The VA has several veterans benefits for seniors, including health care, disability compensation, pensions, and special monthly compensation.
To receive VA health care, the veteran must be enrolled in the VA health care system. Types of VA health care (Basic Medical Benefits Package) include preventative care, diagnostics, specialty care, inpatient, and outpatient care. The VA also provides additional mental health and dental care services.
After you enroll in the system, you are assigned to a Priority Group. If you are a disabled veteran (service connected) with a VA disability rating, a former POW, or Medal of Honor/Purple Heart recipient, you will usually be assigned to Priority Groups 1, 2, or 3.
VA disability compensation is a monthly monetary benefit paid to veterans who became ill or were injured during military service. It is also paid to veterans with a health condition that was aggravated while serving.
A common type of disability for senior veterans is hearing loss. Types of hearing loss include conductive hearing loss (damage to the eardrum and middle ear) and sensorineural hearing loss (damage to the inner ear and auditory nerve).
To get VA disability compensation, the veteran must go through a medical review. Based on the results of the review, the veteran is rated on a percentage scale of 0% to 100% for any service -related (service connected) health conditions that impacts their ability to live and work. The more severe the impairment, the higher the rating. Veterans who are rated 0% are not be eligible for compensation. Veterans who are rated 100% disabled by the VA are considered totally disabled and receive a benefit of over $3,000 per month.
Disability compensation is not based on any type of financial criteria such as income or assets.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a type of disability compensation paid to the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a service member who either died while on active duty, active duty for train, or inactive duty training. DIC is also paid to the survivors of veterans who died from their service-related health conditions.
Another veterans benefit for seniors is Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). This is additional compensation paid to disabled veterans who have certain types of disabilities such as the loss of a hand or foot, the loss of the use of a hand or foot, paralysis, or loss of sight.
A 100% service-connect veteran can also qualify for a higher level of compensation (SMC) if they are housebound or need long-term care (Aid and Attendance).
There are also pensions for senior veterans, surviving spouses and/or their unmarried children.
The requirements for a pension include the veteran having served during an eligible period of war, with anything other than a dishonorable discharge.
The wartime periods are:
- World War II – December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
- Korean conflict – June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War – November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.
- Gulf War – From August 2, 1990, to a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation
You can also qualify for a pension if you:
- Started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980 and 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.
- Were an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and you hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.
To receive a pension, the veteran must be low income and at least 65 years of age. A surviving spouse must also be low income, but there is no minimum age requirement.
Veterans and spouses can receive extra monetary compensation (an enhanced pension) if they are housebound or need long-term care (Aid and Attendance).
A common misconception is that the veteran or spouse must already be receiving a pension before they can apply for Housebound and Aid and Attendance benefits. When you are approved for Housebound or Aid and Attendance, you automatically receive the pension.
To receive the Housebound benefit, the veteran or spouse must spend most of their time at home due to a permanent disability.
Aid and Attendance is the VA’s long-term care benefit. To qualify for Aid and Attendance the veteran or spouse must need help with some of the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and mobility. The money is tax-free and does not need to be paid back.
The veteran must also meet the pension wartime service requirement – at least 90 days of active duty with at least one day during an eligible period of war, and an honorable or anything other than dishonorable discharge.
Aid and Attendance pension also has various income and asset requirements. To find out if you or a loved qualifies for Aid and Attendance, contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.
Other long-term care benefits for senior veterans include:
Community Residential Care for veterans who cannot live alone due to medial or mental health conditions, but do not require hospital or nursing home care. This is inspected and approved by VA medical centers and can include assisted living facilities, residential care homes and group homes.
Medical Foster Homes – a VA medical center program in certain areas for veterans who prefer living in a more home-like environment with fewer residents. These are private homes with trained caregivers who help provide VA planned care.
Adult Family Homes (board and care/residential care) with a small number of residents.
Community Living Centers/Community Nursing Homes for service-connected veterans who have a certain level of disability and meet the income criteria.
State Veterans Homes owned and managed by state governments that are formally recognized and certified by the VA.