With many Americans having served their country in recent wars and military actions, the Veteran’s Health Administration is seeing a lot of new patients. However, not everyone who is a veteran is eligible to receive VA health care. Fortunately, the guidelines are published, so you can find out if you are likely to qualify before you apply.

Eligibility for Veteran’s Health Care

The basic eligibility requirements for VA health care are based on minimum duty guidelines and making sure you separated from the service without a dishonorable discharge. Those who were injured and discharged for a disability before the minimum duty time may also qualify.

The Veteran’s Health Administration makes care available to those who were in active military service, or those who were in the National Guard or Reserves and were called to active duty. The veteran must have completed the full period of active duty, or have been discharged due to a disability. Most veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16, 1981 must have completed at least 24 continuous months of service, although there are several exceptions to this rule.

Certain veterans will qualify for enhanced eligibility when applying for VA health care. These are veterans who were either a prisoner of war (POW), received a purple heart or medal of honor, have a more than 10 percent service-connected disability status, or served in certain military campaigns.

If you feel you may qualify based on these basic requirements, you should apply for VA medical benefits. If you are accepted, you will be assigned to a priority group.

Priority Groups in Veteran’s Health Care

To ensure that veterans receive the best care available under the VA’s medical budget each year, the Veteran’s Health Administration uses a priority group system. Under this system, certain types of care are less susceptible to budget cuts and high priority injuries and service connections will receive the care they need.

The highest priority group is veterans who have service connected disability ratings of 50 percent or more, or who are considered unemployable due to service-connected conditions. Group 2 is comprised of veterans with a 30 – 40 percent service-connected disability rating. Group 3 includes veterans who are former POW’s or who have been awarded a purple heart or medal of honor, along with those who have service-connected disability ratings of 10 – 20 percent.

The full list of priority groups is available on the Veteran’s Health Administration website. If a veteran qualifies for more than one group, they will be assigned to the highest priority they are eligible for.

The VA health care system does work of great importance, but they are limited by the budgets congress approves each year. As a result, there are qualifications needed to apply for VA medical benefits, and those who are approved for veteran’s health care will be prioritized into groups. Overall, this system allows the Veteran’s Health Administration to provide quality health care to our honored military veterans.