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What are US Veteran Services?

The United States of America proudly represents the strongest and most advanced military in the entire world.  It is on the backs of our beloved veterans that the citizens of our nation have security and freedom.  If you or a loved one is a United States Veteran than you may be eligible for certain benefits.  

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Veteran Benefits Can Enhance Your Senior Care

The cost of care can skyrocket as seniors’ needs increase.  Many reach a point where personal care assistance is necessary either in-home or within a senior care community.  Often, an individual or a couple’s income is insufficient to cover these increasing costs, but for veterans and their spouses, there is help available.

The VA offers a pension benefit to qualifying individuals requiring assistance which can provide up to an additional $2,100.00 monthly to help cover the costs of care.  This is a tax-free benefit, and there is no limit to the duration for which one can receive it.  These additional funds can make an enormous difference when considering who to hire or where to move.  Moreover, these benefits are paid directly to the individual or their representative rather than directly to the caretakers or the facilities.  This gives recipients more decision-making freedom.

The maximum pension benefits available for veterans is $1,793.00 per month.  Surviving spouses can receive up to $1,153.00 monthly, and a married couple may be eligible for up to $2,127.00 in monthly benefits.  If applicants do not qualify for the maximum benefit the VA offers, they can always seek to increase the award as care needs increase.

In order for veterans to qualify for this pension, the VA reviews the following:

While there are asset limitations, the VA considers assets only from the time of application forward allowing individuals whose assets exceed those limitations to engage in pre-planning prior to requesting the pension.  By doing this, assets can be preserved. 

For surviving spouses of veterans, the requirements are the identical but preclude eligibility in the event of divorce or remarriage.*

The VA offers these benefits retroactively, so awards are backdated to the time of application.  This is important to note when considering care options.  Often individuals have to borrow from family members or explore temporary loan options while they wait for the VA to process their claim, but these loans can be repaid with the retroactive funds.    

While many individuals are eligible for this benefit, the key to receiving it is filling out and filing a completed application; applications should also be supplemented with supporting documentation.  The time it takes the VA to process claims depends largely in part on the information provided by the individual filing.  The more detailed the claim, the less work the VA has to put forth in locating the information themselves.  Providing the VA with all they need on the front end can also curtail denials.  This can make all the difference when the need for increased care is immediate.

Once in receipt of the benefit, it is important to preserve healthcare expense records.  Though the pension it is not difficult to maintain, the VA does audit recipients on occasion, and good record-keeping can prevent interruptions in the monthly deposits.  It is also important to notify the VA of any changes in circumstances such as a move, a change in income, or an upward adjustment in assets.

Thus, though personal care needs often increase with age causing a redirection of income to cover the costs of care, the additional funds the VA offers can increase care options and make care more affordable. 

Editor’s Note:  By Jeff and Jessa Miller, VA Accredited attorneys. www.MillerLawFirmTN.com.

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