Since September 1980, an individual who enlists in the military for the first time must have completed a minimum period of service to be eligible for certain VA benefits.
Generally speaking, the minimum period of service is either twenty-four months of continuous active duty or the entire period for which the individual was called or ordered to active duty. Note that there are still other benefits that have even more restrictive length of service requirements (e.g., nonservice-connected disability pension (at least 90 consecutive days of service during a period of war) and Vietnam Era education benefits (at least 181 consecutive days of active service)).
There are, however, some notable exceptions to this rule. A veteran applying for VA disability compensation benefits as the result of disease or injury incurred in service is not subject to the minimum length of service requirement. Similarly, if a veteran died during service, eligible family members may apply for VA survivor benefits regardless of whether the veteran fulfilled his or her entire period of service.
Additionally, the minimum length of service requirement does not apply to:
1. Claims for VA life insurance benefits;
2. Military discharges before the fulfillment of the minimum service
requirement due to hardship; and
3. Individuals who were retired or separated from military service due to a
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