1.2. Overview of the Veterans Benefits System
The United States government has had an administrative agency to resolve claims for benefits arising from military service since the Civil War and has been known as:
- Known as the "Pension Bureau" from 1862 to 1933,
- the "Veterans Administration" from 1933-1988, and
- the "Department of Veterans Affairs" from 1998 to the present.
The organization is almost universally known as the "VA". However you refer to the organization, it is important to understand that VA is the primary federal organization authorized by Congress to award benefits to qualifying veterans and dependents. All VA legislation is contained in U.S. Code: Title 38 - Veterans' Benefits.
In addition to VA, other federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and Department of Labor, also have programs for which veterans and dependents may be eligible. These programs are beyond the scope of this Knowledge Book. Veterans interested in such programs are encouraged to contact "Ask VetsFirst" or another Veterans Service Organization for details.
Congress establishes the requirements for a veteran or other eligible individual to qualify for VA benefits. To be eligible for VA benefits, two things must be documented or established:
- Eligibility must be established, and
- Entitlement must be established.