Veterans Benefits Planning

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on July 11, 2023

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Veterans Benefits Planning Overview

Veterans benefit planning is the process of helping veterans and their families understand and access the benefits and services available to them through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

These benefits can include medical care, disability compensation, pension benefits, education and training, home loans, and more.

Veterans benefit planning often involves working with veterans and their families to assess their needs and eligibility for different types of benefits. It can also involve helping them navigate the application process and advocating for their rights and entitlements.

Eligibility Requirements for Veterans Benefits

Eligibility Requirements for Veterans Benefits

Service Requirements

To qualify for veterans benefits, one must meet specific service requirements, including:

1. Length of Service: Generally, a veteran must have completed a minimum period of active duty service.

2. Type of Discharge: Veterans must have received an honorable or general discharge to be eligible for most benefits.

Disability Requirements

Some benefits require a disability to be connected to military service:

1. Service-Connected Disabilities: These are disabilities that were incurred or aggravated during active military service.

2. Non-service Connected Disabilities: In some cases, veterans with disabilities not related to service may still qualify for certain benefits.

Income Requirements

Income thresholds are often considered for some benefits, such as pensions.

Other Special Eligibility Categories

Certain benefits have additional eligibility criteria or may apply to specific groups, such as former prisoners of war or Purple Heart recipients.

Types of Veterans Benefits

Types of Veterans Benefit

Disability Compensation

This benefit provides tax-free monetary compensation to veterans with disabilities resulting from their military service.

Pension Benefits

Veterans with limited income and who meet specific service requirements may qualify for pension benefits, which provide supplemental income.

Education and Training

Post-9/11 GI Bill

This program provides financial support for education and housing to veterans with at least 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001.

Montgomery GI Bill

This program offers educational benefits to eligible veterans who served during specific periods or in specific roles.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)

The VR&E program assists veterans with service-connected disabilities in obtaining and maintaining suitable employment or achieving independence in daily living.

Home Loan Benefits

VA Home Loans

The VA home loan program helps eligible veterans purchase, build, or refinance a home by guaranteeing a portion of the loan, enabling them to receive more favorable loan terms.

Home Loan Refinancing

Veterans can refinance their existing mortgage to lower interest rates and monthly payments.

Adapted Housing Grants

These grants provide financial assistance to veterans with specific service-connected disabilities to adapt or purchase a home that accommodates their needs.

Health Care Benefits

Eligible veterans can receive comprehensive health care benefits, including preventative, primary, and specialized care, through the VA health care system.

Life Insurance

Veterans can access various life insurance programs to provide financial security for their families.

Burial and Memorial Benefits

These benefits include burial in a national cemetery, headstones, markers, and presidential memorial certificates.

Family and Survivor Benefits

Spouses, dependents, and survivors of veterans may be eligible for benefits such as education, health care, and financial assistance.

Navigating the Benefits Application Process

Steps to Apply for Benefits

The application process varies depending on the specific benefit being sought. Generally, it involves submitting an application form along with the required documentation.

Obtain Required Documentation

Documentation may include discharge papers (DD-214), medical records, and proof of service.

Working With a Veterans Service Officer (VSO)

VSOs can provide guidance and assistance throughout the application process, ensuring that veterans submit accurate and complete applications.

Appealing Decisions and Denials

If a claim is denied or a veteran disagrees with a decision, they can appeal through a multi-step process involving reconsideration, review, and hearings.

Financial Planning for Veterans

  • Assessing the Current Financial Situation: An essential first step in financial planning is evaluating one's current financial situation, including income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

  • Establishing Short-Term and Long-Term Financial Goals: Identify financial goals, such as buying a home, funding education, or planning for retirement, and determine the time frame for achieving these goals.

  • Creating a Budget and Savings Plan: Develop a budget to track income and expenses, identifying areas for potential savings and ensuring funds are allocated towards financial goals.

  • Retirement Planning: Plan for retirement by understanding the available benefits, such as military pensions and Social Security, and investing in additional savings vehicles like IRAs or 401(k)s.

  • Estate Planning: Includes creating a will, designating beneficiaries, establishing trusts, and considering powers of attorney to ensure a veteran's assets are distributed according to their wishes and their family is provided for in the event of their passing.

Support and Resources for Veterans Benefits Planning

Government Organizations

Department of Veterans Affairs

The VA oversee veterans benefits and provides information on eligibility, applications, and available programs.

State and Local Veterans Agencies

These agencies offer additional resources and support for veterans at the state and local levels.

Non-governmental Organizations

Veterans Service Organizations

VSOs, such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, provide support, resources, and advocacy for veterans and their families.

Non-profit Organizations and Charities

Many non-profit organizations and charities offer assistance and resources for veterans, ranging from financial support to career services.

Online Resources and Tools

Various websites and tools can help veterans research, apply for, and manage their benefits, such as eBenefits, the National Resource Directory, and VA benefits calculators.

Bottom Line

Veterans benefits planning is an essential process for those who have served in the military to ensure they take full advantage of the available benefits.

By understanding eligibility requirements, navigating the application process, and addressing financial planning aspects such as budgeting and retirement, veterans can achieve both short-term and long-term goals.

Leveraging resources and support from government organizations, Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), and non-profit organizations can provide valuable guidance throughout the planning process.

Ultimately, proactive benefits planning enables veterans to maximize their benefits and secure a stable and prosperous future for themselves and their families.

Veterans Benefits Planning FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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