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Pre-Discharge Program


The Pre-Discharge Program is a VA benefits initiative designed to assist service members in addressing disability claims before leaving active duty. By facilitating a seamless transition from military to civilian life, it helps eligible participants gain necessary medical evaluations and initiate the compensation process. The program aims to reduce the wait time for receiving VA disability benefits and provide vital support for veterans with service-connected disabilities.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Pre-Discharge Program is designed to help service members transition from military to civilian life by starting the VA benefits application process before they are discharged from the military service.
  2. There are two main components of the program: the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), which assist in providing disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, healthcare and other benefits for eligible transitioning service members.
  3. Eligible service members are encouraged to apply for the Pre-Discharge Program, ideally 180 to 90 days before separation, to receive their benefits promptly and ensure a seamless transition to civilian life.


The VA benefits term “Pre-Discharge Program” is important because it enables transitioning service members and veterans to file disability claims and access crucial benefits before leaving the military.

This early engagement allows for a smoother transition into civilian life, as obtaining benefits can be a complicated and time-consuming process.

By initiating claims and addressing potential disabilities or medical conditions while still on active duty, service members and veterans can secure the necessary support, healthcare, compensation, and resources they need for a successful and secure post-military life.

The Pre-Discharge Program significantly reduces wait times for benefits and promotes overall well-being and stability for those who have served their country.


The Pre-Discharge Program primarily serves a purpose aimed at simplifying and expediting the transition from military to civilian life for service members. Recognizing the challenges that veterans often face in adjusting to life post-service, this program provides essential support and access to resources that can make this process significantly smoother.

By allowing service members to submit claims for disability benefits and address other critical issues prior to their official discharge, the program ensures that veterans receive prompt assistance and can effectively navigate the often complex landscape of benefits and services available to them. In addition to facilitating timely access to resources, the Pre-Discharge Program empowers service members to make well-informed decisions as they approach the end of their military service.

This is achieved through comprehensive benefits counseling and assistance in identifying appropriate points of contact within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other relevant organizations. Given the potential financial and emotional stresses associated with transitioning to civilian life, the Pre-Discharge Program serves as a vital lifeline for veterans seeking to secure their well-being and maintain a high quality of life after their time in uniform.

Examples of Pre-Discharge Program

The Pre-Discharge Program is a joint program between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) designed to assist service members in filing and processing their disability claims before they are officially discharged from the military. This allows for a more efficient and seamless transition from military service to civilian life by expediting the claims process. Here are three real-world examples of situations where the Pre-Discharge Program can be utilized:

Wounded Warrior Program: A service member is injured in combat and will be medically discharged due to their injuries. The service member might not know how to navigate the VA benefits application process once discharged. Through the Pre-Discharge Program, this individual can start filing their disability claim with the help of a Veterans Service Representative, thus ensuring a smoother transition to civilian life and timely access to needed medical care and benefits.

Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshops: A service member nearing the end of their enlistment attends a TAP workshop, where they learn about the Pre-Discharge Program. They decide to take advantage of this program to ensure their VA disability claim is filed and processed before they leave the military. This way, they can have a seamless transition from military to civilian life and have immediate access to their VA benefits and healthcare coverage.

Military Medical Evaluation Boards: A service member undergoes a Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) process to determine if they are still fit for duty following an injury or illness. Upon the recommendation of the MEB, the service member is then referred to the Pre-Discharge Program to begin filing their claim before their medical discharge is finalized. This enables the service member to start receiving their benefits as soon as possible post-discharge so they can focus on their recovery and transition to civilian life.

FAQs about Pre-Discharge Program

What is the Pre-Discharge Program?

The Pre-Discharge Program is a program designed to help service members and transitioning veterans access their VA benefits before they leave the military. This program ensures a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life by streamlining the application process for VA benefits such as health care, compensation, education, and more.

Who is eligible for the Pre-Discharge Program?

Service members who are within six months of leaving active duty, or within one year of leaving the National Guard or Reserves, are eligible for the Pre-Discharge Program. This includes military members transitioning for medical reasons, retiring, or completing their service commitment.

How can I apply for the Pre-Discharge Program?

To apply for the Pre-Discharge Program, you can contact your local Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office or VA representative. They can provide you with the necessary forms and guidance on how to apply for and access your benefits before leaving the military. You may also apply online through the VA’s eBenefits portal.

What benefits are covered under the Pre-Discharge Program?

The Pre-Discharge Program covers a wide range of VA benefits, including health care, compensation for service-connected disabilities, education assistance under the GI Bill, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, home loans, and burial benefits. The program aims to ensure you receive these benefits as quickly as possible after your discharge.

How long does the Pre-Discharge Program process take?

The processing time for the Pre-Discharge Program varies depending on the type of benefit and individual circumstances. However, by applying while still on active duty, you can streamline the process and potentially start receiving benefits sooner than if you apply after leaving the military.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD)
  • Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES)
  • Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Service Treatment Records (STRs)
  • Veterans Affairs Compensation Claims

Sources for More Information