Veteran Dental Care Benefits and Eligibility Requirements
Navigating dental care benefits can be extremely frustrating for veterans. There are a ton of different classifications, each with their own set of restrictions, and that makes it difficult to get a straight answer on qualification, especially with latent problems showing up after extended periods of time.
This can often lead to veterans giving up before they receive the care they deserve. Dental care is so critical to overall health and well-being that it is important not to give up too early. No one should be denied the right to good oral care just because they can’t afford to pay a lot of money.
I lived through this frustration myself after I left the Navy. I served as a dental officer, so imagine how it felt to complete my active duty only to discover that I wasn’t eligible for dental benefits myself? After 20 years of private practice, my main mission remains the same: to serve the veteran population and help them understand their dental benefits so they can find the treatment they deserve.
The first part of this mission is to make sure that veterans are educated about their options. In this article, I’m going to break the 9 different classifications of dental care down into simple 1 or 2 sentence categories that are easy to understand.
Classifications of VA Dental Benefit Eligibility
The 9 different classifications are actually pretty straightforward once you strip away the surrounding language. Some of them can be difficult to understand in terms of what constitutes qualification, so if you’re in doubt about a couple of them just find a local veterans business that is connected to dentistry.
If your condition is covered through a connected service, then that dental disability is eligible for care.
If you did not receive a DD214 certificate of discharge exit dental examination with appropriate treatment upon leaving duty, you are eligible for one-time care to ensure this requirement of discharge is met.
If you have a Dental Trauma Rating 10-564-D or similar maintained dentition that has a noncompensable dental condition or resulting disability that occurred due to your active service, the VA Regional Office Rating Decision will determine your possible eligibility for care.
If you are enrolled under the VHA Directive 2007-039 as a homeless veteran or veteran receiving care, and you need a procedure that will relieve pain, treat gum conditions, or increase your eligibility for employment, you may qualify for one-time corrective care.
If you were a prisoner of war you are eligible for dental care.
If your disability occurred during time of service and rates 100% on the disabling scale, then you are eligible for care and relief pertaining to that disability. If you are unemployed and/or unpaid as a result, you also qualify.
If you are enrolled in vocational rehabilitation under 38 USC Chapter 31, then you qualify for necessary dental work while participating.
If you receive or are scheduled to receive any inpatient care that your current dental problem may complicate, then you are entitled to the care necessary to prevent this complication and treat that issue.
If you are still unsure about whether you qualify under any of these classifications, contact your local branch of Veteran Affairs. Their website has extensive information and contacts for local offices who can better assist you in navigating your rights.
If you don’t qualify under these classifications, then apply for the Civilian Health and Medical Program provided by the National VA Dental Insurance Program. This program offers drastically reduced pricing on dental care plans through a few different dental insurance providers and covers nearly all types of dental work.
If neither of these options is viable for you, then talk to your local veterans. Many of them will be able to direct you to some great resources they found along their way. A lot of influential veteran businessmen in the area are willing to help fellow servicemen.
In fact, a lot of local dentists are also willing to help. Many dentists have begun offering free dental care to veterans, or charging nothing more than the cost of the medicine and tools necessary for the procedure performed. Call around and see what you can find today!
Dr. Greg Grillo firstname.lastname@example.org