We turn to the VA for the obvious reasons...medical care and disability compensation for our service-connected illnesses and injuries. The VA publishes a guide and your veterans' service organization (DAV, VFW, American Legion) can guide your application.
But not all the benefits from the VA are immediately evident. Here are some less well-known advantages you might keep in mind.
1. A 20% disability rating makes a veteran eligible for rehabilitation education. This can mean finishing a degree, flight school, many different career opportunities with the VA providing a monthly stipend in addition to the regular disability compensation, plus paying for normal expenses associated with the rehabilitation program
2. A 50% disability rating brings the full spectrum of VA medical care, regardless of whether the issue is service-connected or not. For most, the added benefit is eyewear and hearing aids unless these were already service-connected. Dental is not included unless there is a dental disability rating
3. A 70% disability rating brings nursing home benefits, freeing most from the need to consider long-term health care
4. A 60% disability rating may make a veteran eligible for consideration to be unemployable, a situation where the scheduled percentages for an injury do not tell the full story of a veteran's medical condition and when the actual situation is one where the veteran has been rendered unable to pursue meaningful employment - in this case, the veteran is awarded a 100% IU (for individual unemployability) rating granting the full range of VA benefits
5. A 100% VA disability rating delivers the full range of VA medical and dental benefits, regardless of service-connection
6. Should a veteran die of the service-connected disability, or die while 100% disabled, the survivor may be eligible for tax-free Dependents Indemnity Compensation, which is not reduced by either military retirees' Survivor Benefits Program or Social Security benefits
7. Upon award of a 100% disability rating, a veteran may apply for two years of VA-paid Veterans Life Insurance (which takes the place of SGLI), at the rate current at the time of the veteran's last participation in SGLI
8. Upon award of a 100% disability rating, a veteran may apply for a free $10,000 VA life insurance policy
9. After being VA 100% disabled for ten or more years, a military retiree may apply to cancel participation in the military survivor's benefits. Funds paid in up to that point are held until the retiree's death and returned to the survivor
10. Veterans prescribed clothes-damaging creams, or medical aids such as wheelchairs or braces, may be eligible for an annual VA Clothing Allowance of about $740. Recently, the VA began permitting multiple awards of the annual Clothing Allowance for veterans with multiple qualifying situations
11. Veterans with a 100% disability rating may apply to the military for an ID card to permit access to commissary and exchange facilities