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Health Benefits Glossary

0-9

1151 Benefits

VA awarded monthly compensation benefits for disability or death incurred as the result of VA hospital care, medical or surgical treatment or examination. Benefits awarded only if the disability or death was proximately caused by negligence or an unforeseen event.

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A

Access

Access is the Veteran's ability to obtain medical care at his/her desired location. The ease of access is determined by things such as availability of health care services, location of health care facilities, transportation, hours of operation, and cost-effective delivery of health care. Efforts to improve access often focus on improving efficiency of health care delivery processes.

Adjunct Condition

An adjunct condition, for medical treatment purposes, is a non service-connected condition that may be associated with and held to be aggravating an adjudicated service-connected condition. VA bills health insurance plans for treatment of an adjunct condition and as applicable, may charge a copay for treatment of the adjunct condition.

Adult Day Health Care

Adult Day Health Care is a therapeutic day care program, providing medical and rehabilitation services to disabled Veterans in a group setting.

Agent Orange

Agent Orange was a defoliant used during the Vietnam War. Some known effects are listed in 38 CFR §3.309(e).

For more detailed information and new changes see: Agent Orange Home Page
See also Spina Bifida below.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

AIDS can qualify as a service connected disability. Improved Pension may also be paid if AIDS is the disability preventing the Veteran from working.

For more information see the Veterans Health Administration web site on Public Health Strategic Healthcare Group

Aid & Attendance Allowance

An additional benefit paid to Veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses and parents. This allowance is paid in all Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and Pension Programs. It is paid based on the need of aid and attendance by another person or by specific disability. Special Monthly Compensation (L) can at times be designated an aid & attendance benefit.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §§3.350 (Special Monthly Compensation), 3.351 (Special monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), death compensation, pension and spouse's compensation ratings), 3.552 (Determining need for aid & attendance, housebound).
See also Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) below.
Rates, see Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) - Surviving Spouse or Parents, Improved Pension - Disability or Death.

Allowable Deductions

Allowable deductions are those payments made by Veterans for certain non-reimbursed medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and educational expenses. Veterans are able to exclude allowable deductions from their total gross household income in determining their eligibility for VA health care benefits.

Appeal

A process used to request VA reconsider a previous authorization or claim decision.

Appeals

If you do not like a VA decision, most can be appealed. Start by contacting your nearest office.

Appeals are first made to the office that made the decision. A hearing officer or decision review officer usually handles these cases. If the case is still in dispute it is then sent to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). If it is not resolved there, it can be appealed outside the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims (CAVC).

VA does not handle CAVC appeals. You must contact CAVC within 120 days from your BVA decision.

Applicant

A person who has submitted a formal request for VA health care benefits and/or for enrollment in the VA health care system.

Application

OnLine 10-10EZ application's are available for VA health benefits and services.
See also Forms or contact your nearest office

Asset

Property or resource of an individual which includes: cash, stocks and bonds, individual retirement accounts, income producing property, etc.

Automobile Allowance & Adaptive Equipment

One automobile allowance is payable to certain very disabled Veterans. Some reimbursement is possible for adaptive equipment. Check with your nearest office before making any purchases.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §3.808

Rates, see Special Benefit Allowances Rate Table

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B

Bereavement Counseling

Assistance and support to people with emotional and psychological stress after the death of a loved one. Bereavement counseling includes a broad range of transition services, including outreach, counseling, and referral services to family members.

Birth Defects

There is a monetary allowance under 38 U.S.C. chapter 18 for an individual with disability from covered birth defects whose biological mother is or was a Vietnam Veteran.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §3.815 and TITLE 38, PART II, CHAPTER 18, SUBCHAPTER II, §1812

Burial

Burial benefits include a gravesite in any of our national cemeteries with available space, the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.

See the National Cemetery Administration's site.
See also our Fact Sheets for more information.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §§3.1600 (Table of Contents & Burial), 3.1601 (Claims & Evidence), 3.1602 - 3.1603 (Special conditions governing payments /Authority for burial of certain unclaimed bodies), 3.1604 (Non VA), 3.1605 (VHA), 3.1606 (Transportation), 3.1607 - 3.1609 (Cost of flags /Nonallowable expenses /Forfeiture), 3.1610 - 3.1611 (Burial in National cemeteries /Official Department of Veterans Affairs representation at funeral), 3.1612 (Marker).

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C

Catastrophically Disabled

A Veteran who has a permanent, severely disabling injury, disorder, or disease that affects their ability to carry out the activities of daily living.  The Veteran is affected to such a degree that he/she requires personal or mechanical assistance to leave home or bed, or require constant supervision to avoid physical harm to self or others.

CHAMPVA

A health insurance is available from the Veterans Health Administration. See their CHAMPVA website for more information.

Children

Children of Veterans receive benefits based on two eligibility factors: (1) whether the benefit program allows for payment for or to children and (2) whether the Veteran's relationship to the child can be proven.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §§3.57 (Child), 3.58 (Child Adopted out of Family), 3.204 (Evidence Requirements), 3.210 (Relationship).
See the specific Benefit Programs for more information: Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Pension, and Spina Bifida and Children of Vietnam Veterans.

Rates, see the Compensation, Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Improved Disability or Death Pension, and Spina Bifida Rate Tables.

Chronic Care

Long-term care of individuals with long-standing, persistent diseases or conditions. Chronic care includes care specific to the problem, as well as other measures to encourage self-care, promote health, and prevent loss of function.

Clothing Allowance

Prosthetic appliances and medications have an effect on clothing. If qualified, a Veteran can receive a one time or yearly allowance for reimbursement.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §3.810.
Rates see Special Benefit Allowances Rate Table.

Combat Service

A status applied for a Veteran who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war recognized by the VA.

Commonwealth Army Veterans

The term "Commonwealth Army Veterans" refers to persons who served before July 1, 1946, in the organized military forces of the Government of the Philippines. These Filipino forces were made a part of the U.S. Armed Forces by a military order of the President dated July 26, 1941. These Veterans were discharged or released from this period of service under conditions other than dishonorable.

Community Residential Care

Health care supervision provided to eligible Veterans not in need of hospital or nursing home care but who, because of medical and/or psychosocial health conditions as determined through a statement of needed care, are not able to live independently.  Veterans would not have suitable family or significant others to provide the needed supervision and supportive care. The Veteran must be capable of self-preservation with minimal assistance and exhibit socially acceptable behavior.

Compensation

This benefit program evaluates disability resulting from all types of diseases and injuries encountered as a result of military service. The degrees of disability that are determined by VA represent, as far as can practicably be determined, the average loss in wages resulting from such diseases and injuries and their complications in civil occupations. Generally, the degrees of disability specified are also designed to compensate for considerable loss of working time from exacerbations or illnesses.

See the Fact Sheets for more information.
Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §3.4.

Compensable Disabilities

A VA rated service-connected disability for which monetary compensation is authorized for payment. You might even be entitled to compensation when your disabilities are rated 0% disabling.
Here are the three situations that would be compensable.

  • You have a condition rated 10% disabling or greater.
  • You have a condition rated at 0%, but it's a disability that entitles you to special monthly compensation.
  • You have two or more 0% disabilities, and their combined effect interferes with your ability to work. (In this case, VA would pay at the 10% rate.)

Compensation and Pension examinations

These examinations are requested by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). This is a physical exam to determine service related illness or injuries for determination of a Veteran’s entitlement to compensation and pension benefits.

Congressional Appropriation

The funding allocated by Congress to VA for providing benefits and medical services to eligible VA beneficiaries.

Congressional Medal of Honor

See: Medal of Honor

Consultation

Service provided by a physician whose opinion or advice regarding evaluation and/or management of a specific problem is requested by another physician.

Contract Provider

Any hospital, skilled nursing facility, extended care facility, individual, organization, or agency that has a contractual agreement with VA for providing medical services to Veterans.

Copay

A specific monetary charge for either medical services or outpatient medications provided by VA to Veterans whose financial assessment determines they are able to pay.

Covered Benefit

Medically necessary care and services included in the Medical Benefits Package as defined within 38 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 17.38.

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D

DD Form 214

See Military Discharge below

Deductible

An amount that a Veteran must pay for covered services in a specified time period before VA benefits begin.

Dependent

Spouse or unmarried child (to include a biological, legally adopted, or step child under the age of 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school, or a child who was permanently and totally disabled before the age of 18)

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

This benefit program pays a monthly payment to a surviving spouse, child, or parent of a Veteran because of a service-connected death of a Veteran.

See the Fact Sheets for more information.
Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §§3.5, 3.22 (Benefits at Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) rates in certain cases when death is not service connected).
Restoration of Entitlement

Diagnosis

The identification of a medical condition, cause or disease

Diabetes Mellitus (Type II)

As a presumptive condition for in-country Vietnam Veterans see: Agent Orange Home Page for more detailed information.

Disability Compensation

See Compensation above.

Disability Examinations Worksheets

See Examinations below.

Disability Severance Pay

By law, payment of VA compensation and military disability severance pay for the same medical condition or disability is prohibited. VA compensation will be withheld on a monthly basis until the total amount of military severance pay has been recovered.

See Concurrent Benefit and Elections, 38 CFR §3.700.

Disenrollment

The discontinuation of a Veteran's enrolled status. Disenrollment may result because the Veteran requests not to participate in VA enrollment, or when VA determines that certain Priority Groups will no longer be provided services. Requests to disenroll must be in writing.

Domiciliary

A VA facility that provides care on an ambulatory self-care basis for Veterans disabled by age or disease.  Veterans are not in need of acute hospitalization and do not need the skilled nursing services provided in a nursing home.

Drill Pay

See Selected Reserve and National Guard.

Durable Medical Equipment

Equipment intended for frequent use in the treatment of a medical condition or injury. Examples include wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers, etc.

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E

Earned Income

Money you receive from working

Emergency

Medical condition displaying acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that a prudent layperson, possessing an average knowledge of heath care and medicine, could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in 1) placing the health of the individual in serious jeopardy, 2) serious impairment to bodily functions, or 3) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

Enrollee

A Veteran who has applied for VA medical services under 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) 1710 and 38 CFR 17.36, been accepted for such care, and received confirmation of enrollment in the VA health care system.

Enrollment

The process for providing Veterans access to VA health care services covered by the medical benefits package.

Enrollment Group Thresholds (EGT)

The enrollment Priority Group level, as determined by the Secretary Veterans Affairs, at which Veterans will be accepted for enrollment into the VA health care system.

Environmental Contaminants / Gulf War Illness

Gulf War Veterans were exposed to a wide variety of environmental hazards and potential harmful substances during their service in Southwest Asia. These include depleted uranium, pesticides, the anti-nerve gas pill pyridostigmine bromide, infectious diseases, chemical and biological warfare agents, and vaccinations (including anthrax and botulinum toxoid), and oil well free smoke and petroleum products. VA recognizes that there are other health risk factors encountered by Gulf War Veterans. Veterans with service during the Gulf War are eligible to receive treatment for conditions related to this service.
If the treatment provided is for an illness or symptom that may possibly be associated with environmental contamination, copay for medical care and medication copay will not be charged.
Conditions Associated with Environmental Contaminants:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Skin rash
  • Headache
  • Arthralgias/myalgias
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Forgetfulness
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath/chest pain
  • Feverishness
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Examinations

Physical examinations, when made by the VA, are done under criteria worked out by both the Veterans Health Administration and Veterans Benefits Administration.

See Disability Examination Worksheets (55 disability examination worksheets).

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F

Filipino Veterans

New Philippine Scouts or Commonwealth Army (USAFFE) and Recognized Guerillas

See the Fact Sheets for more information.

Flag

A United States Flag is available at the death of a Veteran.

See the Fact Sheets for more information.

Foreign Services Program

See the Foreign Services Homepage

Former Prisoner of War (POW)

Former POWs often underwent experiences that severely affected their lives. VA works with this group of Veterans to ensure that their needs are met.

Former POW & their Survivors Home Page
See the Fact Sheets for more information.
Also see 38 CFR §§3.307 (Presumptive service connection for prisoner-of-war related diseases) and 3.309(c) (Disease subject to presumptive service connection)

Forms

VA forms have been organized for your use. Some are available via the web.

An application for benefits is now on-line.
See also Forms or contact your nearest office.

Formulary

A formulary is a list of medicines from which your VA provider can choose to treat your medical condition. This list of medicines has been looked at and approved by a group of highly trained VA physicians and clinical pharmacists. New medicines are usually added to the formulary based on a complete review of published medical studies as well as available patient safety data.
Medicines are grouped by VA as Formulary, Formulary-Restricted or Non-Formulary. Formulary-Restricted medicines usually can be used only by those providers with specific experience in how these medicines are prescribed and monitored. For example, oncologists usually are the only VA providers who can prescribe medicines used to treat cancer. Non-Formulary medicines are prescribed for those patients who either have failed or could not tolerate any of the VA Formulary medicines.

Financial Assessment

A means of collecting income information used to determine a Veteran's eligibility for health care benefits.

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G

Geographic Means Test (GMT) Income Thresholds Copay Required

A copay status assigned to a Veteran whose household income is above the VA means test income thresholds but below the GMT income thresholds. GMT copay for inpatient care is reduced by 80%, but all other copay amounts remain the same. GMT income thresholds are based upon established geographic income thresholds.

GMT - Below the Means Test Income Thresholds

Veterans whose household income is below the VA National income thresholds such that they are unable to defray the expenses of care. Therefore, they are not subject to copay charges for hospital and outpatient medical services.

GMT - Above the Means Test and GMT Income Thresholds

Veterans whose household income is above the VA National income thresholds and income ABOVE the geographically-based income thresholds for their resident location.  These Veterans  do not otherwise qualify for placement in a higher enrollment Priority Group. These Veterans must agree to pay copays for hospital care and outpatient medical services.

GMT - Above the Means Test and Below the GMT Income Thresholds

Veterans with household income ABOVE the VA National income thresholds and income BELOW the geographically-based income thresholds for their resident location.  These Veterans do not otherwise qualify for placement in a higher enrollment Priority Group. These Veterans must also agree to pay copays for hospital care and outpatient medical services, but their inpatient medical care copays are reduced 80 percent.

Geriatric Evaluation

Geriatric evaluations part of the basic benefits package. It is a comprehensive assessment of a Veteran's ability to care for him/herself, physical health, and social environment, which leads to a plan of care. The plan could include treatment, rehabilitation, health promotion, and social services.

Gross Household Income

Generally, gross income of the Veteran, spouse and dependent children is counted for determining a Veteran's eligibility for VA health care benefits. This includes earned and unearned income but excludes most need-based payments such as welfare and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Gulf War

The "Gulf War" began on August 2, 1990. Since an end of the conflict has not been declared by Congress, everyone who has been on active duty since it began may qualify as wartime Veterans, regardless of duty assignment, when seeking VA benefits.

See Gulf War Veterans' Health.
Also see GulfLink, Defense Technology Information Center.
For undiagnosed illness, see 38 CFR §3.317.

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H

Hardship

A "hardship" exists when there is a significant change in your family income and net worth from the previous calendar year to the present year.
You could have been working in the previous year and due to a recent disability, are no longer able to work. Chances are this type of situation would create a significant change in your family's income.

Head or Neck Cancer

Veterans with cancer of the head and neck, and a history of receipt of Nasopharyngeal (NP) radium therapy, are eligible for treatment. There are very specific dates and locations where this activity occurred. Eligibility for this special class needs to be verified. (Not all Veterans receiving head and neck cancer treatment fall into this treatment category.)
During the 1920s, nasopharyngeal (NP) radium therapy was developed to treat hearing loss caused by repeated ear infections. Radium-tipped rods were inserted into the nostrils and left in place for several minutes. Military physicians used NP radium to treat aerotitis media (barotrauma) in submariners, aviators, and divers. It is estimated that between 8,000 and 20,000 military personnel received NP radium treatments during World War II and until the 1960s. Veterans also included are those with documentation of NP radium treatment in active military, naval or air service; those who served as an aviator in the active military, naval or air service before the end of the Korean conflict; or underwent submarine training in active naval service before January 1, 1965. Veterans with exposure to NP radium treatments are eligible to receive treatment for conditions related to this exposure, including head and neck cancer.

If the Veteran is being treated for any condition during this episode of care that is related to Head and Neck Cancer, the Veteran does not have to pay a copay for the visit or the medication.

Health Care

For health care and health care issues see the Veterans Health Administration's website.

Also see our Fact Sheets for more information

Health Care Programs for Elderly Veterans

The Veterans Health Administration offers many health care programs for elderly Veterans. See the VHA web site on this issue.

Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) Program

The Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) Program is designed to address the community re-entry needs of incarcerated Veterans. HCRV's goals are to prevent homelessness, reduce the impact of medical, psychiatric, and substance use problems upon community re-adjustment, and decrease the likelihood of re-incarceration for those leaving prison. HCRV services include:

  • Outreach and pre-release assessments services for Veterans in prison
  • Referrals and linkages to medical, psychiatric, and social services, including employment services upon release
  • Short term case management assistance upon release

While VHA may not provide medical services that are part of care to be provided by correctional institutions, VHA may provide outreach and pre-release assessment.

Health Insurance

See CHAMPVA above.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA is a federal law enacted in 1996. It was designated to improve availability and portability of health coverage and the efficiency of the health care system.  It does this by standardizing the electronic exchange of health information, and protecting the security and privacy of member-identifiable health information.

Home Health Care

Skilled nursing and other therapeutic services provided by VA or a home health care agency in a home setting.  Home health care is  an alternative to confinement in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Home Loan

For home loan information see the Loan Guaranty Service's website.

Also see our Fact Sheets for more information.

Homeless

Veterans can be homeless too. We have special programs to help.

See the Fact Sheets for more information.
Also see VA Homeless Program

Homemaker/Home Health Aide Services

The Homemaker / Home Health Aide (H/HHA) Program provides services as an "alternative" to nursing home care. The H/HHA Coordinator, along with the interdisciplinary team, makes a clinical judgment that the Veteran would otherwise require nursing home equivalent care.

Hospice/Palliative Care

Hospice/Palliative Care programs offer pain management, symptom control, and other medical services to terminally ill Veterans or Veterans in the late stages of the chronic disease process.

Hostilities

"Hostilities" means any armed conflict in which the members of the Armed Forces are subjected to combat conditions comparable to a period of war. The periods of armed conflict are determined by the Secretary of VA in consultation with the Secretary of Defense.

Housebound

An additional benefit paid to Veterans, their surviving spouses and parents. This allowance is paid in all Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and Pension Programs. It is paid based on specific disabilities and conditions. It is a lesser additional benefit than Aid & Attendance. Special Monthly Compensation (S) can at times be designated a housebound benefit.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §§3.351 (Special monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), death compensation, pension and spouse's compensation ratings), 3.352 (Determining need for aid & attendance, housebound).
Rates, see Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) - Surviving Spouse or Parents, Improved Pension - Disability or Death.

Housing and Urban Development Geographic Index

Congress wanted to grant relief from making VA copay for some Veterans with marginal incomes. They recognized that income alone is not always a fair measure of one's standard of living, due to sometimes large differences in the cost of living in different areas of the country. Congress modified VA's system of determining Veterans' ability to pay for health care by creating a geographically-based income limit, and reducing inpatient copay for those Veterans whose income falls below these new geographic income thresholds. The new geographic income thresholds are adjusted for all standard metropolitan statistical areas (SMSAs) and are updated periodically to reflect economic changes within the SMSAs. The geographic means test income thresholds are based upon the geographically based low- income thresholds set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for public housing benefits.

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I

Incarcerated Veterans

On March 2, 2011, VA published a final rule in the Federal Register, Volume 76, page 11383, entitled, "Hospital and Outpatient Care for Veterans Released From Incarceration to Transitional Housing." This regulation authorizes VA to provide hospital and outpatient care to any incarcerated Veteran upon their release from prison or jail when they are being released into a temporary housing program, such as a community residential reentry center, halfway house, work release center or similar residential facility. The rule permits VA to work with these Veterans while they are in these programs with the goal of continuing to work with them after their release, which will assist in preventing homelessness in this population of Veterans.

Incarcerated Veterans may also be eligible for the Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) Program.

Inpatient Care

Services received during a patient's hospital stay.

Insurance

For insurance information see the Insurance Service's website.
See also RH Insurance on the Fact Sheet page.
See also CHAMPVA above.

Ionizing Radiation

Atomic Veterans may have been exposed to ionizing radiation in a variety of ways at various locations. Veterans exposed at a nuclear device testing site (the Pacific Islands, e.g., Bikini, NM, NV, etc.) or in Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki, Japan, may be included. Atomic Veterans with exposure to ionizing radiation are eligible to receive treatment for conditions related to this exposure. VA has recognized the following conditions by statute or regulation as being associated with radiation exposure:
Conditions Associated with Ionizing Radiation:

  • Leukemia
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Bone Cancer
  • Primary Liver Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer Urinary Bladder Cancer
  • Salivary Gland Cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Posterior Subcapsular Cataracts
  • Non-malignant Thyroid Nodular Disease
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Parathyroid Adenoma
  • Tumors of the brain and central nervous system
  • Lymphomas other than Hodgkin's Disease
  • Cancer of the Rectum
  • Cancer of the Small Intestine
  • Cancer of the Pharynx
  • Cancer of the Bile Duct
  • Cancer of the Gall Bladder
  • Cancer of the Renal Pelvis, Ureters and Urethra
  • Cancer of the Prostate
  • All Other Cancers

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L

Low-Income Thresholds

Veterans with gross household income under the "low income thresholds" are eligible to receive certain health related benefits at no cost to the Veteran. The low income thresholds are set by law and varies according to the Veteran's family size and benefit applied for.

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M

Means Test

The formal financial assessment process used by VA to measure a Veteran's gross household income. (Net worth determination is being eliminated.)  The means test determines Veterans copay responsibilities and helps to determine enrollment priority.

Means Test Copay Exempt

Veterans not required to make copays for medical care provided by VA include:

  • Veterans with a compensable service-connected rating or
  • Veterans in receipt of VA pension benefits or whose income does not exceed the applicable VA means test income thresholds;
  • Veterans requiring services/medications for treatment of a service-connected condition; or for conditions related to exposure to ionizing radiation, sexual trauma experienced while in the military; nose or throat radium treatments while in the military requiring services/medication for head or neck cancer; or for participation in Project 112/SHAD experiments, exposure to herbicides while serving in Vietnam;
  • Former POW's;
  • Veterans in receipt of a Purple Heart medal and Veterans who were discharged from the military for a disability that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; and
  • Combat Veterans who were discharged after November, 11, 1998, who require services/medications for conditions that are potentially related to combat service, as follows:
    • If discharged on or after January 28, 2003 for five years post discharge.
    • If discharged from active duty before January 28, 2003, and if application for enrollment is made on or after January 28, 2008, until January 27, 2011.

Means Test Copay Required

A copay status assigned to a Veteran who is required to make medical care copay based on financial status relative to the applicable means test income thresholds.

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor award is paid by Compensation & Pension Service.

Eligibility Criteria, see 38 CFR § 3.802.
Rates see Special Benefit Allowances Rate Table.
U.S. Army Center of Military History Medal of Honor Citations 
When clicking the link below, you are now leaving the Department of Veterans Affairs Website
VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked website.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Medals

See: Military Awards and Decorations

Medicaid

A jointly funded federal and state program that provides hospital expense and medical expense coverage to persons with low-income and certain aged and disabled individuals.

Medical Benefits Package

The term "Medical Benefits Package" refers to a group of health care services that are provided to all enrolled Veterans.

Medical Records (Other than Service Medical Records)

Those applicants who have medical records to substantiate any and all treatment by private doctors and hospitals are encouraged to submit them with their application to expedite processing.

Medical Need

The determination that care or service(s) are required to promote, preserve, or restore a Veteran's health as specified within 38 CFR 17.38(b). A treatment, procedure, supply, or service is considered medically necessary as determined by the patient's care provider, and in accordance with generally accepted standards of clinical practice.

Medicare

A federal program that provides health care coverage for people aged 65 and older, as well as some younger individuals with specific health problems. Medicare Part A covers hospitalization, extended care and nursing home care.  Medicare Part B covers outpatient services, and is subject to a monthly premium.

Merchant Marine

Members of the Merchant Marine are considered Veterans.

Eligibility Criteria, see 38 CFR § 3.7.
See: Benefits for Merchant Marines

Website for U.S. Merchant Marine, U.S. Maritime Service, Army Transport Service, Military Sea Transport Service, and Military Sealift Command.

Military Discharge/DD Form 214

Those applicants who have a copy of their DD-214 are encouraged to provide a copy with their claim to expedite processing. Otherwise, VA will attempt to obtain verification from the service department.

Copies of missing DD Forms 214 may be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO through the NARA web site.

Evidence requirements, see 38 CFR §3.203.

Military Retired Pay

By law, the payment of VA compensation benefits is affected by the receipt of military retired pay. If you receive military retirement, you may initiate a waiver of your retired pay to receive the full amount of VA compensation. Until the waiver takes effect, your compensation will be adjusted or withheld depending on the amount of military retired pay you are entitled to. The advantage of waiving military retired pay for VA compensation is that while VA benefits are reportable for Federal tax purposes, they are not taxable. Check with the IRS web site for more tax information.

See Retirement Pay, 38 CFR §3.750.

Military Services

See our Military Services page for more information.

Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

Sexual trauma experienced while on active duty in the military. Sexual trauma is defined as sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and other acts of violence. Sexual harassment is further defined as repeated unsolicited, verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature, which is threatening in nature. If the Veteran is being treated for any condition during this episode of care that the provider believes is related to MST; the Veteran does not have to pay a copay for the visit or the medication. http://www.publichealth.va.gov/womenshealth/trauma.asp

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N

Nasopharyngeal Radium Therapy

Because it was effective in treating otitis media, military physicians used NP radium to treat aerotitis media (barotrauma) in submariners, aviators, and divers due to enlarged tissue in the throat combined with rapid pressure changes. It is estimated that between 8,000 and 20,000 military personnel received NP radium treatments during World War II and until the 1960s.

National Guard-Reservist Benefits

See Fact Sheet

Net Worth

Simply put, "net worth" means the market value of everything you own, minus what you owe.
There are exclusions, not everything you own or owe is considered. VA has some very specific guidelines on how it computes net worth. The VA Means Test uses the same rules as VA pension to determine your net worth.   (Net Worth consideration to be removed.)

Noncompensable

Noncompensable refers awards of service-connection which VA determines do not warrant the award of monetary compensation.

Nonservice-Connected Pension

A monetary support benefit awarded to permanently and totally disabled, low-income Veterans with 90 days or more of active military service, of which at least one day was during wartime. Veterans of a period of war who are age 65 or older and meet service and income requirements are also eligible to receive a pension, regardless of current physical condition. Payments are made to qualified Veterans to bring their total income, including other retirement or social security income, to a level set by Congress. For more information, go to http://www.va.gov and click on Compensation and Pension Benefits.

Nonservice-Connected Veteran

An eligible Veteran who has been discharged from active military duty, and does not have a VA adjudicated illness or injury incurred in or aggravated by military service.

Nursing Home

The term "nursing home care", (now community living center care), means the accommodation of convalescents or other persons who are not acutely ill and not in need of hospital care.  However,  nursing care and related medical services are required, if such nursing care and medical services are prescribed by, or are performed under the general direction of, persons duly licensed to provide such care. Such term includes services furnished in skilled nursing care facilities, in intermediate care facilities, and in combined facilities. It does not include domiciliary care.

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O

Open Enrollment

The process of accepting applications for enrollment at any time during the year.

Other than dishonorable conditions

All Veterans are potentially eligible for most Veterans' health care benefits are based solely on active military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, and discharged under other than dishonorable conditions

Outpatient Care

Refers to health care a patient receives without being admitted to a hospital. Examples include office visits, x-rays, lab tests and some surgical procedures.

Outreach

See our Military Services page for more information.
See also the Veterans Health Administration's website.

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P

Palliative Care

Care provided primarily to relieve symptoms of a disease or condition rather than for curative purposes.

Parent

Parents who are dependent on a Veteran with a service-connected disability, or whose child died in-service or from a service-connected disability, may be entitled as dependents on the Veterans compensation award or to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) if they are in financial need. Parents may be biological, step, adopted, or in loco parentis.

Pension

Pension is available to Veterans, surviving spouses and children, if the Veteran has qualifying service and there is financial need. Veterans must also have a qualifying disability which need not be service-connected.

Three pension programs are currently being paid. Only one program is still accepting applications - Improved Disability or Death Pension. Old Law and Section 306 Disability or Death Pensions recipients are protected at the rate they were receiving when their program was superceded by Improved Pension on January 1, 1979.

See Fact Sheets for more information.

Eligibility criteria for Improved Pension, see 38 CFR §§3.3 Pension, 3.23 Improved Pension Rates, 3.342 Permanent and total disability ratings for pension purposes.
Rate Tables, see Improved Disability or Death Pension, Protected Pensions.

Philippines, Veterans from the

See Filipino Veterans.

Plot

See the National Cemetery Administration's site or Burial above.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can be a service connected disability. PTSD also qualifies as a disability for entitlement to Improved Pension.
For benefits questions, please contact your local regional office by calling 1-800-827-1000 or send a message here.
For PTSD clinical care contact your nearest PTSD Treatment Program or local VA or Vet Center.
NOTE: As of July 13, 2010, VA has New Regulations on PTSD Claims.

Preference for Employment in the Federal Government

See Veterans' Preference Advisor web site.

Preferred Facility

The Veteran identified VA health care location where the Veteran prefers to receive care. A preferred facility may be any VA health care location, for example, VA health care facility, independent clinic, or community based outpatient clinic. If VA is unable to provide your needed health care, that facility will make arrangements to refer you to another VA health care facility or to one of VA's private sector affiliates to provide the required care.

Preventive Care

Health Care that emphasizes prevention, early detection, and treatment.

Prisoner of War (POW)

Congress defined a prisoner of war as a person who, while serving on active duty, was forcibly detained by an enemy government or a hostile force, during a period of war or in situations comparable to war.

Former American Prisoners of War (POWs) are assigned to no lower than Priority Group 3 for VA health-care enrollment purposes. Former POWs are exempt from inpatient, outpatient medical care and medication copays, but may be subject to copays for extended care services. They also are eligible for any needed dental care.

Project 112/SHAD

Project SHAD, an acronym for Shipboard Hazard and Defense, was part of a larger effort called Project 112, which was conducted during the 1960s. Project SHAD encompassed tests designed to identify US warships' vulnerabilities to attacks with chemical or biological warfare agents, and to develop procedures to respond to such attacks while maintaining a war-fighting capability.

Prosthetic Devices

A device which replaces all or a portion of a part of the human body. A prosthetic device can be used when a part of the body is permanently damaged, is absent, or is malfunctioning.

Public Law (PL) 104-262

The public law passed by Congress in October 1996, also known as the Veteran's Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996. This law established national standards of access and equitable health care services to Veterans and required that most Veterans be enrolled to receive care.

Public Law (PL) 107-135

"Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001" provides for chiropractic care and services for Veterans through Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and clinics.

Public Law (PL) 110-329

Also known as Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, passed by Congress September 30, 2008. This act provided VA additional funding to allow expanded enrollment opportunity for certain Priority 8 Veterans who may have been previously denied enrollment in VA's health care system because their income exceeded VA's means tests thresholds.

Purple Heart

A "Purple Heart" is a medal given by the military to a service person injured as a direct result of combat.

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Q

Qualifying Service

Service is considered qualifying when it meets the requirements set down for each benefit. (See the eligibility criteria in Burial, Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Pension, or Spina Bifida.) Service may have length, character of discharge, wartime or other requirements.

Eligibility requirements, as above and see also 38 §§CFR 3.1 (Definitions), 3.2 (Periods of War), 3.6 (Duty Periods), 3.7 (Individuals and groups considered to have performed active military,naval, or air service), 3.12 (Character of Discharge), 3.12a (Minimum active-duty service requirement), 3.13 (Discharge to change status), 3.14 (Validity of enlistments), and 3.15 (Computation of Service).

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R

Radiation Risk Activity

  • On site participation in a test involving the atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device.
  • Participation in the occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki from August 6, 1945 through July 1, 1946.
  • Internment as a Prisoner of War in Japan (or service or active duty in Japan immediately following such internment.
  • Service at Department of Energy plants at Paducah, KY, Portsmouth, OH, or the K25 area at Oak Ridge, TN for at least 250 days before February 1, 1992.
  • Service at Longshot, Milrow, or Cannikin underground nuclear tests at Amchitka Island, AK prior to January 1, 1974.

Referral

The process of referring a Veteran from one practitioner to another for health care services.

Regular Filipino Scouts

The Filipino Scouts were guerilla forces considered part of the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines. They were organized under commanders appointed, designated, or later recognized by the U.S. Army.

Regulations

Our Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are written based on the United States Code (U.S.C.). The Department of Veterans Affairs is governed by Title 38 in both Codes. Title 38 U.S.C. is precedential, superceding any Title 38 CFR section should either appear to contradict the other. Title 38 CFR can be searched at our WARMS1 website or through the GPO2 website. Title 38 U.S.C. has its own website.

Footnotes: 1Web Automated Reference Materials System; 2Government Printing Office.

Reservist-National Guard Benefits

See Fact Sheet

Respite care

Gives the caregiver of a Veteran a planned period of relief from the physical and emotional demands associated with providing care.

Restore Health

The process of improving a Veteran's quality of life or daily function level that has been lost due to illness or injury.

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S

Secondary Condition

A secondary condition, for medical treatment purposes, may be the result of an adjudicated service-connected condition. Veterans are encouraged to file compensation claims for non-rated secondary conditions. Non-rated secondary conditions are billable as a non service-connected condition.

If awarded service-connection for the secondary condition, VA may reimburse all copays related to such service-connection retroactive to the date of the original claim filing.

Selected Reserve and National Guard

By law, if you are an active member of the Selected Reserve or National Guard, your VA compensation will be withheld at the rate of one day of pay for each drill period served. Also, VA compensation is not payable while serving full-time on active duty.

See Concurrent Benefit and Elections, 38 CFR §3.700.

Service Connection

Service connection for a disability or death is established through many ways. The four most common are:

  1. Disability or death was incurred in military service. 38 CFR §§3.303, 3.304
  2. Aggravation of a before service disability during service. 38 CFR §3.306
  3. Presumption that the disease or disability was incurred in military service. 38 CFR §§3.307, 3.308, 3.309
  4. Because of a service-connected disability, a secondary condition has occurred. 38 CFR §3.310

Service connection of a disease or disability is necessary before disability compensation can be paid.

Service-Connected Veteran

A Veteran who has an illness or injury incurred in or aggravated by military service as determined by VA.

Service Medical Records

Those applicants who have their service medical records are encouraged to submit them with their application to expedite processing. Otherwise, VA will contact the service department to obtain them.

Sexual Trauma

See Women's Issues below. This information is stored under "women", but it applies to both sexes.
Also see Compensation Benefits for Sexual Trauma Fact Sheet

Social Security Administration

Social Security Administration (SSA) and VA often serve the same people at the same time. To prevent mispayment (under payment as well as overpayment), the VA works closely with SSA.

We also share medical information but only with the person's permission.
SSA benefits (retirement or disability) are counted as income for VA purposes (IVAP). But SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits are not.
It is mandatory that anyone placing a claim with VA provides their Social Security number (if they have one) (38 CFR §3.216).

Links to Social Security Administrations web sites are listed below:

Southwest Asia

An area of land located in the southwestern part of Asia to include the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, the portion of the Arabian Sea that lies north of 10 degrees North latitude and west of 68 degrees East longitude.  It also includes the total land areas of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Specially Adapted Housing/Special Home Adaptions

A Veteran may be entitled to a Specially Adapted Housing or Special Home Adaptions based on a service-connected disability.

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §§3.809 Specially Adapted Housing, 3.809a (Special Home Adaptions).
See also the Loan Guaranty Service's website.

Special Compensation for Severely Disabled Uniformed Services Retirees

Special compensation for severely disabled uniformed services retirees is authorized by Section 658, PL 106-65. This benefit will be administered by the Department of Defense (DoD). This benefit is not paid by VA.

More information, see Compensation & Pension Service's Fast Letter 99-124.

Special Mode of Transportation

Special mode of transportation is defined as an ambulance, ambulette, air ambulance, wheelchair van, or other mode of transportation specially designed to transport disabled persons (this does not include a mode of transportation not specifically designed to transport disabled persons, such as a bus, subway, taxi, train, or airplane). A modified, privately-owned vehicle, with special adaptive equipment and/or capable of transporting disabled persons is not a special mode of transportation.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is a rate paid in addition to (i.e., SMC (K)) or in place of 0% to 100% combined degree compensation. To qualify, a Veteran must be disabled beyond a combined degree percentage or due to special circumstances (i.e., aid and attendance, loss of use of one hand, etc.). SMCs are referred to by the letters (K) through (R.2). These alphabetic designations follow the paragraph numbering system in 38 U.S.C. §1114 (also see references to that in 38 CFR §3.350 below).

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §3.350 (Special Monthly Compensation)
Rates, see Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Special Monthly Pension (SMP)

Special Monthly Pension (SMP) is either the aid and attendance or housebound allowance.

Rates, see Improved Disability or Death Pension.

Special Separation Benefit (SSB)

VA compensation will be withheld in full until the amount of the SSB has been recovered.

See Concurrent Benefit and Elections, 38 CFR §3.700

Spina Bifida

The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 1997 granted benefits for children of Vietnam Veterans who were suffering from spina bifida (38 U.S.C. §1805).

Eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §3.814.
See also the Veterans Health Administration web site for Spina Bifida and our new Agent Orange Home Page.

Special (New) Philippine Scouts

The term "New Philippine Scouts" refers to non-commissioned Philippine Scouts who—

  • Enlisted on or after October 5, 1945,
  • Served under Section 14 of the U.S. Armed Forces Voluntary Recruitment Act of 1945, AND
  • Was discharged from this period of service under conditions other than dishonorable

Spouse/Surviving Spouse

The Veteran or parent may receive benefits for a dependent spouse. The surviving spouse of a Veteran may be entitled to benefits.

Eligibility criteria for Spouse, see 38 CFR §§3.1(j) (Marriage), 3.50 (Spouse and surviving spouse), 3.204 (Evidence of dependents and age), 3.205 (Marriage), 3.206 (Divorce), 3.207 (Void or annulled marriage), 3.211 (Death), and 3.213 (Change of status affecting entitlement)
Eligibility criteria for Surviving Spouse, see all of the above and 38 CFR §§3.52 (Marriages deemed valid), 3.53 (Continous cohabitation), 3.54 (Marriage dates), 3.55 (Terminated marital relationships), 3.60 (Definition of "living with"), 3.214 (Court Decisions; unremarried widows), and 3.215 (Termination of marital relationship or conduct).
See the specific Benefit Programs for more information: Compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and Pension. See also Survivors and Eligible Dependents VA Benefits
Rates, see the Compensation, Special Monthly Compensation (SMC), Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and Improved Disability or Death Pension Rate Tables.
Restoration of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Entitlement

State Veterans Homes

The eligibility for State Veterans Homes varies from state to state. Typically, Veterans and sometimes their spouse can be admitted to a State Veterans Home. The costs of living in a State Veterans Home are usually paid by Medicaid, long term care insurance and private funds. VA pays a modest share of the cost for each Veteran living in a State Veterans Home. You can find information on the State Veterans Home(s) for your state by looking in the state government pages of the telephone book. VA social workers at the VA medical center where you're being treated can also provide information about State Veterans Homes.

Survivor and Eligible Dependents VA Benefits

Please see Survivors and Eligible Dependents VA Benefits

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T

Transition Assistance Program

See Seamless Transition.

Transportation

See the National Cemetery Administration's site or Burial above.

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U

Urgent Care

Services received for an unexpected illness or injury that is not life threatening but requires immediate outpatient medical care that cannot be postponed. An urgent situation requires prompt medical attention to avoid complications and unnecessary suffering or severe pain, such as a high fever.

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V

VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits

The VA form completed by Veterans to apply for VA health care benefits. The form includes demographic, military, insurance and financial information

VA Form 10-10EZR, Health Benefits Renewal

The VA Form used by Veterans to submit their updated personal, insurance and financial information to VA.

Veteran

This term means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.

Vocational Rehabilitation

When a Veteran is found to be disabled we offer vocational rehabilitation as one of the additional benefits.

See the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Service's website for more information.

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W

Wartime

See Qualifying Service above.

Women's Issues

See our Women Veterans Issues Homepage

See VA's web site Programs & Initiatives for Women Veterans

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