The United States government protects and honors its military veterans through various benefit programs that offer tuition, healthcare, disability compensation, and other financial assistance and resources.
A qualified veteran may be eligible for a wide range of benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the federal government. It's important for veterans to know who is eligible for benefits and how to get the veterans benefits they’re entitled to receive.
10 Veterans Benefits Provided by the VA
- VA Disability Compensation
- VA Loans
- Health Care
- Education and Training
- Vocational Readiness and Employment
- VetSuccess on Campus
- Dependents and Survivor Benefits
- VA Life Insurance
- VA Pension
- VA Burial Benefits
Veterans benefits come in several forms, including tuition assistance, medical benefits, and support for families of deceased veterans. Many active duty service members and veterans are not aware of the many benefits they are entitled to receive.
An eligible veteran can receive a pension, educational benefits for themselves or their dependents, financial assistance for buying a home or starting a business, and various other forms of aid that benefit them and their families. You can meet with a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) if you need help applying for benefits.
10 Veterans Benefits Provided by the VA
The following guide details each type of veterans benefits that a service member, veteran of the Armed Forces, or their families may receive from the VA.
1. Disability Compensation
VA disability benefits are reserved for veterans with a service-connected disability. In other words, their condition must be related to or exacerbated by their military service. To be eligible for this veteran benefit, disabled veterans must have been discharged honorably from service.
To qualify for disability benefits, a veteran must provide medical evidence to the VA when they submit their VA claim for compensation. Based on this evidence, the VA will determine whether a condition is eligible and is a service-connected disability. The veteran may need to attend doctor's appointments and visit a VA doctor before the VA makes its decision.
Some examples of eligible conditions include:
- Hearing or vision loss
- Mental disorders
- Loss of a limb
- Chronic pain
- Breathing conditions
For approved disability claims, the VA gives a veteran a disability rating from 0% to 100%. The rating determines how much compensation, if any, the veteran qualifies for. Some veterans may be eligible for total and permanent disability (TPD), meaning that they'll continue receiving benefits for that rating for the remainder of their life.
2. Home Loans
The VA can help an eligible veteran to purchase a home with a VA loan. VA home loans come with several benefits, including a more straightforward qualification process, no down payment requirements, and lower closing costs. The primary focus of this VA benefit is to help veterans find affordable and safe housing.
Although private lenders issue VA loans, the government backs each loan, protecting the lender from delinquency if a veteran cannot pay it back. As a result, veterans can get better interest rates and benefits because they're considered lower-risk borrowers than traditional borrowers with this security.
Veterans can apply for a VA Guaranteed Loan to purchase a new home or refinance their current home. The house must be the veteran's primary residence and meet minimum safety and property requirements as established by the VA.
Borrowers benefit from not having to pay mortgage insurance or a down payment to establish the loan. Veterans who have used a VA home loan once may also apply for one again if they decide to purchase a different home or refinance their home in the future.
3. Health Care
One of the more well-known veterans benefits comes in the form of health care assistance. VA health care programs look a bit different for veterans in varied situations but range from dental and prescription coverage to alcohol and substance abuse treatment.
VA health care benefits start with regular checkups, immunizations, and diagnostics. Health care programs may also cover emergency care, treatment plans, health education, surgeries, acute care, and specialized care services. Mental health programs and assisted living facilities and services can also be covered for eligible individuals.
The VA also has a program dedicated to military-involved sexual trauma. This program allows veterans to receive disability compensation for mental and physical conditions related to Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Additionally, women veterans can receive specialized health care services through VA health care programs.
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is another health care program that can specifically assist spouses and dependents of a veteran who has died or is disabled. To be eligible for enrollment and financial assistance, family members must not qualify for TRICARE. CHAMPVA will pay for some health services and medical supplies through a cost-sharing model.
4. Education and Training
VA education benefits help veterans and their families pay for college, vocational education programs, and training programs to enter the workforce or advance their careers. These programs are in place to give veterans an easier transition back into the workforce after serving in the military.
Perhaps the most notable VA education benefit is the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This education benefit is available to a qualified veteran who served at least 90 days on active duty after September 10th, 2001.
The GI Bill allows financial aid for as many as 36 months to assist with the cost of college tuition, books and supplies, or training programs. GI Bill benefits can also transfer to a dependent child or spouse.
A surviving spouse or dependent may also be eligible for Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA), which covers higher education or job training for families or service members who have died or are permanently disabled.
Another bill known as the Montgomery GI Bill is available for active duty service members or reserves. This VA education benefit can cover the cost of educational testing, on-the-job training, tuition, vocational programs, and more.
5. Vocational Readiness and Employment
Like VA education benefits, VA vocational benefits assist veterans with getting back to work after leaving the service. However, these benefits are more focused on career readiness and independent living than educational training. Resume development, career search assistance, exclusive job opportunities, and business plan development are services veterans can benefit from through VA vocational assistance programs.
The Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program offers benefits for up to 12 years upon leaving active duty service or after receiving a disability rating from the VA. The program aids veterans with a service-connected disability or condition that impedes their ability to work or find a suitable job. Veterans may receive assistance for starting a career, re-entering their previous industry, or becoming self-employed. Job training and career counseling are potential perks of the program.
Veterans work with Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRCs) to get the resources they need to get back into the workforce, start a business, or live independently. A VRC is available in person or by phone for veterans to have quick, convenient access to help when needed.
6. VetSuccess on Campus
VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) is a program furnished through the VA's Vocational Readiness and Employment program. This benefit specifically guides veterans through the transition of service to higher education with resources, tools, and on-campus benefits to help them find college success.
The benefit begins with evaluating the veteran that can offer suggestions for future career paths that the veteran is well-suited for. After that, VetSuccess on Campus can provide career counseling, college readiness resources, and other valuable tools to prepare veterans for college and their upcoming careers.
Schools must meet eligibility guidelines to become a VSOC school, including being within a specific distance of a VA regional office and having a minimum number of veterans enrolled. Schools participating in the VSOC program will receive a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) for their campus.
The VRC will work one-on-one with veterans utilizing the program to coordinate resources and services. They can also provide career counseling, vocational testing, and other forms of academic and vocational support to the veteran.
Eligibility for some resources is still available to those receiving VA education benefits, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill.
7. Dependents and Survivor Benefits
Survivors and dependents of veterans can meet eligibility requirements to enroll in specialized programs that assist them financially and academically.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is one such program that's designed to assist surviving spouses and children of fallen veterans. The program works with families in which a veteran has died in the line of duty due to a service-connected disability or was totally disabled from a service-connected disability before their death. Families may receive a monthly cash payment, which varies depending on the family's unique circumstances.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) is another program families can use to offset some of the costs of higher education. DEA assists children and spouses of fallen veterans or veterans who have received a VA distinction of being permanently and totally disabled.
Children can use DEA benefits between 18 and 26 years of age, and surviving spouses may use the benefit within ten years. DEA pays monthly benefits that vary depending on the type of training or educational program.
Surviving spouses and dependents can also qualify for other programs, like CHAMPVA, Survivor Pension Benefits, and Spina Bifida & Birth Defects Benefits.
8. Life Insurance
The VA offers several life insurance options for veterans and service members to protect their families in the event of their death. VA life insurance is designed with the risks of active duty service in mind, ensuring that veterans and service members get proper coverage for the dangerous situations they face.
VA life insurance benefits can be for short-term or long-term situations. For example, Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) gives short-term coverage for service members who experienced a traumatic injury connected to their service. Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) provides long-term protection for veterans who held Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) while on duty. Veterans may receive up to $400,000 in coverage with their SGLI veterans benefits.
VA life insurance also includes coverage for spouses and children under the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) program. Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) protects a mortgage for a home that's undergone adaptations for a service-connected disability.
9. VA Pension
A war veteran may qualify for VA pension benefits, which pay monthly payments to the veteran. To qualify, a veteran must have an honorable discharge from service, be at least 65 years old or have a permanent and total disability, and meet specific eligibility requirements regarding their service.
Some veterans may also qualify if they're in a nursing home or long-term care facility or receive Social Security disability benefits. Additionally, the VA pension program has specific income guidelines for pension recipients that follow the income limits Congress sets.
Qualified surviving spouses and children may also receive a form of pension benefits known as the VA Survivors Pension. These monthly payments are available to spouses of a deceased veteran who meets active duty service guidelines and children who are under 18, under 23 and attending a VA-approved school, or disabled.
The VA provides financial assistance to families to cover some or all of the funeral and burial costs for a deceased veteran. Rather than provide monetary benefits upfront to families, the VA will reimburse families who have already paid for a veteran's funeral costs.
Those receiving benefits must also not have been reimbursed by another agency or program, like federal VA benefits, for the veteran's funeral.
A veteran's family may be eligible for this program if the veteran was discharged honorably and meets at least one of the following requirements:
- The veteran died because of a service-connected disability
- The veteran died while under the care of a VA hospital or medical facility or while traveling to or from a VA facility with VA approval
- The veteran was receiving VA pension or disability compensation or was entitled to receive one or both, at the time of their death
- The veteran was a patient in a VA-approved nursing home and passed after October 9, 1996
For families to get VA reimbursement for burial expenses, the family must show proof of the veteran's death and have detailed receipts and account statements that show the funeral and burial costs. The VA pays up to $796 for non-service-related deaths and up to $2,000 for service-related deaths.
Veterans Benefits and Resources From Other Federal Agencies
In addition to veterans benefits offered by the VA, a veteran may find helpful resources and assistance through the following federal agencies, each with its own programs and benefits:
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration provides disability compensation and retirement benefits to U.S. citizens. For veterans, the agency can help process disability claims from wounded veterans or service members to help them get their compensation faster.
Department of Defense
The Department of Defense aids men and women veterans and service members who have been injured or become ill during their service through the Warrior Care program. The program helps these military members transition back to civilian life by providing resources for housing, employment, educational training, and recreation.
Federal Trade Commission
The Military Task Force of the Federal Trade Commission offers resources and tools for veterans to protect themselves against scams that can affect a veteran's finances. Veterans may also submit complaints regarding potential scams to the FTC through its website.
Federal Communications Commission
Because veterans can easily become targeted by phishing and spoof calls, the Federal Communications Commission works to protect them from such scams. Veterans can learn more about blocking calls, avoiding scams, and listing themselves on the Do Not Call List.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This agency works with military service members and veterans to help them manage their money and prevent fraudulent transactions, scams, and other unique financial issues that commonly affect them.
Department of Energy
The Department of Energy assists each qualified veteran who's interested in a career with the agency or energy industry through internships, scholarships, training programs, and exclusive employment opportunities and resources.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
This agency furnishes Operation Protect Veterans, a program designed to protect veterans from common scams that target them, like VA home loan scams or veterans pension scams. Active duty service members and veterans may report scams via the program's website.
Internal Revenue Service
The IRS is responsible for United States taxation and processing tax returns. For military members and veterans, the IRS offers special tax breaks and resources to help military personnel file and pay their taxes on time. Disabled veterans may qualify for special tax circumstances and exclusions.
Housing and Urban Development
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) connects veterans to housing assistance programs, especially those that benefit a homeless veteran. HUD-VASH Vouchers are a joint effort of HUD and the VA to provide homeless veterans with affordable housing.
Department of Agriculture
The USDA assists veterans who want to start or grow a business in agriculture or another industry. The agency specifically targets training in education, employment, and entrepreneurship for business-focused veterans.
Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice ensures that veterans and service members understand their legal rights and how to protect them. The Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative works with other federal agencies to protect military members and their families and provide legal resources when necessary.
Small Business Administration
Veterans and servicemembers wishing to transition from the service to starting their own business can receive assistance and resources from the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Veterans Business Development. The agency also assists veterans' spouses and dependents.
Department of Education
Veterans may be eligible for Department of Education resources and assistance, such as grants and financial aid for college, student loan forgiveness, and veteran-focused loans. Survivors and dependents may also access some benefits, similar to VA educational benefits.
Health and Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services assists service members and veterans and their families with child support enforcement issues. The department assigns veteran-focused workers to veterans and their families to assist with their unique issues regarding child support and provides other resources to ensure fair practices and child support procedures for all parties involved.
Office of Personnel Management
This agency works with veterans who want to become employed in federal positions. Job seekers can learn more about applying for federal jobs and how to train for their chosen job. The Office of Personnel Management also offers in-person and virtual training.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
The USCIS helps veterans who are not yet U.S. citizens become citizens through the naturalization process. Service members or veterans must have served honorably for at least one year during peacetime to receive assistance.
Department of Labor
Veterans and their spouses can receive help and resources from the U.S. Department of Labor through the Veterans' Employment and Training Service. Programs include employment training, one-on-one career assistance, and targeted help for women veterans.
Take Advantage of All Your Veterans Benefits
Veterans of the United States armed forces can become eligible for many veterans benefits to assist them with everything from affording their monthly bills to starting a new business. Veterans can typically qualify for these benefits if they were discharged honorably from the military and meet specific guidelines for income and military service set by each program.
Dependents, such as children and spouses, of a veteran, may also benefit from some of these programs. For example, pension benefits may go to surviving spouses and children of a deceased veteran, and veterans can transfer their GI Bill in whole or in part to a dependent for tuition or training assistance.
Veterans can apply for most VA benefits online, by phone, or at their regional VA office. To learn more about each program, its eligibility requirements, and how to apply, visit VA.gov.