Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are You Eligible for VA Long Term Care Benefits?

A few months ago, I wrote an article on "Alternatives to Long Term Care Insurance."  Because many people do not think about purchasing this insurance until they are already in their 60's or they have a serious illness, they are frequently turned down or faced with unreasonably expensive premiums. That is why several readers requested that I write an article on some of the alternatives that may be available to them.

When I wrote that article, I was unaware of another possible alternative (although I have gone back and added a link to this article.)  Recently, I was watching a program on the in-house television station for our retirement community and discovered that one in three Americans are eligible to receive veterans long-term care benefits through the Veteran's Administration, but only about one in ten of the eligible people are aware of it!  I thought this was shocking and disappointing.

Qualifications for VA Long Term Care

The VA will provide financial assistance that can be used towards the cost of either a nursing home or an at-home caregiver for either a war veteran or their spouse.  While the money does not fully cover the cost of a nursing home, it can make a significant difference to a family that is struggling to afford necessary nursing care.  It can also go a long way towards covering the cost of a home healthcare aide.

In order to qualify, the former member of the military must be an honorably discharged war veteran or be the surviving spouse of one.  The veteran could have served during WWII, Vietnam, Korea or the Gulf War.  Here's the good part.  The veteran does not have to have actually served in the war zone!  It is also not necessary that the war was going on the entire time they served.

The veteran needs only to have served for one day during a war and had ninety days or more of total military service during the war era.

The veteran could even have served stateside during the war and never actually seen any military action at all.

In order for the spouse to qualify to receive long-term care benefits, they must have been married to the veteran at the time of the veteran's death.

Long Term Care Benefits

If you are eligible, the VA may provide up to $24,000 a year tax-free for a married couple towards their in-home care, personal care, assisted living care, or whatever assistance they need in order to live.  There is no cut-off.  The benefit can last the lifetime of the the veteran and the surviving spouse.

These benefits will not affect your Social Security or Medicare benefits.  In other words, your Social Security and Medicare benefits will not be decreased because you are receiving this VA benefit.

This supplemental $2000 a month can be life-changing for a family struggling to provide care for their elderly parents.

More Facts You Should Know

First, the eligible persons do not have to initiate the request for this program.  This is important because dementia or other health problems may make it difficult for them to apply.  A spouse or adult children can initiate the request for care.  

You do not need to be poor to get this benefit.  You can have assets and income and it will not matter in most cases, especially if you have high medical expenses that are offsetting your income.

Many people have been told, incorrectly, that they do not qualify for this benefit.  In fact, the man who was providing this information for my local television station said that his own mother was initially denied.  If this happens to you, you should appeal the initial decision.  You may wish to contact a specialist to get help.

The application forms are extremely complicated, which is another reason why you may want to get assistance from an accredited VA attorney.

In addition to long-term care, there are also other programs which could help you.  For example, you may be eligible for the VA disability benefits that are due to people who were injured during war time.  You may even be eligible if the injury does not appear until later ... such as in the case of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.

For more information, you may also want to contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs directly at:

If you are retired or preparing to retire, use the tabs at the top of this page to access links to hundreds of other articles that may be of interest to you, including information about where to retire, your changing family relationships, medical issues, and handling your retirement assets.


William Jordan Associates in Orange County, California is a Southern California wealth management company that assists people in handling their assets.  This company also provides free assistance to people to help them apply for some government benefits, specifically their VA long-term care benefits.  (However, be aware that they also sell retirement and investment services.)
(949) 380-8600

"This Day" television program, Channel 6, Laguna Woods television station, 9/25/2013

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(Public domain photo of a veteran is courtesy of


  1. Thank you so much for this information. I'm wondering does this benefit now follow under the new military benefit cuts that was just passed?

    1. Thank you for your question, Cheryl. My understanding is that the long-term care benefits are still available, but it may be harder than ever to get them, since so much funding has been cut. You will really have to push and may even have to hire an expert to help you. I hope that funding is eventually restored, since veterans and their spouses really deserve all the help they can get, and they shouldn't have to fight for it.


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