I Need VA Disability Benefits, But Do I Qualify as a Veteran?

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Filing for disability with the Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) can be a stressful process and legally complex. The first step, though, is to determine eligibility based on the VA’s definition of a “veteran.” In this blog post, we will help you break down that definition and provide greater understanding.

I served in the military. Does that automatically make me a veteran for VA disability purposes?
Not automatically. The VA defines “veteran” as: “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”

What this means is that you qualify as a “veteran” for disability purposes if:
1. You served in the active military, naval, or air service AND
2. You were discharged under conditions that the VA does not deem as dishonorable

Is there a minimum amount of time I need to have served in the military to qualify?
Yes. You must serve 24 consecutive months or a full period of active duty to qualify if you enlisted in the military after September 7, 1980 or began active duty after October 16, 1981.

However, if you are unable to meet the minimum service requirements, you may still be eligible if you were:
1. discharged for a disability that was caused, or made worse, by active-duty service OR
2. discharged for a hardship or “early out” OR
3. enlisted prior to September 7, 1980.

If I wasn’t honorably discharged, am I automatically barred from receiving VA disability?
Not necessarily. If you were not honorably discharged, you may still have options for receiving VA disability. Check our our blog post here for more information.

I’ve heard that National Guard Members Have Federal Requirements. Is this true?
Yes. National Guard members are only eligible for disability if they have been ordered into federal service, not solely state service.

If you need assistance determining your eligibility and filing for disability, please contact us today at (855) 312-5575.