Perhaps the most widely known benefit for veterans is healthcare. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (“V.A.”), the V.A. offers healthcare services to more than 9 million individuals. The V.A. currently has eight different “priority groups,” and each eligible applicant will be placed in one of these. Overall, premiums for all types of care, copay amounts, and eligibility for services may vary greatly depending on certain factors including special service award status, disability status, period of time and duties within the military, current income, and discharge circumstances. Most notably, some veterans are ineligible for these benefits so it is important for veterans and their loved ones to do research into them before applying.
Veterans looking for a place to live or needing to make repairs to their current house may be eligible to receive a V.A.-guaranteed loan. In some circumstances, these loans could also be used to refinance a current loan. V.A.-guaranteed loans can be more attractive than your typical loans because they usually come with a lower interest rate and many require zero down payment. Of course, the amount that the V.A. will cover depends on the amount of the loan itself. Veterans and their loved ones looking to make use of this program should check the current rates, as they usually vary annually.
Veterans can receive pension benefits through V.A. under certain circumstances. Veterans who entered active duty prior to September 7th of 1980 must have served 90 or more days of active duty, and those who entered after that date must have served 24 months or the assigned period of active duty including one or more days during wartime. Applicants must also be 65 years of age or older and receiving Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. Permanent disabilities and/or residences in skilled nursing facilities may also meet qualifications for this type of aid.
It is important to note that survivors of a veteran may also be eligible for assistance after he or she passes away. This normally applies to widowers who haven’t gotten remarried and unmarried children. The veteran must have met the qualifications outlined above, and other restrictions apply including age, disability circumstances, and an income limitation.
Many veterans have their life insurance policies lined up, but there may be additional or better options that they don’t know of. Various groups’ life insurances provide veterans with excellent benefits if they meet certain requirements, so the following offerings are worth a look.
Most servicemembers hold insurance through the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, or SGLI. Almost all active-duty individuals and those who continue to train while in the Reserves of National Guard automatically receive this insurance. It is less costly than most other plans and can be extended for two years after separation if the veteran is fully disabled.
After the end of a military career, veterans can change their SGLI into the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance, which provides coverage as a civilian for the rest of their lives. The military also offers Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, which covers spouses and dependents. Veterans who are totally disabled and have been given approval to receive a grant through the V.A. Specially Adapted Housing program can receive mortgage life insurance through the Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance offering.
If a veteran has incurred an injury leading to an amputation, paraplegia, or blindness, he or she is eligible for the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection policy. Similarly, veterans may be eligible to receive Service-Disabled Veterans’ Life Insurance, which is free for totally disabled individuals.
Each U.S. state has at least one state veteran home, which houses veterans who were active duty at some point during their careers. Some homes also house former National Guard members and former reserves members, and sometimes spouses are also approved to live in the homes as well. Each home has different home care services, application processes, and eligibility criteria, so it is important for veterans and their loved ones to check with their local home regarding its specific rules. Depending on each veteran’s health conditions and current income, the price to live in the homes varies greatly but very few veterans are eligible to live in one for free. Note that most of these homes normally have large waiting lists and very limited availability.
Veterans may also be eligible for Geriatrics and Extended Care Services, which are provided to veterans with serious conditions including terminal illnesses and disabilities that arise from them. This may include placing veterans in specialized nursing homes, but sometimes also involves helping veterans live more comfortably at their own homes. Services like palliative care, home healthcare, hospice, and telehealth services may be included in this. To locate geriatrics and extended care facilities and clinics, veterans can visit the relevant website.
Dependence and Indemnity Compensation benefits are available to spouses, parents, and children (under special circumstances) if a loved one died during active duty or training during inactive duty. Applications can be mailed to the V.A. regional offices in their areas. These benefits offer roughly $1,300 for eligible recipients and more money is allocated if the recipients have children. Depending on their own life and health circumstances, recipients may also be able to get disability assistance, housing benefits, and various life insurance benefits.
Veterans normally also make arrangements for burial benefits through the military, which includes a gravestone or marker in a U.S. veteran’s cemetery. Other offerings include a Presidential certificate, a formal burial ceremony, and perpetual care. Dependents and/or spouses may also be eligible to be buried with the veteran but costs may apply. It is important to note that veterans do not have to be buried in national military cemeteries - oftentimes, burials in private cemeteries can also be covered by veteran benefits.
Ultimately, if you or a loved one is a veteran in need of assistance, be sure to check out all that the V.A. has to offer. Receiving and paying for long term care, if needed, can be difficult, so the V.A. has resources to help.