Elderly veterans are eligible for a wide range of benefits thanks to their military service. However, many veterans are unaware of the many resources available to them. Lack of education about senior veteran benefits leads to underutilization of valuable resources, and senior veterans struggling when they don’t need to.
If you’ve served in the military and are starting to plan for your retirement years, these are the resources and benefits you need to know about, brought to you by Mills Way.
Disabled senior veterans may receive an increased pension under one of two programs:
- Aid and Attendance (A&A): A&A allows an increased monthly pension for elderly veterans who are bedridden, are visually impaired, or need assistance with activities of daily living, whether at home or in a nursing facility.
- Housebound: Housebound benefits are available to elderly veterans who are totally disabled and unable to leave their home due to their disability.
Veterans can only receive either A&A or Housebound benefits, not both.
The VA helps veterans obtain mortgages through their VA home loan programs. Senior veterans may use a VA loan to buy a new, downsized home or to refinance their current house and free up cash for other expenses, like medical bills and long-term care. With low interest rates and 0% down for qualifying mortgages, VA loans make homeownership not only possible, but affordable for veterans.
Current homeowners can also take advantage of the VA IRRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan) program. Also referred to as the “Streamline” loan, this refinancing program helps veterans lock in lower interest rates, reducing their monthly housing costs and freeing up funds for other living expenses.
Veterans with service-related disabilities are also eligible for grants to finance accessibility modifications. Eligible veterans can use grant funds to buy or build an adapted home or make modifications to an existing home.
Veterans who are eligible for VA health care can receive free and low-cost health services through VA medical centers. This is a valuable supplement to Medicare coverage, as VA health care has lower costs and covers services Medicare doesn’t. While there are no enrollment costs or monthly premiums, veterans may be subject to copays based on their priority level. If your VA benefits do not cover dental or vision, you can explore signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Not only do Advantage plans cover dental and vision care, but they also cover prescription drugs and fitness programs.
Not all veterans are eligible for VA health benefits. Those who qualify for benefits are subject to a priority system that determines the services a veteran can use and the out-of-pocket costs due. Veterans with service-related disabilities receive highest priority for VA health care.
Long-term care benefits are possibly the most valuable resource available to the senior veterans who qualify for them. In the private marketplace, seniors have few affordable options for long-term care: Medicare won’t pay for it, and long-term care insurance premiums are prohibitively expensive.
Veterans and surviving spouses may receive long-term care assistance through A&A payments. Veterans enrolled in VA health care may also receive financial support for the following services:
- Homemakers and home health aides
- Skilled home health care
- Community nursing homes
- Community living centers
- State veterans homes
- Palliative care and hospice
The VA explains that eligibility for long-term care services is based on personal need, financial eligibility, disability status, location, and other factors. Elderly veterans can learn about their options by talking to a VA social worker.
Funerals and Burials
The VA pays a burial allowance of $780 to veterans who die in a VA medical center from a non-service-related cause. Veterans who pass away outside the VA system are eligible for an allowance of $300. Veterans not buried in a national cemetery may also receive a $780 plot-interment allowance. Burials in national cemeteries are done at no cost, but families may be responsible for ancillary expenses.
These allowances help defray the costs of a veteran’s death, but they don’t cover everything. Families must also pay funeral expenses up front and file for reimbursement from the VA. Veterans may want to consider purchasing a burial insurance policy so families have immediate access to funds. Some burial insurance policies are small and only offer enough funds to finance a basic funeral, while others are large enough to be used for other end-of-life expenses, such as outstanding medical bills and personal debts.
Not all veterans qualify for all programs. Depending on when you served, your disability status, and other factors, you may receive all of these financial resources as a senior veteran or only a few. Discuss your benefits with a VA social worker to ensure you have the right information to plan for your senior years.
Looking for more great information that will help you achieve financial freedom? Keep up with the Mills Way blog!
Image via Flickr – Special Thanks to June Duncan for sharing the above information with us.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. By Albert Einstein. I would also say the definition of insanity is believing you can live a financial responsible life without tracking how you are doing, having a budget and goals. I like following others who track their finances to compare our also. I enjoy helping people with their finances and goals.
We want to give our boys the best chance to have their money last them thru their retirement years and have them reach their Financial Freedom goals. They need to live somewhat with a frugal mindset and spend less than they make so they can Invest towards their Financial Freedom goals.
Here are some positive quotes I like;
“Get your Money to Work for You… As hard as You Work for it.” By Napoleon Hill
“1. Make Money. 2. Use the Money to Make More Money. 3. Repeat the Process.” By Warren Buffett
“There is no way to happiness; happiness is the Path.” By Buddha
“Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life” by Wayne W. Dyer
Let me know your thoughts about this blog and let me know of others you would like me to do in the future. I feel we can all learn from each other. That is why I am in the helping people retire early, enjoy life more and be more successful. Also, please see my Disclaimer page.
Don’t give up on your dreams; don’t let others talk you out of your dreams. Make your dreams happen. Make it happen today.
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