Senior Citizens as Veterans
By Patrick M. Kennedy
Being a senior citizen who also is a veteran of the military, there are many benefits from health to retirement living that you should be aware of, and be taking the benefit of them. There things like Elder Care, Home Loans at reduced rates, downpayments and closing costs, the GI Bill for education as well as Vocational Training, Life Insurance, and even Burial Benefits.
Most veterans are not aware of the eldercare benefits available through veterans’ health care, through state veterans’ homes, through home renovation grants (HISA Grants), or for two disability income programs called Compensation and Pension. One particular program called Veterans Pension, or more commonly known as the ‘Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit,’ can provide money to pay for home care for veterans. Aid and attendance can also be used to pay for assisted living for a veteran or the veteran’s spouse and for nursing home care for a veteran or the veteran’s spouse.
What is the ‘Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?’ Aid and attendance is a commonly used term for a little-known veterans’ disability income.
Veterans Nursing Homes are generally available to active duty veterans, but some states have beds for people who served with the reserves or National Guard and the spouses of veterans. The majority of these homes offer nursing care, but some may offer assisted living or domiciliary care. Generally there is no income or asset test. Most veterans in most states would qualify. Many states have waiting lists of weeks to months for available beds. Each facility has different eligibility rules and there is an application process. You cannot simply walk in the door and arrange for nursing care on the spot. You must contact the veterans home you are interested in to find out the availability of beds and the application process.
You can get up to $1,949 a month from the Department of Veterans Affairs if you are a veteran who served on active duty during World War II or the Korean Conflict or the Vietnam War. This extra income can be used to pay for home care or assisted living or nursing home care. For more information about a consultant in your area, you can go to this link on the Internet: http://www.longtermcarelink.net/ref_state_veterans_va_nursing_homes.htm
Home Loans, are you eligible for these? Veterans, active duty personnel, certain reservists and National Guard members, surviving spouses of persons who die on active duty or die as a result of service-connected disabilities, and certain spouses of active duty personnel who are missing in action, captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or forcibly detained by a foreign government or power, are eligible.
How does this work, you may ask? Well, you get your loan from a private lender, usually your bank, and the VA ‘stands behind’ the loan with that lender. If something goes wrong and you can’t make the payments anymore, the lending institution can come to the VA to cover any losses that might incur. The VA loan guaranty is this ‘insurance’ that the VA provides to the lender. You won’t need mortgage insurance. Most loans are handled entirely by lenders. And more, you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer; you can reuse the benefit, and VA-backed loans are assumable, as long as the person assuming the loan qualifies. For more information go to: http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/lp.asp
Then there is the GI Bill, now called the Post 9/11 GI-Bill, which provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It will pay your tuition based upon the highest in-state tuition charged by a public educational institution in the state where the school is located. The amount of support that you may qualify for depends on where you live and what type of degree you are pursuing. For further information you can go to: http://www.gibill.va.gov/post-911/post-911-gi-bill-summary/
Now, along with the GI-Bill, what are these Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment VetSuccess Benefits? The VetSuccess program assists veterans with service-connected disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs. For you veterans with service-connected disabilities so severe that you cannot immediately consider work, VetSuccess offers services to improve your ability to live as independently as possible. This program includes; comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment; vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services; employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, other work readiness assistance, and much more. For more information go to: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/index.htm
For your veterans Life Insurance there many options, too many to go into here: Insurance coverage such as SGLI, VGLI, Family SGLI, and SGLI Traumatic Injury Protection. So go to for definitions and help and enrollment: http://www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/default.htm.
Then there are VA Burial Allowances. VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran's burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments: a burial and funeral expense allowance, and a plot or interment allowance. You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if you paid for a veteran's burial or funeral, and you have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran's employer, and the veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Again, there is more information available at: http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/factsheets/burials/Burialeg_0508.doc
So it can be seen, that you, as a senior citizen who is also a veteran, have a wealth of benefits that should not be ignored. Everything helps in today’s environment, and your senior-citizen and maybe non-working status.