The VA Medical Center in Minneapolis.

The VA Medical Center in Minneapolis.

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Combat Vets Now Can File For VA Health Benefits Over the Phone

All other vets can call in their applications beginning July 5.

Combat veterans now can apply for health care at the Veterans Affairs Department by telephone, in addition to the existing paper and online application options.

The VA hopes that the new option, which will be available to all veterans starting July 5, will expedite processing of health care applications and make it easier for vets to obtain benefits and services more quickly, according to an interim final rule published March 16 in the Federal Register

Veterans would provide application information to a VA employee over the phone “agreeing to VA's provisions regarding co-payment liability and assignment of third-party insurance benefits, and attesting to the accuracy and authenticity of the information,” the rule said. 

The department is prioritizing the pending health care applications of 31,000 combat veterans, working to get them enrolled now through early summer over the phone. The change immediately takes effect for vets “who served in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, and were discharged or released from active service on or after Jan. 28, 2003,” the rule in the Federal Register said. On July 5, the department will allow all vets to submit health care applications over the phone.

“Our analysis of our current application process convinced me we could enroll veterans more quickly using this method, particularly combat veterans and those who are transitioning from active duty to veteran status,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. The phased implementation is part of the department’s Veterans Enrollment Rework Project. “The VA is working to complete the review and rework of all pending health enrollment records for living and deceased veterans this summer,” said a statement from the department.

Adding a telephonic option gives veterans three ways to apply for health benefits. Veterans also can apply for health care online, or by submitting VA Form 10-10EZ through the mail.

For more information, vets can call the department toll-free at 1-855-488-8440.