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If you are a veteran, or if you are caring for one, it is important that you understand the many veterans’ benefits programs available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Financial support is often available to a a veteran, his or her spouse, veteran’s or their survivors based on the veteran’s current age, physical condition, or financial situation.

Even if you or the veteran under your care for qualifies for Medicare there can be advantages to choosing VA care for healthcare coverage. For example, Medicare does not cover physical exams and other preventative care, dental care, long-term in-home care or long-term nursing home residential care. The costs of VA co-pays and deductibles are generally lower than Medicare, and that includes prescription drugs. Some veterans can qualify for both Medicare and VA health coverage which can in some circumstances be extended to family members as well.  This is something that you should explore. 

The VA also offers financial benefits through “service-connected disabilities.” These disabilities can include physical, mental, or emotional conditions which limit or preclude a veteran from performing various everyday activities deemed normal. A veteran does not have to have become disabled while in the military to qualify for these benefits. Service-connected disabilities can begin during military service and only start to show as the veteran ages. The key element is that the disabling condition was caused during or aggravated by the veteran’s military service.

A condition that becomes disabling later in life can make a veteran eligible for a monthly disability compensation payment. The VA will assign a rating to the disabling condition beginning at 10 percent and up to 100 percent, in 10 percent increments. The lowest rating at 10 percent in 2018 pays $117 per month while the highest rating at 100 percent pays $2,527 a month. Veterans who are housebound or require “aid and attendance” (regular in-home care) can receive even more money per month. Older veterans with a 30 percent or higher rating can also have their spouse qualify for additional monthly benefits.

Having a service-connected disability also can make a veteran eligible  for certain  loans or grants to modify a home through the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants program. This can be the veteran’s home or the home of a family member where the veteran lives. Special car modifications are available through a similar program. The VA also offers several types of loans and loan guarantees to aid veterans in the purchase of or refinancing of a home, townhome, or condominium.

If a veteran (65 or older) meets certain financial requirements, has had 90 or more active days of military service, and at least one of those days during a period of war (World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War), he or she may qualify for a VA pension even if the veteran was not in combat. If a wartime veteran or a surviving spouse requires care on a regular basis, the amount paid can be over $2,000 per month in tax-free income. However, there are specific financial and medical requirements for this benefit. The rules for qualifying for such a VA pension benefit are changing on October 18, 2018, so if you or someone you know is a wartime Veteran or the surviving spouse of a wartime Veteran, contact us right away to see if you could qualify for this important benefit before the qualification rules tighten.

If you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of one, we would be happy to talk to you about your situation and help you understand your planning options as they relate to your qualification for a VA Service Pension. Add Goff is a VA accredited attorney, and  we look forward to hearing from you! Please help us get the word out by clicking one of the social media buttons below!