Resources for Veterans
As part of our mission to serve Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors, San Francisco VA Health Care System is available to answer your questions about VA benefits and eligibility. Whether you are a current servicemember and considering discharging or you've already separated from active military service, we can help you learn more about how to apply for VA benefits and health care.
Questions about VA health care eligibility and compensation
Each Veteran’s medical benefits package is unique. Yours will include care and services to help treat illnesses and injuries, prevent future health problems, improve your ability to function, and enhance your quality of life. All Veterans receive coverage for most care and services, but only some will qualify for added benefits like dental care.
You may be eligible for VA health care benefits if you served in the active military, naval, or air service and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge. Learn more about the care and services you qualify for as a Veteran.
Reach out to your local California Veteran Service Office (VSO). The County Veterans Service Office assists Veteran, their families, and caregivers navigate and apply for benefits and entitlements from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
You can also get help in any of these ways:
Call our toll-free hotline at 877-222-8387. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.
Get help from an accredited representative (a trained professional trusted to help with VA-related claims): Request a representative
- Learn about transitioning from TRICARE to VA health care
Once your enrollment is confirmed, you will receive a Veterans Health Benefits Handbook from us notifying you of the status of your enrollment. You may also call us toll free to verify your enrollment at 1-877-222- VETS (8387) Monday – Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
- Find out if you’re eligible for VA disability compensation: Learn about eligibility
- Be sure to fill out your claim completely: File for disability compensation online
- Gather any evidence (supporting documents) you’ll submit yourself when you file your VA disability claim: Learn about fully developed claims
- Find out if you’ll need to turn in any additional forms with your claim: Learn about additional forms you may need to file
To learn more about filing a disability claim, you can play our disability claims video - Go to our disability claims video on YouTube.
There is no requirement that VA become your exclusive provider of care. If you are a Veteran who is receiving care from both VA and a local provider, it is important for your health and safety that your care is coordinated, resulting in one treatment plan (co-managed care). If you have other forms of health care coverage (like a private insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE), you can use VA health care benefits along with these plans. Learn more about how VA works with other health insurance.
Even if you have other insurance, you may be eligible for low- or zero-cost care through VA. We also offer coverage for health care services that aren't typically covered by private health insurance such as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic care, mindfulness, Tai Chi and Qi Gung, yoga, movement groups, and a Whole Health consult. To learn more about the benefits available through VA focused on improving health and wellness, visit SFVAHCS' Whole Health Offerings.
Whether or not you’ll need to pay copays—and how much you’ll pay—depends on which of our 8 priority groups we assign you to when you enroll in VA health care. Learn more about priority groups.
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 that make them eligible for VA disability compensation.
We’re committed to providing free health care for conditions related to military service and for Veterans with catastrophic disabilities and disability ratings of at least 50%, as well as for those who can’t afford to pay for care. To learn more about how we’ll determine if you’ll need to pay for any part of your care or find information about current VA health care copay rates.
A service-connected rating is an official ruling by VA that your illness or condition is directly related to your active military service. To obtain more information or to apply for any of these benefits, contact your nearest VA Regional Office at 1-800-827-1000, or visit us online at www.ebenefits.va.gov or www.va.gov.
If you are unable to pay your bill, you should discuss the matter with the Patient Billing Office at the VA health care facility where you received your care.
If you’re struggling to pay your copays, you can request help. Options may include a repayment plan, debt relief, or copay exemption. Find out how to request financial hardship assistance.
If you disagree with the charges or amounts on your bill, you can file a dispute. Find out how to dispute your copay charges.
Yes, but not all Veterans qualify. If you meet specific criteria (visit https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vtp/beneficiary_travel.asp), you are eligible for travel benefits. VA also offers help getting to and from appointments. Learn more about Veterans transportation service.
Questions about health conditions and care under VA
The full list of your covered benefits depends on your priority group, and the advice of your VA primary care provider (your main doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant), and the medical standards for treating any health conditions you may have. We cover preventive care services, like health exams (including gender-specific exams), health education (including nutrition education), immunization against infectious diseases (like flu shots), and counseling on genetic diseases (diseases that run in families). We cover inpatient hospital services, including surgeries, medical treatments, kidney dialysis, acute care (short-term treatment for a severe illness or injury or after surgery), and specialized care (including organ transplants, intensive care for mental and physical conditions, and care for traumatic injuries). We cover urgent and emergency care services, such as urgent or emergency care at some VA health facilities and urgent care for injuries and illnesses that need attention right away, but aren’t life threatening, at urgent care locations that are part of our contracted network.
- Mental health services to treat certain issues like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), depression, and substance use problems: Learn more about mental health services
- Assisted living and home health care (depending on your needs and income as well as space in the programs): Learn more about assisted living and home health care
- Prescriptions written or approved by a VA doctor: Refill your prescriptions
We cover routine eye exams and preventive tests. In some cases, you may get coverage for eyeglasses or services for blind or low-vision rehabilitation: Learn more about vision care through VA
We may cover services that your VA primary care provider concludes you need to support your treatment (called ancillary services), like:
- Tests used to diagnose health conditions, including blood work, X-rays, and ultrasounds
- Therapy and rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, vision rehab, and therapy for traumatic brain injury
- Additional services, including prosthetic items, audiology (care for hearing loss), and radiation oncology (cancer care)
VA coverage also includes caregiver support (help for the person who cares for you).
VA is authorized to provide extensive dental care, while in other cases, treatment may be limited. The eligibility for outpatient dental care is not the same as for most other VA medical benefits and is categorized into classes. For instance, if you are eligible for VA dental care under Class I, IIC or IV, you are eligible for any necessary dental care to maintain or restore oral health and masticatory function, including repeat care. Other classes have time and/or service limitations.
Learn more about VA dental benefits.
Contact the VA health care medical center or clinic you want to transfer to and let them know that you want to switch your primary care. Call our new patient hotline at 415-750-2281 to schedule you first appointment with San Francisco VA Health Care System today.
Yes. If you’re an eligible American Indian or Alaska Native Veteran when you receive care through an Indian Health Service facility or Tribal Health facility that has a reimbursement agreement with us:
- You don’t need us to approve (or “preauthorize”) your care before you get treated, and
- You don’t need to pay a VA copay
San Francisco VA Health Care System's commitment to improving the lives of Veterans and their families every day means that we understand the unique needs of the population we are so proud to serve. We've developed materials specific to Veterans, their survivors, and caregivers to help understand the benefits they've earned and deserve in service to our nation.
The goal of the New Patient Orientation program is to provide Veterans with a seamless transition into San Francisco VA Health Care System services. Whether you’re just getting out of the service or you’ve been a civilian for years now, the VA Welcome Kit can help guide you to the benefits and services you’ve earned. Based on where you are in life, your VA benefits and services can support you in different ways.
Transportation claim reimbursement
The VA Beneficiary Travel program pays eligible Veterans and caregivers back for mileage and other travel expenses to and from approved health care appointments. Veterans and caregivers can submit and track their beneficiary travel claims by visiting the Beneficiary Travel Self Service System (BTSSS). BTSSS provides a more Veteran-focused experience for beneficiary travel reimbursements, allowing claimants to submit and track travel claims at their convenience.
Click to access BTSSS through Access VA.