VA Benefit Access

VA and the Department of Defense have made it convenient to secure your benefits.

Access Made Easy by eBenefits

The Pentagon and VA now allow troops, veterans, and their families and survivors ready access to information about benefits. Now you can go to a single and secure website to obtain that information, apply for benefits and perform numerous self-service features.

The eBenefits portal (http://www.ebenefits.va.gov) was initiated in March 2007 as recommended by the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. It suggested a web portal to provide wounded, injured and ill service members and veterans with a single sign-on, central access point for benefits-related online tools and information.  eBenefits has continued to evolve, providing a host of resources and self-service capabilities tailored to their needs.

BASIC AND PREMIUM ACCOUNTS

The eBenefits portal can be accessed by anyone. However, users must register for either a Basic or Premium account to take advantage of all of its features.

Basic Account: With a Basic account you can view benefits information and customize it to your particular needs and preferences. It can be used to calculate retirement and insurance needs based on your current situation.

Premium Account: With a Premium account you can access the status of pending disability claims and appeals, payment history and some military records, such as a DD-214 form.

There are online courses for the Transition Assistance Program, too, that allow transitioning service members and veterans to explore VA benefits at their leisure.  You also can apply for Veterans Group Life Insurance, and—based on eligibility—access Tricare, your disabled civil service preference, commissary, service verification and benefit verification letters using the Letter Generator. Hearing aid batteries and prosthetic socks also may be ordered through eBenefits. 

IN THE FUTURE

Future enhancements include partnering with veteran service organizations (VSOs). This collaborative effort will allow veterans to obtain their Premium-level eBenefits account through their local VSO, as well as complete and submit VA Form 21-22, Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant Representative, online.

Other planned enhancements include an improved online application process for benefits, making it easier to manage the list of dependents claimed on a veteran’s profile. You also can check the enrollment status of education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The key to unlocking all of these features is obtaining a Premium-level account.  With each quarterly release of eBenefits, new tools and services are made available. More information on eBenefits can be obtained at www.ebenefits.va.gov.

SOURCE: VFW Magazine, January 2012

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