5 Things Veterans Need to Know About Senior Living Benefits
For many seniors, paying for the cost of senior living can be stressful. There are plenty of benefits out there for those who need them, especially veterans. There’s just one problem: Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits are one of the best-kept secrets to paying for senior care.
Around 69% of veterans are completely unaware of the available benefits — and that means many veterans are paying more for their care than they should. Learn about the top 5 things veterans need to know about senior living benefits.
VA Benefits for Seniors
There are many benefits available to both senior veterans and their spouses. A veteran — age 65 or older — can expect their benefits to cover:
- Costs of an assisted living community or nursing home, and even in-home care
- If the veteran so desires, the money can also be used to pay an adult child to act as a caregiver — though it can’t be given to a spouse for that purpose
- Services may also include housebound benefits
There may also be increased benefits for those with disabilities or service-related injuries who are not yet eligible based on their age alone.
Who Qualifies for VA Benefits
Knowing whether or not a senior qualifies for VA benefits can be confusing:
- First and foremost, they must have served at least one day during a time of war.
- Next, they must be considered “totally disabled.” This can be confusing, however, because the “totally disabled” label is automatically placed on wartime veterans when they turn 65, making them eligible for many of the services that they need in order to live out the end of their lives in peace.
- Some VA benefits are also based on income eligibility. However, unlike Medicare and Medicaid, there’s no look-back program in place, making it possible for seniors in need of VA benefits to transfer funds to non-qualifying places in order to reach the threshold.
In general, annual income cannot exceed around $20,000-23,000, and available assets shouldn’t exceed $80,000.
VA Benefits Application Process
When going through the application process, it may be helpful to have someone on your side who will guide you through the application.
Contacting the local VA office can be very helpful as you go through the process. However, be aware that not everyone is knowledgeable of the various long-term benefits available to veterans. As a result, it may be difficult to find help answering all those important questions.
The form, called VA Form 21-2680, needs to be filled out in detail. It will also be necessary to provide a report from a physician about the senior’s physical condition in order to ensure their medical qualification.
Using Medicaid to Help Pay for Care
Using Medicaid for long-term care can also make it easier to pay for many of the necessities of senior living. An individual who receives Medicaid long-term care benefits must be in assisted living or nursing home care, or need in-home care in order to avoid going into a nursing home.
The income restrictions for Medicaid are tight, and following the application, financial records going back five years will be examined in order to ensure eligibility:
- Asset and income eligibility will vary by state, depending on whether or not you are married and whether or not there are dependent children living in your home
A spouse who does not plan to enter a nursing home at the same time as the senior in need of long-term care can maintain control of a larger portion of the assets; however, those assets may end up being transferred to the state to help pay back the cost of the ill spouse’s nursing home care after the death of the spouse who still lives in the community.
Applying for Medicaid Benefits
To learn more about how to get help with assistance or how to apply for Medicaid, find your local Medicaid office or talk to a Medicaid planning expert. If you are a veteran and need help applying for benefits, visit your local VA for more information and help walking through the process.
Our veterans deserve our help and support as they live out the final years of their lives. There are a variety of resources available for these heroes. Unfortunately, many don’t even realize that these resources are available. To help find more resources for yourself or a loved one, contact your local VA today.
Which veterans senior living benefits have you taken advantage of? Share your stories with us about your experience in the comments below.
About the Author
Benny Lamm is a communication specialist and blogger at Senior Planning Services, an industry leader in helping seniors and their families achieve Medicaid-sponsored long-term care. He enjoys playing the guitar, spending time with family and social networking.
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