The VA provides many different benefits to US military veterans, spouses, and their dependents. Key Veterans Administration benefits include health care, disability, and pensions.
Health Care – U.S. military veterans may qualify for VA health care services if they were active duty and have a discharge status of anything other than dishonorable. If you enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, or entered active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, you must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty. If you are a combat veteran who left active service on or after Jan. 28, 2003, you are eligible to enroll in the VA healthcare system five years from the date of your discharge or release.
VA health care provides care and services to prevent and treat illnesses and injuries. When you enroll in the system, you are assigned to one of 8 priority groups. The factors used to determine which priority group you belong to include your military service, disability rating, income level, if you qualify for Medicaid and any other benefits you may be receiving.
As an example, veterans are assigned to priority group 1 if they have a service-connected disability rating of 50% or more, are unable to work due to their disability, and received a Medal of Honor. The VA may assign you to priority group 8 if your income is above VA limits and you agree to pay copay rates.
In addition to the treatment of illnesses and injuries, VA health also provides:
- Dental Care – The VA provides dental care services to veterans, including emergency care, diagnostic, preventive, surgical and restorative treatment. You can also purchase dental insurance if you are enrolled in VA health care.
- Vision Care – Another type of health care provided by the VA is vision care, including basic eye care services and more advanced clinical care.
- Mental Health Services – VA mental health services include assistance with PSTD, depression and substance abuse.
VA Disability Compensation
VA Disability is a tax-free benefit paid to veterans who became disabled due to injury or illness while serving in the military. The disability is considered an impairment of the veteran’s earning capacity due to their illness or injury. It is also paid to veterans with certain health conditions believed to be caused by their military service. When a veteran applies for disability, a disability rating is assigned based on the severity of the condition.
To qualify for disability, the veteran must have served on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training. Other requirements include one or more of the following:
- The veteran became sick or injured while on active duty
- The veteran had an illness or injury before joining the military and it got worse while serving
- The disability occurred after leaving the service and is service connected.
A VA pension is a monthly monetary benefit paid to veterans and their spouses who are either low income or need long-term care. To qualify for a pension, the veteran must have started active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least 1 day during a wartime period active duty.
The eligible periods of war established by Congress are:
World War II: December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
Korean conflict: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
Vietnam War era: November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975, for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period, and August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for veterans who served anywhere in the world.
Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law.
If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty with at least 1 day during wartime (some exceptions may apply).
An officer who started active duty after October 16, 1981 and didn’t previously serve on active duty for at least 24 months may also qualify for a pension.
In addition to wartime service, the veteran must also have received an other than dishonorable discharge.
The spousal requirements for a widow’s pension are:
- Was married to the veteran for at least 1 year before he/she passed, and
- Was married to the veteran at the time of passing, and
- Did not remarry (unless the marriage was to another veteran).
Aid and Attendance
The Aid and Attendance benefit is an enhanced pension for veterans and spouses who need long-term care. The military service, discharge status and marital requirements are the same as a regular pension.
Aid and Attendance can help pay for home care, adult day care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing facility care.
The maximum monthly benefit amounts are:
|Surviving Spouse||$1,318 Monthly – $15,816 Annually|
|Single Veteran||$2,050 Monthly – $24,610 Annually|
|Married Veteran||$2,431 Monthly – $29,175 Annually|
|Two Vets Married||$3,261 Monthly – $39,036 Annually|
To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, the veteran or spouse must need assistance with personal care such as bathing, dressing, mobility, toileting and feeding. Veterans or spouses who want to remain at home as long as possible, can get the care they need from a family member, friend or professional caregiver. The person does not need to be licensed or certified.
Additional Aid and Attendance requirements include:
- You are at least 65 years of age or older (a spouse can be any age)
- Have a permanent or total disability; or
- You are a patient with a disability in a long-term care nursing home; or
- You currently receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security Income.
The VA also has various income and asset criteria.
Getting an Aid and Attendance claim approved can be difficult due to the many VA pension rules and regulations. The paperwork can also be extremely complex. Navigating the system can be difficult without help. If you would like to know more about how Aid and Attendance works, contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.