As 2020 picks up steam, you may want to review your available veteran benefits. The government has made updates for the new year that may result in higher pay or new programs for you.

These are the most notable updated veteran benefits to know for 2020.

Disability cost of living increase

Veterans who became disabled during service will notice a larger benefit check. The cost of living increase for disabled veterans and their families is 1.6% for 2020. For example, if you currently receive $1,000 per month, you will now receive about $1,016. These new rates took effect on December 1, 2019.

Commissary access

The government has extended access to commissaries and other recreational facilities for active-duty military members to new categories of veterans for 2020. This includes veterans who have service-related disabilities, were prisoners of war or received a Purple Heart, as well as their family caregivers. Depending on the specific facility, some of the available amenities include hotels and lodging, campsites, bowling, golf and much more. To gain entrance, simply show your Veteran Health Identification Card.

Disability benefits for Agent Orange exposure

Vietnam veterans who became ill after exposure to Agent Orange were previously ineligible for disability benefits, but the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has updated that policy for 2020. As of January 1, 2020, you can seek disability pay and health care benefits from the military if:

  • You have an illness related to contact with Agent Orange, such as Hodgkin’s disease, chronic B-cell leukemia, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, or lung cancer and other types of respiratory cancer
  • You came into contact with Agent Orange during military service, whether in Vietnam, in a demilitarized zone or elsewhere

To qualify, you must submit your medical record detailing diagnosis and treatment of a disease resulting from Agent Orange. You must also provide proof of your military service and circumstances under which you came in contact with this toxic herbicide. You can file a claim on the VA website, by mail or in person.