Information about VA health benefits. Find out who is eligible, what the difference is between priority groups, and how to apply for VA health care.

What types of health care benefits are offered by the VA?

The VA system offers basic health care benefits, including annual examinations, health education, immunizations, counseling on genetic diseases, clinic visits to monitor ongoing conditions, and visits for episodic illnesses like colds, flu, etc. The VA also offers screening exams that are gender specific like mammograms, prostate exams, etc. The specific exams available at your local VA may vary from one VA facility to another.

The VA also offers inpatient services like surgeries, inpatient medical treatment, kidney dialysis, acute hospital care and post-operative care. If you need an organ transplant, intensive care for a mental illness, or specialized care for a traumatic injury, the VA may send you to another facility if your local VA hospital does not provide that service.

Some VA facilities offer urgent care and emergency department services. There is usually a walk-in clinic for episodic illnesses, wound care, and minor injuries. The VA also offers prescription service through its pharmacies when your VA doctor writes a prescription. It may also fill prescriptions written by non-VA physicians if the following are true:

Who is eligible for VA Health Care Benefits?

Any individual who has served in the active military and is no longer in the service may be eligible for health benefits. Current and former members of the Army Reserve and National Guard who were called into duty by a federal order and completed their full period of service may also be eligible (training duty does not count).

Those who do not qualify are:

Minimum Duty Requirements

If you enlisted after September 7, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16, 1981 must have served 24 consecutive months, unless:

There may be other exceptions to this rule, so the VA encourages all service members to apply.

What documents will I need to use to apply for health care?

You will need to gather the following documents for your application:

How do I apply for VA health care benefits?

Once you figure out if you are eligible and gathered the necessary documents, there are multiple ways you can apply for health care benefits.

Online on the VA website

Call (877) 222-8387 (8:00am to 8:00pm EST)

Visit your local VA office

Apply by mail by filling out Form 10-10EZ and mailing it to:

Health Eligibility Center

2957 Clairmont Rd., Suite 20

Atlanta, GA 30329

After you apply, you will be placed into a priority group to determine where you are in line for health care benefits.

What are VA "priority groups"?

When you apply for VA health benefits, the VA examines your application and assigns you to one of eight priority groups. This priority system is designed to make sure that the veterans who most urgently need care receive it without delay.

Your assigned priority group will decide:

  1. How soon you can be signed up and accepted for care, and
  2. What you will be charged, if anything, for the cost of care you receive.

How are priority groups assigned?

Priority groups are assigned based on the following factors:

Veterans with a service-connected disability receive the highest priority for care and veterans with higher incomes, who do not have a service-connected disability receive lower priority. If a veteran qualifies for more than one priority group, the VA will use the higher of the two groups.

What are the eight priority groups?

Priority Group One

Priority Group Two

Priority Group Three

Priority Group Four

Priority Group Five

Priority Group Six

You may also qualify for group six if all of the following are true:

Priority Group Seven

Priority Group Eight

Can a priority group change?

Yes, if your service-connected disability becomes worse or if your income decreases, your priority group may change.

Enhanced Eligibility

o    Prisoners of War

o    Purple Heart Medal  Recipients

o    Medal of Honor Recipients

o    Have a compensable VA awarded service connected disability of 10% or more

o    Discharged due to disability, early out, or hardship

o    Served in Theatre of Operation 5 years post discharge

o    Served in Republic of Vietnam from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975

o    Served in Persian Gulf from August 2, 1990 to November 11, 1998

o    Stationed or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987

o    Found by VA to be Catastrophically Disabled

o    Previous years’ household income is below VA’s National Income or Geographical-Adjusted Thresholds.