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Scotty Allison: What veterans need to know about dental care and the VA

On any typical day, we receive several requests for information regarding dental care at the VA. The main point is just because you are enrolled in the VA Health Care System does not make you automatically eligible for dental care. The following is the VA criteria used for a veteran to receive dental care:

1. Veterans who are service-connected for a dental disability/condition.

2. If you were a prisoner of war.

3. If your VA service-connected disabilities are rated at 100 percent to include those who are Individually Unemployable (this does not include those having a temporary 100 percent rating).

4. If a veteran is participating in the VA Vocational Rehabilitation program and needs dental care.

5. If your current dental issues are aggravating a service-connected disability you receive care for.

6. Those having a service-connected non-compensable dental condition/disability resulting from combat wounds or service trauma are eligible for repeat care for the service-connected condition(s).

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) does have a state program that provides dental support to eligible low-income Veterans and their dependents. Ability to use this program is based on family size, assets and income. If you qualify, you could receive $1,000 in routine dental care per eligible family member each year. Additionally, under this program each eligible person could receive once per lifetime up to $5,000 for extractions/dentures. If a veteran is deceased, the spouse/dependents can still use the program if they qualify.

Recently, the VA announced that in concert with Delta Dental/MetLife that it has begun offering affordable dental insurance to eligible veterans. Any veteran who is currently enrolled in the VA health care system will be able to obtain dental coverage under this program regardless of service-connected disability ratings or enrollment priority group. Also eligible are spouses and dependent children who are covered under VA’s CHAMPVA program. Coverage is scheduled to begin Jan. 1. As this is insurance, there will be costs associated with the program for both premiums and co-pays.

The 2014 COLA rate has been officially set at 1.5 percent. This will mean an increase in military retirement pay, VA rates for compensation and pension for disabled veterans and surviving families, and social security recipients beginning in January of 2014.

Thanks to the Evangelical Covenant Church of Bemidji for their support to some of our local veterans and their families during this Thanksgiving Season. Your kind contributions providing gift certificates to purchase a complete Thanksgiving dinner are greatly appreciated.

Don’t forget if you have any questions regarding veteran benefits, please call the County Veterans Service Office at (218) 333-4177/4178.

SCOTTY ALLISON is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer