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VA Benefits for Seniors

Veteran Affairs (Small)In 2012, the number of U.S. veterans over the age of 65 was recorded as exceeding 12.4 million.  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is designed to provide services and benefits to this growing demographic as they age.  The VA offers benefits and health services to help elderly veterans deal with changes in health and financial challenges that arise with age.

Through the VA, veterans and their surviving spouses could be eligible for benefits including pension, disability compensation, health care, education and training, insurance, home loans, burial, vocational rehabilitation, and employment. The first step to determine whether you or your loved one is eligible for these benefits, is to consider the service requirement.

To qualify for VA benefits, the department requires that a veteran has served at last one day during wartime.  This does not mean the veteran must have engaged in combat; simply that they were in active service during a time of war.  The VA has established specific dates that it considers wartime for World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.  These dates are available on the VA website and dates of service can be corroborated by documentation of discharge.

The second step to determine one’s eligibility for VA benefits is to examine your financial situation.  The benefits the VA offers are intended for veterans who are genuinely in need of healthcare and/or financial assistance.  This means that when awarding benefits, the VA considers your assets, income, and needs.  Although there are specific thresholds for countable income which determine a veterans’ eligibility, the VA examines applicants’ situations holistically and individually.  This means that they consider other factors, including age and monthly medical benefit allowance, when awarding benefits.

If you or your loved ones should qualify to receive VA benefits, there are three basic tiers of benefits. The first tier is basic tension, followed by housebound benefits, and finally aid and attendance.  Basic pension is intended to help veterans with low incomes.  It functions as cash assistance for veterans who are not experiencing serious health issues, but require supplemental income.  Housebound benefits are designed for veterans who require regular assistance with the activities of everyday life.  To qualify for aid and attendance, you must require this kind of assistance on a daily basis.  This may mean that you are a resident of a nursing home, bedridden in a private residence, or that your eyesight has deteriorated to an uncorrectable state.

U.S. veterans and their dependents which require geriatric care are often eligible for a variety of the benefits offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Although the VA has recently begun making efforts to raise awareness about its services, as much as 69% of elderly veterans are still unaware of the benefits they may be eligible to receive.  To discover whether you or your loved one qualifies for services and benefits to help you through the healthcare and financial challenges of aging, you can apply online, with a VA representative, or at a VA regional office.

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