According to the US Census Bureau, there were more than 9 million veterans of retirement age in the United States as of 2015. If you fall into that category, you should be aware that there are many resources available to help you finance your retirement and cover the costs of healthcare and assisted living. Knowing how to access these resources is a vital step in maximizing the services and programs the government has made available to you.
If you’ve served at least 90 days of active duty, you’re eligible for supplemental income through the VA’s pension program. If you’re the child or surviving spouse of a veteran who served during wartime, you may qualify for a survivors pension. It’s a tax-free benefit intended for unmarried children or a low-income spouse who hasn’t remarried.
The deceased individual must be an honorably discharged veteran having served a minimum of 90 days of active service, including at least one day during wartime. To receive benefits, a surviving child must be under 18, under 23 if enrolled in a school approved by the Veterans Administration, or be unable to support himself due to childhood disability.
Servicemembers group life insurance is a low-cost package intended for those who have performed at least 12 periods of inactive training per year in the National Guard or Reserve. This coverage can be extended for up to two years if you were disabled when you separated from the military service. Veterans who are completely disabled are eligible for free coverage and can purchase additional life insurance.
Life insurance is an important safeguard, as is burial insurance, which covers the cost of funeral arrangements. That’s a big deal because the average cost of a funeral today runs between $7,000 and $9,000, which is a tremendous financial burden. Funeral insurance can also be used to pay the deceased individual’s medical bills, credit card debt, and personal loans, so consider the debt you’ll leave behind when determining how much coverage you need.
The Veterans Administration offers senior veterans programs that address a wide range of health care needs. The geriatrics program provides care for senior veterans with complex health needs. Extended care is a program for veterans of any age who require ongoing assistance with activities of daily living. Geriatric and extended care can be provided at home, at a local VA medical center or within the general community. The VA also provides assistance for home-based services and nursing home/residential care. You can apply for these programs by using the VA’s online eBenefits page or at a VA facility near you.
Housing and Living Assistance
Senior veterans can receive skilled nursing care at community nursing homes, facilities with which the VA contracts. Occupational and physical therapy services are also available. State veterans homes, assisted living facilities, and home-based primary care centers are also available to seniors through the VA.
Senior veterans who are bedridden, receiving care in a nursing home, or undergoing other forms of care may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance pension, which augments your monthly pension amount. Veterans confined to their premises due to a permanent disability can also apply for the Housebound pension, another program that augments monthly pension payouts.
The VA has made an extensive list of programs available to senior veterans, as well as their dependents, who require help with insurance, healthcare, and daily living. Eligibility is generally conditional, so it’s important to understand the details of each program. Consult the VA website or check with a representative at your nearby treatment center.
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