In the effort to continually make access to benefits easier for veterans, the eBenefits website has grown to be a useful tool for many of today’s veterans. The website was originally created in response to the “Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal.” In 2007, the Washington Post published a series of articles describing the conditions, management, and bureaucracy at Walter Reed and exposing the difficulties many recent war veterans faced in getting care. President George W. Bush responded by appointing an investigative commission who recommended the eBenefits portal. At the time, the website was conceived for wounded veterans and their spouses and families to access care.
These days eBenefits is so valuable that all new recruits are automatically enrolled. In 2009 Robert Reynolds, director of the Veterans Administration Benefits Assistance Service, saw the need to create access to a wide range of benefits for veterans, including the VA Aid & Attendance Non-Service Connected Disability Pension, and the GI Bill. He thought that if wounded veterans could be benefitted by the system, there was no reason it couldn’t be used to benefit all personnel. With enrollment in the program, you can track pension payments, receive correspondence, and learn about other programs for which you may be eligible. Additionally, the website attempts to streamline the application process by preventing errors with auto-fill.
Activating your account and familiarizing yourself with the website may help you with your planning for benefit eligibility as well. For example, the website will keep track of your military personnel records. Family members may also enroll, providing access to necessary records when benefits are claimed on behalf of a spouse. The website is continuing to expand its functionality; by next year military medical records should be accessible through the service. Additionally, the system should alert you when you become eligible or are about to become ineligible for benefits based on your age or your status.
For recent retirees, it may be beneficial to create your account; for active-duty personnel, an account will be required within the next year. Your account will give you access to automatically generated eligibility letters and will include some limited mobile access like a directory of local VA and Defense installations and other popular features. Over time, many of the routine benefits available to military personnel, retirees, and veterans should not require much bureaucracy or paperwork for service. Other benefits, such as Aid & Attendance, which are means-tested will still require a process in order to determine eligibility.
As the use of eBenefits becomes more widespread, the process of obtaining benefits should be easier and run more smoothly. The website can also be an effective tool to store your wishes for other estate planning purposes, such as your Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD) and allows for permissions for these purposes. Speaking with a qualified VA accredited attorney can help you determine whether you qualify for benefits, such as Aid & Attendance, whether you require advance planning for such programs, and how the eBenefits portal can help you and your family apply for, obtain, and manage your benefits.
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