JULY 25, 2017, NORFOLK (NNS) – Service members, dependents, veterans and their caregivers can save time by going online to get their Veterans Affairs (VA) process started electronically with the self-service VA eBenefits web portal.
In 2007, The President’s Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors announced that it was going to create a one-stop portal that offered various information, forms, claims, health care and prescriptions, home loan assistance, employment assistance, education benefits and assistance, verification letters, and guidance. The eBenefits website was launched in 2009.
“The eBenefits portal is free, quicker, and is the preferred self-service online gateway to electronically research and find numerous services and benefits that can be accessed around the clock,” said Margarita Devlin, executive director of the Benefits Assistance Service in Virginia’s Veterans Benefits Administration.
In order to access eBenefits, users must be actively listed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and be able to obtain a Data System (DS) or Common Access Card (CAC) logon.
“If members attempt to register and are informed they have no DEERS record, the VA will need to verify their military service and add them to DEERS so they can use the portal,” said Devlin. “Once that happens, users will have the ability to research, apply and update various benefits and services at anytime from anywhere.”
“I was going through the Transition Goals, Plan, and Succeed (TGPS) class when I first heard about eBenefits,” said Nicholas Boyle, Code 2340 reactor plant systems course instructor. “The main thing that drew my attention was the disability portion because that percentage affects you and your family in many ways. The site also gives the steps on how to apply and follow your claim through the whole process.”
Having the ability to electronically update medical record information allows the records to be read faster, get a quicker response back from the VA, and is beneficial for filling out the intent to file forms for a current condition or future medical procedure,” explained Boyle. “You want to be sure to fill out the forms for intent to file with the most current medical information. Having this done ahead of time allows extra time to get all of your medical paperwork together and get it submitted so you are covered medically and financially when you are [discharged] for medical reasons in the future.”
In addition to updating medical information, users can update, personalize and download various forms and verification letters to include those needed to transfer the Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to family members.
“Before I retired from the Navy, I transferred one month of my education benefits to each one of my kids and my wife,” said Boyle. “Now that my wife is getting ready to start college classes, I can log into eBenefits and transfer more of my education months to her. This is a great financial benefit for anyone. The update is immediate and a few minutes later, I can print out an education verification letter for her school that verifies her current percentage so she can start taking classes when she wants to.”
Along with multiple services available through eBenefits, the site is also linked into other sites and portals that can benefit service members, their families and caregivers. One of the most popular links is the national resource directory.
“Just click on the button and you have a breakdown of survivor and burial, employment, and social security benefits, a disability claim checklist and what benefits are available from each state. Just to name a few,” said Boyle.
eBenefits is user friendly and provides various resource links and information that can be accessed by logging into the portal.
“I have been using eBenefits for more than two years and being able to go onto the site at any time from work or from an electronic personal device has made my life easier,” said Boyle. “eBenefits is a valuable source of information that you can access from just about anywhere and anytime of the day or night. I have told family, friends, and co-workers that the more I use it, the more I learn what benefits are available to myself and my family, now and in the future. I strongly recommend checking it out.”
For more information on e-benefits, visit your local Department of Veterans Services office or http://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage.
By April Brown, NNSY Public Affairs