To all the veterans out there, we hope you had a great Veteran’s Day last week! We certainly appreciate your service, whether it was recently or a long time ago, to make this country as great as it is. I am also a veteran and I like to celebrate the day with my dad and brother while enjoying the outdoors. To recognize your service as a Veteran, I decided to provide some education to highlight the benefits that veterans may get. Essentially there are two Veteran’s Administrations – there is the Veterans Health Administration, and the Veterans Benefits Administration.
The Veterans Benefits Administration
The Veterans Benefits Administration deals with retiree pensions, service connected disability benefits and improved pension. You could expect to receive a financial reimbursement from the Veteran’s Benefits Administration. The idea behind the VA improved pension is based on wanting to prevent our wartime veterans from going broke after their services, due to long term care needs.
The eligibility requirements for the improved pension is based on the different tiers of care offered. There’s a traditional improved pension and there is what’s known as Housebound benefits. In addition there is the Aid and Attendance program catering for those with an increased need for care, when we want to keep people in their home with privately paid caregivers. With this level of care, there are often out of pocket medical expenses, but there is a program which compensates people on a monetary basis for these expenses. Veterans can get between $2,000 and $3,000 in reimbursements to help them.
Improved Pension Benefits
There is also a benefit for the widow of a veteran who has unreimbursed medical expenses which includes a personal care home. The Eligibility requirest the deceased spouse to have been a wartime veteran. He didn’t need to serve in the war, but was required to have served 90 days of continuous active duty. One of those days had to have been during a period of war. The veteran would have also needed to be disabled within the VA definition of disability, requiring some form of care. To find out more about the improved pension and the Aid and Attendance program, there are veteran service organizations that will help you with these applications. The social workers at the VA’s will point you in the right direction.
The Veterans Health Administration
The Veterans Health Administration provides access for veterans to receive healthcare in clinics and hospitals. Most veterans are eligible for some level of care and there are different eligibility criteria, depending on how long you served for, or if you were disabled. It is a complicated system and the information on the VA website is vague. I believe it is my duty to provide some helpful information for veterans who may need some form of long term care, either now or in the future.
If you are eligible for VA health care coverage, you have to go to a VA and apply for benefits. This involves an analysis for your eligibility to receive healthcare. In addition to the clinics and hospitals, within the VA system there are VA nursing home beds, should you need long term care. There are also privately contracted nursing home beds in private nursing homes which the VA helps pay for. In addition, there are VA in-home health benefits to get a helper to provide care at home.
Don’t Rely Only On Federal VA Benefits
Unfortunately there are often waiting lists for veterans waiting for nursing home beds. As a result, many veterans end up in private nursing homes paying privately, just like everybody else. Sadly there are many veterans requiring long term care but it is not being provided through the VA because of limited resources. This is why I encourage Veterans to not rely solely on the federal VA for their health care.
The state of Pennsylvania has a department of Military and Veterans Affairs, offering some good programs for veterans. There are six nursing homes within the state which service veterans in Allegheny County. It is called the Southwest Veterans Centre in Pittsburgh, and has both a memory care unit and skilled nursing facility. Some of the other centres in Erie County, Blair County, Lackawanna and Philadelphia offer personal care services. You would need to apply for eligibility, and prove your veteran status. I know that Pennsylvania residents are given priority, so I’m not sure how many out of state people are served.
Their website states that a resident at a veteran’s home must make monthly payments against maintenance fee liability in accordance with the resident’s ability to pay. However, this is vague, so if you are helping a veteran, or you are a veteran in need of some long term care, visit their website here. There’s an application online providing the information you need to apply for the long term care benefits.
Why You Should Consider Medicaid Benefits
While Veterans should not rely solely on VA for their healthcare, I will add that Veterans shouldn’t rely too much on Medicare either. This is because Medicare only pays for acute care, and not long term care. Often, veterans end up in civilian long term care settings and they need to apply for Medicaid benefits. It is therefore important to understand the Medicaid rules, if VA benefits don’t provide the care that Veterans need. Medicaid is the other payment source for long term care, so being eligible for Medicaid benefits is important. Often, a senior is only eligible for Medicaid benefits when they are broke, after paying for long term care. However, we can avoid that by using an asset protection trust to protect your house and money.
How We Can Help You
To learn more, come to one of our upcoming free estate planning workshops. Register on our website for our Three Secrets Workshop. We’ll teach you about Medicare, Medicaid, trusts, wills and what you need to do to set yourself up for success. See you there!