A U.S. veteran is a person who served on active duty in the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) and was discharged or released from their military service under conditions other than dishonorable.
There are approximately 18 million U.S. military veterans, most of whom (14 million) served during wartime. The largest group of veterans are Gulf War Veterans (8 million), followed by Vietnam era veterans (5 million), Korean Conflict veterans (800,000) and World War II veterans (less than 200,000).
Former service members can take advantage of several different types of veterans assistance programs, including VA health care, disability compensation and pensions.
The Department of Veterans Affairs health care program provides inpatient and outpatient care at VA medical facilities. There are 1400 care locations, including 171 medical centers, as well as community clinics, nursing homes and other kinds of care facilities.
VA health care also includes specialty care, prescription drugs, dental care and mental health care.
The largest Veterans Hospital is the Biloxi VA Medical Center in Mississippi, followed by the Louis Stokes Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio and the West Los Angeles Medical Center in California.
To qualify for VA health care, you must have served on active duty and not received a dishonorable discharge. You must also be enrolled in the VA health care program. Enrollees are assigned a Priority Group. Veterans who are service-connected with a VA disability rating, former POWs and Purple Heart or Medal of Honor recipients are assigned to Priority Groups 1 – 3. Priority Groups 4 – 8 are for individuals with certain types of medical conditions, combat status environmental exposures and income.
Another type of VA health care benefit is CHAMPVA, a health care program for dependents. Through the CHAMPVA program, the VA shares the cost of health care services and supplies.
To qualify for CHAMPVA, you cannot be eligible for TRICARE/CHAMPUS. You must also be:
- The surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability
- The surviving spouse or child of a military member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct
- The surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who was at the time of death rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability
- The spouse or child of a Veteran who has been rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability by a VA regional office
Veterans assistance programs also include 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. 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, or
- The veteran had an illness or injury before joining the military and it became worse while serving, or
- The disability occurred after leaving the service and is related to the veterans service (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
- Served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least 1 day during a wartime period active duty.
The eligible periods of war, which have been 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 a date established 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 meet the VA’s discharge status requirement, which is having received anything other than a dishonorable discharge.
Aid and Attendance Benefit
The Aid and Attendance benefit is an enhanced pension for veterans and spouses who need long-term care. Military service, discharge status, age and marital requirements are the same as a regular VA pension.
Aid and Attendance can help pay for home care, adult day care, board and care (also known as residential care), assisted living and skilled nursing facility care. Home care can be provided by a family member, friend or professional caregiver. You do not have to be licensed to provide the care.
The maximum Aid and Attendance monthly benefit amounts are:
Surviving Spouse – $1,318
Single Veteran – $2,050
Married Veteran – $2,341
Two Vets Married – $3261
To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, the veteran or spouse must require assistance with personal care such as dressing, bathing, mobility, toileting and feeding.
The veteran must also be:
- At least 65 years of age or older (a spouse can be any age)
- Have a permanent or total disability; or
- A patient with a disability in a long-term care nursing home; or
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security Income.
To qualify for Aid and Attendance, the veteran (or spouse) must also meet various income and asset criteria. The VA’s financial requirements can be extremely complex. If you would like to find out more about how to qualify for this benefit, contact a Benefit Consultant today at 877-427-8065 or click here.