Senior Benefits for Veterans
Many seniors who once served in the armed forced are surprised to discover that there are quite a few benefits available to them later in life. These senior benefits for veterans range from a small burial allowance to a substantial contribution toward long term care.
Here’s an overview of some of the benefits for older veterans. In all cases, the veteran must not have been discharged from the service dishonorably. Anyone wanting more information can contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 or go to www.va.gov for more detailed information about eligibility.
- Burial allowances – For veterans whose death is not service-related, they may be entitled to an allowance for the funeral and burial or funeral plot. Veterans who served during wartime are also eligible to receive a US flag to be draped over the casket or urn. A family member may keep this flag after the funeral.
- VA health care benefits – The Department of Veterans Affairs offers health care for veterans at more than 1,400 sites in the U.S, including clinics, hospitals, long term care facilities and even counseling centers. Certain veterans may even be reimbursed for travel to a VA facility.
- Disability or death pension – This payment is for veterans that served at least 90 days (at least one of which was during wartime) or their surviving spouse. If the veteran is 65 years old or older, there is no disability requirement. According to the Senior Veteran’s Service Alliance, almost 25% of people over 65 could qualify for this benefit, but only 5.4% of those eligible are actually claiming it at this time. An additional payment may be available to those who need “aid and attendance” meaning they are unable to care for themselves and reside in an assisted living or nursing home or receive in-home health care. Income and assets are also figured into eligibility requirements.
- Nursing Home care – Veterans health care has three programs nationally that help veterans who must live in nursing homes. These include both short term and long-term care. Veterans can qualify if they live in a VA-owned community living center or a state veteran’s home. In addition, the VA has contracts with locally owned nursing homes in smaller communities. This is a good option for veterans who do not live in an area with a VA-operated facility who wish to stay close to family and friends in their own community.
- Other long term care services – The VA offers other long-term veterans benefits for seniors including geriatric evaluation, respite care, hospice or palliative care, and adult day care services.
- Medication – Veterans with VA health care can receive breaks on prescription medications. A typical co-pay would be $9 for a 30-day supply of medicine with a maximum of $960 annually. Certain veterans, including those with a service-related disability those getting medicine for a service-related condition, and low-income veterans receiving a VA pension qualify for medications with no co-pay.
With the exception of career-military veterans, most seniors are a long time removed from their service in the military. Many don’t realize that Veteran’s Affairs offers such a wide range of programs and senior benefits that can help them as they age. Eligibility may vary by program so be sure to check out www.va.gov for more information.