Cheat Sheet

Veterans Benefits For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Veterans Benefits For Dummies

By Rod Powers

There are many benefits available to those who have served our country and the loved ones of those veterans. However, deciphering what those benefits are, as well as how and where they can be used, can be a difficult task on a good day. You don’t need a lawyer to lay it all out for you. You just need to know where to look. No more needless frustration!

Qualifying for Your Military ID Card

It can sometimes be difficult to know who qualifies for veterans benefits. ID cards are issued for other military benefits, including shopping, travel and Tricare. Here is a list of basic qualifications:

  • Military members on active duty.

  • Members of the active (drilling) National Guard or Reserves.

  • Retired active-duty members. Active-duty members can retire after performing at least 20 years of active-duty service.

  • Retired National Guard and Reserve members who are receiving retired pay.

  • Veterans who have received the Medal of Honor.

  • Honorably discharged veterans who have been rated as 100 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) due to a service-related injury.

  • Dependents of those listed here. Dependents include a veteran’s spouse and children.

Exceptions for former spouses

In most cases of divorce between a military member and his spouse, the nonmilitary spouse will lose her ID card and privileges, with two exceptions, known as the “20/20/20” rule and the “10/20/10” rule.

Surviving family members

Under certain conditions, surviving family members of deceased military personnel are authorized to retain their ID cards:

  • Members who died while on active duty under orders that specified a period of duty of more than 30 days or members who died while in a retired-with-pay status.

  • National Guard and Reserve members who died from an injury or illness that happened or was aggravated while on active duty for a period of 30 days or less.

  • National Guard and Reserve members who qualified for retirement and were receiving retirement pay.

  • National Guard and Reserve members who qualified for retirement, but weren’t receiving pay because they hadn’t reached age 60.

  • Honorably discharged veterans rated by the VA as 100 percent disabled because of a service-connected injury or disease.

  • Medal of Honor recipients.

Where You Can Put the GI Bill to Use

You can use your GI Bill benefits to pay for almost any education program that leads to an accredited college degree or to an occupational objective. The programs listed here are examples of the types of approved training programs for which GI Bill benefits are payable.

  • An undergraduate or graduate degree at a college or university, including

    • An accredited independent study program (which may be offered through distance education) leading to a standard college degree.

    • A cooperative (co-op) training program (a full-time program alternating school instruction and job training in a business or industrial establishment).

  • A certificate or diploma from a business, technical, or vocational school, including co-op programs.

  • An accredited independent study course leading to a certificate from a college, university, or other degree-granting educational institution.

  • An apprenticeship or on-job training (OJT) program offered by a company or union. Apprenticeships or OJT programs offer an alternative to college or vocational school for helping you gain experience in the field you choose.

  • A correspondence course.

  • Flight training. You must have a private pilot certificate and meet the medical requirements for the desired certificate when you begin training.

  • Programs overseas that lead to a college degree.

Where You Can’t Use the G.I. Bill

The GI Bills can be used to pay for a variety of education and training programs, but there are restrictions on where or how the benefits can be used. You may not receive benefits for the following courses:

  • Bartending and personality development courses.

  • Nonaccredited independent study courses.

  • Any course given by radio.

  • Self-improvement courses such as reading, speaking, woodworking, basic seamanship, and English as a second language.

  • Farm cooperative courses.

  • Audited courses.

  • Courses paid in whole or in part by the military tuition assistance or other armed forces program.

  • Courses that are recreational in character.

  • Courses that don’t lead to an educational, professional, or vocational objective.

  • Courses you’ve taken before and successfully completed.

  • Courses you take as a federal employee under the Government Employees’ Training Act.