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How long do you have to be in the US Army to claim VA benefits?

Generally, veterans are required to have completed a minimum period of 2 years, or 24 months in military service. However, here are VA benefits and their duration-in-services expectations.

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According to the rule effected on October 16, 1981, a minimum period of 2 years or 24 months in the military is required to claim most veterans benefits. 

However, some benefits like the Disability Compensation, and the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), are exceptions to the 24-months-rule.

Despite the general rule, each VA benefit may have different durations of service in their eligibility criteria.

Different VA benefits and their “Duration in Service” eligibility criteria 

Veteran Housing Benefit 

This is a government-backed loan for buying, building, improving or refinancing the home as a veteran, military retiree, current and former member of the National Guard or reserve. These loans offer better terms as they are partly guaranteed by the VA. However, you still need to meet the lender’s income and credit criteria before being eligible.

“Duration in Service” Eligibility: veterans must serve for at least 24 months and must have been discharged honorably.

About 90% of these housing loans do not require down payment as they are VA backed. Veterans who are Native Americans are also eligible to get a loan directly through the Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program. To get a VA loan, you must first apply for a home loan Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to present to your mortgage lender.

Veterans Education Benefits 

The GI Bill

This benefit is to help active and separated service members get education and skills for a better life. If qualified for full benefits, the Bill covers tuition and fees at public colleges and universities at the resident rate. 

Depending on the eligibility level, the Bill provides the following benefits; 

  • College tuition and fee costs
  • A monthly housing allowance 
  • A stipend for textbooks and supplies 

“Duration in Service” Eligibility: at least 36 months of continuous active service is needed to qualify for 100% benefits. Active duty members with six years of service and Purple Heart recipient, may transfer their benefits to a dependent.

Additional Education Benefits Includes:

  • Transferring GI Bill benefits 
  • Job training for veterans 
  • Veterans readiness & Employment 
  • Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA)

Veterans Disability Compensation 

This compensation is offered to those with service-related disabilities. Veterans who got sick on duty or injured in the military or those whose duties worsened their existing conditions, receive tax-free payment. The disability compensation ranges from $152 per month for veterans with 10% disability to $3,952 per month for a veteran with 100% disability (a total disablement that prevents the person from ever working again) or veterans with a spouse, two dependent parents and a child. 

“Duration in Service” Eligibility: the duration in service is not an eligibility factor in disability as veterans who are sick or injured can be qualified for these benefits.

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