If you’re a veteran or an active duty service member transitioning to civilian life, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a range of benefits and services for your healthcare needs.
In this veteran benefit guide, we’ll take a closer look at the VA priority groups, what they mean, and how they can affect your eligibility for VA benefits.
What Are Veteran Affairs Priority Groups?
VA Priority groups are a system the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses to categorize and prioritize the healthcare services and benefits veterans are eligible for.
A VA Priority Group is individually based on the severity of a veteran’s service-connected disability, income level, and other VA disability rates.
A veteran assigned to higher Priority Groups can access a wider range of VA benefits.
Why Does the VA Have Different Groupings?
Priority groups help determine which veterans most need the VA health care program and long-term care.
For example, veterans with service-connected disabilities are often given higher priority for VA health care as they may have ongoing medical needs related to their service-connected disabilities.
Veterans and active duty members with higher disability ratings are often given priority over those with lower ratings.
Similarly, veterans experiencing financial hardship or limited access to other healthcare options may be given higher priority for VA healthcare services.
Who Is Counted as Priority One?
Priority Group 1 veterans and active duty members are given the highest priority. They are eligible for disability compensation, employment services, and housing assistance, depending on their income level.
They may also receive priority access to certain medical benefits, such as prosthetics, orthotics, and rehabilitation.
What Benefits Do Priority Disability Groups Receive?
The health care benefits and services available to priority disability groups depend on the disability’s severity, their income level, and their military service history.
Some of the benefits that may be available to veterans in priority disability groups include:
- VA Disability Compensation
- VA Health Care
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)
- Home Loan Guaranty
- Education and Training
- Adaptive Housing
Veterans members are encouraged to contact the VA directly to determine their eligibility and for benefits and services enrollment.
How Many Priority Groups Are There?
There are eight priority groups established by the Department of Veterans Affairs, namely:
- Priority Group 1: Includes veterans who have service-connected disabilities that are 50% or more debilitating or who are deemed unemployed as a result of their disabilities.
- Priority Group 2: Includes veterans with service-connected impairments that are 30% or 40% debilitating
- Priority Group 3: Veterans with 10% or 20% debilitating service-connected disabilities.
- Priority Group 4: Includes veterans who get housebound benefits as well as aid or attendance from the VA
- Priority Group 5: Includes veterans whose conditions are not service-related, those who have a service-connected disability rated 0% disabling, who are in receipt of pension benefits provided by the VA, or who are qualified to receive Medicaid benefits
- Priority Group 6: Includes service-connected veterans with 0% compensation; World War II veterans; veterans who participated in Vietnam from January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975; and those who were exposed to ionizing radiation while conducting air tests or during the situation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Priority Group 7: Includes veterans involved in the Persian Gulf War or after a military operation on November 11, 1998, and those who have not yet enrolled in the VA health care system
- Priority Group 8: Includes veterans with a certain income level who are okay with paying copays and/or have net wealth greater than the VA national criteria and those who do not otherwise fit into a higher priority group
Contact your local provider to identify which priority group you belong to.
What Is Different About Priority One Benefits?
Priority Group 1 is the highest priority group established by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans in this priority group receive the most comprehensive benefits and services, which may include:
- Full VA Health Care: This includes the full range of VA health care services, including primary care, specialty care, mental health care, and other medical services.
- Priority Access to Care: Veterans in Priority 1 may receive appointments sooner than veterans in other priority groups.
- Copayments: Veterans in Priority Group 1 do not have to pay copayments for VA health care services or medications.
- VA Disability Compensation: Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for VA disability compensation based on their service-connected disability rating.
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E): Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for VR&E services to help them overcome barriers to employment due to their service-connected disabilities.
- Housing Assistance: Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for VA housing assistance, including home modifications and adaptations grants.
- Education and Training: Veterans in Priority Group 1 may be eligible for education and training benefits, including tuition assistance, college and vocational training programs, and other educational support.
It’s always best to seek professional advice to assess better the benefits you are eligible for.
Do You Need To Apply Differently If Your Disability Has a High Rating?
In most cases, you do not need to apply differently for benefits and services based on the severity of your disability rating and income level.
However, you may need to provide additional documentation to support your claim for eligibility, depending on the specific benefits and services you seek.
For instance, if you are applying for PTSD VA rating disability compensation, you must provide medical evidence of your mental disability and its relationship to your military service.
The VA will generally review your application as long as you fill out a VA form. If you are eligible, you will be assigned to the appropriate priority group based on the criteria presented by the VA.
Can Disability Rating Change?
Yes, disability ratings can change over time.
If a veteran’s medical condition improves or worsens, the VA may adjust the veteran’s disability rating. This could result in an increase, decrease, or no change in the compensation and benefits the veteran is receiving.
Veterans can also request a review of their disability rating if they believe it is incorrect.
They can work with a VA representative or an accredited representative from a Veterans Service Organization to file an appeal.
How Can Trajector Help Me?
Trajector can support you as you navigate the complex process of obtaining disability benefits.
We will guide you through submitting your disability benefit application, ensuring that you provide all the necessary information and documentation required.
We can help you understand how to maximize your disability benefits, including accessing other programs and services available to you.