Americans who’ve worn the uniform of our nation’s Armed Forces have long been recognized for their service in the protection of our lives and liberties. Too often, however, that recognition has not always come with the level of appreciation that these heroes deserve. Many older and disabled veterans often struggle with a variety of challenges ranging from reintegration into civilian life to monetary concerns. Many elderly veterans suffer from medical conditions that may not necessarily be related to their service, or otherwise find themselves in financial need. The good news is that there are VA benefits that can help in these situations, and an experienced elder law attorney can help these veterans cut through bureaucratic red tape to get the assistance they need and deserve.
The VA’s Benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, is an agency of the United States Government charged with providing for the many and varied needs of our nation’s veterans. As a country, the United States has managed to construct one of the most impressive collection of veterans’ benefits programs that the world has ever seen. Despite those efforts, however, many of the nation’s veterans continue to suffer from poor health care, inadequate access to financial security, and other concerns that can plague them throughout their civilian lives.
The problem for many veterans is that the VA system can be a real challenge for many of our heroes to navigate. There are so many programs that provide so many different types of help that the average veteran is often unaware of what he or she is actually eligible to receive. And that can have lasting negative impact on their lives, as many endure their civilian challenges without ever recognizing just how much help is available.
That’s where an experienced elder law attorney with expertise in VA benefits can be invaluable. Just consider this: most veterans are aware that they can access VA health care services. Many, however, are unaware that there a whole host of other benefits that don’t necessarily require them to be suffering from a service-related injury or disability. For example:
The Pension Program
The eligibility for the Pension Program is different than many other VA benefit offerings, so it is common for veterans to assume that it’s not available for their circumstances. In reality, though, the program’s three-tiered system makes it more widely available than many veterans might initially assume. There are some common eligibility standards, of course. Veterans must have served a minimum of 90 days during at least one of the following wars: World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or the first Gulf War. There are no combat requirements needed to attain eligibility.
The Basic Pension benefits are for veterans who are at least 65 years of age, or who have suffered permanent and total disability. The next tier, the Household Pension benefit, requires that the veteran be suffering from a 100% disabling condition that confines him or her to the home or be suffering from a 100% disabling condition and a secondary disability that is at least 60% disabling. The final tier, the Aid and Attendance Pension, is provided to veterans who require aid for basic daily living tasks, or who are bedridden, blind, or in a nursing home for either physical or mental incapacity.
For all three benefits, the veteran must also have countable income that is below the tier limit to qualify for at least partial assistance. In determining eligibility, the countable income excludes deductions for insurance, health care, nursing home costs, and similar expenses. Depending on the veteran’s income and net worth, he or she could be eligible for as much as $2,120 per month. Surviving spouses can also be eligible for these benefits in the form of a Death Pension that can be as much as $1,149 per month.
The Pension benefit is but one of many types of assistance. There are also individual VA programs that can help veterans with everything from education to home loans and life insurance.
- The VA can provide veterans with assistance as they try to advance their education and basic skills. The department can help with vocational rehabilitation and efforts to obtain employment.
- Life insurance can be difficult for many veterans to acquire. The VA offers assistance for veterans who want to purchase life insurance policies – with a variety of different policy types available.
- Home Loan assistance is provided as well, with the federal government providing loan backing for veterans who are trying to buy a home.
- The VA doesn’t just ensure educational benefits for veterans, but can also help to provide educational assistance for the dependents of qualifying veterans.
- Burial allowances and benefits for survivors can also be available.
How to Get the Benefits You Need
While the VA’s online portal can help to get you started with your efforts to better understand how the department’s offerings work, it can still be a real challenge to know exactly what you might qualify for when you need assistance. For senior veterans and those with disabilities, that can often mean months of unnecessary delays that could be avoided with the right assistance. Fortunately, there are elder law experts with experience managing VA benefit eligibility concerns. With the right attorney’s assistance, you can narrow down the options that are available to you and ensure that you get the most out of your benefit application.
At Biddinger, Bitzer & Estelle, PLLC, our elder law attorneys can give you the guidance and counsel you need to better understand the VA Pension Program and other critical veteran’s benefits to which you might be entitled. We can help you to qualify without wasted time and effort, and ensure that you gain access to the largest benefits possible. And if you’ve already been denied for a previous application, we can help you to appeal that decision. To learn more about how you can get the help you deserve, contact us online or call today at (989) 872-5601.