veterans or surviving dependents of veterans can also find educational benefits via the VA. The Fry Scholarship, for example, is available to any children or spouses of members of the Armed Forces who died while serving after September 10 of 2001. The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, meanwhile, offers new educational and skill enhancement assistance to dependents of military members who are disabled.
Given that injuries are frequent during wartime, there are several benefits available for veterans who are suffering some form of disability.
The standard Disability Compensation from the VA is a disability benefit paid out to any veterans who have VA-approved medical conditions or disabilities connected to their time in service or made worse during their period of service. This is a tax-free benefit, as many of the others available to veterans.
Special Monthly Compensation
The Special Monthly Compensation or SMC benefit is another tax-free option for veterans, as well as their surviving relatives, including spouses and parents. It is awarded on a need-based basis, designed to help those who are dealing with disabilities and require special levels of care from other people.
Other Disability Programs
There are several other disability benefits available for veterans, including the Specially-Adapted Housing Grants benefit, which can help those who need to live in adapted housing to suit their disability, as well as Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance, which can offer a coverage amount of up to $10,000 for healthcare emergencies.
There are also benefits for veterans to help with life insurance, home loans, and even to help families pay for burial costs, so it’s very wise to learn more, via the VA, and understand all of your rights and entitlements, either as a veteran or as a loved one of a veteran, as you may be missing out on a lot of aid.