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The Aging Veteran

To our great surprise, sometimes, we veterans grow old, too. Most of us haven’t been able to fit into our former uniforms, but that hasn’t really been much of a bother. And despite a lifetime of learning, we find there are still many things left to know. Among the things most veterans don’t know is that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly the Veterans Administration, has a little-known benefit that can help aging wartime veterans pay for long term care.

It’s called the wartime veterans pension, mainly to distinguish it from any “service-related injury or illness” claims, but it’s not limited to military retirees. It is for any veteran who served during a “war” period as generously defined by Congress, and it can help either the veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse, so long as not remarried.

The benefits are pretty generous, ranging from maximums of about $2100 per month for the qualified veteran to $1150 or so per month for the qualified surviving spouse. They are paid, income-tax-free, directly to the recipient and help defer care costs payable to any provider or supplier, including family members.

Aside from Medicaid, which mostly pays for nursing home care, this veterans pension benefit is about the only government help for “custodial care” costs. Almost all other government benefits are directed to “health care costs.” Help with custodial care expenses can seriously help an individual stay at home, aging in place, far longer than might be possible without help.

So, for any wartime veteran whose intent is to “live a long life” at home, this is a bit of knowledge that can be very helpful to him and his family. The starting point for information is the internet at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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