VA Dental Care Benefits: Am I Eligible?
Dr. Greg Grillo (dentably.com)
Everyone deserves access to affordable dental care, especially because it is so crucial to your body’s overall well-being and health. Unfortunately, a lot of the population is severely underserved when it comes to dental care and often finds it nearly impossible to find care that they can afford with their coverage.
Veterans are an example of a group of people who find it exceptionally difficult to seek out dental care. Their benefits are pretty confusing and can get extremely complicated, so it’s hard for them to get the help they deserve after serving our country.
I served as a dental officer in the Navy, and have been working within my own practice for over 20 years now. Because of my background, I have a passion for helping veterans understand their benefits, especially with regards to dental care.
It is my goal to help educate them on their dental rights and how to obtain the oral care they deserve. This overview is going to point out the different eligibilities and options that veterans have, even if they discover that they are ineligible for dental care benefits.
Dental Care Eligibility
One of the reasons determining dental eligibility can be so difficult is because there are 9 different classes for eligibility that will determine where a veteran falls with regards to their dental care benefits. It can be very difficult to navigate these health care claims and benefits, but I have tried to make these classes easy to help you determine whether or not you qualify for one of them.
If you have a condition or dental disability that is compensated through a connected service, then you are eligible for the necessary dental care.
If you have ever been a prisoner of war, then you are eligible for any necessary dental care.
If you received a disability during your time of service that rates 100% on the disabling scale, then you are eligible for any necessary dental care. If you are unemployed and unpaid due to this same disability, you are also eligible.
If you have not received a full dental examination with appropriate treatment upon your discharge, and your DD214 Certificate of Discharge confirms this, then you are eligible for one-time dental care.
If you have a non-compensable dental condition or resulting disability from your time in service, and can provide and maintain a dentition that is fully maintained (such as a Dental Trauma Rating 10-564-D), ten you are eligible for necessary dental care, which will be determined by the VA Regional Office Rating Decision.
If you are actively participating in a 38 USC Chapter 31 vocational rehabilitation program, and can meet all of the criteria within your program, then you are eligible for any needed dental care.
If you are scheduled for or currently receiving any form of inpatient care, and have an oral condition that complicates your current medical condition or treatment plan, then a VA dental professional will classify you as eligible for the necessary dental care to treat that complication.
If you are enrolled as a homeless or care-receiving veteran under VHA Directive 2007-039, then you may be eligible for a one time course of care if medically necessary for the purpose of relieving pain, assisting you in gaining employment, or treating moderate to severe gum conditions.
If you have additional questions regarding the classifications, then the best place to ask those questions is at the Veteran Affairs website.
Discounts for Veterans Who Don’t Qualify
If you are ineligible for dental care benefits based on these classes, it can be very disheartening. I completely understand how frustrating that can be. You do still have some options, though, so don’t think that you can’t find the care you deserve.
The National VA Dental Insurance Program provides dental insurance at a drastically lowered price through MetLife or Delta Dental. Just apply for the Civilian Health and Medical Program. This program will charge co-pay and a monthly premium at affordable rates, and in return you will be eligible to receive endodontics, preventative and restorative, emergency, and surgical treatments as necessary.
Alternative Options for Dental Care
If you are ineligible to receive dental care through the VA, and unable to afford them through the Civilian Health and Medical Program, there may still be options for you to receive dental care. A lot of dentists like myself empathize with the issue, and have begun taking it upon ourselves to offer free or highly discounted services to veterans in desperate need of care.
Aspen Dental is a great place to start your search. They have over 500 offices throughout the country and a specific set of services offered only to veterans. Their offices are open on weekends, too. They have a partnership with Got Your 6, a non-profit organization that works to support veterans and mobilize dentists to give them adequate care.
It can be extremely frustrating to come back from serving your country in a dangerous situation and try to navigate your dental care, but don’t give up hope. You deserve affordable care and there are a lot of different avenues to get there.
Everyone deserves to have a healthy mouth, and there are tons of dentists opening their doors to veteran, and several organizations offering help and resources by state.