What Are Veterans Benefits for Seniors?
In the U.S., a Veteran used to be someone who had served at least 180 days of active military duty, air service, or naval duty. Veterans were discharged for any reason other than dishonor or bad conduct. However, in 2016, the U.S. government signed a law that changed the definition of a Veteran. Now, if you serve 20 years or more as a member of the National Guard, you can qualify for Veteran retirement benefits. Here we explore what Veterans benefits for seniors are.
On the U.S. Army website, Sgt. Maj. Matthew Krenz stated “There are many Soldiers [and Airmen] who can serve 20 years in the National Guard and never see an overseas deployment that shouldn't diminish their service to this country and what they've done for this organization.”
This change means that a lot more seniors are able to take advantage of the Veteran benefits that may not have been accessible to them before. You can read more below about the Veterans benefits for seniors.
Benefits for Veteran Seniors
There are a lot of different benefits available for elderly Veterans. From Aid and Attendance benefits, to life insurance, the different programs can really help to support you in your retirement. Below are some of the different types of Veterans benefits for seniors.
Disability benefits are available for any Veterans who have a disability that was the result of a disease or injury that occurred during their active military service. Disability benefits can also be available if the disability occurred after active service and was a secondary result of active military service.
The disability benefits are a tax-free income that can help support a Veteran who has lost a considerable amount of working time or needs financial support because of the disability. Under this disability benefit, there is also the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefit that is a tax-free, income-based program for the children, spouses, or parents of someone who has passed away due to military service or a military service related disability. There are also insurance and housing benefits available for disabled Veterans.
Veteran affairs offer two separate types of pensions for Veterans who served during certain time periods.
The Veterans Pension
This is a tax-free benefit for low income Veterans from wartime. In order to receive this benefit, you must have not received a dishonorable discharge and you must have a net worth at or below the amount specified by congress. On top of that you must have been on active duty for a specific period of time depending on the conflict you were involved in. This includes Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or the Gulf War. However, you can read the full list of eligibility requirements on the Veteran Affairs Eligibility for Veterans Pension website.
The Survivors Pension
This is a tax-free benefit for a low-income and un-remarried spouses or unmarried children of a deceased Veteran. The eligibility requirements for receiving this benefit are very similar to those for the Veterans Pension.
As we all age, health care can become a very big concern, especially if we are unsure whether or not we are covered under certain benefits and acts. If you are a Veteran, then you are eligible to receive care through the Veteran Affairs Health Benefit.
Depending on your income, it is possible that you will qualify for free Veteran Affairs Health Benefits. The health benefits cover a wide variety of health services:
- Inpatient care
- Outpatient services
- Mental health needs
- Pharmacy services
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers six different kinds of life insurance for members of the military, naval and air services:
- Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI): a low-cost group life insurance for active servicemembers.
- Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI): for Veterans to convert their SGLI to lifelong renewable civilian coverage
- Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (FSGLI): covers the spouse and children of the servicemember
The next two forms of coverage all have to do with disability.
Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection
The Veteran Affairs webpage states that the coverage “provides payments to Servicemembers who suffer losses, such as amputations, blindness, and paraplegia, due to traumatic injuries that occur in service.”
Service-Disabled Veterans' Life Insurance
This provides coverage for Veterans who have been deemed to have a new service-related disability.
Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance
This is the final form of life insurance, which provides mortgage protection life insurance to specific disabled Veterans.
There is also a benefit available for burial and funeral costs of a Veteran through Veteran Affairs. Maybe you are the spouse of a Veteran and you have found yourself loaded with the unexpected financial burden of funeral or burial costs.
In 2014, the Department of Veteran Affairs simplified the process for receiving Burial Benefits. If the death was service related, then you can be reimbursed up to $2,000 for burial and funeral costs.
If the death was non-service related, you may be reimbursed either $300 or $796 for burial and funeral costs, depending on whether your spouse was hospitalized with Veteran Affairs.
How Do You Get Access to Veteran Benefits?
There are a lot more benefits available for retired and elderly Veterans, like different geriatrics programs, long-term care, nursing home or residential care, and even more. But how do you get access to all of these benefits available to you? You have a few options.
If you are great at navigating the internet or have a family member who can help you, then you can apply online using the Department of Veteran Affairs’ eBenefits.
Find an Accredited Agent
If you are not comfortable doing this, you can hire an accredited representative to help you apply. The Department of Veteran Affairs has a list of accredited agents and representatives whose contact information can be accessed.
Visit Your Local Veteran Affairs Office
Other than these two options, you can also visit your local Veteran Affairs office where a representative can assist you with applying for benefits.
As a Veteran it is certainly worth it to look into all of the different benefits that you could be taking advantage of in your retirement.