311VET: New app answers general VA benefits questions


As one of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s social media administrators, it’s my job to create and curate VA benefits and Veteran-centric content on VBA social media channels. This includes program news and updates, tips and how-tos, and in sharing resources to help our community understand how to claim their benefits. This also means I’m the guy you come to when you have questions (and complaints) about VA benefits.

As an Army Veteran, I often draw on personal experience when talking to my Veteran brothers and sisters in arms, but I also have access to a wealth of resources and VA program experts to assist me with answering your questions. Other times, when stumped with a question and Google isn’t playing nicely, I turn to 311VET.

App screen

A Veteran asked me this question on the VBA Facebook page. I had an inkling to the right answer, confirmed it with an SME, and in the meantime, also asked the app.

311VET is VBA’s new benefits app, and it answers a wide range of questions about Veterans benefits, including what benefits you may be entitled to, how to apply for benefits, how different benefits are defined, and where to go to get more information about VA services. 311VET can provide information about most VA benefits, including pension, education, health, disability, loan, burial and career benefits.

That said, 311VET can’t answer questions about the status of specific claims (use IRIS for that) or other questions that require personally identifying information (PII) or protected health information (PHI). 311VET also can’t answer questions that fall outside the scope of VA benefits, like “What’s for dinner?” or “What day is it?” or “Who will be the next President?”

So, how does 311VET work?

If you have a general benefits question and you can’t find the answer online, or through the call center, simply download the app on your smart phone or tablet or text your question to 311838 (yes, only six digits).

If your question is in the database, meaning it’s one that has already been asked, you receive an instant computer response. If not, your question is routed to a team of human experts who will find an answer for you. This generally takes just a few minutes.

Question and Answer

I see this question frequently on VBA social media. The response came quickly, and it was accurate to my question.

In fact, the app has worked so well, my co-workers at VBA’s Benefits Assistance Service have been using it in real time at outreach events across the country. As an example, when I’m at an event, I show other Vets my own “Ask” history, which mostly includes questions I’ve fielded from VBA’s Facebook page:

  • Can I file a dependent claim for my disabled aunt?
  • Can I use my VA home loan to repair my home even if I don’t have a VA home loan mortgage?
  • I was overpaid last semester with the Post-9/11 GI Bill after I dropped a class. How do I contact the Debt Management Center?
  • Can I use the VA home loan to start a small business?
  • My grandfather served in WWII and doesn’t have his service records or medals. We were told they burned in a fire. What can we do to get his records?
  • What resources does VA have for homeless Vets?

Answers to these, and more, appeared within minutes.

As you can see, 311VET is highly resourceful. And it gets better the more you use it since each new question is added to the database. Best of all, 311VET is open for questions 24/7, 365 days a year, including all federal holidays.

So, how do you get it?

311VET is available for both iOS devices and Android devices. Again, if you don’t do “smart phones,” simply text your question to 311838.


Jason Davis

Jason Davis served five years in the 101st ABN, including two combat tours to Iraq. He's currently an M.A. candidate in Writing at Johns Hopkins University and serves as social media administrator for the Veterans Benefits Administration.


  1. Nelson Echevarria    

    I would like to know , why if you have a 100% for unemployability, can’t apply for PTSD increase based in a secondary medical issue, related with the PTSD as well.

    1. John bertrand    

      They will reduce you, cut your money and lie about it. Even though they know they are breaking the law. SSD says you are disabled but the VA will think your a genius and ready to be president

    2. George Dille    

      I am visually impaired and can’t use a smart phone or text anything. Is it available for my :C

      1. Jason Davis    


        If you are unable to use a smart phone or our websites, if you have questions about VA benefits, you can talk to a Patient Advocate or Public Contact in person at the VAMC or regional office nearest you. You can additionally talk to an officer from a Veterans Service Organization for assistance. These can be found at the county and state level, but you can also find them at your local VAMC.

    3. DannyG    

      Not to be disrespectful, but there is no way you can be paid for more than 100% disability. According to the paperwork, the “ratings” can equal more, but it would make no sense to pay more than 100%. I agree with your thinking, but we have to separate fantasy & reality; something many people today seem to have trouble with.

  2. julio chacon    

    I am in a very desperate need of help legally, my family and I are about to loose the house. I have run out of things to pawn to eat and. the doctors do not want me working. social security what the signature of my commander from 4 years ago, to help me. I AM A MEMBER OF THE TEAM, DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME. The VA reduced my pay for very vague reasons, and I just had cervical surgery. Mentally my doctor (psychiatrist) does not want me to work. Everything is falling apart and I am just looking!

    1. William Higgins    

      I hope that you get the help that you need. There is no way someones benefits should be reduced. Have you looked at other organizations for emergency help such as DAV or VFW?

    2. antony Martinez    

      I went to Walgreens,and they said they don’t give free flue shots for veterans and also the Carl hadon center never no parking inAZ a veterans hate going to this medical center

    3. wayne schatzle    

      one option often overlooked is getting a lawyer and filing a federal lawsuit

    4. Jason Davis    


      All compensation service connections not marked “permanent and total” can be reviewed. Your original claim decision letter will state for how long your service connected percentage is good for, usually 5 or 10 years.

      When VA decides to review your service connection, it notifies you via mail. You HAVE to respond to this. If you do not respond, VA contacts you again (either 30 days or 60 days later). Failure to respond often leads to a reduction in percentage. This is one reason you must ensure that your contact information is updated in eBenefits.

      If your doctors have said you shouldn’t be working, please get them to fill out a DBQ for you (http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_disabilityexams.asp), then submit those with other new evidence you may have in a new claim called “file to increase” via an FDC on eBenefits. What is an FDC? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jx2Ako_TRQ

      If you need assistance with this, you can have a VSO help you (for free), and you can find one at your local VA Medical Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rznmZLXoZWA

      Or, you can file an FDC on your own with step-by-step tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWWax42P-WQ

  3. Tom Ortiz    

    I have shrapnel on the right side of my head since 1951, by a land mine.I have tried to get TbI and am having trouble getting it,. and it’s not getting any better.

    1. Jason Davis    

      Tom, you can receive treatment for TBI from your VA medical center. If you’re inquiring about a compensation claim for TBI, you’ll need a medical diagnosis and evidence from service. A VSO can assist you with this, and you can get a VSO (for free) from your local VA medical center.

  4. Calvin Grant    

    Where can I fine what a service connected disability can cause a secondary disability?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Calvin, that information is on our website. If you ask this question on the app, you will be referred t our website: http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/types-claims.asp

  5. Edward James Anderson    

    I want to move to Weire, New Hampshire and want to know if all my records will be transferred to Manchester , VA

  6. Edward David Schultz    

    Am Vietnam vet living in Michigan. Just wanted to plug in my comments about my claim that was approved 4 years ago. With all of the negative comments about the poor service from the VA in the past; I see a definite improvement in our current administration results. From the very beginning of my claim thru present, the VA has served me well. It may have taken a bit longer at the start, but things worked themselves out to my 100% approval. From the federal level through the state level (my VA state rep) is very knowledgable about the VA & was extremely helpful in filing. To all of those still in the filing mode, I say stick with it and let the system handle the process. Thank you VA for your help and keep up the good work. Ed Schultz

    1. DannyG    

      Mr. Schultz, Congratulations & thanks for taking the time to say a few GOOD, encouraging things! Take care, brother.

    1. Jason Davis    

      For general questions, it’s an excellent app, Kevin. 🙂

  7. E Flannery    

    Is the widow of a deceased sea bee entitled to health benefits?

    1. Jason Davis    


      You can find health benefits eligibility on the Veterans Health Administration’s website: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/veterans.asp

  8. Donald LeMar lambert    

    Why does it take so long to get your medical records been trying to get my disability for years. And can’t get no no help.

    1. Jason Davis    


      If you don’t have your service records, VA will have to request them from the Department of Defense. This can sometimes take up to six weeks or more. VA will also collect your VA medical records when adjudicating your claim.

      If you’re filing for compensation, please remember that you will need to show a current medical diagnosis + evidence linking that diagnosis’ cause or aggravation to military service.

      You can receive assistance from a VSO (free), which you can find inside your local VA medical center.

  9. Paul E Reichard    

    Can I use this web site I do not text

    1. Jason Davis    


      This blog post describes an application that runs on a smart cell phone. In addition, for those who don’t have a smart phone, questions can be texted to the number listed. However, Google is also a neat trick, and can retrieve answers from our website for most questions. The app is simply a quicker and more responsive and mobile way to find answers.

  10. Bill sutherland    

    Veterans are looking to the administration for positive assistance and guidance! From the looks of it not too much has changed. I’ve been fighting for injuries of duties I sustained for 37 years of duty! Included in that is 2 years active in winter warfare, and Desert Storm in 1991 with 17 months of Iraq in 2003-2004! Now retired I’m at 40 % but they haven’t accepted my back issues (lost after 2 submissions) and my non-acceptance of feet issues? (Which add to my back problems) – my point how can I resubmit when the VA lost testimony of those that witnessed injuries are now deceased!
    Bill Sutherland

    1. Alfred Comeau    

      There is something calle “Equipoise” that means if there is an equal question as to whether the veteran’s claim holds merit and the VA cannot definitively prove otherwise, that the claim must be adjudicated in favor of the veteran.

      This should be the case, even though the people that made the statements that supported the claim are deceased. Do you still have their written statements in supporting of your claim? If you have those statements, you may fall into the category where you can force the decision in your favor by filing a Notice of Disagreement or Appeal based on “Equipoise”.

      Contact a DAV or competent Veterans Service Officer.

      1. DannyG    

        I KNOW THIS WORKS !! When I filed my claim several years ago, they denied svc-connection for my back. I wrote ONE letter that linked my back problems as residual effects of the other injuries, & Equipoise kicked in.
        BROTHERS AND SISTERS, I don’t trust the gov’t either, but these guys answering us are almost all veterans too! Your president kinda put the squash to their FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS, but they still try to help us, by doing & saying what they can.

  11. Robert L Hathaway    

    what do i have to do to get my va benfitch i have my dd214

    1. Jason Davis    


      To find out which benefits you would like to apply for, check out our website here: http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/

      If you’re interested in VA health care, you can check out the website here: http://www.va.gov/health/

      Both of these websites list eligibility information.

  12. Robert L Hathaway    

    how do i get my va benfits i have my dd214

  13. Martin Grutter    

    I filled out a response to Donald LeMar Lambert’s question and when I posted my comment it came back with a
    CAPTCHA error message and when I went back to the comments field my input was gone …if you really don’t
    want input then don’t waste my time and effort with erasing my input if the CAPTCHA code isn’t right just have a
    re-enter mode.

  14. Robert L Hathaway    

    how do i get my va benefits i have my dd214

  15. Emilio O. Data Jr.    

    I know veterans like me have issues in VA that remained unresolved; perhaps the main reason is filing incomplete and poorly prepared claim or claims that cannot be substantiated by evidence.
    I am very satisfied with the Manila RO of USDVA. Without the constraints, I have the honor to suggest you file your claim in
    Manila RO. The services from claims and medical assistance is SUPERB!

    1. Cpt. Michael Robert Metzler Sr.    

      Hello Emilio,

      Will I have a problem with getting my disability benefits increased (%)? I am from New Orleans, Louisiana (USA), so my benefits were approved and are on file there. Will they transfer my records there?

      Hope to hear from you soon.

      Thanks Emilio.

      Cpt. Michael R. Metzler Sr.
      Former U.S. Marine (7 years)
      U.S. Army Helicopter Test Pilot (retired)

  16. Francisco J. Cardona    

    I am Vietnam Vet. and I submitted my claim in March 2015. In June 2015 I received a letter from VA and I got rated 100%. I thank you VA for your speedy approving my claim.

  17. Leonard Mitchener    

    I am A Korean Vet, my service time was US Air Force, 2 Jan 1953 to 5 Dec. 1956 my AF Number is AF 13 460 251. my first tour after Tech school was Japan Aug. 1953 to Sept. 1955 ( 2 yr tour).Rest of my time was spent State side. Can you tell me what are my VA benefits. As of this date I have went to a VA Hospital…………………Thank You…..Leonard Mitchener

    1. Jason Davis    


      You can check out which benefits you’d like to apply for here: http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/

  18. Leonard Mitchener    

    My pervious post was incorrect… I have never been to a VA Hospital…….Leonard Mitchener

  19. jess Zepeda    

    Any new form for appeal process if claim # and docket receiving are now active?

  20. Kevin Hicks    

    I’m having headspace and timing issues: I can’t locate any VA Benefits, 311VET or anything similar in my App Store (Apple).

    1. Mark Seed    

      Use the link in the blog post above. It will take you to the Apple iTunes page for the free 311VET app.

    2. Jason Davis    


      In the last sentence of the blog post above, click the blue words that say “iOS devices.” This will take you directly to the app store. 🙂

  21. connie brescher    

    At a time when most VETS can’t even talk to anyone on the phone let alone receive a call back, why on earth would you be CHARGING our vets for an APP that should be free because they probably can’t afford it … our VETS are so mistreated. Why can’t you help? Plus the app is just a Q and A, you can’t talk to a person.
    wife of a VET

    1. Jason Davis    


      The 311VET app is a free app. 🙂

  22. Ron Schild    

    Is it possible to get rated at a 0% disability? The idea is to get into the administrative system at 0% and then if the veteran’s given condition worsens (like loss of hearing acuity) the disability rating can be incremented from zero. Please post your thoughtful and cogent comments and replies. Thank you!

    1. Jason Davis    


      The answer is Yes. A 0-percent service connection means that VA has acknowledged the Vet’s condition as occurring or being aggravated by military service, but that the condition is not disabling. That is, the connection wouldn’t lead to a loss in potential post-service wages.

    2. Jason Davis    

      Yes, also, should the condition worsen, a Vet could easily “file for an increase” via an FDC in eBenefits for a higher rating.

      A 0-percent rating opens the door for some additional benefits, like VA life insurance if it’s been more than a certain amount of time since the Vet left active service.

  23. William T. Hasty    

    I have been battling with the VA for several years with health problems caused by Herbaside exposure while in Thailand in 1964. It took me many years to get part of my military records(was told they were destroyed in fire) Tried using VSO, every time I called I got a new person and they knew nothing about my case, finally ask for a hearing and haven’t heard back as jet. I even took a letter that their psycologist wrote that she had been treating me for PTSD for 3 1/2 years. I an 70 years old and in bad health, seems they are trying to wait until I die.

  24. Robert Teets    

    You need to have follow up ability on the 311 App. When a question is answered you can’t respond to the answer for clarification. Also the answer I got was not very complete. Can the answers be saved for further review. Good idea just need to be fleshed out some.

    1. Jason Davis    


      The answers are stored in the app on your “My Questions” tab at bottom.

      You can ask a more specific Q, or if you use the text service, you can reply to that.

  25. Mike Jarrett    

    311VETis just plain and simply a waste of the funds used to create and promote it !! Just like IRIS is. You can type in a keyword into IRIS and not get even 1 response having to do with the keyword, or be anywhere near the keyword subject !! The VA could spend the thousands of dollars used on those to fund something that truly makes a difference.

  26. Douglas Newman    

    I went thru a training company that is run thru the va sponsed co. I was told that I was not retrainable. And if this is so is this a disablity due to a disability I was diagnosed for?

    1. Jason Davis    


      Without more information, I’m not sure the app can answer this question. Also, questions that involve personal information and scenarios should be addressed securely on IRIS (linked in the above blog post).

      With your follow-up on IRIS, please address the name of the training company, what the training company was training you to do (new career? what career?). Which sponsored company? When? Where? Was this part of VA education benefits? Or Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment? A VECI initiative? Who told you that you weren’t retrainable?

  27. Raymond Gallagher    

    Stress management do you need to attend all of them?

    1. Jason Davis    

      Raymond, I’m not sure the benefits app can answer this health question, but it’s worth an ask! 🙂

  28. st wayne    

    question: will va give travel pay for treatment at outsources?

    1. DannyG    

      VA should pay for travel to any appt THEY send you to, IF you are eligible. That is what I have been told.

  29. wayne schatzle    

    does VA pay travel pay for outsource treatment

    1. Jason Davis    

      Wayne, I’m not sure the benefits app can answer this health question, but it’s worth an ask! 🙂

  30. samuel williams    

    from a general ? to my and other marines problem.
    stationed at camp Lejeune 59 thru 61, drank lots of water.
    many years later had throat cancer, filed a claim but was turned
    down ; no records of a sore throat while at camp Lejeune.
    50% chance that my cancer didn’t come from the bad water
    while I was there. these were the reasons claim was turned down.


  31. donald d hastings    

    have tried to contact va three times. each time a note has popped up saying your case is being looked at but have not gotten any feedback. should i just give up and not bother anyone at va. thanks dh.

  32. David Sabo    

    I live in Europe part of the year.The FMP program is difficult to access.and payment is often slow.Any way to access eligable care without upfront payment to provider.

  33. Binh Q Nguyen    

    is there anyone I can contact to see about my son dependent add on to my disability rating of 100%? I submitted the form six months ago but still receiving benefits at the single rate. Thank you.

  34. Isabel Papp    

    I have been trying to get information on who is the Hospital Director(s) (are for the VA-Palo Alto and the VA-Livermore, CA hospitals. I have Googled and cannot get a real chain to the top name. I have been dropped through the cracks at both facilities, been made to suffer in pain waiting for appointments and referrals, sent the wrong medications, cannot get the Specialists that saw me to call me back 2 months after appointment nor does she even choose to use the Secure Messaging (it is her Option-it is not Mandated) with feedback. I am at 100% SC and my GMC thinks I should “buy private insurance through my spouse”. Patient Advocate says there is nothing they can do, what can your app do for me?? I Served Honorably for 9 years, Now I feel I am the one left on the Battlefield of the VA, as Donald Trump stated Immigrants will get better care than Veterans.

    1. DannyG    

      Ms. Papp, My Sister, I am nobody; just another disabled vet. If you are having such a hard time, I would suggest avoiding the hassle & frustration – CALL YOUR ELECTED “REPRESENTATIVES! That’s why every American, especially Veterans, should vote!
      Good luck.

  35. Timothy Eli Burton    

    I was awarded an increase of 80% in February of 2015, and received another increase to 90% recently (june15). Thank you VA, but where is the MONEY? I am behind in all my bills, unable to work due to service connected disabilities, and my wife has MS. How long is this GAME going to last? until I die? HELP me please!!!!

  36. Tomez DeSilva Ph.D    

    I have been trying for three plus years to get disability for mental incursions and racial abuse during my tour in Vietnam. I need help and guidance to have my rating increased. I cannot work and am under psychiatric care by my local VA field office

  37. Robert Wiley    

    Appreciate the dedicated VA team members. Improvements are occurring. This app is another powerful tool.

Comments are closed.