The freedoms, benefits, and quality of life enjoyed by everyone living in the United States would not be possible without the sacrifice of every veteran, surviving spouse, and family member of those who served in the Armed Forces. Although there is no way to every adequately repay those who have sacrificed for our country, the government does provide a number of benefits to veterans, surviving spouses, and dependents. Navigating the eligibility guidelines and application procedures for many of the benefits, however, can discourage even battle-hardened veterans from pursuing the benefits to which they are entitled. The list of benefits is extremely long; however, the Northern California Center for Estate Planning & Elder Law has put together some basic information about some of the most common benefits to which you might be entitled.
What Benefits Might You Be Entitled to As a Veteran, Survivor, or Dependent?
- Pension — Pension is a needs-based benefit for wartime Veterans with limited or no income who are age 65 or older or who have a permanent and total non-service-connected disability.
- Veterans Aid and Attendance Program — The Veteran’s Aid & Attendance (VA&A) program is intended to provide additional monetary assistance above and beyond that provided by the VA pension program. The additional assistance is aimed at helping veterans who need help with daily tasks of living, such as dressing, bathing, or cooking by providing the financial resources to hire someone to help.
- Disability Benefits — Veterans who have disabilities, medical conditions, or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service may be eligible to receive tax-free monthly benefits. To be eligible for disability benefits, you must show:
- You have a current physical or mental disability.
- You had an injury or disease in service or experienced an event in service that caused or aggravated an injury or disease.
- There is a link between your current disability and the event, injury, or disease in military service.
The amount of your disability benefits will depend on several factors, including the extent of your disability – rated from 0 to 100 in increments of 10 — and your household members (spouse and/or dependents) at the time of your disability rating.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) — Provides monthly benefits to surviving spouses, dependent children, or parents in recognition of the economic loss caused by a Servicemember’s death during military service, or by the death of a Veteran as a result of a service-connected disability. You can find out if you are eligible for the DIC program on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
- Health Care — Veterans, and their families, have access to excellent health care services. To be eligible you must:
- Have served in the active military, naval, or air service and separated under any conditions other than dishonorable.
- If you enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, or entered active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, you most likely will be required to have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty. This includes current and former members of the Reserve or National Guard called to active duty by a federal order.
- Along with providing basic preventative care and emergency care, veterans may also be eligible for a wide variety of specialty health care programs, such as:
- Inpatient and hospitalization benefits
- Mental health care
- Geriatrics and Extended Care Services
- Home health care
- Home telehealth
- Homeless services
- In addition, the VA also offers a number of non-medical services aimed at maximizing access to health care services or supporting those services. For example:
- Beneficiary Travel
- My HealtheVet
- Rural Health
- Transplant Services
- VA Point of Service (VPS)
- Veterans Canteen Service
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
- Veteran Transportation Services
- Education and Training — Several programs help veterans and their dependents to further their education at little, or no, cost. Among the programs offered are:
- Post-9/11 GI Bill®
- Yellow Ribbon Program to help pay tuition costs for private, out-of-state, or graduate school.
- Montgomery GI Bill®
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program
- Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance
- Home Loans — There are several loan programs that provide low-interest rate financing for veterans, and surviving spouses, who wish to purchase, or refinance, a home. The three main programs include:
- VA Purchase Loans
- Cash-Out Refinance Loans
- Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans
- VA Native American Direct Loan (NADL) – a program for Native American Veterans who wish to purchase a home on tribal lands
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program — SAH grants help Veterans with certain service-connected disabilities live independently in a barrier-free environment. SAH grants can be used in one of the following ways:
- Construct a specially adapted home on land to be acquired
- Build a home on land already owned if it is suitable for specially adapted housing
- Remodel an existing home if it can be made suitable for specially adapted housing
- Apply the grant against the unpaid principal mortgage balance of an adapted home already acquired without the assistance of a VA grant
Contact Sacramento Veterans Aid and Attendance Attorneys
Please download our FREE estate planning checklist. If you have additional questions regarding your eligibility for veteran pension benefits, including Aid and Attendance, contact us at the Northern California Center for Estate Planning & Elder Law today by calling (916)-437-3500 or by filling out our online contact form.
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