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A closer look at VA dental health care

in Contributors/Larry Dandridge/Military by

This article continues to describe VA dental care benefits and the state-of-the-art Dental Clinic at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center’s North Charleston Annex.

You can read more about VA dental care and the dental care benefits at https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/dental-care/. Veterans may qualify for some or all of their dental care depending on several factors, including the vet’s military service history, current health, and living situation.

Specifically, veterans dental care benefits fall into the following 11 categories:

  1. Receiving VA Compensation. If the veteran has a military service-connected dental disability or condition for which he or she receives compensation (monthly payments), the veteran is in Class I of the VA’s care hierarchy (Priority Group) and may qualify for any needed dental care.
  2. POW. If the veteran is a former prisoner of war, the veteran is in Class IIC of the VA’s care hierarchy and may qualify for any needed dental care.
  3. Rated 100 percent disabled. If the veteran has one or more service-connected disabilities rated at 100 percent disabling, the veteran is in Class IV of the VA’s care hierarchy and may qualify for any needed dental care. However, if the veteran is being paid at the 100 percent disabling rate, based on a temporary rating, that does not qualify you for this benefit.
  4. Unemployable. If the veteran is unemployable (unable to work), and gets disability compensation at the 100 percent disabling rate due to service-connected conditions, the veteran is in Class IV of the https://missionact.va.gov and may qualify for any needed dental care. However, if the veteran is being paid at the 100 percent disabling rate, based on a temporary rating, that does not qualify you for this benefit.
  5. Gulf War. If the veteran served on active duty for 90 days or more, during the Gulf War era, he or she is in Class II of the VA’s care hierarchy and may qualify for one-time dental care if the veteran meets all of the requirements listed below:The veteran did not receive a dishonorable discharge, and
  6. The veteran applies for dental care within 180 days of discharge or release, and
  7. The veteran’s DD214 certificate of discharge doesn’t show that he or she had a complete dental exam and all needed dental treatment before being discharged. Please note that, if a veteran got a dental award letter from Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) dated before 1955 stating that your dental conditions aren’t compensable, then you are no longer eligible for Class II outpatient dental treatment. This is because of Public Law 83, which was enacted June 16, 1955, and which amended veterans’ eligibility for outpatient dental services.
  8. Non-compensable service-connected disabled. If the veteran has a service-connected non-compensable dental condition (a dental condition that the veteran is not getting disability payments for) or a disability that is the result of combat wounds or service trauma, the veteran is in Class IIA, the veteran may qualify for any dental care needed to make sure the veteran has and can keep a working set of teeth. A Dental Trauma Rating (VA Form 10-564-D) or VA Regional Office Rating Decision Letter (VA Form 10-7131) will tell the veteran his or her tooth/teeth conditions that are trauma rated.
  9. Linked to service-connected health condition. If the VA dental care provider has concluded that the veteran’s dental condition is linked to a service-connected health condition and is making that condition worse, the veteran is in Class III of the VA’s care hierarchy and may qualify for dental care to treat the oral condition that is making the veteran’s service-connected health condition worse.
  10. Active in U.S.C. Chapter 31 VRE. In the veteran is active in a 38 U.S.C Chapter 31 Veteran Readiness and Employment (VRE) Program, the veteran is in Class V of the VA’s care hierarchy and may qualify dental care that a VA dental provider concludes is needed to achieve at least one of the following goals:Make it possible for you to be in the employment program, or
  11. Make it possible for you to reach the goals of your Veteran Readiness and Employment program, or
  12. Prevent you from having to stop your employment program, or
  13. Help you get back to your employment program faster if you’ve had to stop (and are in “interrupted” or “leave” status), or
  14. Help you get back to your employment program faster if you’ve had to stop (and are in “discontinued” status) because of an illness, injury, or dental condition, or
  15. Make it possible for you to get and adjust to a job during the period of employment assistance, or
  16. Make it possible for you to be fully independent in your daily living
  17. Making health condition harder to treat. If a veteran is getting VA care or scheduled for inpatient care for a health condition and the veteran needs dental care for a dental issue that is making his or her health condition harder to treat, the veteran is in Class VI and may qualify for dental care to treat the dental issue that a VA dental care provider finds is making the health condition the veteran is being treated for harder to treat.
  18. Homeless Vet dental program. If the veteran is signed up to get care through the Homeless Veterans Dental Program (VHA Directive 2007-039), the veteran is in Class IIB and may qualify for a one-time course of dental care that a VA dental care provider concludes the veteran needs to achieve any one of the following: Relieve the veteran’s pain, help the veteran get a job, or treat gum infections that can lead to pain, swelling, and bone and tooth loss.
  19. Domiciliary Care. If the Veteran is getting care in a hospital, nursing home, or other supervised homelike setting, the veteran is in Inpatient Status and may qualify for dental service that a VA dental care provider, working with the veteran’s primary care provider, concludes the veteran needs to manage a health condition a doctor is currently treating the veteran for.

If a Veteran cannot get VA dental care benefits, they may be able to buy dental insurance at a reduced cost through the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) if the veteran meets at least one of the requirements listed below.

  1. The veteran is signed up for VA health care or
  2. The veteran is signed up for our Civilian Health and Medical Program (also called CHAMPVA, a health insurance program for dependents of Veterans).

Multiple plan options allow individuals to select a plan that provides benefits and premiums that meet their dental needs and budget. You may click each insurer’s link for specific information regarding registration, rates and services, or call Delta Dental at 1-855-370-3303 or MetLife at 1-888-310-1681. Read about VADIP at https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/VADIP/.

Eligible Veterans in the Lowcountry and Savannah and Hinesville, Ga., should sign up for VA Medical Care at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System (previously RHJVA Medical Center), one of its seven Community Based Out Patient Clinics (CBOCs & Annex), or online at https:// www.va.gov/health-care/apply/application/introduction.

Find the VA Enrollment for Health Care Application Form and instructions at https://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/10-10EZ-fillable.pdf.

As the author of this article, I (Larry Dandridge) thank the Chief of the Ralph Johnson VA Dental Clinic, Doctor Ryne Johnson and the RHJVAHCS Public Affairs Officer, Howard (Wayne) Capps for allowing me to interview them on VA Dental Benefits.

Larry Dandridge is a Vietnam War era wounded warrior, a combat and 100 percent disabled veteran, an ex-Enlisted Infantryman, an Ex-Warrant Officer Attack Helicopter Pilot and Test-pilot, and a retired Lt. Colonel. He is a past Veterans Service Officer, and a current volunteer Patient Adviser, CEO Advisory Council Member, and Patient and Family Advisory Committee Member at the RHJ VA Health Care System. He is also the Fisher House Charleston volunteer Good Will Ambassador and the VP for Veteran and Retiree Affairs for the Coastal Carolina Army Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Chapter. Larry is the author of the award-winning, non-fiction, and action-packed BLADES OF THUNDER (Book One) and contributing free-lance writer with The Island News. You can email him at LDandridge@earthlink.net.

EDITOR’S NOTES

These columns are not meant to replace carefully reading the Federal Veterans’ benefits information at www.va.gov and other locations or the State of S.C. Veterans benefit information at https://scdva.sc.gov. Anyone seeking advice on veterans’ benefits are advised to seek the advice and assistance of a Veterans Assistance Officer or another certified Veterans Advisor.

Larry Dandridge is not an employee of The Island News and his opinions are his alone. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of these articles, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed by the author or The Island News for damages resulting from the use of information contained herein.

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