Of the 9.3 million Veterans of retirement age (and 1.6 million more who would reach retirement age by 2025), 2015 studies show that 69 percent were not aware of the benefits available to them and were paying more for their own care than they should.
Little has changed in the past 4+ years, and the process of qualifying and applying for Veteran’s benefits can still be complex and time-consuming. A senior care manager—a professional versed in the medical, financial, and social needs of seniors—can be an invaluable aid in helping Veterans understand and work through the benefits process. Care managers can help Veterans take advantage of numerous benefits, outlined in our guide below.
Veteran’s Guide to Senior Living and Benefits
Service-Connected Disability Compensation
Service-Connected Disability Compensation is a monetary monthly benefit paid to Veterans disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during wartime and connected to active military services.
To be eligible, the Veteran has to have been on active duty a minimum of 90 days, one of which was during wartime, and have been honorably discharged.
The greater the disability, the larger the compensation. A Veteran’s income does not affect the benefit amount awarded. This benefit does not decrease military retirement pay.
Common service-connected disabilities include:
- Vision or hearing loss (hearing loss is often overlooked as a disability)
- Agent Orange exposure
- Respiratory problems
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Brain injury
- Skin conditions, including scarring or serious skin problems
- Heart or cardiovascular problems
When seeking care, Veterans and their families should look for organizations that have staff trained and experienced in addressing these needs, such as Bethesda’s senior living communities across the Greater St. Louis area.
A VA pension is paid to wartime Veterans who have limited or no income. The Veteran must be 65 or older, or if under age 65, they must be deemed permanently and totally disabled.
The Veteran must be honorably discharged, and they must have served at least 90 days of active military service with at least one day during wartime. (After 9/7/1980, the Veteran must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which the Veteran was called or ordered to active duty.)
The amount of family income is set annually by law. Those exceeding the maximum income may deduct their out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses, including medical insurance premiums, assisted living or private duty expenses, and copays for doctors’ offices. If their total expenses reduce their income under the limit, they may qualify.
Aid and Attendance
If a Veteran is in need of support from another person to assist them in the activities of daily living and to keep them safe in their environment, they may qualify for aid and attendance. Aid and attendance is an additional payment if they have met the qualifications for either the service-connected disability or the VA pension.
If the Veteran suffers from a decline for the same diagnosis of service-connected disability and they need to pay for private duty care to stay safe at home, they can submit a claim for increased compensation for this service. If they experience a non-service-connected decline in health and they meet all the VA pension requirements, they can also submit a claim.
Other Veteran Benefits
A death pension is paid to eligible dependents of deceased wartime Veterans. Dependents can be an unmarried child or surviving spouse who have limited or no income.
A benefit for burial expense is also available, as well as a host of services to aid senior Veterans and their families in planning for the future, obtaining loans and insurance, and finding local resources that provide care and information.
Information can be found at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
There are three different VA departments. Visit the Veterans Health Administration Department for medical information.
“We Honor Veterans” Program
“We Honor Veterans” is a national awareness campaign conducted by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Bethesda Hospice Care is one of just a few hospice organizations in the St. Louis area to have earned top-tier rating in the program.
As part of the program, training is provided to all hospice staff concerning the unique needs of Veteran patients.
Licensed social workers encourage discussions with Veterans about their experiences, screen for PTSD and provide appropriate interventions.
Other Senior Care Options for Veterans
Along with civilian senior communities, there are communities that cater to Veterans, sometimes exclusively, including:
- Veterans Affairs (VA) senior living communities
- Military-only retirement communities
- Senior living communities popular with the military because of their proximity to bases
For more information about skilled nursing homes, assisted living, and home health care check out the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
Schedule a tour at a Bethesda senior living community near you or give us a call at 314-800-1911 to learn about the care and services that we provide for St. Louis Veterans.