Character of DischargeThe Department of Veterans Affairs first determines that a veteran received an honorable discharge, a general discharge or a discharge under honorable conditions from the military. Other discharge statuses may not qualify for care. A veteran must provide a certified copy of his or her military status to the VA.
Length of DutyDepending on when a veteran served, the length of duty may be a factor. Generally, those who served after 1980 need to have served 24 continuous months, though some exceptions apply—for those disabled during service, for example.
EnrollmentA veteran must be enrolled in the VA system to get health care through the system. Veterans must fill out VA Form 10-10EZ so the agency can determine if they are eligible and to place them into the correct priority group. (The priority groups determine which veterans are enrolled in the system first; because of funding limitations, some veterans may have to wait to be enrolled.)
Financial ConsiderationsFor some veterans, financial considerations are not a factor—if they are seriously disabled or unemployable because of a service-related injury or if they were awarded a Purple Heart, for example. For most others, however, the VA uses income and net worth to determine if and/or how the veteran will be enrolled in the system. However, even if a veteran is above the income standards set by the VA, he or she may still be enrolled in one of the lower-priority groups and make co-payments to receive care.
For those veterans for whom the financial considerations are a factor, the income threshold varies, depending on how many dependents a veteran has; for example, a veteran with one dependent (a spouse, for example) must have an income below $35,284 to receive free medical care for fiscal year 2010. Net worth (which does not vary based on dependents) must be below $80,000.