Are you aware of the many VA benefits that can offset care costs associated with aging — from expensive meds and home handicap ramps to paid help with activities of daily living at home or a week’s stay in a nursing home to give your family caregiver a break?
Many of our clients are surprised that any benefit is available to the veteran much less their surviving spouse. Often after leaving the service, the veteran has never had another interaction with the VA. They presume they had to have fought on the front lines or been injured by their service to be eligible for benefits. But that’s not always the case.
As I often remark, knowing the rules is everything! Here are three important ones when it
comes to tapping a couple of these benefit programs as well as dealing with the VA.
Rule: Every veteran should file Form 10-10EZ and register themselves in the VA health care system even if they don’t need health care benefits now or have a service-connected disability.
VA Form 10-10EZ opens the gateway to many health care benefits that are available to all honorably discharged veterans. Don’t wait until you need help as it takes time to be recognized by the system.
The video below provides more details on the types of benefits you can unlock.
Rule: Apply for Pension with Aid and Attendance when the wartime veteran (married or single) or their surviving spouse is under the VA asset threshold ($138,489 in 2022) and when care costs exceed household assets and income.
Pension with Aid and Attendance can be a real game-changer for seniors. This tax-free benefit provides a monthly cash payment to help pay for care at home, in an assisted living residence or nursing home. While the application process is long and complicated, if eligible, a married veteran can receive as much as $29,172 per year, a single veteran as much as $24,600 and a surviving spouse as much as $15,804 in 2022.
These two videos will help you learn more about various aspects of the program.
Rule: The VA doesn’t care about what you know. It cares about what you can prove.
When applying for benefits (called a claim), the VA is all about paperwork, that is filling out the appropriate form correctly and then providing the requisite documentation. If you think you can cut corners by avoiding some of the documentation, you’re sadly mistaken. If you want a shot at the benefits, you’ll need to get your head in the game, be patient and give them exactly the paperwork they want. Of course, no one likes paperwork much less being a paper pusher (except my law firm!), but it’s the only way to deal with this vast bureaucracy with success and without losing your mind!