At Seniors Helping Seniors (SHS) many of our clients and caregivers are veterans and we thank them for their service on Veterans Day and always. Throughout the month of November we are offering veterans and their families 25% off their first service with Seniors Helping Seniors. These seniors services include companionship, dementia care, light housekeeping/meal preparation, transportation and personal care.
Eligibility for Care
When a veteran reaches out to SHS for homecare services, we always make sure they are familiar with the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit that can assist a qualified veteran to pay for services at home for themselves and/or their spouse. Currently, a qualified veteran is eligible for up to $1,788 per month and a veteran with a spouse is eligible for up to $2,120 to pay for the services they need to stay at home. The surviving spouse of a veteran may be eligible for up to $1,149 to cover services at home. We often find that veterans and their families are not aware of the VA benefits that they could qualify for in general. Below is some information and resources on VA benefits – we encourage all veterans to apply for the benefits they have earned through their service to our country.
VA History and Benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs hospital system began in 1811, when the first medical facility for veterans was established by the federal government. Today the VA has three branches:
- Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA), the largest branch responsible for the medical care of veterans.
- Veteran’s Business Administration (VBA), responsible for the financial needs of veterans (including GI Bill, home loans, compensation and pension).
- National Cemetery Association (NCA), responsible for the respectful and honorable burial of veterans.
There are almost 10 million veterans in the United States that are over the age of 65 (source: Census Bureau 2012, VA 2014). Many of these aging veterans are in need of medical and long-term care services that are covered by the VA. In addition to general medical services, senior veterans may qualify for benefits that will cover all or some of the cost of services that may assist them with living at home rather than in an institutional setting. These benefits include:
- Homemakers and home health aides
- Adult day health programs
- Hospice care
- Palliative care
- Respite care for families
- Home based primary care and skilled home health care
These services are covered under the VA’s Standard Medical Benefits Package. Eligibility for services such as those listed above is determined based on the veteran’s need for ongoing treatment, personal care, and assistance, as well as the availability of the service in their area. Other factors, such as financial eligibility, service-connected (VA disability) status, insurance coverage, and/or ability to pay may also apply.
Veterans and their families may not realize that they can qualify for health care benefits through the VA. Previous generations of veterans were often not made aware of their VA benefits and therefore have not enrolled through the VHA for health benefits. The general rule for enrollment in the VHA is that any veteran who served active duty in the U.S. military and was discharged for any reason other than dishonorable is eligible to enroll.
How to Apply for VA Benefits
Both the VA and AARP encourage all veterans to apply even if you are covered by Medicare. If you don’t meet the requirements the VA will simply say no.
A veteran can apply for VA benefits in three ways:
- Click here to apply for VA benefits online (www.ebenefits.va.gov) and click here (http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply) to apply for VA health benefits
- Through an appointed representative (may be an attorney or a Veteran’s Service Officer (VSO) who is appointed at the state or federal level – click here to search for accredited attorneys, Claim Agents or VSO representatives (http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp)
- In person at a local regional office
Veterans can also call the Enrollment Hotline 1-877-222-VETS (8387) for help in the enrollment process.