How Do I ...

How Do I Know If I am Eligible for Benefits?

General Eligibility

Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active duty military service under other that dishonorable conditions. Active service means full-time service, other than active duty for training, as a member of the Army, Navy, air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard. Also, those Merchant Marines with discharge papers are eligible for benefits.

Reservists and National Guard members may also qualify for VA Health care benefits if they were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a Federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty. They cannot however collect both VA Comp or Pension Benefits and Guard or Reserve pay.

Minimum Duty Requirements: For veterans who enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, or who entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to veterans discharged for hardship, early out or a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Dishonorable and bad conduct discharges issued by General Courts- Martial may bar benefits. Veterans in prison and parolees must contact a VA regional Office to determine eligibility. VA benefits will not be provided to any veteran or dependent wanted for an outstanding felony warrant.

Important Documents Needed to Expedite VA and other Veterans Benefits Delivery.

  • Service Discharge Form
    • DD-214, DD-215, or for WW II veterans a WD form. These forms are often confused with “Certificates of Service”.
  • Veteran’s marriage certificate for claims of a surviving spouse.
  • Veteran’s death certificate if the veteran did not die in a VA health care facility.
  • Children’s birth certificates or adoption papers to determine children’s benefits.
  • Veteran’s birth certificate to determine parent’s benefits.

Copies of these documents, if on file at the County Clerk’s Office, can be obtained without charge upon request through the County Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

Priority Groups:
Group 1; Veterans with service –connected disabilities rated 50% or more and/or veterans determined by VA to be unemployable due to service-connected conditions.

Group 2; Veterans with service-connected disabilities  rated at 30 or 40 percent.

Group 3; Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 10 and 20 percent; veterans who are former Prisoners of War (POW) or were awarded a Purple Heart medal; veterans awarded special eligibilities for disabilities incurred in treatment or participation in a VA Vocational Rehabilitation program; and veterans whose discharge was for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Group 4; Veterans receiving aid and attendance or housebound benefits and /or veterans determined by the VA to be catastrophically disabled.

Group 5; Veterans receiving VA pension benefits or eligible for Medicaid programs, and not service-connected veterans and non-compensable, zero percent service-connected veterans who’s gross annual household income and net worth are below the established VA means test thresholds.

Group 6; Veterans of WWI; veterans seeking care solely for certain conditions associated with exposure to radiation during atmospheric testing or during the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; for any illness associated with participation in tests conducted by the Department of Defense (DOD) as part of 112/Project SHAD; veterans with zero percent service-connected disabilities who are receiving disability compensation benefits and veterans who served in a theater of combat after November 11, 1998 as follows:

  • Veterans discharged from active duty on or after Jan. 28, 3003, who were enrolled as of Jan. 28, 2008 and veterans who apply for enrollment after Jan. 28, 2008, for 5 years post discharge.
  •  Veterans discharged from active duty before Jan. 28, 2003, who applied for enrollment after Jan. 28, 2008, until Jan. 27, 2011.

Group 7; Veterans with income and/or net worth above the VA national income threshold and income below the geographic income threshold who agree to pay co-pays.

Group 8; Veterans with income and/or net worth above the VA national income threshold and the geographic income threshold who agree to pay co-pays.


No matter your status. Every veteran should be registered with the VA. Things happen and category requirements change. Your income status and medical condition can change in a heartbeat.
If you don’t qualify under one of the eight categories now, your situation might change and you will already be in the system.


 

How Do I Apply For Veterans Benefits?

The first and most important step in applying for any veteran benefits is to have in your possession a copy of the veterans DD214/discharge papers. A “Certificate of Service” is not the same as your discharge papers. A high percentage of veterans can’t find their discharge papers for any number of reasons. Hopefully when the veteran was discharged they followed instructions and took their discharge paper to the County Clerk’s Office in the county where they reside and had it placed on file. If so, as a resident of Michigan any veteran of their authorized representative can get a certified copy of their DD214/discharge paper free of charge to use for applying for their VA Benefits.

If the veterans discharge paper is not on file with the County Clerk there is several other locations to apply for a copy.

  • If the veteran was a resident of the State of Michigan prior to and after their military service, served during a war era, or was discharged after 1980, then the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund might have a copy. A link to their Directory is on this web site under “links, State/Local. Go to page #7 and complete “Request for Record of Active Military Service” and mail/fax to them. If they have a copy they can send to you, at no charge, a certified copy. Response time is usually a week to ten days.
  • The next place to seek a copy of the veterans discharge paper is to complete SF180(Standard Form 180). You can access this form from this web site under “most request forms” open the SF 180 and complete the form, print it out and mail it to the appropriate location listed on page three of the form. This method requires a longer waiting period for response as they receive thousands of requests every day for duplicate DD 214/discharge papers.
  • Once a copy of the veterans discharge paper is secured, ensure a copy is placed on permanent file at the County Clerk’s Office where access to the DD214/discharge paper will always be available.

Medical:

    • Complete VA form 10-10EZ.
    • Attach copy of veterans DD214 (discharge paper).
    • Bring to Muskegon County Department of Veterans Affairs for submission/registration with VA Out-Patient Clinic.

Disability Compensation:

    • Complete VA Form VBA-21-526-Comp/Pension. Complete the portion of the application that deals with either Compensation or Pension.
    • Attach copy of veterans DD214 (discharge paper).
    • Attach copies of any supporting medical documentation for disability you are claiming as “Service Connected”.
    • DO NOT SUBMITT PAPERWORK WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM A SERVICE OFFICER. There are trained/certified service offers available through the Veterans Service Center who will file the claim on your behalf after they go over the information /claim with you to ensure all pertinent information has been added to claim. 

Emergency Financial Assistance:

  • Assistance can be applied for through the following;
    • Michigan Veterans Trust Fund. Must have served at least 180 days during a time of war.
    • Assistance may be provided to help remove an emergent situation such as a shutoff notice for utilities, back rent/mortgage or other such situation.
    • Application for assistance can be made at the Veterans Service Center Monday – Fridays (except when closed for Holidays) from 8:30am-3:30pm.
    • Applications must be accompanied with a copy of the veterans DD214 (discharge paper) reflecting charter of service as Honorable or Under Honorable Conditions.
    • Also a copy of the shutoff notice/bill must accompany application.
    • Muskegon County soldiers Relief Fund. Must have served at least one day during a time of war.
    • Assistance may be provided to help remove an emergent situation such as a shutoff notice for utilities, back rent/mortgage or other such situation.
    • Application for assistance can be made at the Veterans Service Center Monday-Friday (except when closed for Holidays) from 8:30am-3:30pm.
    • Applications must be accompanied with a copy of the veterans DD214 (discharge paper) reflecting character of service as Honorable or Under Honorable Conditions.
    • Also a copy of the shutoff notice/bill must accompany application.
    • West Michigan Veterans Inc., General Assistance Fund. These funds are available for access by those veterans who do not qualify for either of the above mentioned programs.
    • Assistance may be provided to help remove an emergent situation such as a shutoff notice for utilities, back rent/mortgage or other such situation.
    • Application for assistance can be made at the Veterans Service Center Monday– Friday (except when closed for holidays) from 8:30am-3:30pm.
    • Applications must be accompanied with a copy of the veterans DD214 (discharge paper) reflecting character of service as Honorable or Under Honorable conditions.
    • Also a copy of the shutoff notice/bill must accompany application.

NOTE: Cash assistance is not provided. Any assistance will be in the form of a voucher or direct payment to the utility company etc.

Food Bank:

  • The food bank is located at the Veterans Service Center. It is supplied with food and personal hygiene items that have been donated through the generosity of a number of local individuals and organizations. Our ability to provide assistance is totally dependent on the amount of donations we have received.
  • Assistance is considered for emergency situations only and not as an adjunct to the clients normal method of securing food items.
  • Applications for assistance can be made at the Veterans Service Center Monday-Friday (except when closed for Holidays) from 8:30am – 3:30pm.
  • Applications must be accompanied with a copy of the veterans DD214 (discharge paper) reflecting character of service as Honorable or Under Honorable conditions.