A Comprehensive Guide To Senior Veterans Healthcare Benefits
If you ever served in the military, you are entitled to receive benefits because of your status as a veteran. In the United States, veterans are given benefits to honor their bravery and patriotism to the country. Such benefits include housing, healthcare, and even long-term care options. There are many resources available to vets and some specific to senior vets who need long-term health care.
Some veterans are not aware of such benefits available to them, and some do not use them. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, over 9 million senior veterans living in the United States are enrolled in VA healthcare programs.
In this guide today, we highlight several veteran benefits, especially those beneficial to the elderly. We also include the requirements, eligibility, and the application process for these benefits. Hence, you understand the options available and use those benefits to pay for your healthcare needs.
What are VA benefits?
When veterans are enrolled into the veteran’s benefits program, it assists them with the transition into civilian life. Other benefits also help the elderly veterans with healthcare and retirement needs when they can no longer work. With such benefits, the government aims to ensure that veterans have the home, healthcare needed to live healthily and productive lives after their military service.
Veteran benefits also assist with financial challenges seniors may face. While each benefit has its requirements to apply and be eligible, the general requirement to apply for these benefits is a veteran needs to be discharged from the military for something other than dishonorable conditions. Many veterans programs may require active military service on a full-time basis, but the VA has programs for reservists and National Guard.
Programs specifically for senior veterans are Housebound and Aid and Attendance (A&A).
Housebound is a veteran’s benefit for the elderly, which provides an increased monthly pension amount to any veteran who cannot leave their home because of a total/permanent disability. The disability may be for any reason not necessary it be related to military service-related disabilities.
Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a program where senior veterans receive an additional monthly income pension if they need extra care to live at home. For example, if you require help to hire a caregiver, A&A provides funds to help with that care. The program is also available to elderly veterans who are patients in nursing homes. If you have limited vision, you may also qualify for this program.
Veterans who have complex needs and may need long-term care can use the VA healthcare for Elderly Veterans Program. The program includes a Geriatrics and Extended Care Program specific for veterans. In this program, you are eligible to receive payments for long-term care in a care center to receive community or home-based services in your home.
Who is eligible for VA benefits?
The minimum eligibility requirement to qualify for VA benefits is being a veteran, but each program has its prerequisites. However, if you were dishonorably discharged, you lose your eligibility to claim the veteran’s benefits. To apply for veteran’s benefits, you need;
- The veterans enlisted after September 7, 1980, or those that entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 consecutive months or their full active duty term to qualify.
- If you enlisted to serve before September 7, 1980, no minimum requirement duty is needed to qualify.
- The minimum duty requirement does not apply if you were discharged for service-related disability or left early due to hardship.
There are also requirements for general healthcare eligibility for the housebound and A&A. To qualify for housebound benefits; you must have a permanent disability or health condition that requires you to spend most of your time at home. For A&A, the eligibility requirements are;
- If you need self-care help such as bathing or dressing
- If you need to be bedridden due to illness
- If you are a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical disability
- Or living in assisted living facilities like Vivante Living
- If you are vision-impaired, that is 5/200 or less in both eyes, even with glasses or corrective lenses.
How do you apply for VA benefits?
If you want to apply for veterans benefits, you need these documents to start the application process;
- Military discharge papers
- Social security numbers for people who will be covered, including your dependents
- Gross household income from your previous year’s returns
- Deductible expenses for the last years return
- Insurance information for any cover you have
Here are the different ways you can apply for the benefits they are;
- Via phone – once you have all the information, you can call and apply over the phone
- Via mail – if you prefer to apply via mail, especially if you have a power of attorney, you can use form VA 10 – 10EZ. Please fill the form with the necessary information, and don’t forget to sign it appropriately, then mail it to the Health Eligibility Center
- In-person – in-person applications will also require the form named earlier, and instead of mailing, go to a VA medical clinic and drop off the signed document.
- Using professionals to apply – many accredited representatives are available to help you apply for your health care benefits. This is an excellent option because they know the application process, and using them will limit the probability of making mistakes. The trained professionals work with veterans and their loved ones for free. To find one, you can go to the eBenefits website and search for your ZIP code or find the VA accredited organization in your area.
VA benefits also have their limitations, especially when it comes to senior care. Veterans who may need the help of assisted living or a nursing home community may still apply for the benefits. However, getting the help will require additional programs beyond the health care benefits. Senior veterans should apply for the Aid and attendance and the homebound programs to get the support to make long-term care available for you and your family.