Eligibility for VA health care | Veterans Affairs (2023)

Find out if you can get VA health care as a Veteran.

Am I eligible for VA health care benefits?

You may beeligible for VA health care benefits if you served in the active military, naval, or air service and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge.

If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981

You must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty, unless any of the descriptions below are true for you.

This minimum duty requirement may not apply if any of these are true:

  • You were discharged for a disability that was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, or
  • You were discharged for a hardship or “early out,” or
  • You served prior to September 7, 1980

If you’re a current or former member of the Reserves or National Guard

You must have been called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty. If you had or have active-duty status for training purposes only, you don’t qualify for VA health care.

If you served in certain locations and time periods during the Vietnam War era

You’re eligible for VA health care.Keep reading to learn more.

Is there anything that will make me more likely to get these benefits?

Yes. You may qualify for enhanced eligibility status if you meet at least one of these requirements. Enhanced eligibility means that we’ll place you in a higher priority group. This makes you more likely to get benefits.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You receive financial compensation (payments) from VA for a service-connected disability
  • You were discharged for a disability resulting from something that happened to you in the line of duty
  • You were discharged for a disability that got worse in the line of duty
  • You’re a combat Veteran discharged or released on or after September 11, 2001
    Learn more about eligibility for transitioning active-duty service members and returning combat Veterans
  • You get a VA pension
  • You’re a former prisoner of war (POW)
  • You have received a Purple Heart
  • You have received a Medal of Honor
  • You get (or qualify for) Medicaid benefits
  • You served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998
  • You served at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987

Or, you must have served in any of these locations during the Vietnam War era:

(Video) VA Health Care Eligibility and Priority Groups Explained

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military basein Thailandfrom January 9, 1962, throughJune 30, 1976
  • Laosfrom December 1, 1965, throughSeptember 30, 1969
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Provincefrom April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969
  • Guam or American Samoaor in the territorial waters offGuam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 31, 1980
  • Johnston Atollor on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977
  • Republic of Vietnamfrom January 9, 1962 through May 7, 1975

If none of these descriptions apply to you, you may still qualify for care based on your income. Learn more about how the amount of money your family makes can affect whether you qualify for VA benefits.

Learn more about income limits

What should I do if I received an other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge?

If you’ve received one of these discharge statuses, you may not be eligible for VA benefits.

There are 2 ways you can try to qualify:

Find out how to apply for a discharge upgrade
Learn about the VA Character of Discharge review process

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Obtenga instrucciones para esta solicitud en Español.

Llene la solicitud para Beneficions de Salud (Forma 10-10EZ).

Descargar la Forma VA 10-10EZ (PDF)

Usted o alguien con poder legal para representarlo tiene que firmar la forma, e incluir la fecha en que fué firmada.

  • Si esta usando un poder legal, tendra que incluir una copia de la forma con su solicitud.
  • Si firma con una X, 2 personas que usted conoce tienen que tambien firmar acertando que lo vieron firmar la forma.

Puede mandar su solicitud por correo a esta dirección:

Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Rd., Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329

(Video) Eligibility & Enrollment

Para llenar su solicitude en persona, encuetre el Centro Médico de Veteranos mas cercano en esta liga:

Encuentre el Centro o Clínica de Veteranos mas cercano a usted

O reciba ayuda por medio del Departmaneto de Veteranos de su estado.

Encuentre el Departamento de Veteranos de su estado

What if I need help filling out my application?

You can get help in any of these ways:

More about VA health care eligibility

When you apply for VA health care, you’ll be assigned 1 of 8 priority groups. This system helps to make sure that Veterans who need immediate care can get signed up quickly.

Your priority group may affect how soon we sign you up for health care benefits. It may also affect how much (if anything) you’ll have to pay toward the cost of your care.

Learn more about priority groups

(Video) Your VA Healthcare Options

No. Whether or not you have other health insurance coverage doesn’t affect the VA health care benefits you can get.

Learn more about how VA works with other insurance

If you’re retiring, you’re eligible for TRICARE. You may also qualify for certain VA health care benefits.

If you’re separating from service due to a service-connected illness or injury, you may be eligible for VA health care benefits and certain TRICARE benefits.

If you’re an OEF/OIF/OND combat Veteran who has just returned from service, you can receive free medical care for any condition related to your service in Iraq or Afghanistan for 10 years after discharge.

Learn more about health care benefits for transitioning service members

Visit healthcare.gov to find out if you qualify for health insurance.

Go to healthcare.gov


Find out how you may still be able to get care for:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    Learn more about PTSD treatment services
  • Other mental health problems (like depression or substance abuse)
    Learn more about mental health treatment services
  • Mental and physical health problems linked to military sexual trauma (MST)
    Learn more about MST treatment services

Or, call our general VA hotline at 800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET to find out what your care options may be.

(Video) Household Income | VA Health Care | Department of Veterans Affairs | theSITREP

We cover routine eye exams and preventive tests under VA health care benefits. In some cases, you may get coverage for eyeglasses or services for blind or low vision rehabilitation.

Learn more about vision care through VA

In certain cases, you may receive dental care as part of your VA health benefits.

Find out if you can get dental care through VA

If you have an illness or injury that was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, you may be able to get disability compensation.

Find out if you qualify for disability benefits

More eligibility information you may need

  • Priority groups

    Find out what VA priority groups are, how they work, and how they may affect you.

  • Active-duty service members and VA health care

    Learn about your health care options after separation or retirement and how to apply for VA health care when you receive your separation or retirement orders. If you’re a combat Veteran, apply right away to take advantage of 10 years of enhanced eligibility.

Last updated:

(Video) What factors will VA use to assign me to a priority group?


What are the 4 types of veterans? ›

Under VEVRAA, a veteran may be classified as a ''disabled veteran,'' ''recently separated veteran,'' ''active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran,'' or ''Armed Forces service medal veteran. ''

Which Va priority group is best? ›

The Priority Groups range from 1-8 with 1 being the highest priority. Based on eligibility and income, some veterans may have to pay copay for treatment and some may not be eligible for enrollment. See information about VA copayments. You may be eligible for more than one Priority Group.

How many years do you need to serve to be considered a veteran? ›

Service members must have served a minimum of 24 months of active duty to be considered a veteran. If the service member becomes disabled because of their time in the service, there is no minimum length of service to qualify for VA benefits.

Is every veteran eligible for VA benefits? ›

All Veterans receive coverage for most care and services, but only some will qualify for added benefits like dental care.

Why does VA put eligible beneficiaries into priority groups? ›

When you apply for VA health care, we'll assign you to 1 of 8 priority groups. This system helps to make sure that Veterans who need care right away can get signed up quickly. It also helps to make sure we can provide high quality care to all Veterans enrolled in the VA health care program.

What gets you high VA rating? ›

Disabling mental health conditions are generally regarded as “high-value” claims. This is because mental health issues are much more likely than neurological, skin, auditory, or most musculoskeletal conditions to receive a disability rating of 30% or higher.

Which VA serves the most veterans? ›

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RankHospital NameDefinitive ID
1Biloxi VA Medical Center2267
2Southern Oregon VA Rehabilitation Center (AKA White City VA Medical Center)851198
3Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center3127
4West Los Angeles VA Medical Center428
46 more rows

Does a dd214 make you a veteran? ›

Since the DD Form 214 is issued to those leaving the active military as well as to members of the National Guard and Reserves completing their initial active duty for training, possession of this document does not necessarily mean the student is a veteran.

Are you considered a veteran if you only served 2 years? ›

Time of Service. To be considered a veteran, any military personnel must be on active-duty service for at least 180 days. The only exception is if the member sustained a service-related injury and was discharged under honorable conditions.

Do veterans have a shorter life expectancy? ›

Compared to the U. S. population, the mortality rates of Veterans are higher at older ages, and the life expectancy of Veterans are estimated to be 0.9-1.2 life-years shorter before adjusted for older ages using SSA mortality rates6 and 0.6-1.0 life-years shorter after the adjustment for males, and to be 1.7-1.9 life- ...

Are VA benefits based on income? ›

VA will only consider a Veteran's gross household income and deductible expenses from the previous year. This change makes VA health care benefits more affordable to lower- income Veterans who have no service-connected condition or other qualifying factors.

Do US Veterans get free healthcare? ›

Can I get free VA health care as a Veteran? You can get free VA health care for any illness or injury that we determine is related to your military service (called “service connected”). We also provide certain other services for free.

Are Veterans automatically enrolled in VA health care? ›

If you qualify for enhanced eligibility as an OEF/OIF/OND combat Veteran: We'll enroll you right away. We'll assign you to priority group 6, unless you qualify for a higher priority group based on your income or a service-connected disability.

What happens to a VA pension when someone dies? ›

A VA Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits set by Congress. Find out if you qualify and how to apply.

Who Are veterans Affairs beneficiaries? ›

As the spouse or dependent child of a Veteran or service member, you may qualify for certain benefits, like health care, life insurance, or money to help pay for school or training.

Does a 100 disabled veteran Need Medicare Part B? ›

However, like other beneficiaries, veterans with VA benefits will need to pay a standard Medicare Part B premium for Medicare's outpatient coverage. You will want to enroll in Medicare Part B as soon as you are eligible.

What are the easiest VA claims to get approved? ›

The Top 5 Easiest Things to Claim for VA Disability
  • Mental Health Conditions. Mental health conditions like PTSD, anxiety, depression, and somatic disorder are considered high-value claims. ...
  • Scars. ...
  • Musculoskeletal Conditions. ...
  • Presumptive Disorders. ...
  • Tinnitus.

At what age does VA disability stop? ›

Your VA benefits will last for your whole life. Even if your disability is classified as less than total and not permanent, if you've been collecting benefits for 20 years or more, the amount of your benefit won't go down.

How far back will VA disability pay? ›

If the claim is not submitted within 1 year of discharge, all the VA Disability Back Pay that could have been received between the date of application and the date of separation will be lost. For example, Ben applies for VA Disability 9 months after he separated from the military.

What percentage of veterans are eligible for VA health care? ›

Under current policy, about 60 percent of U.S. veterans are eligible for VA care, based on length of service, service-connected injuries, service in designated combat theaters, and income.

What city has the best VA hospital? ›

IRON MOUNTAIN MI VA MEDICAL CENTER: Patient Score 93/100. The Iron Mountain MI VA Medical Center is the #1/25 VA hospitals according to veteran patients. 93% of patients ranked the quality of healthcare at either a 9 or a 10, with 10 being the highest, and 0 being the lowest.

Why veterans do not use the VA? ›

Of the veteran and active service members who reported to the annual Wounded Warrior Project Survey that they have never used VA health care services, the most common reasons given included preferring to use other health care coverage and too much trouble or red tape.
CharacteristicPercentage of respondents
9 more rows
20 Jun 2022

Who qualifies to be called a veteran? ›

§ 101(2) provides: The term "veteran" means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. (E) authorized travel to or from such duty or service.

What is a 5 point veteran? ›

You are a 5 point preference eligible if your active duty service meets any of the following: 180 or more consecutive days, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001 and ending on a future date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law as the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom, OR.

What are examples of veteran? ›

veteran in American English
  • a person who has had long service or experience in an occupation, office, or the like. a veteran of the police force. ...
  • a person who has served in a military force, esp. one who has fought in a war. ...
  • ( of soldiers) ...
  • experienced through long service or practice; having served for a long period.

What is a classified veteran? ›

This definition explains that any individual that completed a service for any branch of armed forces classifies as a veteran as long as they were not dishonorably discharged.

Does having a dd214 make you a veteran? ›

Since the DD Form 214 is issued to those leaving the active military as well as to members of the National Guard and Reserves completing their initial active duty for training, possession of this document does not necessarily mean the student is a veteran.

How long do you have to be in the military to get VA benefits? ›

VA pension is a tax-free benefit paid to Veterans with limited income and net worth who served during a wartime period (see the FAQ section for a list of wartime periods). Generally, you must have 90 days or 24 months of active service (depending on when you served) to qualify.

What's the difference between a veteran and a protected veteran? ›

The Protected veteran is a status created with an amendment to the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). This status prohibits discrimination against anyone that identifies as a protected veteran. These veterans receive Affirmative Action-type safeguards from some employers that hire vets.

What is a 10 point veteran? ›

10-Point Preference

Ten points are added to the passing examination score of: A veteran who served any time and who (1) has a present service connected disability or (2) is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the VA.

What is the VA fifty five year old rule? ›

What is the VA 55-year-old rule? Veterans who receive VA disability benefits for service-connected conditions are exempt from periodic future examinations once they turn 55 years old. This includes veterans who will be 55 by the date of a future examination, according to the VA Adjudication Procedures Manual.

What does Priority 1 mean at the VA? ›

Explanation of VA Priority Groups. Veterans in Priority Group 1 have no copay for any VA medical service. Those in Priority Groups 2 - 8 get treatment for any service-connected conditions for free. All other medical treatment probably has a copay, this is usually based on your income.

What are the most common disabilities for veterans? ›

List of the Top 10 Most Common VA Claims
  • #1 Tinnitus.
  • #2 Hearing Loss.
  • #3 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • #4 Scars, General.
  • #5 Limitation of Flexion, Knee.
  • #6 Lumbosacral or Cervical Strain.
  • #7 Paralysis of the Sciatic Nerve.
  • #8 Limitation of Range of Motion of the Ankle.

What is a 100% veteran? ›

100% disabled veterans receive completely free VA care, with services including but not limited to, emergency care, preventative care, primary care, specialty care, mental health services, home health care, dental and vision care, geriatrics and extended care, medical equipment, prosthetics, nursing home placement, ...

Are you considered a veteran after 3 years? ›

Time of Service

To be considered a veteran, any military personnel must be on active-duty service for at least 180 days. The only exception is if the member sustained a service-related injury and was discharged under honorable conditions.

At what percentage are you considered a disabled veteran? ›

To qualify, a veteran must: Have a single disability with a rating of 60 percent or a single disability with a rating of 40 percent, paired with additional disabilities equaling a rating of 70 percent or more. Medical documentation establishing why the veteran cannot work in physical and sedentary jobs.

Who is not a protected veteran? ›

What Is a Non-Protected Veteran? You are not considered a protected Veteran if you did NOT serve active duty in the U.S. military OR if you received a dishonorable discharge from the military.


1. How to Enroll in VA Health Care | VA Form 1010EZ | theSITREP
(U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)
2. Overview of VA health care and how to apply | VA.gov
(U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)
3. How Do VA Benefits and Medicare Work?
(Medicare School)
4. Veteran Community Care: Eligibility
(Veterans Health Administration)
5. VA Caregiver Program Application, Benefits, and Requirements Explained
(Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD)
6. Which is better, VA Health Care or TRICARE | VA Health Care and TRICARE Comparison | theSITREP
(U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)
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