The most popular veterans benefits don’t expire

While some people may think that the veterans benefits they have earned from military service could evaporate or disappear, this is inaccurate. The most popular veteran benefits have no expiration date. You can apply at any point and are not time-bound.

The three most popular veterans benefits are: disability compensation, home loan guaranty and education/G.I. Bill.

For these benefits, there are important dates to remember. If you miss those dates, you may be inconvenienced, but these benefits are still available, providing you qualify.

Paul Lawrence.

Disability
Disability compensation is a tax-free monthly payment based on an injury or disability that occurred during service. A veteran completes an application, referred to as a claim. Accompanying this claim is information about their service and medical conditions. The Department of Veterans Affairs evaluates the claim and grants or denies benefits.

A disability compensation claim can be filed as early as 180 days prior to completion of active duty and throughout the remainder of a veteran’s life. In short, there is no expiration date for disability compensation.

Many veterans file multiple claims throughout their lives as new conditions are identified or previously identified conditions worsen. This is called a claim for an increase. There is no limit on how often this can be done.

There are two important dates to keep in mind relative to disability compensation.

The first concerns the Intent to File. In advance of actually applying for disability compensation, you can complete an Intent to File form. This tells the VA you will file in the next year and preserves the effective day (i.e., the date on which benefits will begin).

For example, a veteran completes an Intent to File form establishing Feb. 1, 2024, as his/her effective date. After collecting all the needed information and forms, benefits are granted on December 1, 2024. The first payment would include a retroactive payment reflecting the intent to file date of Feb. 1.

You can get assistance with your VA claim for no cost from an accredited representative like your county veterans service officer, or an accredited veterans service organization, such as the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, or the VFW.

Home Loan Guaranty
Home Loan Guaranty allows Veterans to purchase a home with no money down. This is a tremendous advantage over our civilian counterparts, who must save for a down payment prior to purchasing a home. Subject to restrictions, this can even be used to purchase a mobile home or farm residence.

There is no time restriction on this benefit. It can be used repeatedly by veterans as they move and purchase new homes.

Education/G.I. Bill
Education/G.I. Bill benefits are significant for veterans. Serve for three years and you can earn four years of free college. It can also be used for high-tech apprenticeships, advanced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math training, and credentials and certificates.

In 2017, a new law, often known as the Forever G.I. Bill, was introduced. If your service ended on or after Jan. 1, 2013, this benefit will never expire.

If your service ended prior to Jan. 1, 2013, you still could qualify for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill or the  Montgomery G.I. Bill for active duty or reservists. Each of these has an expiration date, so check those dates carefully at VA.gov.

Veterans benefits are an important part of the rewards for military service and you can apply at VA.gov. The best time to learn about your benefits is well before applying for them. But remember, it’s never too late to start, and some of the most popular veterans benefits never expire.

About Paul R. Lawrence
Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., served as Under Secretary for Benefits at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from May 2018 to January 2021. He is the author of “Veterans Benefits for You: Get what You Deserve,” published in 2023.