Benefits for veterans and their families
The Savvy SeniorMarch 15, 2011 | 2,038 views | Post a comment
Dear Savvy Senior,
I would like to find out what kinds of veterans benefits are available to older vets and their spouses? My dad served four years in the Army during the Korean War, and I’m curious to see if there are any VA benefits that he or my mom may qualify for. What can you tell me?
That’s a great question. There are actually millions of older veterans and their families who don’t take advantage of the VA benefits they’re entitled to because they either don’t know they exist or they don’t think they would qualify for them. Here’s what you and your parents should know.
Underused Benefits: While the VA provides a wide range of commonly-known benefits and services for its veterans -- like health care, education support through the GI Bill and home loans -- they also provide a bevy of lesser-known benefits that were specifically created to help senior veterans and their family members, as well as their survivors.
To be eligible, however, your parent’s income and assets in most cases will need to be below certain limits, and your dad’s discharge from the military must have been under conditions other than dishonorable. Here’s a breakdown of four benefits that are often overlooked by older vets and their families.
Veterans Pension: This is available to limited-income veterans that are age 65 and older or are totally disabled, who served at least 90 days of active military service with at least one day of service during a period of war (stateside or overseas). To be eligible, your parent’s assets will generally need to be under $80,000 not counting their house and vehicle, and their annual “countable income” must be under $15,493 or $11,830 for a single veteran. Countable income includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from business or farming, minus medical expenses if they exceed at least 5 percent of their total income.
Death Pension: This is available to low-income surviving spouses and dependents of wartime veterans whose death was not related to military service. To receive this benefit, a surviving spouse’s annual income must be under $7,933, or under $9,696 if she is housebound (minus medical expenses), with cash assets under $80,000.
Aid and Attendance: This little known benefit can help elderly veterans and their spouses pay for in-home care, an assisted living facility or nursing home care. It pays up to $1,949 per month, in addition to the monthly pension benefits. To qualify, the veteran must be 65 or older (or permanently disabled), have served during wartime and meet certain financial and medical requirements.
To qualify medically, one of your parents would need assistance with basic everyday living tasks like eating, bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom. Being blind or in a nursing home or assisted living facility for mental incapacity also qualifies.
And to qualify financially, your parent’s annual income as a couple (minus medical and long-term care expenses) cannot exceed $23,396; $19,736 for a single veteran; or $12,681 for a surviving spouse. And their assets must be less that $80,000, excluding their home and car.
Burial Benefits: Regardless of income and assets, this benefit provides all veterans, spouses and dependents a free burial at a national cemetery and a free grave marker. Unfortunately, funeral or cremation costs are not covered. However, some veterans may qualify for a $300 funeral allowance and $300 for a plot if they choose to be buried in a private cemetery. To learn more see www.cem.va.gov.
VA Resources: A good place to learn about all types of veterans benefits is at the online at www.ebenefits.va.gov or www.vba.va.gov. Or, contact your regional VA office or local veterans service organization, where you can get personalized help and assistance in filing claims. See www.va.gov/statedva.htm for contact information or call the VA benefits helpline at 800-827-1000.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit http://SavvySenior.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
A creepy Halloween party appetizer (October 19, 2016)
Applying for Social Security (October 19, 2016)
Chili Cook-off to benefit Wilson County youth (October 19, 2016)
DRT joins Heritage Music Festival (October 19, 2016)
DRT to meet Oct. 24 in Kerrville (October 19, 2016)
Enjoy Harvest Festival in Marion (October 19, 2016)
Enter Pecan Bake Show (October 19, 2016)
Little Golden Books (October 19, 2016)
Make plans for Halloween fun and fall fests (October 19, 2016)
Meeting the needs of the community: St. Vincent de Paul (October 19, 2016)
R&B legend opens Carver season Oct. 29 (October 19, 2016)
Readers share their spooky tales, part two (October 19, 2016)
Road Runners plan Oct. 22 group run (October 19, 2016)
See country legends Oct. 22 (October 19, 2016)
Try your hand at square dancing (October 19, 2016)
Turn yard waste into gardener’s gold (October 19, 2016)
Baptist church to ring in 100 years (October 12, 2016)
Church plans Junk and Treasure Sale (October 12, 2016)
Comal Country Music Show is Oct. 18 (October 12, 2016)
Davy Crockett (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy fried chicken in Poth Oct. 23 (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy this flashy winter resident (October 12, 2016)
Join in the 2016 Rosary Crusade (October 12, 2016)
National Charity League plans celebration (October 12, 2016)
New program increases student knowledge of E-cigarette dangers (October 12, 2016)
Play bunco in La Vernia Oct. 22 (October 12, 2016)
Pondering a poignant letter from the past (October 12, 2016)
Save the date for Oct. 22 March for Life (October 12, 2016)
Should you redeem old savings bonds? (October 12, 2016)
Show Barn Cook-off approaching (October 12, 2016)
Sutherland Springs Old Town Day (October 12, 2016)
The business of aging grows more complex (October 12, 2016)
Try your luck at China Grove Lions Club Casino Night (October 12, 2016)
Atascosa County Craft Show seeks vendors (October 5, 2016)
Beautify your landscape with cacti (October 5, 2016)
Experience Oktoberfest in San Antonio (October 5, 2016)
Gilded peanuts and golden memories — recalling past Floresville Peanut Festivals (October 5, 2016)
Japan Fest set for Oct. 16 (October 5, 2016)
Meal service delivery options for seniors who don’t cook (October 5, 2016)
Oktoberfest comes to Floresville Oct. 15 (October 5, 2016)
Past Pirate champions will never be forgotten (October 5, 2016)
Readers share their ‘spooky’ tales (October 5, 2016)
Sacred Springs PowWow (October 5, 2016)
Shorter teapot (October 5, 2016)
Sinatra tribute comes to Kerrville (October 5, 2016)
Stockdale librarian updates Blue Bonnet Club members (October 5, 2016)
Sunnyside 4-H Bake Sale (October 5, 2016)
Time for turkey in Cestohowa (October 5, 2016)