Thursday, January 19, 2017

Combat Veterans Benefits

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181) was signed by President Bush on January 28, 2008.  This Act extends the period of enhanced enrollment opportunity for health care eligibility provided a veteran who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998 (commonly referred to as combat veterans or OEF/OIF veterans) as follows:

  • Combat veterans who were discharged or released from active service on or after January 28, 2003, are now eligible to enroll in the VA health care system for five years from the date of discharge or release.  This means that combat veterans who were originally enrolled based on their combat service but later moved to a lower priority category (due to the law's 2-year limitation) are to be placed back in the priority for combat veterans for 5-years beginning on the date of their discharge or release from active service.
  • The 5-year enrollment period applicable to these veterans begins on the discharge or separation date of the service member from active duty military service, or in the case of multiple call-ups, the most recent discharge date.

Combat veterans who applied for enrollment after January 16, 2003, but were not accepted for enrollment based on the application being outside the previous pos-discharge two year window will be automatically review and notified of the enrollment decision under this new authority.

As before, veterans enrolling under this "Combat Veteran" enhanced enrollment authority are assigned to Priority Group 6, unless eligible for a higher Priority Group, and will not be charged co-pays for medication and/or treatment of conditions that are potentially related to their combat service.  Combat veterans are not required to disclose their income information, but may do so to determine their eligibility for a higher priority, beneficiary travel benefits and exemption of co-pays for care unrelated to their military service.

Veterans who enroll with VA under this enhanced authority will continue to be enrolled even after their enhanced eligibility period ends.  At the end of their enhance eligibility period, veterans enrolled in Priority Group 6 may be shifted to Priority Group 7 or 8, depending on their income level, and required to make applicable co-pays.

National Guard and Reserve personnel, who were activated and served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, may also be eligible for enhance health care benefits under the "Combat Veteran" authority.  To qualify, they must have been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable; and served the period they were called to duty.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.