What Types of Long-Term Care is Available for Veterans?
VA Long-Term Care Benefits for Veterans

What Types of Long-Term Care is Available for Veterans?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers some funding programs that can help offset the cost of some types of long-term care.

U.S. News & World Report’s recent article, “Veteran Benefits for Assisted Living,” explains that many senior living companies try to help many veterans maximize their long-term care benefits, which in some cases can significantly reduce the cost of senior living.

Note that the VA won’t pay for a veteran’s rent in an assisted living facility. However, VA benefits may pay for some of the extra services required, like nursing assistance, help with bathing and toileting, and possibly meals.

There are a variety of long-term benefits that may help, based on a vet’s specific service history and eligibility. The most commonly used benefits are the Aid & Attendance Pension. Another common benefit is the Survivor’s Pension for spouses of a deceased veteran with wartime service.

The VA’s Aid & Attendance and Housebound program is part of the pension benefits paid to veterans and survivors. The VA says these long-term care benefits are paid, in addition to monthly pension. A vet must satisfy one of the potential conditions, including:

  • Requiring the aid of another person to perform personal functions, like bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, or staying safe from hazards;
  • Being disabled and bedridden, above what would be thought of as recovery from a course of treatment, such as surgery;
  • Being a patient in a nursing home due to physical or mental incapacity; and
  • Having very poor eyesight (5/200 corrected visual acuity or less in both eyes) or a field of vision limited to five degrees or less.

Vets may qualify for these long-term care benefits, which are added to the standard monthly pension, when he or she is “substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability,” the VA says. Eligibility for the program is based on a case by case basis and involves a review by the VA.

It’s important to begin the application process early, rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. Ask an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney to help you and to discuss your long-term care options.

Learn more about VA pension planning.

Reference: U.S. News & World Report (August 12, 2019) “Veteran Benefits for Assisted Living”

What Are the New Rules for Veterans’ Benefits?

Veterans rejected for disability benefits will have new options for appeals. This is because federal officials are implementing an overhaul of the review process, with the objective of significantly reducing wait times for complicated cases.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced last month that it will implement new appeals modernization rules starting in mid-February. The changes have been in the works for more than 18 months, since lawmakers passed sweeping reform legislation on the topic in the summer of 2017.

Veterans will now be provided with three streamlined options for their benefits appeals, reports the Military Times in the article “VA’s benefits appeals process will see a dramatic changeover next month.”

The VA is now hoping that the most difficult reviews can still be finished in less than a year in most cases. The target for cases that don’t go before the Board of Veterans Appeals is an average of about four months for a final decision.

A successful appeal can result in thousands of dollars in monthly benefits payouts for veterans who’ve previously been turned down, for what they believe are service-connected injuries and illnesses.

“(This) is the most significant reform in veterans’ appeals processing in a generation and promises to improve the timeliness and accuracy of decisions for our nation’s veterans,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif.

Veterans groups primarily support the appeals changes, but some have expressed concerns about the new system limiting veterans’ options for future reviews, in favor of getting faster resolutions.

Parts of the new process were implemented as pilot programs at select sites in recent months. In the past, the cases involved a combination of all three options, with cases reset and repeating steps with every new submission of case evidence.

With the first of the three new appeals processes, veterans can file a supplemental claim where they introduce new evidence in support of their case. The appeal is handled by specialists at a regional office, who make a final decision.

The second option allows veterans to request their cases be reviewed by a senior claim adjudicator, instead of the regional office. Those reviews are for clear errors or mistaken interpretations of a statute. If they find mistakes, they can require corrections for the cases.

The third option allows veterans to appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Those cases are anticipated to take the longest to process, due to the legal prep work. Veterans can obtain a direct decision or request a hearing before the board.

Veterans with cases currently pending in the system, can opt to go with the new processes or stay with the current system, if they think it will be better for them.

Reference: Military Times (January 22, 2019) “VA’s benefits appeals process will see a dramatic changeover next month”