Contributed by Jennifer Watkins-Schoenig, Director of Muscatine County Veterans Affairs
The VA provides free dental care to a relatively small percentage of veterans. The percentage is so small due to strict eligibility requirements that need to be met. In order for veterans to be eligible for unlimited and unrestricted dental care from the VA, the veteran must be:
• A service-connected veteran with a compensable dental disability or condition (including some secondary dental conditions, like periodontal disease secondary to diabetes mellitus).
• Veterans who were prisoners of war detained or interned for any period of time.
• Service-connected veterans rated 100% permanent and total (including TDIU).
The following veterans may be eligible for limited dental care provided by the VA (not a comprehensive list):
• Veterans with a service-connected noncompensable dental condition or disability resulting from combat wounds or service trauma.
• Veterans with a service-connected noncompensable dental condition shown to exist at the time of discharge from active duty are eligible for a one-time treatment if they:
1) Were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable with service of not less than 180 days (90 days for Gulf War veterans); and
2) Applied for such treatment within 180 days after discharge or release.
• Veterans enrolled and receiving care for a period of 60 consecutive days in certain VA facilities are eligible for a one-time course of dental care. The services and treatment must be necessary for the veteran to gain or regain employment.
• Veterans with a dental condition professionally determined by the VA to be aggravating a service-connected medical condition.
• Service-connected veterans who have been approved for or are pursuing VA vocational rehab with additional requirements.
• Veterans preparing for VA hospital admission, for treatment of a dental infection that might negatively affect admission.
For veterans who do not meet the criteria there is another option. The VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) is a reduced-cost dental insurance plan that is available through either Delta Dental or MetLife. In order to be eligible for VADIP, the veteran must be enrolled in the VA healthcare program and submit an application to the insurance carrier online, over the phone, or by mail. Rate information and additional information can be found at each carrier’s website: Delta Dental’s website is www.deltadentalvadip.org and MetLife’s website is www.metlife.com/VADIP.

Finally, it is always a good idea to contact Muscatine County Veterans Affairs if you are unsure about eligibility, filing a claim, or have any questions. Jen can be reached by calling 563-262-4162.