Enrollment in the VA System depends upon each individual's circumstances.
To determine your eligibility for VA health care you should contact the Enrollment Coordinator at the nearest VA health care facility. In the case of Long Island, that means contacting the Northport VA Medical Center ("NPVAMC") at 631.261.4400. Once you hear the recording, dial zero for the operator and ask for "Admissions." When you reach "Admissions" ask them to send you the form you need to complete in order to "get into" the VA Health system (it's a form 10-10EZ, but they will know that). Fill out the form, and go to the NPVAMC, Building 200 - Admissions - don't forget to bring the completed form AND your DD-214. If you are a WWII veteran, look at the back of your "
." That is your equivalent to a DD-214, a Form 53-55. Yes, you can download the 10-10EZ from a VA website (
). And yes, you can call the Health Beneﬁt Service (
) to assist you. However, when you have a local Medical Center, as we do at Northport, using them as your entre point has its advantages.
The Admissions Process
Eligibility for VA health care is dependent upon a number of variables which influence the final determination of the services for which you qualify. These factors include the nature of a veteran's discharge from military service (e.g., honorable, other than honorable, dishonorable), length of service, VA adjudicated disabilities (commonly referred to as service-connected disabilities), income level, and available VA resources, among others (
The information contained in the enrollment form is used by the VA to determine:
- Whether you have qualifying service as a veteran.
- What your veteran status is so that you can be placed into one of the eight priority groups (The priority groups are complicated and some reference financial thresholds -- see a future article).
Therefore, eligibility for health care through VA is a two-step process:
Step 1) VA must determine your eligibility status as a veteran by reviewing your:
- Character of Discharge from active military service, and your
- Length of active military service
The character of discharge you received from the military is not an issue if you received an honorable discharge, a general discharge, or a discharge under honorable conditions
The length of required service depends on when you served. There's no length of service requirement for former enlisted persons who started active duty before September 8, 1980, or former officers who first entered active duty before October 17, 1981.
All other veterans must, for the most part, have 24 months of continuous active duty military service (usually not including training) or must meet one of a number of exceptions.
Step 2) VA must determine in which of the eight enrollment priority groups you qualify.
Form 10-10EZ -- Two Points
While this form is self-explanatory, there are two questions in the "Financial Disclosure" section worth discussing. But first, several words about the "Financial Disclosure" section itself.
Currently, you must complete this section if you hope to enroll in the VA Health system. If you do not, you will be immediately classified as enrollment priority group 8. And, veterans who are applying for enrollment after January 17, 2003 who are assigned to Priority 8 are not eligible for enrollment or care of their nonservice-connected conditions -- our Congress in action.
"Your Income" -- Your income includes: All wages, bonuses and tips, severance pay, or other accrued benefits (including gross income from your farm, ranch, property or business); Retirement and pension income; Social Security Retirement income; Social Security Disability income; Compensation benefits such as: VA disability, unemployment, workers and black lung; Cash gifts; Interest and dividends, including tax exempt earnings; Distributions from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or annuities; Your child's unearned income information if it could have been used to pay you household expenses. Your income does not include: Work income of dependent children attending high school, college, vocational rehabilitation or training; Welfare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments; Payments from a government entity that are based on your financial need; Profit from the occasional sale of property; Income tax refunds; Reinvested interest on Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs); Scholarships and grants for school attendance; Disaster relief payments or proceeds of casualty insurance; Loans; Agent Orange and Alaska Native Claim Settlement Acts income; Payments to foster parents.
"Market value of land and buildings minus mortgages and liens. Do not count your primary home. Include value of farm, ranch, or business assets." I have quoted the entire question. Note how it states "Do not count your primary home." Let me say that again, do not count your primary home. Surprisingly, more than just "a couple" of your fellow veterans have included the value of their primary home. Since you are not required to list all properties, only to give the total net value of all "includable" properties, if you make that mistake no one would know.
With all that said... Welcome to the VA! See you next article.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt