Veterans Home Care Benefits

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There are two buckets of money available for veterans needing in-home care.  The first is controlled at the local district level and requires the veteran complete an "Application for Care".  A variety of programs are available through this process, as further described in the section that follows.  The second is a new program which grants a veteran's pension to any needy veteran who is disabled, whether or not that disability is the result of a service related event.  That program, and the financial qualifications, is also outlined below.

 
 
The Application for Care
Any veteran should start the application process to determine what care they may be eligible to receive.  It is especially important to start the process early since there is a lengthy initial processing period (up to 6 months) and then further delays to get into specific programs.  It is important to note that there is no requirement to give up any existing relationships with primary care doctors to determine eligibility for veterans' benefits.  Misconsceptions over this have resulted in many veterans delaying getting started until it is to late.
 
The veteran must complete Form 10-10EZ otherwise known as the Application for Care.  This form can be obtained from your local town veteran coordinator (if there is one); VA hospitals or by calling 877-222-VETS.  You can obtain assistance in completing this form from your Town Veterans Coordinator or local veteran service groups such as the American Legion.
 
Form 10-10EZ is 4 pages long and is generally understandable.  An "optional" section asks for financial information, however, if this section is not completed you can expect lengthy delays in processing.
 
Until this Form is processed, a Primary Care Physician cannot be assigned to the veteran.  Without a Primary Care Physician, no further assignments or benefits can be made to the veteran.  It is therefore critical that regular contact be maintained and names recorded with anyone involved in processing the application.  In our informal discussions with employees at the Veterans Administration this need for contact was repeatedly stressed.  You can expect a 2-6 month wait before a Primary Care Physician will be assigned.
 

Once a Primary Care Physician is assigned, an initial evaluation will be scheduled and done.  The results of this initial evaluation will serve as the driver for which programs the veteran will be eligible to participate, HOWEVER most of these programs do have wait lists and it will be necessary to maintain close contact with the Primary Care Physician.

 
Veterans Programs
 
The following programs are available to Massachusetts Veterans, subject to the recommendation of the Primary Care Physician.
  • H/HHA-Homemaker and Home Health AId
  • HBPC-Home based primary care which serves patients in the community that require medical and social follow up to prevent long term care admisssion and hospitalization.
  • GEM-Geriatric evaluation management which offers a 30 day inpatient rehabilitation program.
  • Respite-Offered to families who experience caregiver stress typically for 1-2 weeks of inpatient care.
  • GRECC-Related programs to serve the ALzheimer and dementia veteran population.
  • CNHP-Veterans who are 70-100% disabled as a result of a service related event are eligible for nursing home care at one of 25 participating Massachusetts Nursing Homes.
  • CADHC-Contract Adult Day Health Care, which provides financial funding for veterans to attend day activity programs in the community.  This istypically made available for 3-4 days a week.

The above list may not be all inclusive, but is meant to assist you in making your inquiries.  Further information can also be found on the Veterans' Administration website at http://www.va.gov

In addition to the above programs low income veterans may be eligible for a veteran's pension if they require "Aid and Attendance".  If a veteran is blind or needs assistance with the activities of daily living they may be eligible for a veteran's pension even if the disability is not related to a service related event.

 

  Eligibility for Veteran's Pension

 
The United States has determined that veterans who serve during a period of war will be guaranteed a minimum amount of income security, particularly in their old age. The VA provides a cash benefit for wartime veterans who are age 65 and older or who are totally and permanently disabled and meet certain income and net worth limits. The disability need not have any relationship to military service. This program is sometimes referred to as the "Aid and Attendance" benefit.

Currently, single wartime veterans who have countable income below $807 per month and less than $80,000 in assets (not counting a home and motor vehicle) may qualify for a VA pension. If the veteran is housebound, the veteran can receive income up to $986 per month and if the veteran is blind or needs assistance with activities of daily living (Aid and Attendance) the veteran can receive income up to $1,347 per month. Higher benefits are payable if the veteran has a spouse or other dependent. For a surviving spouse, the benefit amounts are lower, $541 per month, increasing to $661 per month if the survivor is housebound and $865 per month if the survivor requires Aid and Attendance.

In determining wartime service, the VA considers the dates of service, not the location where the veteran served. A veteran who was assigned during World War II to a United States base is as eligible as a veteran who served in battle overseas. For veterans applying on the basis of disability, disabilities which are not related to military service non-service connected disabilities will be considered.

In determining income eligibility, the VA counts all income received by the veteran or survivor and dependent family members. However, the VA will subtract out of pocket expenses for medical care, such as Medicare premiums, Medi-gap insurance policy premiums, prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs required for treatment of a medical condition and in-home or nursing care costs. For example, a veteran who is paying privately for in-home care or for nursing home care can deduct the cost from income to reduce the income counted for pension purposes. This means that most veterans living in an Assisted Living Center will likely qualify income wise for this benefit.

Veterans and their survivors may apply for pension and death pension benefits by contacting their VA regional office or calling 1-800-827-1000 to request an application. Applications may also be filed over the Internet at VA's Web site: http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp.
 
For more information give our office a call at 781-314-0153
                          
 

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