Short-timer? Plan your post-service benefits
If you’re about to leave the service, there are a number of transition services you need to know about. Your biggest issue will be timing.
Wherever you’re stationed, there is a benefits adviser available, as well as a Transition Assistance Program (TAP) manager. Their job is to help you through the process and make sure no stone is left unturned in getting you the benefits you need once you’re out.
As a first step, to learn about all the benefits and services available to you, go online (www.benefits.va.gov/TAP/) and select either Active Duty or National Guard/ Reserve. Both will take you to a page with your benefits listed.
Don’t miss out on the Pre-Discharge benefits if you’re active duty and eligible for those. Starting 180 days before separation or retirement, you can submit a claim for disability compensation. It will take a minimum of 90 days to get you organized with that so it’s all in place by the time you’re out. You’ll need VA Form 21-526EZ and your medical records. Read all of the details on this page so you don’t miss anything. Mark important dates on a calendar — it’s that critical that you don’t miss deadlines.
The other benefits listed include health care, education, home loans (including refinance and interest-rate reduction), insurance and vocational rehab, and employment. In addition, career counseling and fiduciary services are available.
Spouses aren’t being left out. They are encouraged to go to the benefits briefing, add their input and ask questions. In fact, many of the advisers are either veterans or military spouses. They’ll know how to help you.
You’ve earned these benefits. Whatever your situation, don’t miss out on the benefits briefings. If you can’t get to a TAP meeting, the information can be accessed at the link above. Scroll down to select the agency.