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Learn what the PACT Act means for your VA benefits

VA priority groups

Find out what VA priority groups are, how they work, and how they may affect you.

What are VA priority groups and how do they affect me?

When you apply for VA health care, we’ll assign you to 1 of 8 priority groups. This system helps to make sure that Veterans who need care right away can get signed up quickly. It also helps to make sure we can provide high quality care to all Veterans enrolled in the VA health care program.

Your priority group may affect:

What factors will VA use to assign me to a priority group?

We’ll base your priority group 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 VA 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).

If you qualify for more than one priority group, we’ll assign you to the highest one.

Priority group 1

We may assign you to priority group 1 if any of these descriptions are true:

  • You have a service-connected disability that we’ve rated as 50% or more disabling, or
  • You have a service-connected disability that we’ve concluded makes you unable to work (also called unemployable), or
  • You received the Medal of Honor (MOH)

Priority group 2

We may assign you to priority group 2 if you have a service-connected disability that we've rated as 30% or 40% disabling.

Priority group 3

We may assign you to priority group 3 if any of these descriptions are true:

  • You’re a former prisoner of war (POW), or
  • You received the Purple Heart medal, or 
  • You were discharged for a disability that was caused by—or got worse because of—your active-duty service, or
  • You have a service-connected disability that we’ve rated as 10% or 20% disabling, or
  • You were awarded special eligibility classification under Title 38, U.S.C § 1151, “benefits for individuals disabled by treatment or vocational rehabilitation”

Priority group 4

We may assign you to priority group 4 if either of these descriptions is true:

  • You’re receiving VA aid and attendance or housebound benefits, or
  • You have received a VA determination of being catastrophically disabled

Priority group 5

We may assign you to priority group 5 if any of these descriptions are true:

  • You don’t have a service-connected disability, or you have a non-compensable service-connected disability that we’ve rated as 0% disabling, and you have an annual income level that’s below our adjusted income limits (based on your resident zip code), or
  • You’re receiving VA pension benefits, or
  • You’re eligible for Medicaid programs

Priority group 6

We may assign you to priority group 6 if any of these descriptions are true:

  • You have a compensable service-connected disability that we’ve rated as 0% disabling, or
  • You were exposed to ionizing radiation during atmospheric testing or during the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or
  • You participated in Project 112/SHAD, or
  • You served in the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, or
  • You served in the Persian Gulf War between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998, or
  • You served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987

We may also assign you to priority group 6 if you meet all of these requirements:

  • You’re currently or newly enrolled in VA health care, and
  • You served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and
  • You were discharged less than 5 years ago 

Note: As a returning combat Veteran, you’re eligible for these enhanced benefits for 5 years after discharge. At the end of this enhanced enrollment period, we’ll assign you to the highest priority group you qualify for at that time.

Priority group 7

We may assign you to priority group 7 if both of these descriptions are true for you:

  • Your gross household income is below the geographically adjusted income limits (GMT) for where you live, and
  • You agree to pay copays
    Review current copay rates

Priority group 8

We may assign you to priority group 8 if both of these descriptions are true for you:

  • Your gross household income is above VA income limits and geographically adjusted income limits for where you live, and
  • You agree to pay copays
    Review current copay rates

If you’re assigned to priority group 8, your eligibility for VA health care benefits will depend on which subpriority group we place you in.

You may be eligible for VA health care benefits if we place you in one of these subpriority groups:

Subpriority group a

All of these must be true:

  • You have a non-compensable service-connected condition that we’ve rated as 0% disabling, and
  • You enrolled in the VA health care program before January 16, 2003, and
  • You have remained enrolled since that date and/or were placed in this subpriority group because your eligibility status changed
Subpriority group b

All of these must be true:

  • You have a non-compensable service-connected condition that we’ve rated as 0% disabling, and
  • You enrolled in the VA health care program on or after June 15, 2009, and
  • You have income that exceeds current VA or geographical limits by 10% or less
Subpriority group c

All of these must be true:

  • You don’t have a service-connected condition, and
  • You enrolled in the VA health care program as of January 16, 2003, and
  • You have remained enrolled since that date and/or were placed in this subpriority group because your eligibility status changed
Subpriority group d

All of these must be true:

  • You don’t have a service-connected condition, and
  • You enrolled in the VA health care program on or after June 15, 2009, and
  • You have income that exceeds current VA or geographical limits by 10% or less

You’re not eligible for VA health care benefits if we place you in one of these subpriority groups:

Subpriority group e

All of these must be true:

  • You have a non-compensable service-connected condition that we’ve rated as 0% disabling, and
  • You don’t meet the criteria for subpriority group a or b above

Note: You’re eligible for care for your service-connected condition only.

Subpriority group g

All of these must be true:

  • You don’t have a service-connected condition, and
  • You don’t meet the criteria for subpriority group c or d

Once I’m enrolled in VA health care, will my priority group ever change?

Your priority group may change in some cases, such as if:

  • Your income changes, or
  • Your service-connected disability gets worse and we give you a higher disability rating

Update your income or other health benefits information
File for increased disability compensation

If you’re currently enrolled or newly enrolled in the VA health care program, and you served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, or were discharged from active duty on or after January 28, 2003, you’re eligible for enhanced benefits for 5 years after discharge. During this time, we’ll assign you to priority group 6. At the end of this enhanced enrollment period, we'll assign you to the highest priority group you qualify for at that time.