Eligibility for VA Health Care
Find out if you can get VA health care as a Veteran.
Can I get VA health care benefits?
You may be able to get VA health care benefits if you served in the active military, naval, or air service and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge.
If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, you must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty, unless any of the descriptions below are true for you.
This minimum duty requirement may not apply if any of these are true. You:
- Were discharged for a disability that was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, or
- Were discharged for a hardship or “early out,” or
- Served prior to September 7, 1980
If you’re a current or former member of the Reserves or National Guard, you must have been called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty. If you had or have active-duty status for training purposes only, you don’t qualify for VA health care.
What should I do if I received an other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge?
If you’ve received one of these discharge statuses, you may not be eligible for VA benefits.
There are 2 ways you can try to qualify:
Is there anything that will make me more likely to get these benefits?
Yes. You may qualify for enhanced eligibility status (meaning you’ll be placed in a higher priority group, which makes you more likely to get benefits) if you meet at least one of the requirements listed below.
At least one of these must be true. You:
- Receive financial compensation (payments) from VA for a service-connected disability
- Were discharged for a disability resulting from something that happened to you in the line of duty
- Were discharged for a disability that got worse in the line of duty
- Are a recently discharged combat Veteran
- Get a VA pension
- Are a former Prisoner of War (POW)
- Have received a Purple Heart
- Have received a Medal of Honor
- Get (or qualify for) Medicaid benefits
- Served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975
- Served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998
- Served at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
If none of the above apply to you, you may still qualify for care based on your income. Learn more about how the amount of money your family makes can affect whether you qualify for VA benefits.
Learn more about income limits.
What if I need help filling out my application?
You can get help in any of these ways:
More about VA health care eligibility
Jump to a section:
- What are priority groups and how do they affect me?
- I have other health insurance (like Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance). Does that affect whether I can get VA health care benefits?
- When I leave active-duty service, how do I know if I’m eligible for TRICARE, VA health care, or both?
- If I can’t get VA health care benefits, how else can I get health insurance?
- If I don’t qualify for VA health care benefits, can I still get care for certain needs (like PTSD or military sexual trauma)?
- I need vision care. Can I get it through VA?
- I need dental care. Can I get it through VA?
- I think I may have a service-connected disability. Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments)?
What are priority groups and how do they affect me?
When you apply for VA health care, you’ll be assigned 1 of 8 priority groups. This system helps to make sure that Veterans who need immediate care can get signed up quickly.
Your priority group may affect how soon we sign you up for health care benefits. It may also affect how much (if anything) you’ll have to pay toward the cost of your care.
Learn more about health benefit copay rates.
Your priority group will be based on:
- Your military service history, and
- Your disability rating, and
- Your income level, and
- Whether or not you qualify for Medicaid, and
- Other benefits you may be receiving (like pension benefits)
We assign Veterans with service-connected disabilities the highest priority. We assign the lowest priority to Veterans who earn a higher income and who don’t have any service-connected disabilities qualifying them for disability compensation (monthly payments).
I have other health insurance (like Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance). Does that affect whether I can get VA health care benefits?
No. Whether or not you have other health insurance coverage doesn’t affect the VA health care benefits you can get.
Learn more about how VA works with other insurance.
When I leave active-duty service, how do I know if I’m eligible for TRICARE, VA health care, or both?
If you’re retiring, you’re eligible for TRICARE. You may also qualify for certain VA health care benefits.
If you’re separating from service due to a service-connected illness or injury, you may be eligible for VA health care benefits and certain TRICARE benefits.
If you’re an OEF/OIF/OND combat Veteran who has just returned from service, you can receive free medical care for any condition related to your service in Iraq or Afghanistan for 5 years after discharge.
If I can’t get VA health care benefits, how else can I get health insurance?
Visit healthcare.gov to find out if you qualify for health insurance.
Go to healthcare.gov.
If I don’t qualify for VA health care benefits, can I still get care for certain needs (like PTSD or military sexual trauma)?
Find out how you may still be able to get care for:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Other mental health problems (like depression or substance abuse)
- Mental and physical health problems linked to military sexual trauma (MST)
Or, call our general VA hotline at 1-800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (ET) to find out what your care options may be.
I need vision care. Can I get it through VA?
We cover routine eye exams and preventive tests under VA health care benefits. In some cases, you may get coverage for eyeglasses or services for blind or low vision rehabilitation.
Learn more about vision care through VA.
I need dental care. Can I get it through VA?
In certain cases, you may receive dental care as part of your VA health benefits.
Find out if you can get dental care through VA.
I think I may have a service-connected disability. Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments)?
If you have an illness or injury that was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, you may be able to get disability compensation.
Find out if you qualify for disability benefits.