VA eliminates net worth as Veteran health care eligibility factor

Elimination of net worth makes more Veterans eligible for health care


The Department of Veterans Affairs is updating the way it determines eligibility for VA health care, a change that will result in more Veterans having access to the health care benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

Effective 2015, VA eliminated the use of net worth as a determining factor for both health care programs and co-payment responsibilities. This change makes VA health care benefits more accessible to lower-income Veterans and brings VA policies in line with Secretary Bob McDonald’s MyVA initiative which reorients VA around Veterans’ needs.

“Everything that we do and every decision we make has to be focused on the Veterans we serve,” said Secretary Bob McDonald. “We are working every day to earn their trust. Changing the way we determine eligibility to make the process easier for Veterans is part of our promise to our Veterans.”

Instead of combining the sum of Veterans’ income with their assets to determine eligibility for medical care and co-payment obligations, VA will now only consider a Veteran’s gross household income and deductible expenses from the previous year. Elimination of the consideration of net worth for VA health care enrollment means that certain lower-income, non-service-connected Veterans will have less out-of- pocket costs. Over a 5-year period, it is estimated that 190,000 Veterans will become eligible for reduced costs of their health care services.

In March 2014, VA eliminated the annual requirement for updated financial information. VA now uses information from the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration to automatically match individual Veterans’ income information which reduces the burden on Veterans to keep their healthcare eligibility up to date. That change better aligned VA’s health care financial assessment program with other federal health care organizations.

Veterans may submit updated income information at, or by visiting their nearby VA health care facility.  For more information, visit or call VA toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).


Tim Hudak

  joined the VA digital engagement team in December 2013. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations and enjoys wrestling his German shepherd, Capone (who wins more often than you would think).


  1. John P. Hartung    

    The new secretary is doing a great job. I see changes in both the VBA and VHA. I’m happy with the town hall meetings. This is another example of things getting fix. We need to help every Veteran out there.

    1. Jeffery Stephen Coffman    

      But the VA does not help every veteran out there. If a veteran earns too much he gets NOTHING.

      So is the VA for all veterans or only sad sacks?

      1. Bill Davis    

        I don’t believe you really meant to call Veterans “Sad Sacks”. Do not let your issue with VA benefits programs cloud your thinking of the men and women who are currently getting help. I understand your point about VA benefits for ALL veterans and agree with that. If you served and now are in need of a benefit, then proceed full steam ahead in your pursuit of it with all veterans blessings. Remember, we ALL served proudly.

    2. Barbara Zylbert    

      The new Secretary is doing an excellent job to date and in the near future expect to see even more improvements as they come to the fore. He is committed to optimizing Veteran’s healthcare. But it takes time to turn a battleship around.

      1. Donald Patrick Meunier    

        My personal experience with the VA Medical Center in Richmond Virginia in the 29 years I have been in the “system” has quite frankly been more than adequate. I have had the same PCP for more than 17 years, and the problems I have had with my treatment has been no worse than one would expect from a non VA provider. Another point for veterans to take note of is if you do have concerns or problems with medical treatment, see a patient advocate at the facility, and they will resolve the problem if one truly does exist, and do rather well policing their own. My PCP and the professional staff at Richmond VAMC, with the help of consulting non VA providers, literally saved my life 8 years ago, and there were some mis diagnosis’ in the 5 months of testing and biopsysis, but if you let the VAMC Staff do their work, they will do it well. Some times the problem in medical treatment is not so much the treatment for the medical condition, as it is trying to treat the personality of the patient. I would like to see a more aggressive revamp of the regional office compliance with Title 38 and congressional mandates in the processing of claims for benefits. I noticed some changes are being implemented and am waiting to see to what avail.

  2. david ebeling    

    wow one small step for vets from a place that rams veterans through drs offices so fast that they cant get proper care anyways. I was told for years by a va dr that I didn’t have a heart problem till the day I almost died and was not expected to live. I have had a sore on the bottom of my right foot since the middle of Sept. 2014 that hasn’t healed and they have no clue why, no I am not diabetic. they have a worthless move program to help you lose weight if you can afford to drive to it every night of the week, wow that’s good for rich veterans or those that live in the same town as it, same with there quit smoking program. the govt claims to be doing more for vets but only the high profile cases that they can walk across a stage and say see we helped this one but they don’t show the hundreds that they fail to or don’t want to help.

    1. Jobley    

      Wow….. hard to imagine that you live in a country where you’re expected to care for issues like weight loss and smoking cessation YOURSELF. Grow up and own your actions whiner. “POOR ME….. SOMEBODY GIVE ME FREE STUFF” – Get off your a**! You can earn what you need!

    2. Gerald E. Lynch    

      @ David Ebeling, That is a hell of a pessimistic outlook on things when it is obvious the new Director can’t change everything in 1 afternoon on the job. It is also obvious that improvements are being made and it also is not uncommon for certain conditions to be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all even by the best of private medical professionals. I hope you find out what is wrong with your foot, but damn, how on earth do you expect the VA to be everywhere at once to care for those in the boonies or not next to a VA?

      Did you also know that if you are unable to drive to a VA facility you can generally call the DAV and they will use VA supplied vehicles to transport you in most cases? The DAV does this free and you do not need to be a member of the DAV. FYI, the DAV is a private organization and not part of the VA system.

    3. Elizabeth Michael    

      David, did you know if you are unsatisfied with the doctor, you can change doctors by going through the patient liason’s office? I did it. I have been happy with the care ever since. In fact, my cardiologist at the VA told me this. The DO I did have stormed out of there when asked about my inquiry as if she had done it wrong. I was a flight medic and I worked for the VA. The DAV is not related to the VA. They work with the VA to provide some transportation. My hospital for the VA is 130 miles from my home. I use the DAV vans free to go to the hospital. There is no shame in telling the liasons office that you are not being cared for correctly. If you have a problem, tell them but go through channels. I pay for my meds. $8.00 a rx x 10 rx a month. I am also disabled on SSDI. The VA is a privilage not a right of passage. Respect them and they will respect you.

  3. Joseph Allen Gifford    

    I recently was informed the VA was not going to pay my request for travel pay because for one reason, I was a non-service connected with 10% disability. I have, in fact, had a service connected 10 % disability, but they wanted me to come in and do a means test. I had been told those would be done away with and they would be done by computer but now they tell me that that program did not work and when they got through estimating my remaining income, I was in-eligible to receive exemption from co-pay and I would not get travel pay any more. I paid $128 last month in co-payments and I thought I would not get travel pay, but I got paid for one trip of travel last month so I put in for two more trips I made this last week and don’t know if they will pay it or nots. The two things seem to go together, but if I get those benefits, then they say I have too much income, but it I don’t get those benefits, then I will be eligible to get the benefits. This news now gives me hopoe that I will get the benefits.

    1. Norman R. Jones    

      I m 30% service connected and was turned down for travel.

      their reason was you had to have at least 40% service connected disability.This action was at the VA Mather hospital.

      1. Kathleen Ryan    

        Wrong…. absolutely not correct. 30% SC or higher, OR under the income threshold are eligible for travel benefits. Look up the flier for VA Beneficiary Travel and bring it to the Veterans Service Center at your local VA facility.

  4. tom mccall    

    Glad to see the changes, but why don’t someone inform Veterans of Progress with Backlogged Appeals, Ive been waiting 5plus years and it is Hopeless to get anyone at VA to give a straight answer, seems like they just want Veterans to Roll Over and Die

  5. Paul Lazar    

    I still do not understand when the VA still only let’s some injured vets certain benefits. I am 40 percent and a class 5 rated. That is like being in the basement. I have a severe employment handicap and have been waiting over 9 years on an appeal. Yet it took a year! To get my dental approved. What a shame. Tampa Va says they don’t do class 5. Why,why,why. When it is in the rules. You still let the local va do as they please. Why. Rules are rules. Do something about this. Remember patient advocates work for the VA not the Veteran!

    1. Elizabeth Michael    

      Paul Lazar: The rules are old. They pertain to an age when they were only serving war vets.

  6. John C. Driskill    

    Funny how I applied in 2014 for VA benefits through the Michael DeBakey VA Center in Houston, Tx. I got the benefits and went to the VA hospital several times. Then this year I get a letter from Benita K. Miller of the VA Eligibility Center saying I lied on on the form I provided for the DeBAkey center. But wait, the saved copy of the 1010EZ form I saved to my computer showed the same figures that the IRS/SSN provided the VA for my 2013 income. The VA eligibility system is flawed. I have written to my senators and local congressman about this. In 2014 I received a phone call from a Mr. Carter from the DeBakey hospital saying I checked off on the form that I was exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. I told him I was on an aircraft carrier in the Tonkin Gulf and had not been exposed to Agent Orange. I later checked the saved form and found there was no such question at all about Agent Orange. Two weeks later this person calls me and asks me the same stupid question. I burned his ears about this falsehood. I don’t trust anyone at the VA anymore. Served from 1968 to 1978 in the US Navy and am treated like crap.

  7. Norman R. Jones    

    I have already answered to J A Giffords letter above,,it is waiting for moderation (what ever that means.)

  8. floridawilridge    

    I’m still waiting on my back pay 1980.for 30yr.mylife a to children. Life they take my life I was 30th old.now64 please me but thankful for my belief. CONTACT ME.ptsd.lm in happen here on base A.F.bA.F.b. I’m bankruptcy no home . my file I have been damaged all my life .form1980.tonow.2015? and my family. gmail fell free .please contact

  9. robert wsrren    

    , my wife and. I live on my social security … have no assets except cars that are 20 & 15 years old .. S.S. income is just over 18,000 a year … I alone take ,6 presciptions .. thank god its only an “$8 dollar co pay … but. My god. It is so much to pay with our income. My wife also has health problems .. she qualifies for senior center health care..which still has a. 45 dollar co pay for visits …plus most prescritions…. I csn not beleve that $18,000 a year does not qualify me for no co pays and travel pay … although i have a clinic in my town … the VA hospital is 50 miles away … so sad that living at poverty level after serving during war time does not qualify me for more …. although im so thankful for the care that i do get ….

  10. Tommy    

    That is why the VA health care system is so screwed up, they need to bring back the 1-8 priority. Service connected vets should be in front of the line. All these vets from the Middle East had a complete mental and physical done when they ETS. They hear how they can get free money by filing claims, and that’s why claims are getting out of control.

    The MEANS test should be reinstated. This is a big mistake, it will take years not months to get a appointment or a claim through cause the younger vets are being taught how to work the system. It’s going to get worse. Do the research on how the numbers of supposedly vets that are fine, but the money is priority one.

    Wounded combat vets should get first in line.


    I think it is a decent move to eliminate the “net worth” from the formula. Even if you own a junker house values are so inflated that you could not qualify for VA health. Now, perhaps a different story and some folks who need care will qualify.

    Sec McDonald seems to be doing a fine job so far….. I for one also Sec Shensheki was doing a fine job until it came out he was being sandbagged by his own people..

  12. Frank Cisneros    

    I believe all eligible men and women who have served in the military should receive medical benefits to include dental. I should not have to pay copays we were asked to do our duty now we are asking for ours in return

  13. Lynn E. Carter    

    1. Elizabeth Michael    

      Does any one know what the patient liasons office does?

  14. Kevin Gerard Herndon    

    I went to an appointment for service connected and the primary care physician hadn’t checked the box for travel pay. I ended up at the patient advocate office because no one could change it at the VAMC. Finally, nearly two to three weeks later got a call from travel they left message to call. Tried to reach travel for about two to three weeks later switchboard transfer and voicemails. No return call had an appointment for non service connected and ended up at travel pay supervisor office because of the 30 days had passed. Supervisor entered information signed paper. Nearly three months later still no travel pay.

  15. Nancy seals    

    My husband, at a veterans hospital, chose to get cancer surgery. Rectal to be exact. The first surgery was on 12/4/201…3/17/2015, 97 days later DOES STILL NOT HAVE SUPPLIES FOR HIS NEW COLOSTOMY BAG!!!!!!! ONLY TIP OF ICEBERG REGARDING HIS FOLLOW UP CARE!!!!!!!!!


    1. Elizabeth Michael    

      Nancy, speak with the the doctor, the pharmacy and the patient liason. He should have presciptions for them. I also have a colostomy. I also signed up for myhealthevet. Go to to find out more about a premium subscription. It is free. You can then order his supplies over the internet, through the pharmacy link and have them delivered to your home. Did the hospital RN in that department come to his room and talk about it? Did they send him home with supplies? Your doctor can set up prescriptions for the supplies. Talk to them. As they run low you can call the pharmacy to refill them. They will mail it to you. It takes about a week, but this is how it works.

  16. Jeffery Stephen Coffman    

    So a sad sack who did 2 years in the military and remained a sad sack throughout his career gets VA medical care, but someone who spent 28 years active and reserve and worked hard throughout his career gets NOTHING because he earns too much.

    So who is more deserving of VA medical care?

  17. Jeffery Stephen Coffman    

    I am fully supportive of everything for service connected, but I am totally against non service connected treatment.

    Save the VA resources for the service connected only.

    1. Kathleen Ryan    

      The primary care physician has no “box to check” for Travel Pay. This is handled in the Veterans Service Center. A physician would have NO IDEA who is eligible for travel benefits. Download the VA Beneficiary Travel flier and read it. Bring it to the VSC in your VA facility; the eligibility staff will help you.

    2. Kathleen Ryan    

      There are combat vets who have NEVER filed claims for SC conditions and are therefore are not receiving service connected comp. These vets would be excluded for care, and some goofball who got into a bar fight in basic training and has a scar from a broken beer bottle and gets 10% for the scar and would therefore be ELIGIBLE for VA health care under your proposal? Really???

  18. Owens Earl Jr    

    This is truly good news for all Veteran

  19. Victor Sellers    

    I feel I have gotten nothing but lies and deception since being hospitalized in Vietnam. I was told to my face they didn’t know what caused my disease or how to cure it, but the permanent PIII profile looks like it says I had urticaria due to Chloroquine as a treatment. The urticaria was just a manifestation of a bigger problem and it was never properly treated. I had agent orange exposure, malaria, hepatitis, or parasites and remained sick to this day, and the damage done will kill me but the VA will not even recognize it. In fact the VA has removed all of my treatment records from my file making sure that I could not appeal the denial of my claim in 1983. I am totally disgusted at the lies and deception the VA has continued to puke out. I was hospitalized in three different countries for an unknown skin condition yet the VA says it knows there is no connection to my current skin conditions, but that is actually a lie. The PRURITUS is just a symptom of my liver being infected by malaria parasite’s agent orange or hepatitis and the VA will not release my records. It make sure they were removed so I could not appeal the 1983 decision, and I resent that. I only claimed that because I had suffered for 12 years already and the VA never really treated me properly. There should be a very large punitive award for the damage it allowed to happen to me

  20. Victor Sellers    

    I had no reaction to Chloroquine and the urticaria or skin condition was not caused by Chloroquine, and that is where the deception started, or possibly it could have been a pathetic elementary diagnosis. I believe the officers knew exactly what was going on and were just following orders. The army new in 1967 there was a severe impact in military operations because of skin diseases in the Delta where I was. My case has been covered up long enough and I think it should be investigated by Congress. The army don’t send a soldier home because he has dry skin! I may have dry skin but I never had it before Vietnam, and the army still would not have medivaced out of Vietnam just because of a skin condition. I got a good dose of agent orange which still is destroying my internal organs, and I hate that the VA thinks the late person is incapable of a valid medical evaluation. I know my body better than anyone and a five minute visit with any doctor can’t possibly know what I know, and I am upset with this deceptive practice. I may get some compensation for the last couple months but nothing retro and that is immoral. If that is what happens I will never let it go. It is a legal and I will do anything and everything I can to expose this because the VA knows it was wrong, and my wording wasn’t perfect but your officers are supposed to know what we mean, but don’t conveniently understand anything. The VA is covering up the depth of my illness in Vietnam, but what is it going to take to make this understood by the rating officers, or have they just been instructed to deny all retro pay. I believe that is more like it just like the deferred approval was an 83.

  21. mike bukovatz    

    contact me and ill tell you why i had to pay 180.dollars for cough medicine the va. ripping vets off they need to be exposed—now………………

  22. Don Burr    

    When a Veteran retires, their income drops dramatically. The VA should stop considering the Veteran’s income from the previous year, and consider what their income is for the current year.

  23. John Dusenbery    

    I have just short of 22 years of service from 1974-1995. I served in ODS in 1990-91 and when it came time to request VA benefits for my hearing loss, I was told “You make too much money.”

    The same thing happened when I returned to my original Home Of Record (WI) and I applied for a state veterans loan to buy a home… “You make too much money.”

    In my mind, you are either a Veteran or you’re not. If you are, then all benefits should be available to you. It should not be based upon income.

    Possibly, our members of Congress should face the same thing… if your income is over $XXX, or your net worth is over $XXX, you will have to find your own health insurance because “You make too much money” .

    1. George Smith    

      first of all John, If you applied for compensation for your hearing loss, your income has nothing at all to do with it. It sounds as if you applied for med care not compensation, a very big difference. Secondly, as for a VA Home Loan, that’s nuts, income is very important and the more you make the better you are. I take it you didn’t fill the proper form, to be denied for a home loan program because you make to much it totally crazy. If you need some guidance, contact me.

  24. Elizabeth Michael    

    I really do not have an issue for paying for medical care at the VA. Or that they accept insurance. We have an obligation to help pay for it as you would going to a private doctor. Yes, it is true that we served our country. some by draft and some by volunteer. But you know it costs money to do this. What is wrong with us paying a fee to get care? Who is going to pay this? The taxpayers. We are taxpayers, but it seems to me that we are becoming a gim me gim me society. I worked all my life. I am 63. No one paid for me. I was proud to serve. I was the only woman in my family who ever joined the service. I loved it. I feel that it is unfortunate that I could not serve in a combat or combat support unit during war time. That is part of being in the service. Yes, I am a woman. I could hold my weight against any man back then. I was in a combat support unit in the Army till Granada came along. I was pushed into my old MOS as a flight medic or had an option to go home with an honorable. I stayed. Be grateful it is there. I am. If I wasn’t eligible for certain things well that is what it is. I agree that the means test needs major tweeking. I do not agree that VA care should be free to us.

  25. Jacob Graves    

    What about unemployable vets. I can’t get a job because of my problems yet I can’t make it through the month on what I’m getting. Let’s raise the pay for those who can’t bring in enough money to actually have a life and not just barely survive.

  26. Jerry Murray    

    All I can say, if you get approved for VA coverage you better set up for a physical STAT,,,,,,,, if not you will be denied on your claims because of 2000 rule on coverage,,,,,,,( No doctor visit in the past 24 months)- claims will be denied. A rule which seems to be overlooked in informing new VA enrollment, overlooked because VA personnel I spoke with weren’t even aware of this rule…….you don’t find out until after the fact. There is no rule in placed to instruct VA on informing you of this. In this day and time the word PROFESSINOAL means I can charge you bigger fees for my services, NOT that I know what I’m doing. You have to take care of your own business for yourself; anymore the world evolves around money not morals.

  27. Richard Prokopchuk    

    And 10 days after my doctor’s appointment, I STILL have not received my medicines.

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