Programs That Can Help Veterans Afford a Car
Transitioning back to civilian life is often a hard process. You may need to find a place to live, a place to work and struggle to adjust to a new routine. One thing that would make your life easier was if you had a reliable form of transportation. Luckily, there are some great veteran benefits programs out there that can make it easier for veterans to afford a car.
Veteran’s Affairs Automobile Allowance
If you were injured during your service, the first place you should contact is your local VA office. Through their Automobile Allowance program, you may be given money to get a car, so that you don’t have to pay any out of pocket expenses. As of October 2016, you can receive up to $20,235 for purchasing a car – an amount that will help you afford a very reliable new car. Qualifying injuries for this program include the loss of a hand or foot, burn injuries, or vision impairment. If you’re unsure if your disability qualifies you for the program, the best thing you can do is reach out to your VA office.
Progressive’s Keys to Progress
Another great program is run by Progressive, called Keys to Progress. Through this program, Progressive has donated more than 700 vehicles to veterans and veteran organizations. Every November, Progressive hosts a large one-day event in which they give away cars. Progressive begins reviewing applications for anyone wanting a car beginning in May, so if you’re interested in applying, you can learn more about the program here, including the eligibility requirements.
Navy Federal Credit Union
When you want to buy a car, this typically means taking out a loan. If you do this through a bank, you may face some heavy interest rates that can make the car hard to afford. Often, a better option is to go through a credit union. Credit unions are like banks, except the members are the owners. Credit unions typically have a requirement for joining, such as living in a certain area or having a certain type of job. If you’re a veteran though, you can join the Navy Federal Credit Union. Through this organization, you can obtain a low-interest auto loan, along with some great other benefits.
United Services Automobile Association
Part of owning a car is paying the insurance on it, which is yet another expense. Veterans should look to the United Services Automobile Association, as they can help you get affordable car insurance. On top of that, they can even help you get a car loan if you need it, and find you various discounts from car manufacturers. This is a great service to turn to for all your car buying needs.
Speaking of discounts, many private lenders offer discounts to veterans and active-duty military members. When shopping for a car, you should check out the fine print. You may notice several discounts available for veterans, which will significantly lower the price of the car. If you don’t see any discounts listed on their website, it doesn’t hurt to ask a sales representative if they have anything available.
In addition to discounts, some private lenders also offer help in other ways. They may accept lower credit ratings, offer a lower interest rate on the auto loan, or even require less of a down payment. Each of these can help veterans afford their next car purchase, so talk to the lender to see what they can do for you.
However, you should also be a little wary of private seller discounts. You should always investigate each discount thoroughly before accepting it – you never know who might be trying to scam you.
Finally, you should consider getting an extended warranty on your car. These are particularly useful for veterans who might not have enough money saved up to pay for a sudden car expense. An extended warranty will cover things like mechanical breakdowns after the original manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Finding an extended warranty is easy, just search online for a warranty that matches the model of the car you are getting. For example, if you are purchasing a used Kia, you could visit a site like –https://gogetolive.com/extended-car-warranty/kia/.
Make Use of the Help Available to You
There are many programs out there designed to help veterans. If you’re unsure of how you’re going to afford your next vehicle, you should explore what options are out there for you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many organizations are willing to make it easier for you to get a car, and before long you’ll be driving around in a reliable car.
Veterans Benefits: The VA Home Loan
Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
As members of the United States military community, we know that we have a host of benefits available to us, whether we give much conscious thought to it or not. Most of our benefits are administered by the Veterans Benefits Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that’s responsible for the Department’s programs that provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans, their dependents, and survivors. Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions.
We’re most familiar with those programs that impact us personally. So many of us are well-versed in those benefits available in the healthcare arena, or in compensation and pension, or in education and training. Or perhaps it’s the insurance products, such as SGLI and VGLI, that resonate with you, or maybe it’s the burial and memorial services for which you qualify. The Veterans benefit that we’re going to spend a few minutes on now, however, is one that has a phenomenal impact on those that choose to use it…and that’s the VA home loan.
Long story short: VA direct and VA-backed Veterans home loans can help Veterans, service members, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners (and buy, build, improve, or refinance a home). Created in 1944, the VA home loan program was part of the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act. Also known as the GI Bill of Rights, it was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was considered to be part of sweeping legislation aimed to level the playing field for those who served our country during World War II. Homeownership was at the heart of those efforts, and rather than provide Veterans with a cash bonus to help with the purchase of a home, the government decided a loan guarantee was a more powerful, long-term solution. Early on, the VA guarantee was limited to 50 percent of the loan amount, not to exceed $2,000. The average home price in 1944 was about $8,600. Loans had a 4 percent interest rate cap, and the term couldn’t exceed 20 years. All loans required VA approval.
So, what’s the big deal with the VA home loan program? Well, VA loans are some of the only loans around that offer no down payment (with more conventional loans, the buyer is required to provide up to 20% down); there’s no private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can save a borrower hundreds of dollars a month over conventional loans; there is a 2-3% funding fee, but not everyone has to pay that fee (such as those with a service-connected disability); and the loan limits are pretty generous. Beginning this year, there is no maximum amount for which a home buyer can receive a VA loan, but lenders may set their own limits.
As a rule, the VA isn’t a bank or a mortgage company (except for the Native American Direct Loan Program). VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders and the VA guarantees a portion of the loan…if a VA-backed home loan goes into foreclosure, the guarantee allows the lender to recover some or all of their losses. This lets the lender view the transaction as a little less risky and give the borrower more favorable terms.
As with most benefits programs, there are some pretty tight eligibility criteria. Who’s eligible for this VA program? Well, surprising to some is that VA loans are available not only to Veterans, but also other classes of military personnel. The list of eligibles includes active-duty Servicemembers, members of the National Guard & Reserve, surviving spouses of Veterans, and a few other groups. You’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to demonstrate eligibility to a lender, and you’ll need to meet standard VA loan requirements, such as income and employment verifications. Just because you have a COE, however, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a VA loan; it just shows the lender that you’re eligible for the VA guarantee. You can obtain a COE through eBenefits, by mail, and often through your lender. Another good thing is that your eligibility never expires…Veterans who earned their benefit long ago are still using the program to buy homes.
There are several different financial products in this broad Veterans benefit. VA-guaranteed loans are available for homes that Veterans purchase for primary occupancy or to refinance, such as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). The IRRRL is generally performed to lower the interest and reduce the monthly payment on the existing VA guaranteed loan. There’s also the Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program, which helps Native American Veterans purchase, construct, improve, or refinance a home on Native American trust lands; and the Adapted Housing Grants program, where the VA helps Veterans with certain total and permanent disabilities related to military service obtain suitable housing.
While the particulars of the home loan benefit have changed some over the years (and who’s to say there won’t be some modification next month or next year), here are some other factoids about the program, in excruciatingly little detail:
-A VA loan can be used to buy a detached house, condo, new-built home, manufactured home or duplex, triplex or four-unit property or to refinance an existing loan for those types of properties. You might also be able to borrow extra money to make repairs or improvements to the home; or, make it more energy efficient;
-You cannot use a VA loan to buy a home in a foreign country. You are only permitted to purchase homes located in the United States or a U.S. territory or possession;
– You can’t use a VA loan to buy a rental property, but you might be able to use a VA loan to refinance an existing rental home you once occupied as a primary home. An exception to this rule is the IRRRL, which can be used to refinance an existing VA loan for a home where you currently live or where you used to live, but no longer do;
– Federal regulations do limit loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to “primary residences” only, however, “primary residence” is defined as the home in which you live “most of the year;” and
– Lenders follow VA standards when making VA-backed home loans, such as requiring a high enough credit score or getting an updated home appraisal (an expert’s estimate of the value of your home). The VA does not set a minimum score for home loan approval, but experts say most lenders will require a score of 620 or higher.
I first used this benefit in the early 1990s, and I still have a VA-backed home loan today (different house, different loan). I’ve always viewed it as a great way to transition from home renter to homeowner, but I get that it’s not for everyone. If owning your own home is something you plan on experiencing in the near future, I encourage you to take a closer look at a VA home loan. I’ve read that the VA has backed somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 million home loans, and the program just turned 75 years last spring…I doubt it’s going away anytime soon. If you’re eligible for this benefit, it can help deliver the joys of home ownership to your doorstep, too.
It’s no surprise that dogs can soothe us when we feel troubled. But research shows bonding with dogs has positive benefits even on a biological level. Dogs elevate levels of the hormone oxytocin in our bodies, which promotes feelings of trust and well being. Oxytocin also heightens the ability to interpret facial expressions, helps one overcome paranoia and can have positive effects on social interactions.
A specially trained PTSD service dog can provide an extra sense of security and have a calming effect on veterans, help with episodes of depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as being loving companions. These dogs can sense a PTSD veteran’s mood and will know when it’s a difficult day for their veteran, sometimes before the veteran may even fully realize their own emotional state. Additionally, these service dogs are trained by qualified organizations to respond to a PTSD episode and help bring their humans back to a relaxed and coherent state.
Experts agree that approximately 20% of veterans experience PTSD after their time serving on the front lines of the military no matter their branch of service. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as a mental health condition triggered by a terrifyingly traumatic event – either witnessing it or experiencing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks and nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts related to the event…and those are just a few of the symptoms and challenges veterans surviving with PTSD face each and every day.
From the VA, “Veterans with substantial mobility limitations associated with a mental health disorder, PTSD, for which a service dog has been identified as the optimal way to address the mobility impairment may be eligible for veterinary health benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative. A diagnosis of substantial mobility limitation indicates that most common life and work activities (i.e., leaving the house, or getting to medical appointments, using public transportation, etc.) are impaired or prevented for the person more than half the time. Under the Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative, this benefit has been offered for Veterans with a mental health condition. It provides comprehensive coverage for the canine’s health and wellness and any prescription medications necessary to enable the dog to perform its duties in service to the Veteran.”
While the VA does not pay for the adoption or purchase of a trained service dog, there are many organizations whose mission is to help veterans obtain and learn to work with these canine companions. The VA, however, does provide, for qualifying veterans living with PTSD, a Veterinary Health Benefit and equipment for the working life of the trained PTSD service dog. This benefit is administered via the Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service at [email protected] and once a veteran is approved they are directed to an ADI-accredited agency to apply for a service dog. The VA does NOT pay for grooming, boarding, food or other routine expenses associated with dog ownership.
Among the many reputable and amazing organizations dedicated to helping match veterans with highly-skilled service dogs, including specialized PTSD service dogs, is K9s for Warriors. K9s for Warriors rescues and trains shelter dogs to be paired as service dogs for warriors with service-connected PostTraumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual Trauma.The goal of their work is helping to end veteran suicide and return our nation’s brave veterans to a life of independence and dignity. They are the nation’s largest provider of service dogs for disabled American veterans. To date, the organization has rescued over 1,000 shelter dogs and paired them with over 600 veterans in need.
The non-profit organization provides PTSD service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to those participating in the program in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence. Their focus is on healing – helping the veteran and paired service dog build a bond to facilitate healing and recovery. As the healing takes place, the reintegration to society begins. Warriors can return to their communities with a new “leash” on life as productive citizens who make a positive difference. After completing their three-week training program the veterans have gained the emotional means to repair their relationship with themselves, their families and their friends.
Roughly 90% of their service dogs come from shelters or are owner-surrendered. Instead of a life of abandonment or euthanasia, they are given a new purpose. With each graduate pair, K9’s for Warriors save two lives; they rescue the dog, and the dog rescues the warrior.
Currently, K9’s for Warriors works exclusively with veterans disabled serving during or after 9/11/01. While the disability does not need to be combat related, applicants must have a verified, clinical diagnosis of PTSD, TBI, or MST to qualify for the program. At this time, K9s For Warriors does not provide Service Dogs to individuals who are legally blind or hearing impaired. They accept applications from all 50 states. Before being matched with their new PTSD service dog, applicants participate in a phone interview to assess their needs, discuss their lifestyle, work environment, personality and family. Veterans also must agree to a background check before acceptance into the program and meeting their dog. Experts working with the organization pair candidates with the service dog best suited for them. Veterans do not get to choose their dog nor supply their own dog to the K9s for Warriors for training.
Once accepted, the training program takes 21 days to complete. Veterans travel to one of the organization’s two campuses in Florida for the duration of the training. Since this is a full immersion program, veterans stay and have their meals at the campus. During this three week period humans and canines learn to work together and bond to each other in order to effectively mitigate the precise needs of the veteran.
PTSD service dogs can be specifically trained to calm their veteran when they are having a flashback or panic attack, use their bodies to prevent their veteran from feeling anxious and uncomfortable when out in society and alert them to sounds and lights that may go unnoticed when they are in the midst of an episode, like a smoke or house alarm.They can remind their veteran to take their medications, provide emotional support that may help lower instances of substance abuse and so much more. Many people, veterans living with PTSD, and otherwise find comfort in the unconditional love a dog provides and have an easier time allowing them to provide that comfort, companionship and assistance than with another person aiding them.
For more information about the K9’s for Warriors organization, visit https://www.k9sforwarriors.org/ .
Reflections on the Value of Being Military Friendly
Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
What does the term “military friendly” even mean? It wasn’t really a thing in the 80s. Not in the 90s, either. I seem to recall that it all started 10 or 15 years ago, this effort by organizations to be known as military-friendly to its customers. It’s kind of an ambiguous term, many times without much concrete detail…so it begs the question: what value does that term hold for those of us from the military community?
When we talk about a company or organization being military- or Veteran-friendly, it always seems like they fall into one of three groups: stores, schools, or employers. And while some of us get to feel the love from one of those groups just about every time we get out to run some errands, with the others we may not give it much thought if we aren’t a college student or working for some national, top-notch workforce. But let’s take a deeper dive into each of these groups, if only for a moment…
The stores. Being labeled as military-friendly in the retail environment almost always means that the store (brick and mortar or online) offers some kind of military discount. That discount usually falls in the neighborhood of 10 percent off, but there are certainly exceptions and caveats to that. Some stores offer those discounts all year long, some only on certain days of the week (Tuesdays seem to be the popular choice), and still others offer up their discounts only on major holidays, like Veterans Day or Memorial Day. Some offer their discounts only to those still actively serving, and others make their offer to both active and retired members of the US Armed Forces.
Examples abound of local, regional, and national companies that give 15-20% off, but then again, some cap it at 5%. Some companies offer up a ‘free shipping’ discount, and there’s even a cellular service provider (or two) that have a special rate plan for military folks.
Being eligible for the discount depends on the company, and sometimes it feels like we have to jump through many hoops to qualify. You may only have to show a copy of your military ID or DD-214, but some will require eligibility verification through platforms like ID.me, a service that simplifies how individuals securely prove and share their identity online (but even some brick and mortar stores require registration with them, too).
Long story short – whether you find yourself in your neighborhood big box store on a weekly basis or you only take advantage of 10% off a cup of coffee every now and then, you can save a tidy sum of money over the course of a year by ‘redeeming’ your military discount. And if you aren’t sure whether a place at which you’re doing business offers one, it doesn’t hurt to ask…some businesses don’t advertise the discount (I’m just not sure why they wouldn’t).
The schools. By that, I mean colleges and universities that offer certificate- and degree-producing programs, and there are variable criteria for them earning the military-friendly tag. After so many of us went back to college upon earning our GI Bill benefits in the 2000s and 2010s, and especially after the rash of school failures that left many student Veterans high and dry – there’s been a very concerted effort to set, measure, and publish standards for all of us to use in our “where should we study” decision making process.
Military Friendly ® is a group that does just that, by evaluating over 8,000 schools on benchmarks that measure an institution’s commitment to its student Veteran population in graduation rate, retention rate, loan default rate, and job placement rate. Check out their latest list of military-friendly schools here.
The workforce. This is a really subjective one, because how we feel about our places of work typically depend on much more than whether they meet a few military-related criteria. Perhaps the most well-known list of these employers also comes from Military Friendly ®. Just as they did for colleges and universities, the group organizes a yearly list of Military Friendly Companies and Military Spouse Friendly Employers.
If you work for a company that hasn’t “made the list,” what does that mean? Well, I doubt many of you will give notice and start the job search all over again, but it may make you look critically at how you can improve upon your employer’s culture. Most of the people who might find value in a list of military-friendly companies, though, are undoubtedly job-seekers, and I know more than a few over the years who have actively sought work with a verified, certified military- and Veteran-friendly employer.
National lists like those don’t account for many of the smaller, more local companies; if you’d still like to size up your own workplace, here are some things you might consider: Has the company taken on a specific hiring initiative? Do they reach out to separating Service members and Veterans Service Organizations, looking for job-seekers? Do they have an onboarding program specifically for those from the military community? Do they have Veterans groups in-house already? Do they welcome members of the National Guard and Reserve to their workforce, and keep their families close when deployments crop up? These ‘criteria’ aren’t from any official list, but they’re a good start…
At the end of the day, whether or not you find any substantive benefit from an organization claiming to be military-friendly, know that there’s still a ‘sea of goodwill’ out there. If it’s only to get a free meal on a national holiday, or 10% off my home improvement supplies, or to try and get on with an employer that really understands the military community…I appreciate the gesture, and I imagine most of you do, too.
What Veterans and their Spouses Need to Know about Life Insurance
Submitted by Veronica Baxter
Before separating from military service, there are some decisions you need to make regarding the financial future of your family. An individual life insurance policy may figure into those plans.
Prior to separating, you will have the option to provide that your spouse receive a portion of your military pension when you die. This is at significant cost, so be sure to weigh the benefits of provided for your surviving spouse against the loss of retirement income to pay for that.
If you are a war-time veteran, your surviving spouse and unmarried surviving children may be eligible for a modest Survivors Pension, also called a Death Pension.
This low-cost group term life insurance policy is available to active duty, active duty/inactive duty for training, and National Guardsman and Reservists. Upon separation from the military you have the opportunity to convert this policy to a either Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) or to an individual plan. Again, veterans should weigh the cost of converting this insurance with the potential benefit.
To convert the SGLI policy to VGLI, a veteran must take action within one year and 120 of discharge. If the veteran submits an application to convert within 240 days of discharge the insurer will not require any proof of insurability or take a medical exam.
Veterans’ survivors can receive thousands of dollars in tax-free payments if certain criteria is met:
Any veteran who is rated disabled qualifies for a Serivice-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) that provides life insurance coverage up to $10,000. Totally disabled veterans can have premiums waived and apply for an additional $30,000 in life insurance coverage, for which they must pay premiums.
For many veterans, private individual life insurance bridges the gap between what is available to their surviving spouse and children through the government, and what their surviving family needs to survive financially. Even if you and your family qualify for all available government financial assistance programs listed above, those benefits may still leave your family short.
For those who do not qualify for many of these benefits, for example, the surviving spouses who married veterans after they separated from the military, or for the surviving spouses of those who did not opt to convert their Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance to an individual plan, or for the surviving spouse of a veteran who was not disabled prior to death, a private individual life insurance policy may be the only remaining way a veterant can provide for his or her spouse.
Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance is a type of life insurance policy that pays benefits to the insured should he or she become accidentally injured, and death benefits to the insured’s named beneficiaries should the insured die accidentally or from injuries sustained in an accident.
AD&D insurance can be a stand-alone policy, in which case it is generally less expensive than traditional life insurance. AD&D insurance can also be a rider on an existing life insurance policy.
AD&D insurance can be valuable if a veteran later becomes disabled or dies due to injuries sustained in a non-service-related accident.
For veterans who do not qualify for whatever reason for government burial benefits, other types of insurance can cover funeral costs. These policies vary greatly among different insurance companies, but in general, the benefit is quite low, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
Burial insurance pays the benefit directly to the beneficiary and any amount left over after funeral and burial costs are paid may be used to pay other expenses, such as outstanding medical bills, etc.
PreNeed Funeral Insurance pays the benefit directly to the funeral service provider of the insured’s choice.
For members of the military and veterans, USAA offers terms from 10 to 30 years and can replace some or all of the life insurance coverage a veteran had under SGLI. USAA also offers a term life event option rider which permits veterans to increase coverage by up to $100,000 if he or she gets married, buys a house, or has a baby.
Veterans who are members of AAFMAA are eligible for up to $800,000 in term life insurance coverage. Term options available to veterans depend upon the age of the veteran and how long he or she needs life insurance coverage.
In conclusion, there are private sector insurance options that can make up for the gap in what amount funds your lifestyle now, and what amount will be available to your surviving family once you die. Consult an insurance agent in your area to explore your options, and get the peace of mind that comes with providing for your family’s financial future.
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She works frequently with Chad G. Boonswang, Esq., a life insurance attorney in Philadelphia.
Chapter 35 Benefits – The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program
Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
The Department of Veterans Affairs has plenty of great programs in place for Veterans and their families, and most of us have at least been briefed on these benefits or received a press release in the mail. That said, there are still VA programs that don’t get much press, but that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those who are eligible. The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, or DEA for short, is one such benefit.
Authorized by Chapter 35 of Title 38, U.S. Code, the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program is an education benefit that offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of two groups of Veterans: those who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or those who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
The rest of this post is intended to pass along answers to some of the most common questions the Department of Veterans Affairs receives, such as the types of training available, payment rates, how payments are received, eligibility rules, and more. As with most benefits programs, things change from time to time (what’s authorized, what you’ll need to do in what order, etc.) and there are often exceptions to some of the rules and regulations; visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/GIBILL/DEA.asp for the most current information available.
DEA Eligibility. You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:
…A Veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the Armed Forces.
…A Veteran who died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.
…A Servicemember missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
…A Servicemember forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
…A Servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability (effective Dec. 23, 2006.).
Additional notes on eligibility…
If you are a son or daughter and wish to receive benefits for attending school or job training, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26 (in certain instances, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26). Marriage is not a bar to this benefit. If you are in the Armed Forces, you may not receive this benefit while on active duty. To pursue training after military service, your discharge must not be under dishonorable conditions. VA can extend your period of eligibility by the number of months and days equal to the time spent on active duty. Typically, this extension cannot go beyond your 31st birthday, but there are some exceptions.
If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the Veteran. If VA rated the Veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of three years from discharge, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating. For surviving spouses of Servicemembers who died on active duty, benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
Types of Assistance with DEA. Benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. The benefit provides a monthly payment to help cover the cost of getting a High School Diploma or GED; taking College, Business, Technical or Vocational Courses; completing Independent Study or Distance Learning courses; taking Correspondence Courses (Spouses Only); Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training; Remedial, Deficiency, and Refresher Training (in some cases); and paying for the cost of tests for licenses or certifications needed to get, keep, or advance in a job.
You may receive up to 45 months of education benefits, if you began using the program before August 1, 2018. If you began your program on August 1, 2018 or after, you have 36 months to use your benefits. Effective Oct. 1, 2013, some DEA beneficiaries may be eligible for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they use the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance program in conjunction with an entitlement from other VA education programs.
How much does the VA pay for this benefit? The amount the VA pays is based on the type of training program and training time (i.e. full-time, half-time, etc.). Benefits are paid monthly and in arrears, and if attendance is less than a month or less than full-time, payments are reduced proportionately. View current payment rates at
How to apply for your DEA benefit. To apply, take these steps (which vary, depending on your situation):
…Make sure that your selected program is approved for VA training. Take a look at their GI Bill Comparison Tool for more information. VA can inform you and the school or company about the requirements.
…You can apply online or by completing VA Form 22-5490, Dependents Application for VA Education Benefits. Send it to the VA regional processing office with jurisdiction over the state where you will advance your education and training. If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application. If you are eligible for both DEA and Fry, you will be required to make an irrevocable election unless you are a child of a Servicemember who died in the line-of-duty prior to August 1, 2011.
…If you have started your educational program, take your application to your school or employer. Ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification, and send both forms to VA. (Note: Schools must contact their VA representative to receive this form.)
While we’ve tried to pass along just some basic information about the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program to help increase awareness, there is so much more detail to DEA that will affect and impact how it might benefit any given Survivor or Dependent that chooses to use it. I’ll reiterate that details of programs like this change quite often…please check with the Department of Veterans Affairs for the latest details about the benefits you have coming to you.
Until next time…