There are many types of VA benefits available to veterans through the Veterans Administration for things such as education, life insurance, health care, home loans, and burial benefits. The three major categories of benefits, however, are service-connected compensation; non-service connected pension and pension benefits.
Service-Connected Disability Compensation
Compensation is a benefit that veterans receive when the veteran has a disability caused by, or exacerbated by, military service. Disability compensation is available to a qualified veteran regardless of their level of income. Once a veteran can show that they are disabled because of their military service, their level of disability is rated by the Veterans Administration (for example, 20% disabled) and the amount of compensation paid depends on the rating assigned. A veteran can apply for increases in the percentage rating if the condition worsens.
Non-Service Connected Disability Pension
A non-service connected pension is a benefit for veterans with low incomes who are permanently and totally disabled, when that disability is NOT related to military service. This is sometimes referred to as “Special Monthly Pension” (or sometimes an “Improved Pension”). A veteran will be considered permanently and totally disable if they are, (1) a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of disability; (2) receiving Social Security disability benefits; (3) unemployable as a result of a disability that is reasonably certain to continue throughout their life; or (4) suffering from any disease or disorder that renders them permanently and totally disabled as determined by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA pays a death pension to low-income surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of deceased wartime veterans. In order to be eligible, a spouse must not have remarried, and a dependent must be under age 18, or must be under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school. Dependents who are permanently incapable of self-support because of a disability before age 18 are also eligible for the death pension.
VA Housebound and Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit
The Veterans Administration estimates that in 2005 there were 4.9 million veterans aged 75 and older. The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that there are over 3.5 million World War II veterans still alive. They are reaching an age where long-term care is increasingly necessary. With Medicaid available only for nursing home care and limited home care, there are few options for paying home care or assisted-living care.
Only about 30% of our veterans who are eligible to receive assistance from the Veterans Administration (VA) actually receive VA assistance to pay for long-term care. This is because so many veterans and their widows or widowers are unaware of the benefits unavailable to them or they are under the belief that they do not qualify for VA benefits.
These benefits to pay for long-term care are different from disability compensation. Disability compensation is a more widely known benefit that pays money to veterans’ for disability incurred while in the armed services. A surviving spouse death benefit is also a benefit that is based on the same principle.
Housebound and Aid and Attendance Benefits.
The most sought-after benefits to pay for long-term care of veterans are Housebound Benefits and Aid and Attendance benefits. These benefits are available to a veteran or his/her widow(er) and can help pay for the medical expenses of the veteran or his/her widow(er).
However, there are eligibility requirements. The four criteria are:
• The veteran must have served in the active service for at least 90 consecutive days with at least one day during wartime.
• The veteran must have received a discharge other than dishonorable.
• The veteran must have a permanent and total disability. A person 65 or older is deemed to have a total and permanent disability.
• The residence does not count as an asset for eligibility purposes. Also, unlike Medicaid rules, Veterans Benefits rules do not give the VA a claim or lien against the residence.
Attorney Tieesha is an accredited veterans benefits law attorney and is dedicated to assisting veterans and their families in receiving the benefits that they’ve earned.