We are here to help those who are in transition and may be facing additional challenges and stressors during the pandemic.
Despite the current environment, all of VA, including the call center, benefits advisors and those processing claims are working to meet the needs of Veterans to prevent disruption as much as possible.
Programs like Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and other in-person services can be accessed virtually or by phone. Through the Solid Start Program, VA will be following-up with every Veteran in the first 90 days, at six months, and one year after separation to ensure each Veteran has access to key information and resources. Solid Start can be accessed by phone at 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387).
Additionally, VA is updating content and offerings to provide critical information in this new environment and promoting materials and resources through VA’s website and social media channels. You can follow us on Facebook @VeteransBenefits and Twitter @VAVetBenefits.
All regional officers have been temporarily closed to the public and have stopped in-person appointments. However, we’re using virtual services to hold appointments by telephone or online video though VA Video Connect or other approved video meeting tools. Please work with your VA representative to reschedule appointments. If you have questions, you can also call us at 1-800- 827-1000. We’re open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.
In order to keep Veterans and service members safe, VA cancelled in-person TAP events and on-site activities on March 30, 2020. You can access the VA Transition Assistance Program online. Additionally, all VA Benefits and Services courses are available through Joint Knowledge Online (JKO). In addition, VA Military Life Cycle (MLC) modules are also available on the JKO platform.
If you need to request one-on-one service member support, it should be routed through TAP Managers, who will then contact VA TAP Regional Transition Liaison.
VA will continue processing all benefit payments as normal. Benefits payments include payments for disability, pension, education payments to your school, and more. View your VA benefits payment history.
No, there will be no changes to GI benefits. On March 21, President Trump signed into law a bill, S. 3503, which enables VA to continue providing the same level of education benefits to students who must now take courses online due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The law gives VA temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments, uninterrupted, in the event of national emergencies, allowing for continued payment of benefits even if the program has changed from resident training to online training.
GI Bill students will continue receiving the same monthly housing allowance payments they received for resident training until Dec. 21, or until the school resumes in-person classes, whichever comes first. Students receiving GI Bill benefits are not required to take any action; their benefits will continue automatically. VA is working with schools to ensure enrollments are accurately certified and processed. Updates will be provided to students via direct email and social media regarding VA’s effort to implement any new changes. Students with specific questions can contact the Education Call Center at: 1-888-442-4551 Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. ET.
6. For Veterans who are getting GI Bill benefits and are currently trying to enroll in classes that are now virtual, will the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate be affected if they were not already enrolled prior to COVID?
The Public Law (116-128) allows VA to pay education benefits although a GI Bill beneficiary’s program has changed from resident training to online training. Additionally, all students will continue to receive the same monthly housing allowance payments that they received for resident training until 12/21/20, or until the school resumes normal operations of resident training.
As long as those programs changed modality to online due to COVID-19, Veterans would receive the resident rate. Otherwise, Veterans will receive the Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) for online training, which is half the national rate ($894.50 for full rate of pursuit).
The new law applies equally to current and new students enrolled in the converted courses.
Yes, some Veterans may be able to file for unemployment. By federal law, certain members of the military can get Unemployment Compensation (sometimes called the “UCX Program”) based on their active duty services. The program provides weekly income to service members as they look for work, including those who can only find part-time work. While it is based on a federal law, the program is run by each state, and each state may have different rules about eligibility.
To file an unemployment claim, contact your state workforce agency as soon as possible after your discharge. You can find yours by going to the Career One Stop website and selecting your state. It may be helpful to have a copy of your service and discharge documents, such as your DD-214 or similar form, when you open your claim.
Additionally, you must have been separated under honorable conditions to qualify. There is no payroll deduction from service members' wages for unemployment insurance protection. Benefits are paid for by the various branches of the military.
There are several ways to submit a claim without going to a VA office. You can get started online, by phone, or by mail. The claims phone number is 1-800-827-1000 and lines are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. ET.
If you are working with a VSO on your claim, they may already be able to directly upload documents using their VA PIV card. To find a VSO who can help you navigate filing a claim, go to VA.gov and search “help filing a claim” which will take you to this website that explains what a VSO is and how to find one in your area.
If you haven’t filed a claim yet, you can get assistance submitting your “Intent to File (ITF)” VA Form 21-0966 online, by phone (1-800-827-1000) or mail.
The mailing address is:
The fax number is 844.531.7818.
There are several monetary, tax-free compensation benefits that many Veterans and transitioning service members may be eligible for.
To find out more, go to VA.gov and search “Compensation” or go to VA’s Compensation page which explains these benefits, eligibility, and what you need to file a claim.
Many states also offer some form of cash assistance, but it varies by state. Veterans and transitioning service members can check with their state Veterans affairs offices. You can easily access your state's VA website at www.va.gov/statedva.htm.
11. How can transitioning Veterans and service members with a service-connected disability who need to work with the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program get set up for counseling and support?
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Chapter 31 Services have shifted from in-person counseling session to tele-counseling, allowing Veterans to meet with counselors virtually through VA Video Connect, accessible on any web-enabled device with a webcam and microphone. Tele-counseling is being provided as the recommended method for conducting initial evaluations, and for case management appointments to include job placement assistance and educational counseling.
Eligible transitioning service members, and Veterans without a service-connected disability, can access the Personalized Career Planning & Guidance Program, also known as Chapter 36, through tele-counseling. Chapter 36 counseling will provide assistance deciding which civilian or military jobs you may be eligible for, assistance finding a training program or a job, and academic or adjustment counseling to help you manage any difficulties that may get in the way of securing employment or training.
Regional officers should reach out to set up alternative methods to conduct orientation with Veterans and claimants. Go to the VR&E website at to learn more.
VA will continue to provide seamless mental health resources to all eligible service members and Veterans for at least one year after their discharge from military service through programs like VA Solid Start. Newly transitioned Veterans can access mental health care immediately by visiting a VA medical center, Vet Center or community provider. For a list of mental health resources and services, Veterans and service members can visit the My HealtheVet website.
If you are a Veteran in crisis — or you’re concerned about one — free, confidential support is always available 24/7. Reach out to the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or send a text message to 838255 for immediate assistance.