Are you a Veteran? You could be eligible for more benefits than you think
There are over 17.4 million veterans living in the United States. These brave people have put their lives on the line for the safety of all Americans. And, as one form of appreciation, the United States government gives many benefits to veterans to help them throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, finding out about these benefits can be challenging. This is especially true for older veterans who don’t know how to conduct research on the Internet. Keep reading for a closer look at the benefits many veterans don’t know they’re eligible for.
The Veteran Population
The United States has a lot more veterans than some may realize. Approximately 30% of American men aged 64-74 are veterans. And, this number increases to 44% for American men over 74. There are also over two million female veterans. All of these people can use VA’s military healthcare and related assistance programs to make their lives easier. Sadly, not very many veterans take full advantage of all the benefits they’re eligible for. Enrollment isn’t automatic and individuals have to know the benefits so they can take the initiative to apply.
Currently, there are about nine million enrolled in the Veteran Affairs (VA) health care program. But, there are another eight million who are eligible for the program and are not registered. This means that the ratio for enrollment is almost as low as one in two veterans.
Why Veterans Aren’t Enrolling in VA Healthcare
So, what is bringing about this low enrollment? There could be various factors, but some of the most common ones include believing the approval process will take too long and the lack of technology access or knowledge.
Lack of Technology Access or Knowledge
The veterans who probably need the Veteran Affairs healthcare benefits the most are those in the older age groups. However, it’s also these very individuals that may be intimated by the Internet or technology. A 2017 study on veterans found the likelihood of using the Internet decreased as age increased. This prevents individuals from understanding their eligibility, the possible benefits of enrollment, or even how to enroll.
The Approval Rate is Too Slow
There’s no denying that getting approved for VA healthcare is not an automatic process. It takes time for the system to review applications and determine eligibility. And, while this wait time can be frustrating, it’s important to point out that it has improved significantly over the years. In 2013, the number of applicants waiting for approval was at 600,000. By 2018, VA lowered the number to 75,000. It’s still not ideal to have to wait, but the lesson here is that veterans shouldn’t delay their application. The sooner the application starts, the sooner it will be approved.
Veterans Benefits With VA
Under the VA system, veterans benefits are quite impressive. The benefits are divided into two main categories: Veterans Heath Care and Veterans Extended Care.
Veterans Extended Care
The national average cost of home care is $21 an hour. Under the Veterans Affairs Program, the VA Aid and Attendance (A&A) – also know as Housebound Benefits – can help offset extended care costs. In addition to the already provided VA pension that qualified veterans receive, the VA A&A provides a top-up for home care costs. Any veteran that needs help with their day-to-day living or is homebound is very likely to be eligible for the VA A&A top-up. This benefit is also tax-free, so it doesn’t impact the individual’s annual tax return.
Unfortunately, only 10% of veterans that are eligible for the VA A&A apply.
VA A&A Eligibility: Receiving Home Care For Veterans
The specific requirements for VA A&A eligibility are to meet at least one of the following conditions:
- The veteran needs a person to help them perform vital daily functions, such as showering, eating, etc.
- The veteran spends several hours to the majority of the day in bed because of an illness
- The veteran doesn’t leave their home due to a disability
- The veteran lives in a nursing home due to a disability
- The veteran has limited vision, even with glasses or contact lenses
How to Apply for VA A&A
To take advantage of the VA A&A program, individuals can choose to apply in person or by mail. When mailing in an application, simply fill out the VA Form 21-2680 and send it to the correct Pension Management Center (PMC). Applying in person can be done at the closest VA regional office.
How Much Does A&A Provide
Each individual is assessed based on factors such as their net worth, the number of dependents, and more. As a result, the compensation received under A&A greatly varies from person to person. However, some estimates show that A&A can add to monthly pension around:
- For veterans without dependents: $754 per month
- For veterans with a spouse or dependent: $753 per month
- Two married veterans who both qualify for A&A: $1,507 per month
This benefit can significantly help to offset the costs of home care for veterans, paying for around 35 hours of professional care per month.
The Veteran’s Affairs health care program can greatly help those in need. A 2017 survey of more than 42,000 veterans reported that the majority of respondents were:
- 80-86% satisfied with the level of care they receive through VA
- 80% appreciate that they still get to remain in charge of their health care decisions
- 72% trust the VA program to take care of the veteran population
Now, it’s time for veterans to take full advantage of this program, so they may receive their well-deserved benefits.
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