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VeteransLong-term care is one of the most important issues that veterans and their surviving spouses are concerned about.  Many already receive this care or will need this care in the near future.  While the VA has funds for long-term care for veterans, but many veterans and their families do not know about these funds and their availability.  

Pension Options

There are a few different pension options for veterans and their families.

  • Pension with Aid and Attendance provides the greatest amount of pay and is directed to veterans who need help with basic daily living activities, is blind, or is a patient in a nursing home.  Being in an assisted living facility also qualifies for this pension.
  • Pension with Housebound Allowance is for veterans whose needs do not rise to the level of the Pension with Aid and Attendance but still need regular help and want to stay at home.  This program is flexible in that family members and outside caregivers can provide aid.
  • Basic Pension is directed to veterans and spouses who are 65 or older or disabled and have a limited source of income and assets.

Qualifying for Veterans’ Benefits

It is easy to assume that any disabilities or injuries have to be service-related in order for veterans to get benefits.  This is not true.  However, most veteran pension benefits do have requirements regarding discharge and wartime service.  The veteran’s surviving spouse needs to satisfy marriage requirements in order to qualify for benefits as well.  Some requirements vary depending on your age, with the age of 65 being a common dividing line.

The VA will look at your life expectancy, income, total net worth, and medical expenses.  Including retirement assets, but not including a home and vehicle, a married veteran and spouse should not have more than $80,000 in assets.

Also, Income for VA Purposes (called IVAP) needs to be less than the amount of benefit that you are applying for.  You calculate IVAP by subtracting certain kinds of medical expenses from your gross income.  These expenses are out-of-pocket medical expenses that you expect to last through your lifetime and are recurring expenses.

You can reduce your assets and your income down to a level that the VA could accept.  I would recommend that you work with an attorney that can help you make the right decisions to qualify for benefits and plan for your future needs.

Applying for Veterans’ Benefits

While the VA often needs more than one year in order to make a decision on your application, your benefits go back to the month that you applied for benefits.  It is vital that you have all the documentation needed to send in a successful application.  This may include marriage certificate, death certificate, discharge papers, medical papers and bills, etc.  This can help the VA process your application faster and help you be more successful in your application.

Time is critical for these benefits, especially for veterans who are older or critically disabled.  You should apply as possible to get your needed benefits.  For more information, visit http://www.va.gov.