There are several veterans assistance programs for seniors, including VA (Veterans Affairs) health care, Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), VA pensions, and VA nursing home care.
Senior veterans who served in the military on active duty, and received an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge may qualify for VA health care. The VA’s medical benefits package includes services for health exams and education, immunizations, medical treatment, surgery, kidney dialysis, acute care, palliative (relieving symptoms) care, and hospice care.
Depending on their location, some veterans may also be eligible for a Home Health Aide for a few hours a week.
Other services include:
- Home based primary care for veterans who need health care services at home
- Respite (a short period of rest or relief) care for the home caregivers of a veteran who needs a break. The service pays for someone to come to the veteran’s home for the veteran to go an adult day care program.
- Adult day health care for veterans who need help with daily living activities.
After enrolling in the VA health care system, you will be assigned to 1 of 8 priority groups based on your military service, disability status, income, and Medicaid eligibility.
You can apply for VA health care benefits online, by phone and by mail.
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
A special VA program that pays family members to provide care if the veteran has a 70% or higher disability rating and:
- Was discharged from the military or has a medical discharge and
- Needs at least 6 months of continuous in-person care services.
The caregiver must be at least 18 years of age and:
- The spouse, son, daughter, parent, stepfamily member of extended family member of the veteran or
- The caregiver lives full time with the veteran or is willing to live full time with the veteran if approved for this program.
VA Pension Benefits
VA pensions are another type of assistance program for senior veterans and their spouses.
To qualify for a pension, the veteran must have served on active duty before September 8, 1980 for at least 90 days with at least 1 day during wartime, or the veteran started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980 and served at least 24 months or the full period for which they were called/ordered to active duty, with at least 1 day during a war period, or the veteran was an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 198 and hadn’t previous served on active duty for at least 24 months.
Eligible wartime periods include:
- World War II – December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
- Korean conflict – June 27, 1950, to 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, or on a ship off the coast. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.
- Gulf War – August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation.
In addition, the veteran must be at least 65 years of age or older, with an honorable or anything other than dishonorable discharge.
If you are not 65 or older, you can still qualify for a pension if you:
- Have a permanent and total disability or
- Are a patient in a nursing home for long-term care
- You are getting Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income
There are three tiers of the pension program starting with the basic pension. Higher monetary benefits referred to as enhanced pension or special monthly pension include Housebound and Aid and Attendance for those in need of assistance with daily living activities or who are unable to leave their home without assistance.
A basic pension is a monthly monetary benefit paid to low-income veterans or spouses. For a living veteran this benefit is referred to as a Veterans Pension and for a surviving spouse it is referred to as Survivors Pension. If the veteran or spouse is eligible for this benefit, they will receive an amount of money based on the difference between their countable income and Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR).
Housebound benefits may be available to veterans who are unable to leave their home due to a permanent disability. This is the mid-tier of the pension program.
Aid and Attendance, the highest tier of the enhanced pension, is for veterans (and spouses) who need long-term care, either at home or in a care facility.
Aid and Attendance benefit amounts range from up to $1,575 per month for a surviving spouse to as much as $2,642 per month for a married veteran. The maximum benefit for two married veterans is $3,536 per month. Aid and Attendance is a tax-free benefit that does not need to be paid back.
In addition to meeting the military service requirements, the veteran or spouse must need help with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing and mobility. Because this benefit is a reimbursement for care, the veteran/spouse must be paying for care before the claim is submitted. Types of care include home care, adult day care, board and care (residential care) assisted living and skilled nursing care.
The are specific income and asset requirements for this benefit as well. To find out if you of a loved one qualify for Aid and Attendance, call one of our benefit consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.
VA Nursing Facility Care
VA nursing homes are called Community Living Centers. Most veterans will stay at a VA Community Living Center for a short period of time. However, in some situations a Veteran can live at a Center on a permanent basis. There are 100 Community Living Centers around the country.
The VA also contracts with community nursing homes to provide care for Veterans. State Veterans homes are owned and operated by State governments.
Eligibility requirements for a VA nursing home include the veteran being enrolled in the VA health care system and having served in the U.S. Armed Forces with an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge. The VA will also consider the Veteran’s service-connected disability status and income. If the Veteran does not have a service-connected disability, he/she may be admitted to the facility if there is a bed available. The criteria can also vary depending on the state.