Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits
Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents
There are a variety of federal benefits available to veterans and their dependents. Eligibility depends upon individual circumstances. Contact the nearest Veterans Affairs Benefits Office at 1-800-827-1000 to apply. Counselors can answer questions about benefits, eligibility and application procedures. They may also make referrals to other VA Offices and facilities, such as medical centers and national cemeteries. You may find telephone numbers of VA Offices and facilities in the Federal Government section of your local telephone directory under “Department of Veterans Affairs”.
Veterans’ Health Care Benefits
For most veterans, entry into the VA healthcare system starts with enrollment at a VA healthcare facility. Veterans with Internet access may apply for enrollment on-line at www.VA.Gov/1010ez.htm by completing VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits, which can also be obtained by calling the toll-free Veterans Affairs telephone number. Once enrolled, a veteran is eligible to receive services at VA facilities anywhere in the country. VA healthcare facilities also provide information on medical care. Veterans who have enrolled at the VA are eligible for a benefits package of in-patient and out¬patient services. These include: limited nursing home care, adult day healthcare and homeless programs, preventative medicine services, primary care, surgery, mental health and substance abuse treatment, home healthcare, respite and hospice care, emergency care in VA facilities and drugs and pharmaceuticals.
Eligibility for hearing aids, eyeglasses and dental care is determined by whether the veteran has been given a disability rating by the VA which is a percentage rating of “service connected”. “Service connected” means that the veteran has been given a disability rating by the VA which is for an injury or illness related to their military service. In many cases, veterans are receiving compensation for that disability. A Means Test is also imposed as a measure of the veteran’s family’s annual income and assets and used to determine if non-service connected and zero percent connected veterans need to make co-payments for medical care.
Co-payments are charged by the VA for in-patient and out-patient medical treatment, as well as daily charges for in-patient treatment and for medication co-payments. The VA pharmacy will only fill prescriptions written by VA clinicians. In some instances, some co-payments may be as low as two dollars or may be waived for certain classes of veterans.
The Veterans’ Uniform Benefits Package and Medicare
A veteran’s Medicare and supplemental insurance policy may pay up to twenty percent (20%) of charges. If the supplemental does not cover the VA co-payment, the veteran is responsible for the remaining amount. The VA is not presently authorized to bill Medicare for healthcare services to veterans. However, the VA can file claims with any other insurance under which you are covered. In all cases though, veterans should apply for benefits under the Uniform Benefits Package because the VA’s Uniform Benefits Package emphasizes preventative and primary care.
Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Special Pension
The Veterans’ Administration offers a Special Pension with Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit that is largely unknown. This Special Pension (part of the VA Improved Pension program) allows for Veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing, undressing or taking care of the needs of nature to receive additional monetary benefits. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an assisted living facility also qualifies.
This most important benefit is overlooked by many families with Veterans or surviving spouses who need additional monies to help care for ailing parents or loved ones. This is a “pension benefit” and is not dependent upon service-related injuries for compensation. Most Veterans who are in need of assistance qualify for this pension. Aid and Attendance can help pay for care in the home, nursing home or assisted living facility. A Veteran is eligible for up to $1,632 per month, while a surviving spouse is eligible for up to $1,055 per month. A couple is eligible for up to $1,949 per month.
The Aid and Attendance Benefit is considered to be the third tier of a VA program called Improved Pension. The other two tiers are Basic and Housebound. Each tier has its own level of benefits and qualifications. The website VeteranAid.org may help you determine if you are eligible for benefits as can contacting the VA and an elder law attorney.