Veterans Missing Out on Benefits
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs (“DVA”) there are 24.3 million veterans, 75% of whom served during a war or official period of conflict. Veterans age 65 and older increased in number from 2.6 million in 1995 to 4.9 million in 2005. Over 3.6 million are WWII veterans (164,000 of whom are female).
Only about 466,000 WWII veterans were receiving compensation or pension benefits from DVA in 2005, representing about 30% of those eligible for such aid. The remaining 70% either have never applied or do not know of the benefits available. These numbers do not even include Korean, Vietnam and Gulf War veterans.
22% of persons age 65 and older are receiving some form of long term care, whether home or institution based. Applying that percentage to the 9.3 million veterans over age 65 means that at least 2 million veterans may be receiving long term care. Of that number, about 1.4 million who could be eligible for DVA benefits receive none.
Non-Service Connected Disability Benefits
There are two basic kinds of veterans benefits: (a) “ Compensation” – this is disability compensation related to service connected disabilities (spousal survivor benefits are also available as compensation); and (b) “Pension” – Pension is available to any active duty veteran who served at least 90 days during a period of war or official period of conflict (similar spousal survivor benefits are available).
Veterans in need of long term care, especially if they are able to remain at home or transition to an Assisted Living Facility (“ALF”), may be entitled to receive Housebound or Aid & Attendance Benefits. This can be as much as $1,288 monthly for Housebound benefits or $1,758 for Aid & Attendance in an ALD for a single Veteran. A married Veteran could receive $1,615 for Housebound and $2,085 for Aid & Attendance.
Best Kept Secret
Veterans Pension is probably the best kept secret in long term care benefits. To qualify for Pension, the veteran had to have received other than a dishonorable discharge and serves for at least 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war or official period of conflict. He must have countable family income and assets below a set limit and he or she must be 65 years of age or older (for long term care purposes).
RI Veterans Home
Veterans also should consider the availability of the Rhode Island Veterans Home on Metacom Avenue in Bristol. If qualified, the waiting period is not very long and the monthly charges are usually within the veteran’s fixed income. Most veterans at that institution never need to apply for Medicaid benefits.