Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of a veteran in the VA?
A veteran is a person who served in the active military, naval or air service and who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

Who qualifies as a dependent?
A spouse who has been married to the veteran for over one year or given birth to a child if the marriage is less than a year is a dependent. Children are dependents to age 18 or to age 23 if enrolled in school. 

How do I know if I have any benefits?
The VSO can assist you with this information. There are also publications and websites with information about VA benefits and eligibility. 

What information do I need to begin applications with the VA?
The VSO can advise you. Required information varies for different benefits. One document that the veteran will need is the DD Form 214, active military discharge document. If this document cannot be found, the VSO can assist the veteran in obtaining a certified copy to replace the original. Before 1951, this discharge document was the AGO Form 53-55.

What do the terms "Service-Connected" and "Non-Service Connected" mean?
These terms define disability types in the VA system. Service connected means that the veteran is disabled due to injury or illness that was incurred in or aggravated by military service. Non-service connected means that the veteran is disabled due to injury or illness not related to military service.

What is the difference between "Compensation" and "Pension" in the VA system?
Compensation is paid to a veteran with service-connected disabilities. Pension is paid to a war-time veteran who is permanently and totally disabled from non-service connected disabilities and who has very low income.

How do I know if I am eligible for "Compensation"?
First, you need to establish with the VA that you are disabled because of your of active military service. Service connection for a disability may be established in the following ways:

DIRECT – Service medical records show that the disabling condition was diagnosed during military service and the condition has continued to affect the veteran.

AGGRAVATION – Evidence demonstrates that the disabling condition which existed prior to service was aggravated beyond normal progression during military service.

PRESUMPTIVE – Evidence demonstrates that the disability is one predetermined by the VA to be presumed for service connection by time, place and type of service.

SECONDARY – Evidence demonstrates that the disability developed as a result of, or residual of, another service connected disability.

INJURY AS A RESULT OF VA MEDICAL TREATMENT – This is a disability that the veteran incurred, had aggravated or died from because of medical treatment at a VA Facility.

How do I know if I am eligible for "Pension"?
The eligibility criteria for VA Pension are:

  • The veteran had at least 90 days of active service with at least one day during a recognized war-time period.
  • The veteran is shown by medical evidence to be permanently and totally disabled.
  • The veteran has very low annual income for his/her household.

Are there any Burial Benefits for veterans?
Burial benefits for a veteran discharged under other than dishonorable conditions include a Headstone/Marker, an American Flag and a Certificate of Condolence from the U.S. President.

Any veteran who receives VA monies (i.e. compensation or pension), or who dies in a VA facility or who dies of a service connected disability is eligible for burial expenses. The amount varies for the veteran who is in receipt of VA monies or dies in a VA Facility and the veteran who dies of a service connected disability.

Are my dependents eligible for any VA benefits when I die?
The widow/widower of a recognized war-time veteran may be eligible for a pension. This pension is based solely on financial need.

The widow/widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability is eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, also known as DIC. This compensation is not based on financial need.

The widow/widower of a veteran who was rated at 100 percent, permanent and total, service connected disabled for ten years or more is also eligible for DIC even if the veterans death was not due to service connected conditions. In this circumstance, there may be an additional apportionment for the widow/widower if he/she was married to the veteran for eight years or more and lived continuously with the veteran prior to death.

The widow/widower of a veteran who died as a result of an injury or treatment as a result of hospitalization, medical or surgical treatment received in a VA Facility is also eligible for DIC.

Are there any benefits for my dependents besides death benefits?
When a veteran is rated 30 percent service connected or more, the veteran is given an additional allowance for dependents.

Veterans who are in receipt of pension are also given an apportionment for dependents. However, with pension, all dependents’ incomes are included in the financial means test for household income.

When a veteran is rated as permanently and totally 100 percent service connected disabled or a veteran dies due to a service connected disability, dependents are eligible for education benefits.

It’s been years since I have been discharged, am I still eligible for the VA Home Loan Guaranty?
Yes. This benefit is a lifetime benefit. You can apply for the Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility at any time and use it over and over as long as it is paid off. A veteran can actually use the balance of his monetary eligibility on his/her certificate on a second loan at the same time as the first.

The VSO can assist you with the application. Once you receive your Certificate of Eligibility, you still must meet the criteria of the bank or mortgage company you choose to use.

Am I still eligible for education benefits?
Generally, this benefit has expired if it has been over ten years since discharge. There are, however, exceptions. A veteran may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation if service connected disabilities reduce employability.

Am I eligible for any medical benefits at a VA Medical Center (VAMC)?
A veteran must have:

Served at least 90 days of honorable or under honorable conditions active military service if before September 8, 1980.


Served at least 2 years of honorable or under honorable conditions active military service if after September 8, 1980.


Been discharged for medical disability during active military service if minimum active service not completed.

Do I have to pay for medical services?
A service connected disabled veteran does not have to pay for medical care at a VAMC for his/her service connected disability.

Depending on the percentage of disability, the service connected veteran may have co-payments for non-service connected disability services and/or prescriptions. These co-payments may be waived if the veteran completes a Financial Means Test and meets the criteria for exemption. Note: 50 – 100 percent service-connected veterans do not have any co-pays for services and/or prescriptions, even for non-service related conditions.

If a veteran is not service-connected disabled, there may be co-payments for services and prescription costs. The veteran may be eligible to have these co-pays waived if:

The veteran completes a Financial Means Test which consists of household income and net worth. The veteran may choose not to provide this information. This information does, however, determine whether the veteran may receive waiver of co-payments for services or prescriptions. If the veteran does not wish to complete the Financial Means Test, he/she will automatically be charged co-payments for services and prescriptions.

Veterans who are service connected disabled but rated at 0 percent must also complete the Financial Means Test to determine waiver of co-payments for services or prescriptions for any non-service connected needs.

All service connected veterans who are between 10 and 40 percent are asked to fill out the Financial Means Test for co-payments for prescriptions for any non-service connected needs.

The VAMC will bill private insurance as part of their reimbursement for any non-service connected condition.

How do I go about applying for medical benefits?
The County VSO can assist you.

Can I call the VA directly to talk about my benefits?

Yes. The toll-free number for the Regional Office in Boise is 1-800-827-1000. The toll-free number for the VA Medical Center is Spokane is 1-800-325-7940.


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