10 Sep VA Benefits Agencies
There are several avenues available to you for appealing a denial of your veteran’s benefits claim. While the process of dealing with the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) or DOD (Department of Defense) has become less cumbersome in recent years, it can still be time-consuming. In fact, since 2008, the VA has grappled with a backlog of over 500,000 pending claims and another 90,000 appeals, which may explain why processing your claim might take longer.
On average, new claims for disability compensation and pensions through the VA take approximately six months to process, while appeals can stretch on for years.
The Two Main Benefits Agencies
While other agencies do exist, the two main agencies responsible for handling most veteran’s benefits issues are the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD).
Additional agencies include the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees the veterans’ preference program for government jobs, and the Small Business Administration, which manages the veterans’ small business loan program.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs
Since its inception in 1930, the VA has expanded with an annual budget of approximately $86 billion and employees 230,000 people, operating 1,357 facilities such as regional offices, vet centers, medical centers, and outpatient clinics across the country.
Some benefit claims administered by the VA include:
- VA healthcare (detailed in Chapter 4)
- Disability compensation (detailed in Chapter 6)
- GI Bill education program (detailed in Chapter 10)
- VA Pensions (detailed in Chapter 6)
- Veteran survivor benefits (detailed in Chapter 8)
The VA healthcare program serves around 5.3 million registered veterans, while over 3.7 million veterans receive disability compensation and pensions. Each year, the VA handles an average of 805,000 new claims for disability compensation or pensions.
Counselors are available at VA veteran’s centers to assist those with questions or in need of help. Service members must contact the VA regional offices closest to their residence for most matters, except for medical care, which requires applying through a VA medical center.
The Department of Defense and military services
Individuals with 20 years or more of military service can retire from the military and apply for benefits with the Department of Defense (DOD) or their respective military service branch. The DOD encompasses five military branches:
- Air Force
- Marine Corps
- Coast Guard
Each of these branches has both an active-duty section (full-time service) and a reserve section (part-time service). Additionally, the National Guard operates in conjunction with the Army and Air Force and falls under individual state jurisdiction.
What the DOD covers
For detailed information on military retiree benefits, please refer to Chapter 15, which requires a military retiree identification card. Those eligible, including family members, can obtain this card at the Pass & ID section of any military base, even if it’s not their parent service base, simplifying the process.
The DOD covers benefits such as:
- Military retirement pay
- Shopping and travel benefits
- Military healthcare, or Tricare
- Combat-related special compensation
For assistance with retiree payment concerns, veterans should contact the relevant branch of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) rather than visiting a military base. You can reach the DFAS at 800-321-1080 or visit their website at www.dfas.mil. The DFAS website offers myPay, a program that provides access to retiree pay accounts, allowing you to make necessary changes if needed.