The VA Foreign Military Program Helps Disabled Veterans Living AbroadUpdated September 27, 2021 Veterans Disability
The VA Foreign Military Program (FMP) is a healthcare program run through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for specific veterans who live in or are traveling in a foreign country. These foreign medical services are only available to those with a VA-rated, service-related disability, or a condition that’s related to or aggravates a service-related disability.
7 Benefits Covered By the Foreign Military Program
- FDA-Approved Prescription Drugs
- Physical Therapy
- Durable Medical Equipment and Prosthetics
- Emergency Services
- Skilled Nursing Care
- Outpatient Care
The FMP is managed by the FHA’s Office of Community Care in Denver, Colorado. VA benefits for veterans living in the states are not the same for veterans living abroad. Any questions about coverage should be directed toward the VHA Community Care office since the requirements for foreign medical services are much narrower than for domestic services.
What Is the Foreign Medical Program?
The FMP provides medically necessary VA health benefits and services to veterans who are traveling abroad or who reside abroad permanently. It can provide disability compensation for things like regular doctor or specialist appointments, durable medical equipment, or medications, but any services must be related to a VA service-connected disability.
To determine whether your disability qualifies, the VA conducts an evaluation on any veteran with a disability wishing to receive services (at home or abroad). In most cases, the VA will assign a disability percentage based on their finding which informs how much compensation a veteran will receive.
For basic VA benefits received in the states, the VA will assign percentages from 0% to 100% that increase in 10% increments. Factors such as whether you are married, the severity of your disability, if you have lost any limbs, or if your spouse is also disabled can increase your percentage of reimbursement.
However, disabled veterans abroad qualify for services of any condition that is related to or aggravates an existing service-connected condition. Therefore, a disability rating carries no weight in the Foreign Medical Program.
Not every healthcare-related service will be available to all overseas veterans. Only those that meet the specific VA standard of care are eligible. This means services that are unrelated to the disability, grant or study-related research, adult day care, exercise programs, nursing homes, or non-medical home care are not covered by FMP.
FMP is not a replacement for a standard health insurance plan since it won’t cover many of the basic services an individual might need that are not related to their disability.
Who Is Eligible for the Foreign Medical Program?
To receive veteran disability benefits from the FMP you must have a VA-rated service-connected disability. This means eligible veterans typically must have served under honorable conditions in any branch of the armed forces and due to their service have sustained some form of physical or intellectual disability.
There are some exceptions made for those with dishonorable discharges, though your unique situation will need to be evaluated by the VA. The VA must pre-approve your disability, and it does this through a medical examination. If your disability is approved, it is categorized as “VA-rated.” If you are currently residing in the states and have been evaluated for your disability, you typically will not need to have another evaluation. Your reimbursement level associated with your domestic disability rating is not used overseas.
7 Benefits Covered by the Foreign Military Program
The veterans’ benefits available through FMP are not the same as full benefits received through the VA health care system in the states and are not intended to replace full coverage health care. It’s essential that any veteran who lives overseas or is thinking about moving overseas researches their coverage in full to ensure they will get the medical care that’s needed. That said, the FMP provides a range of quality services for those with service-connected disabilities.
1. FDA-Approved Prescription Drugs
Any medications associated with the veteran's disability are covered under FMP. The drugs must be available for purchase within the country of residence and must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the VA.
The VA will not be able to send any pharmaceuticals overseas if they are only available in the U.S. This is due to compliance standards with international regulations on mailing prescription drugs to another country.
If you’re a veteran or active duty military service member interested in moving overseas and are unsure if your current medication is FDA approved, you should check beforehand if you’ll be able to receive your prescriptions after you move. You can do this by contacting the FMP and providing the name of the drug, the condition for which the drug is being prescribed, and the dosage and usage.
If needed, you can work with your current American doctor to find a medication that can be easily obtained overseas that would serve the same purposes.
Most hospital care that’s connected with a veteran's disability is covered via a refund check issued by the U.S. Treasury. The amount of reimbursement is based on the exchange rate on the discharge date from the hospital, not the date of service.
3. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy and any rehabilitation program that’s related to the veteran’s disability and received under the supervision of a physician is covered. To receive full reimbursement, the patient must provide a brief description of their diagnosis and how the physical therapy is intended to help it, a description of the procedure and the therapy used, and how often the therapy is received. This information can be submitted either by the patient or the provider.
4. Durable Medical Equipment and Prosthetics
Most Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and Prosthetics are covered for disabled veterans under Foreign Military Program with a few exceptions. Any equipment considered deluxe or luxury will not be covered, only standard care. This could include items like wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds for use in the home, oxygen equipment, or home modifications for everyday activities like bathing and dressing.
To receive reimbursement, the patient must provide the VHA with the name of the physician who has prescribed the equipment, a description of the equipment and how it will benefit the disabled veteran, and the duration of use.
5. Emergency Services
Emergency services such as ambulance services to the nearest medical facility, and any life and limb-saving equipment and procedures are covered.
6. Skilled Nursing Care
In-home skilled nursing care for disability-related conditions is covered, but nursing homes or other institutional care are not. This care must be performed by a licensed nurse or medical provider.
7. Outpatient Care
Most disability-related outpatient care is covered if there is proper documentation of the procedure and reason for the visit for reimbursement. Many routine medical exams are not covered unless specifically directed by your physician. If there is any question about whether an outpatient service is covered, contact the VHA CC at 877-345-8179.
How To Enroll in the Foreign Medical Program
Veterans who plan on moving abroad or traveling abroad should notify the VA even if they’re unsure of their eligibility status. The application itself is very straightforward and you only need to enter basic information about yourself and your status as a veteran since it will be double-checked against existing records within the VA.
All applicants will need to fill out VA Form 10-7959f-1 which can be found online, filled out electronically, and then printed. At this time, there is no way to submit this form electronically. You will need to mail it to the VHA Office of Community Care at:
VHA Office of Community Care
Foreign Medical Program (FMP)
P.O. Box 469061
Denver, CO 80246-9061
Applications can also be faxed to 1-303-331-7803. After your application has been received, the VA will confirm your service-related disability and issue you an authorization letter letting you know if you qualify for FMP. If you have any questions about applying or to check on the status of your authorization letter you can call the VHA CC at 877-345-8179.
Since the FMP is a separate program from regular VA benefits, you do not have to be part of the VA healthcare system to enroll in the FMP. Some veterans can also become eligible for the program if they are currently part of the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program (part of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) department).
How To File a Claim for FMP Benefits
FMP benefits work by reimbursing overseas veterans for their disability-related medical treatment through claims. The VA takes on all payment responsibility for any legitimate health care claims. Claims can be sent in either by the patient or the provider and sent directly to the VHA CC that processes all FMP payments either by mail, fax, or email.
All FMP claims must be submitted with VA Form 10-7959F-2 (FMP Claim Cover Sheet) and must include basic information about the patient including their full name and address, Social Security number, and VA claim number. You must also submit information about the provider including their full name and title, address and phone number of their office, and the provider’s signature. You must also provide a copy of an itemized bill that includes a description of any procedures that were performed, a patient diagnosis, the date of service, and the total amount billed.
If the veteran is submitting the claim and wishes to be reimbursed directly, they must also provide proof of payment, such as a cleared check or credit card receipt. All claims must be filed within two years of the date of service or the discharge date for hospital stays. If the veteran holds other health insurance, their FMP coverage will be the primary payer for all services related to their disability.
Veterans enrolled in FMP can also get reimbursed for any costs associated with getting Covid-19 testing or a Covid-19 vaccine. At this time, however, the VA cannot provide reimbursement for vaccination for veteran caregivers or spouses.
VA Foreign Military Program Benefits
The VA is always striving to serve the country’s veterans with the highest standards of care and human services, whether it’s through healthcare programs like CHAMPVA, educational benefits for college and vocational training, or treating veterans at a local VA medical center.
The Foreign Military Program is yet another branch of this legacy of service, connecting disabled veterans with medical care while they are living, working, or traveling abroad. While the FMP does have different eligibility requirements and available benefits, the program provides much-needed care for thousands of veterans around the globe.