As part of long term care planning, Veterans Benefits may be discussed if you or your spouse is a Veteran. Veterans Benefits are complex and subject to many rules and regulations. To be eligible for pension benefits, a veteran must have limited income, been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time, and be age 65 or older OR permanently and totally disabled. There may be additional requirements depending on the dates of service. It may be helpful to meet with an elder law attorney to discuss possible eligibility as part of long term care planning.
To meet the disability requirement, the veteran must:
- Require assistance with his activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, etc.; or
- Be bedridden; or
- Be a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; or
- Be blind.
If a veteran is found to be eligible for a pension, the veteran may also be entitled to Aid and Attendance Benefits if his or her income is low enough and his or her unreimbursed medical expenses are high enough. The application form has a block allowing for a request for aid and attendance or housebound rating. Submitting medical evidence in advance instead of waiting for a request from VA can help expedite the process of getting this rating. The calculations depend on a variety of factors. The first determination is for whom the calculations are being done – the veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse or children. Different rates apply depending on the identity of the applicant. You can apply for benefits by filing out A Form 21-156, Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension. You can apply online through the VA: http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/.