Recent Legislative Changes Affect Veteran Benefits

Whenever there is a change in administration, veterans are naturally concerned with what the changes could mean for them, especially with regards to veteran benefits. We’ve put together a round-up of legislative changes since President Trump took office that affect veteran benefits.

Related: Aid and Attendance- A Benefit for Veterans Who Need Extra Support

The Trump Administration - Which Legislative Changes Affect Veteran Benefits The Most? 1

There Have Been Improvements To Educational Benefits

President Trump signed into law a piece of legislation called “The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017”, also known as the Forever GI Bill. The bill makes some changes to the ways that veterans can access education:

  • There’s no longer an expiration date. Any veteran who left the military after 1 January 2013 can access educational benefits. (There was previously a cut-off date.)
  • Veterans studying in science, technology, engineering or math can now apply for an extra year of funding. This is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The Yellow Ribbon program, where schools split the cost of education with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)  to reduce the amount students need to pay, is being extended to include more veterans, plus surviving spouses and children.
  • Purple Heart recipients (those wounded in active service) no longer need a 36 month service record to qualify for full educational benefits.
  • Veterans will see a rise in what they’re entitled to based on length of duty. Vets who served more than 90 days but less than six months' active service now qualify for 50% of GI bill benefits instead of 40%.
  • There is an increase in benefits for veterans’ spouses, with new legislation meaning some benefits can now be extended to surviving spouses or children.
  • Vets now have more flexibility in how they distribute their educational benefits for use by their surviving spouse or children in the event of their death.

For older vets who want to make use of benefits to get extra education, these changes make education a little easier on the wallet.

Related: Are you a victim of the latest data breach? Get protected today.

New Veterans Benefits will help with education, access to medical care, benefit appeals and more.

The VA Now Has More Power To Fire Failed Employees

Many vets and their caregivers will remember the CNN investigations into VA hospitals back in 2013 and 2014. The country was horrified to learn about veteran deaths due to incompetence and delays. New legislation signed by Trump gives the VA greater powers to fire incompetent employees. There is also greater protection for whistleblowers, making it easier for staff to come forward.

For older vets in need of medical care, this could have a positive impact on the quality of care they can expect to receive.

Veterans Choice Makes Care In The Community A Reality

The Veterans Choice Program has made it possible for veterans to access the medical care they need right in their community, instead of having to wait or travel to a VA facility.

To qualify, veterans must be be enrolled in VA healthcare and meet at least one of these criteria:

  • Live at least 40 miles from a VA facility
  • Need to travel by air, boat or ferry to reach their nearest VA facility
  • Live in a state or territory that doesn’t have a full-service VA facility
  • Face an extensive financial, physical or emotional burden in order to reach their nearest VA facility
  • Face a wait of 30 days or more for an appointment at a VA facility

Appealing Veterans’ Benefits Decisions Is Easier

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 makes it much easier for veterans to appeal benefits decisions. Veterans who are unhappy with their disability rating can now follow one of three courses of action:

  • Seek a higher-level review at their regional claims office
  • File a supplemental claim, including additional evidence to back up their appeal
  • Appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals for an expedited review of their case

The aim of the new law is to make the appeals process faster for veterans. Under the previous law, decisions could take up to five years, causing distress to veterans in need of benefits. Veterans who are already registered on the old system can also transfer to the new appeals system.

There are some significant changes here, which will hopefully mean easier access to veteran benefits, education and healthcare. For help with application for VA benefits, or to find out which benefits you or a loved one can claim, you can call the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000.


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  1. I have documentation from Iraq that shows that my team and I were exposed to sarin nerve gas in the liquid state. The memo was was recently declassified. The original signature shows it came from the desk of Condoleezza Rice. In total there were over 100 names listed in the memo. I was informed that the memo was sent out to everyone that was named on the list. Just trying to contact anyone who may have had any physical issues that are unexplained.
  2. How can I show that the army may have started my back problems I was a medic in the army and received treatment from the doctor I worked with therefore it not in my medical records
  4. hello I am a service connected veteran and have asked with no reply yet can the senate and congress contact the va and ask them to review what I believe is a outdated rating system to incress it to at least a 3percent upgrade if you agree with me please contact your congress and senate thank you
  5. Why can’t a 100% SC Disabled Veteran receive education benefits for them or their children. This benefit was extended to Purple Heart recipients, but not 100% SC disabled vets.
  6. Why can’t a 100% p&t service-connected disabled vets get a insurance card (CHAMPVA) like their spouses? One is run by the DOD and the other one is run by the VA. The veteran has call the VA to get authorization approved by the VA. The veteran has to get his medications approved by the VA and has to call all sorts of phone numbers to get these authorizations accomplished . Where his out-of-network doctors doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. IT’S ridiculous. Spouse goes in shows a ChampVA card everything is taken care of no questions asked! The veteran who has multiple problems has to contact multiple offices while waiting on hold or wait for callbacks Etc. JUST TO SEE A PRIVATE DOCTOR! Once you’re a hundred percent you get a DOD ID card so you can go to any military base. WHAT is the difference in getting an insurance card like your spouse???
    1. We are have the same issues. My husband has lung cancer service connected and the VA oncologist approved chemo and radiation in our community but won’t approve any follow up care. So to continue treatment protocol we will have to drive 140 miles round trip to see VA. Seems the doctors who know your case should be seeing you for continuity of care. Makes no sense for
  7. Thanks for pointing out that there’s no longer an expiration date on education benefits for veterans, so anyone who left after January 2013 has access to them. My brother was in the military, but failed to take advantage of the education benefits before they expired. I’ll give him a call and see if he knows there’s no longer an expiration date!

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