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Veteran's Pension and Long Term Care Benefits

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wide range of benefits to U.S. military veterans including disability compensation, pensions, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, employment, and burial.  More information can be found at the VA website.  Below is information specific to benefits for U.S. veterans aged 65 and older. 

 

Veterans Pension Benefits

A veteran or surviving spouse may be eligible for a Veterans Pension if they meet the following criteria:

  • Is aged 65 or older OR has a permanent disability OR receives Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) OR resides in a nursing home due to disability.

  • Did not have a dishonorable discharge

  • Annual household income and net worth amounts meet the yearly Congressional limit.  

  • Started on active duty in the U.S. military in one of the following situations:

    • Before September 8, 1980 and served at least 90 days on active duty with at least 1 day during wartime (does not need to be in combat), or

    • As an enlisted person after September 7, 1980 and served at least 24 months or the full period ordered to active duty with at least 1 day during wartime, or

    • As an officer starting after October 16, 1981 

  • Apply on-line or complete VA Form 21P-527EZ and submit in person or by mail to :

          Department of Veterans Affairs, Pension Intake Center, PO Box 5365, Janesville, WI 53547-5365

 

Aid and Attendance

Aid and Attendance is an increased monthly pension for veterans and surviving spouses who receive a VA pension and meet one of the criteria below and is used to pay for in-home care.  Benefit amounts vary depending on income.

  • Require help performing daily functions, which may include bathing, eating or dressing, or

  • Are bedridden, or

  • Reside in a nursing home, or

  • Have limited eyesight (corrected to 5/200 or concentric contraction of visual field to 5 degrees or less)

 

Housebound Allowance

This is for veterans who receive a VA pension and spend most of their time in their home because of a permanent disability.  A person cannot receive both the Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits.  In general, the Aid and Attendance allowance is more than the Housebound benefit.

To Apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound Allowance

 

Assistance with Applying for VA Benefits

There are many organizations and businesses that assist people with applying for VA benefits.  Some have a fee, although  VA-recognized organizations and individuals authorized to assist with VA benefit claims will never charge for service.   Veterans Service Organizations can also provide assistance.

Veterans Long Term Care Benefits

In addition to veteran pensions, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a number of programs to support the long term care needs of veterans over the age of 65 and who are enrolled in VA health services. Eligibility for these programs is based on medical need, not all programs are offered in all locations, and co-pays may apply. 

Home Based Primary Care

Home Based Primary Care supports veterans who have ongoing diseases and illnesses that affect their health and daily activities by providing medical services in the home such as:

  • Primary care visits at home by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant

  • Care management through a nurse practitioner, physician's assistant, or nurse

  • Social Work

  • Rehabilitation

  • Psychology

  • Nutrition Services

  • Pharmacy Services

Homemaker and Home Health Aide

This program is for veterans who need personal care services and help at home with activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing, walking or shopping. Homemakers and home health aides work for an agency that has a contract with the VA. There is also Veteran Directed Care where veterans  hire their own workers to help them at home.

 

Adult Day Care

Adult Day Health Care is a day program for veterans who need assistance with activities of daily living and offers healthcare, social services, and activities. Health services are provided by nurses; physical, speech, and occupational therapists; and social workers. Transportation to and from the center is usually provided. 

Respite Care

Respite Care pays for care for a short time when family caregivers need a break or to run errands.  There are two types of respite:

  • Home Respite Care pays for a person to come to a veteran's home or for a veteran to go to an adult day health care program while their family caregiver takes a break or runs errands.

  • Nursing Home Respite Care pays for a veteran to go to a nursing home while the family is out of town for a few days and is available for a maximum of 30 days each calendar year. 

Nursing Homes

The VA pays for nursing home care if the veteran meets eligibility criteria involving service connected status, level of disability, and income.  The VA contracts with nursing homes in the community, as well as state-operated nursing homes.

 

How to Apply for Long Term Care Benefits

To apply or learn whether these programs are available where the veteran lives, contact the local VA social worker or Veterans Service Organization.  An Application for Extended Care Benefits may need to be completed depending on the program. 

In-Home Care

 Aid and Attendance vs Homemaker/HHA 

 

Both programs provide assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, and light housekeeping; however there are several differences.

Aid and Attendance:

 

Homemaker and Home Health Aide

  • Veteran is enrolled in the VA healthcare system

  • Program availability may vary based on location

  • VA determines hours per week

 

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