For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

VA offers some
dental coverage

Question: What kind of dental care is available through the Department of Veterans Affairs, and are all veterans enrolled in the VA eligible?

Answer: The simple answer is yes and no. Outpatient dental treatment provided by VA includes examinations and the spectrum of diagnostic, surgical, restorative and preventive techniques. Free dental care applies only for veterans with dental conditions or disabilities that are service-connected and compensable. Also, veterans with service-connected dental conditions or disabilities that are not compensable may receive one-time treatment if the conditions can be shown to have existed at discharge.

Veterans must apply to the VA for dental care within 90 days following separation. Veterans may receive treatment for service-connected, noncompensable dental conditions resulting from combat wounds or service injuries along with former prisoners of war who were incarcerated for less than 90 days, or may receive complete dental care if receiving disability compensation at the 100 percent rate for service-connected conditions, or if eligible to receive it by reason of unemployability.

Nonservice-connected dental conditions that are determined by the VA to be aggravating a service-connected problem may also be treated.

In addition, veterans participating in a vocational rehabilitation program may be treated, and veterans scheduled for admission to inpatient services or who are receiving medical services may receive outpatient dental care if the dental condition is determined to be complicating a medical condition that the VA is treating. For more information on what constitutes eligibility for VA dental care, contact the VA Medical Center at 433-0604, or check out the Honolulu VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii.

Q: My husband recently received a final disposition on his VA claim, but he just passed away. Can I receive any of his monetary benefits from the claim?

A: Generally, benefits to which a VA beneficiary was entitled but had not received from the VA at the time of death are payable to specific survivors. For example, benefits that had accrued to a veteran but had not been paid before the veteran's death may be paid to the surviving spouse or children. The surviving spouse should be aware of VA Form 21-534, which is an application for dependence, indemnity compensation and accrued benefits.

Current law limits the payment of accrued benefits to the two-year period preceding the ending date of the deceased's entitlement. For instance, if a veteran who had prevailed after an appeal taking several years received his or her check the day before death, all retroactive benefits for the time the claim was pending would have been paid and would presumably be available for the surviving spouse. If another veteran in the same situation was awarded retroactive benefits after a long pending claim or appeal but died before the treasury check could be issued, the surviving spouse would receive benefits for only the last two years of the veteran's entitlement. For more information on survivor entitlements, call the VA at 1-800-827-1000.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin, can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at gkakesako@starbulletin.com.

See also: In The Military

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