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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a broad range of benefits to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and to certain members of their families. Among these benefits are various types of financial assistance, including monthly cash payments to disabled veterans, health care, education, and housing. Certain criteria must be met to be eligible to receive any of the benefits administered by the VA.

This report focuses on basic eligibility and entitlement requirements for former servicemembers for benefits administered by the VA. Certain VA benefits are available to current servicemembers, and the eligibility requirements for those benefits are not a component of this report.

The VA uses a two-step process to evaluate claims for benefits. First, the claimant must demonstrate eligibility for veterans’ benefits in general. That is, the claimant must prove that he or she is a bona fide veteran and verify certain related matters. Second, the veteran must prove entitlement to the particular benefit being sought.


Suggested Citation
Szymendera, S. D. (2015). Who Is a “veteran”? — Basic eligibility for veterans’ benefits (CRS Report R42324). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.