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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Friday, February 22, 2019

2019 Brings Significant Changes to State and Federal Veterans' Benefits

2019 will usher in multiple changes in benefits for veterans in California and across the nation. As a veteran, you have served your country, and you deserve these programs, but if you do not know about them, you will miss out of their valuable services. 2019 brings significant changes to state and federal veterans’ benefits, and here are some examples:

Federal GI Bill Increases STEM Education Benefits

The federal GI bill already provides educational benefits for veterans, but now, you might get more benefits if you are studying science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Beginning on August 1, 2019, the Veterans Administration (VA) will cover an additional nine months of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits after you use up all of your existing GI Bill benefits.
The expansion of benefits will pay for the lesser or an additional nine months of coverage or $30,000. The increased benefits do not apply to dependents who are using transferred benefits or people using the Yellow Ribbon program. 
The increased benefits are only available in certain situations. You must have already completed at least 90 quarter hours (60 semester hours) of college. Also, your STEM program must require more than 192 quarter hours (128 semester hours) to earn your degree.

Changes in Dental Care for Retirees

The Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) went away on January 1, 2019. The VA replaced the TRDP with the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) program. In addition to dental benefits, FEDVIP makes vision insurance available for family members of active duty personnel. 
You can choose from 10 dental carriers and four vision carriers. The vision plan is voluntary. It provides expanded vision coverage. 
The dental carriers will vary, depending on where you live. They include:

  •  Aetna Dental
  • Delta Dental
  • FEP BlueDental
  • GEHA
  • MetLife
  • United Concordia Dental
  • Dominion Dental
  • EmblemHealth
  • Humana
  • Triple-S Salud


Your options for vision coverage include:

  • Aetna Vision
  • FEP BlueVision
  • UnitedHealthcare Vision
  • VSP Vision Care


Your premiums will vary, depending on where you live and the coverage you select. For example:

  • Dental: Your FEDVIP dental premiums can range from $18.81 to $40.60 for one person and $56.40 to $171.45 for a family. For comparison, TRDP dental premiums were $28.90 to $40.60 for an individual and $101.12 to $143.48 for family coverage.
  • Vision: Your FEDVIP monthly premium will range from $6.70 to $14.43 for one person and $19.46 to $43.38 for a family.

Reservists Can Get a High-Deployment Allowance


Reservists were not eligible for a high-deployment allowance under previous law. Under the new law, however, reservists can be eligible for up to $1,000 a month in high-deployment allowance.
With these significant changes to state and federal veterans’ benefits, you should talk with a CA veterans’ benefits attorney. You are entitled to many services, and a local lawyer can explain your benefits to you and help you apply for services. 
You served our country, and you deserve all the benefits available to veterans. You should talk with a California veterans’ benefits attorney to learn about the programs for which you are eligible and the changes in benefits for 2019.


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