Here is a short list of things I believe are most important for all veterans to know with a brief explanation. If you can think of some others post a comment below or MOAA members can join the Veterans Benefits Discussion in MOAA Connect.
1. What is the type and character of your separation or retirement?
This is vitally important because it will determine your eligibility for all benefits through the VA, Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP), Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), and Veterans Preference in hiring with federal and state agencies.
2. What is your VA disability rating and what conditions you are service connected for?
If you have already filed a claim for disability compensation with the VA you need to pay attention to your combined disability rating and the conditions you are service connected for. TRICARE For Life recently began enforcing a rule about making healthcare payments to other federal agencies. This means that you may get billed by TRICARE for care you receive at a VA medical center relating to non-service connected conditions. Do not expect the VA to tell you about this. This is not a policy charge on their end.
3. Did you enroll in Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and if so, for whom?
You do not need to worry about this if you separated. I will not go into whether or not you should sign up for SBP here. If you signed up, you and your spouse should know what base amount you set and how to find out if you forget (on your Retiree Account Statement).
4. Which federal agencies pay you monthly and how much they pay you?
If you are receiving several government checks each month you need to know where the money is coming from. If we have another government shutdown or partial shutdown, you will need to know what that will do to your monthly income.
5. What type or types of healthcare you are eligible for?
The items above will dictate what types of healthcare you are eligible for. Knowing what you are eligible is the first step when deciding which healthcare options make the most sense for your family. If you do not have a VA disability rating and your annual income is over the VA threshold, VA healthcare may be off the table for you.