Anyone who served in the military might be eligible for benefits depending on their needs and countable income and retirement savings, but once a veteran reaches age 65 and older, a variety of benefits become available.
Elderly veterans are also eligible for all of the benefits available to all veterans, including service connected disability compensation for disabled veterans, education and training, veteran pension, healthcare, insurance, home loans, vocational rehabilitation, employment, death pension, pension benefits, burial, and other cash benefits. Additionally, elderly veterans are eligible for Aid and Attendance and Housebound.
Aid and Attendance
Aid and Attendance (A&A) offers a monthly pension amount for veterans who:
- Require help with daily functions, including eating, dressing, or bathing
- Are in a nursing home
- Are bedridden
- Have very limited eyesight that meets certain qualifications
To qualify, veterans need not be injured during service. They must have served during an approved war period and have been honorably discharged. As of 2016, to qualify, they need less than $80,000 in total assets, with the exception of a home and one vehicle.
According to the New York Times, reporting data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, A&A is one of the least known and most underutilized benefits available to veterans. Money is available through the program for caregivers in the home, including sons and daughters (but not spouses) or it can be used to pay for assisted living or home care.
As of 2016, veterans alone might be entitled to $1799 per month. Veterans and their spouses can receive up to $2120 per month and a surviving spouse can receive up to $1149 per month (spouses might need to re-apply after the death of the veteran). Veterans with a sick spouse can qualify for up to $1406 per month. This can be more than 50% higher than the basic veterans’ pension. These numbers are expected to change in 2017, but will likely remain similar.
According to the data, of the nearly two million World War II veterans alive in 2011, fewer than 40,000 were granted A&A benefits. There were also fewer than 40,000 spouses with these benefits. Many consider these benefit a “well-kept secret.” It’s been an entitlement for veterans for nearly 70 years and only recently was information added to the website about the benefit.
Applying for Veterans’ Aid and Attendance
Applying for A&A can be confusing and frustrating. Some applicants are confused by the requirement that they must qualify for VA benefits, for which they must be considered disabled. What some people don’t realize, though, is that the VA automatically qualifies all service members as disabled once they reach 65 and they are eligible for benefits even if there are no “official disabilities.”
Income limits to qualify for A&A can be flexible and allow you to deduct the cost of medical expenses, caregivers, assisted living or nursing home fees. Besides off-setting the cost of senior care for vets, A&A might also provide a way for you to protect your assets.
Housebound is another elderly veterans’ benefits program. It offers monthly payments for those who are substantially confined to their homes because of a permanent disability.
Elderly Veterans Healthcare
Veterans are entitled to certain healthcare programs. Included are programs such as extended care, geriatrics, long-term care, and more. Depending on their circumstances, they can receive this care at VA medical centers, regular hospitals, in long-term care facilities, at home, and throughout the community.
The VA has a strong interest in helping veterans remain in their home and in the community as long as possible. These services range from adult day care, home care, and physician in the home among other programs. Typically, the a VA Medical Center will contract with community providers to provide these services at little at reduced or no cost to the veteran and their family. There is not always a low income requirement to access these services.
Geriatrics and Extended Care Services is a program that tends to the health and well-being of vets with certain illnesses, chronic health conditions, disabilities, chronic diseases, injuries, and age. The goal of the programs is to help veterans be as independent as possible and lessen the burden of these issues on vets and their families.
The Geri-PACT program is an enhanced ambulatory care program that helps vets in the community with their health care needs. Those who have challenges related to chronic diseases, co-existing cognitive and functional decline, and psychosocial issues.
The veterans long-term care program offers a wide range of services that range from assisting with everyday activities to providing support for illnesses. The program provides these services for an extended period of time and can assist vets in their homes, residential settings, nursing homes, and at community sites, such as adult day health care. Some of these programs are ideal for family members and caregivers who are providing support to their veteran loved one.
Veterans might also be entitled to financial assistance to help them pay for the cost of living in a residential setting or nursing home. Benefits are based on the individual’s need for ongoing treatment, assistance, personal care, and availability of services in their area, as well as insurance coverage, financial eligibility, and service-connected status.
Some of the residential settings in which veterans’ receive long-term care include medical foster homes, community residential care centers, assisting living, adult family homes, nursing homes, community living centers, community nursing homes, and state veterans’ homes. Hospice and palliative care might also be available.
Be Aware of Scams
It’s important for veterans and their loved ones to be aware of scams related to VA benefits. For instance, it is illegal for any entity to ask for financial compensation for help in filling out VA forms, but there are many companies that do just this. It’s also a good idea to check into the credentials of anyone offering an educational seminar or other instruction on VA benefits if it’s not coming directly from the VA. Though some are genuinely trying to help veterans, others stand to benefit and are taking advantage of veterans and the benefits to which they are entitled.
Financial issues as we age become tougher and tougher and can be one of the most stressful aspects of growing older. Fortunately for veterans and their loved ones, there might be financial assistance and other forms of support available to reduce this stress. If you or a loved one is a veteran and you would like to discuss your options or you have questions about home care or adult day care, call or email us at Skylark Senior Care.