Whether you’re a senior veteran or brand new to life as a non-active military member, it can be difficult to transition to life as a civilian. For many, medical bills and debt can really get in the way of maintaining life and all that it throws at you. Whether you’re getting billed for receiving treatment from a combat injury, or medical debt is piling up as a result of emergency injuries or hospitalization, there are government and nonprofit programs designed to aid you. Medical debt tends to be momentous, and luckily there are many programs for veterans to help your finances handle the debt and avoid the negative impact to your credit score that medical bills can cause.
The VA itself is designed to be a resource for veterans and their health needs. Though the VA’s intent is to help pay for many medical necessities, there are situations in which medical debt may accumulate. For that reason, there are government programs associated with the VA as well as each military branch there to help with financial assistance or make payment a little easier.
- VA Repayment Plan: A VA Repayment Plan requires VA form 1100 and is intended to set a VA copay repayment plan based on your debt and ability to pay. However, this repayment plan cannot exceed beyond three years.
- VA Waiver of Existing Debt: The VA Waiver of Existing Debt requires VA form 5655 and is intended for veterans to request a waiver of part or all of your debt. Your explanation on the form should include your reasoning for being unable to pay your debt.
- VA Hardship Determination: The VA Hardship Determination requires VA form 10-10HS and is intended to request for a copayment exemption based on changes in your financial situation.
- Financial Aid based on each military branch: The Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society are all programs designed to help vets and soldiers with emergency financial relief and that includes relief for medical bills and debt in some cases.
In addition to government programs designed to help military veterans and their families there are also nonprofits who tackle the need many veterans have as a result of accumulated and overwhelming medical debt. Though some have specific eligibility requirements, these programs are created to pick up where government programs leave off and provide more aid to an even larger population of veterans in need.
- VFW Unmet Needs Program: The VFW Unmet Needs Program is there to help veterans and their families in case of financial hardship for a variety of reasons including medical bills and debt. They offer a grant of up to $5,000.
- American Red Cross Emergency Financial Assistance for Military Families: The Red Cross works with a variety of aid societies to help veterans and active military members with financial hardship. They recommend you call them at 1-877-272-7337 for more information.
- Rebuild Hope: Rebuild hope is a nonprofit program designed to aid military vets and active service members who are in financial peril. They offer goods, services, and help to those in financial debt for medical reasons or otherwise.
- USA Cares: A foundation for post-9/11 military members and their families, USA Cares offers financial support for military families by paying portions of medical bills as well as other advocacy support.
- U.S. Soldiers Foundation: This foundation offers support in a variety of ways including medical, dental, and psychological assistance for military veterans and their families.
- The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes: For veterans wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, they may be eligible for financial assistance as a result of medical debt associated with their injuries.
- Operation Family Fund: Operation Family Fund is for veterans severely wounded as a result of Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Eligible veterans receive grants to help with medical bills and debt.
- Operation First Response: Operation First Response is designed to help military vets and their families with living expenses that may be hard to pay as a result of medical debt, as well as assistance with transportation to and from medical facilities.
Being overwhelmed with medical bills and debt can have a lasting effect for many veterans. Things like credit, loan qualification, and retirement accounts suffer while medical debt goes unpaid or winds up being sent to collections. Thankfully, there are some government programs and nonprofits working to help veterans struggling with medical expenses to meet their needs.
For more tips and guides, visit our military support resource center.
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