Benefits for Aging Veterans.
When we are in our 30s and 40s, retirement seems like something that is light years away. But before we know it, we’re celebrating our last day at work, and looking forward to what the future holds.
According to projections released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a fifth of boomers 65 and older have not saved enough for retirement. Because of their lack of savings, these boomers will most likely have to work well into their 70s – either at full-time or part-time jobs – to supplement their social security benefits.
Regardless of whether you are among those who have planned well for retirement, it never hurts to take advantage of the many programs and benefits available to seniors and boomers. There are a number of programs available to seniors and boomers who are experiencing financial difficulties. Whether it’s assistance paying your mortgage or utility bills, or help paying for monthly prescription medication, there are resources available.
In December 2016, we wrote about some of the top assistance programs for seniors and boomers. If you missed that report, you can find it here.
VA Benefits for Senior Veterans
There is a separate demographic of seniors and boomers who may qualify for even more benefits if they meet one specific criteria: being a veteran.
According to the most recent U.S. Census report from 2015, there are 9.3 million U.S. veterans age 65 and older. These veterans served in conflicts around the world, including Word War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.
These veterans are eligible for a variety of benefits according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including disability compensation, pension, education and training, healthcare, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment and burial.
One of the most under-used – and little-known – benefits available through the VA for older veterans is the Aid and Attendance program. This program is designed to increase the monthly pension amount paid to veterans who meet at least one of the following conditions:
- The veteran requires assistance performing daily functions, such as bathing, eating and dressing;
- The veteran is bedridden;
- The veteran is a patient in a nursing home; or
- The veteran’s eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes, or has concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
Another age-specific benefit for veterans is called housebound. It is an increased monthly pension amount that is paid to veterans who are “substantially confined” to their home due to a permanent disability. More information about both of these programs can be found on the VA’s website here.
The VA also offers geriatrics and extended-care services to senior veterans who are dealing with multiple chronic conditions, life-limiting illnesses, frailty or a disability that can be attributed to chronic disease, aging or injury. It lessens the burden on families and caregivers.
GeriPACT – Geriatric Patient Aligned Care Team – are teams of healthcare providers who assist veterans who have multiple chronic diseases, combined with a decline in mental and physical capabilities. The goal of GeriPACT is to integrate traditional healthcare services with community-based services to provide veterans with the opportunity to be as independent as possible.
As with other programs offered to senior veterans, there is a list of eligibility criteria you must meet. It includes:
- Being diagnosed with more than one complex chronic disease;
- Being diagnosed with dementia or another cognitive disorder; and
- Displaying geriatric syndromes such as frailty, frequent falls, incontinence, memory loss.
You can learn more about the GeriPACT program here.
Veterans who do not require hospitalization or nursing home level care, but who cannot live alone due to physical or psychiatric conditions, may qualify for community residential care programs through the VA. The care can be provided through a variety of means, including assisted living facilities, personal care homes, family care homes, group homes or psychiatric community/residential care homes. The VA estimates there are roughly 1,300 facilities of this nature across the country, which have been inspected and approved by VA medical center staff.
Eligibility requirements for community residential care programs can be found here. Veterans who qualify can pay for their housing using their VA compensation, pension, social security or other retirement funds.
Healthcare is one of the most necessary benefits for seniors and boomers. As we age, we are more prone to certain physical and psychological conditions that require medical intervention.
Veterans, regardless of their age, are eligible to receive their healthcare services – including prescription medications – through the VA healthcare system. Veterans who served in the active military service, and who were honorably discharged or released, are eligible to receive care. Others who qualify include current and former members of the National Reserves or Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order.
Certain veterans are eligible for what is known as “enhanced eligibility status.” These are veterans who, among other criteria, are a former POW; have received the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor; have a VA-awarded, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more; or who receive a VA pension. The full list of eligibility criteria is here.
Not sure what benefits you may be able to receive as a veteran? Organizations such as Veterans Advocacy Services and the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Inc. can help.
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