Over two-thirds, or 13 million, of all veterans are 55 years of age or older; however, only 5% of senior veterans utilize their benefits.
Are you taking advantage of all the senior veteran benefits available to you? Many can serve as additional income, and some may help cover the costs associated with senior living. If you’re a senior veteran, you may not know how to take full advantage of the benefits you are entitled to or how to claim them.
The Pavilion Senior Living is thankful to every individual who has served our country. As a senior housing provider with communities in Tennessee and West Virginia, we want to help individuals and families find senior care. Because most veteran benefits are going unused by seniors, we want to help you better understand and utilize the benefits you or someone you know may be eligible for.
In simple terms, the veteran pension is supplemental income for wartime veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides this benefit to veterans and their spouses through the Veterans Pension and Survivors Pension programs.
The veteran must have served 90 days during active wartime. If the service started after September 7, 1980, the veteran must have served for 24 months with at least one day served during active wartime. To receive this senior veteran benefit, individuals must meet one of the following additional requirements:
- Receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Have a permanent and total disability
- Be at least 65 years old
These benefits can vary depending on a few factors, such as the number of dependents you have, if you are married, or if you are housebound. You can apply for this veteran benefit on the Veteran Affairs website. Be sure to have your military history, financial information, social security number, and banking direct deposit information when you file your claim.
If you qualify to receive a veteran pension or survivors pension, the VA will “base your payment amount on the difference between your countable income and a limit that Congress sets (called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR) (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).”
Aid & Attendance Benefits
The aid and attendance benefit, often one of the most seldom used senior veteran benefits, can offer financial relief to senior veterans who want to transition into a senior living community. This benefit is for any veteran or survivor who requires regular assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, mobility, medication monitoring, and/or meal preparation.
Additionally, this senior veteran benefit can be used by individuals who:
- Stay in bed continuously, or at least stay in bed a large portion of the day, due to an illness,
- Is a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical disabilities,
- Or have limited eyesight (even with corrective lenses, they have 5/200 vision or less in both eyes).
To be eligible for this benefit, you must have completed 90 consecutive days of active duty or served one day during active wartime. Alternatively, if you are the spouse of a veteran, you can claim these benefits as long as you were married at the time of the veteran’s passing. This veteran’s benefit can range anywhere from $1,000-$2,600 a month. To learn more about this benefit or to apply, we encourage you to visit the Veteran Affairs website.
Like the Aid and Attendance benefit, the housebound allowance senior veteran benefit provides a monthly payment to veterans who are housebound or spend the majority of their time at home due to a permanent disability.
Because both the aid and attendance and housebound allowance benefits are supplemental to the standard VA pension, individuals must either already receive a VA pension or submit the application in addition to the aid and attendance or housebound allowance application. It is important to note that you cannot receive both aid and attendance and housebound allowance at the same time.
This senior veteran benefit provides a monthly, tax-free payment to veterans who either got sick or injured during their time in the military or whose service made an already existing condition worse. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states, “you may qualify for VA disability benefits for physical conditions (like a chronic illness or injury) and mental health conditions (like PTSD) that developed before, during, or after service.”
Geriatrics and Extended Care Services
The goal of the VA’s geriatrics and extended care services (GEC) is to help veterans address and tend to a multitude of conditions, including chronic illness, injury, and aging. While these services do assist veterans with community-based living, they also help individuals who choose to live and age in place at home.
Covering a wide range of care, the GEC “offers home- and community-based services ranging from home-based primary care and home health aide care to daily health care, palliative care, respite care, hospice care, telehealth care, and even veteran-directed care (aging.com).”
These care services can assist senior veterans looking to transition into a senior living community, like The Pavilion Senior Living in Tennessee or West Virginia, or those who want to stay in their current home.
Specially Adapted Housing Programs
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states, “The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program offers grants to service members and Veterans with certain severe service-connected disabilities. The grants assist with building, remodeling, or purchasing an adapted home.”
Basically, the VA will assist disabled veterans in maintaining their independence through housing adaptations. An example of this is widening doorways and installing ramps to make the home more wheelchair-accessible.
Eligibility for taking advantage of this senior veteran benefit depends on two factors: you must own or will soon own the home AND have a qualifying service-connected disability.
The VA defines a qualifying service-connected disability as one of the following:
- The loss or loss of use of more than one limb
- The loss or loss of use of a lower leg along with the residuals (lasting effects) of an organic (natural) disease or injury
- Blindness in both eyes (with 20/200 visual acuity or less)
- Certain severe burns
- The loss, loss of use, of one lower extremity (foot or leg) after September 11, 2001, makes it so you can’t balance or walk without the help of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also notes that “only 120 Veterans and service members each fiscal year (FY) can qualify for a grant based on the loss of one extremity after September 11, 2001, as set by Congress…If you qualify for, but don’t receive, a grant in the current fiscal year because the cap has already been reached, you may be able to use this benefit in future years.”
Local and State Senior Veteran Benefits
While the Department of Veterans Affairs offers great benefits on a federal level, many states have begun taking it a step further and provide veteran-exclusive benefits. For example, Tennessee offers free hunting and fishing licenses for veterans who are disabled with a one-time $10 fee. Additionally, the state of Tennessee offers “any former POW or 100% permanent and total disabled veteran [exemption] from the county motor vehicle privilege tax.”
If you’d like to find out more veteran benefits in Tennessee, West Virginia, or your state, military.com is an excellent resource for finding these state-specific benefits.
The Pavilion Senior Living’s mission is to provide compassionate care and high-quality services to seniors. We are committed to improving the quality of life of those we serve and aim to be the most trusted provider of senior care services throughout our communities. Our focus is on providing care tailored to meet the unique physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our residents.
Through our core values of trust, respect, compassion, personalized care, and integrity, we honor our veteran residents and all individuals who choose to call us home in every aspect of our communities.
Navigating through all of the senior veteran benefits available to you can be an overwhelming and confusing process. Understanding and claiming the senior veteran benefits you are entitled to will help create a better quality of life for yourself and your family.
At The Pavilion Senior Living, we want to thank all veterans for their service and sacrifices. For more helpful information regarding senior living or to find out if your benefits will help cover the costs of our services, we invite you to contact a member of our team.
Updated May 15, 2021