VA Benefits for Veterans and Their Caregivers

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What is the VA?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is an agency that provides benefits for military veterans and their families. The VA is composed of three main divisions that administer different programs and services:

  • The Veterans Benefits Administration
  • The Veterans Health Administration
  • The National Cemetery Administration

Who Is Eligible for Benefits?

Eligibility requirements vary depending on the specific benefit or service. In general, the following groups may receive benefits through the VA:

  • Uniformed servicemembers
  • Veterans
  • Veterans’ dependents
  • Surviving spouses, children and parents of deceased veterans

A baseline eligibility requirement for veterans is a discharge other than dishonorable. Additional criteria, such as wartime service, disability status, income and net worth limitations, and minimum duty requirements, may also apply. Eligibility for dependents and family members is based on the related veteran’s eligibility.

VA Monetary Benefits

Basic Pension

Wartime vets with limited income can receive a tax-free monthly pension if they are permanently and totally disabled or at least 65 years old.

Improved Pensions

There are increased pension benefits for seriously disabled and housebound veterans with limited income. The Aid and Attendance (A&A) improved pension is a tax-free monetary benefit for veterans and surviving spouses who need another person to assist them with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting. The A&A pension includes vets who are cared for at home, in nursing homes and in assisted living facilities.

The housebound allowance is another increased monthly pension specifically for veterans and surviving spouses who are confined to their own homes due to a permanent disability.

Disability Compensation

Veterans who incurred or exacerbated a disease or disability during their service or have a disability that is presumed to be related to their service may be entitled to a monthly tax-free monetary benefit.

Survivors Pension

Also known as a death pension, this monetary benefit is payable to some unremarried surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans. The benefit amount is based on recipients’ financial need.

Home Loans Services

The VA offers a few different housing benefits and grants to veterans, servicemembers, spouses and other beneficiaries.

  • Guaranteed Loans: The VA guarantees a portion of a loan made by a private lender to help eligible individuals purchase homes, condominium units, manufactured homes or plots for manufactured homes. These loans can also be used for building, repairing and improving homes.
  • Refinancing Loans: The VA can help vets refinance VA and non-VA loans at a lower interest rates.
  • Special Grants: Veterans and military personnel with severe disabilities can receive grants to adapt or acquire housing that is suitable for their needs.

VA Health Care Services

The Veterans Health Administration provides a wide range of services at more than 1,700 sites of care across the United States and in U.S. territories.

Services provided to veterans include:

  • Hospital, outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy and prosthetic services
  • Domiciliary, nursing home, and community-based residential care
  • Specialized health care for female veterans
  • Alcohol abuse and drug dependency treatment
  • Homeless veteran programs

Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veteran Affairs (CHAMPVA)

CHAMPVA is a comprehensive health care program that shares the cost of medical services and supplies with eligible dependents and survivors of certain veterans. CHAMPVA is not to be confused with the Department of Defense TRICARE program, which provides health care for active duty and retired members of the uniformed services, their families and their survivors.

VA Burial Benefits

The VA offers a number of different benefits and services to honor deceased veterans.

  • Veterans may be able to receive an inscribed headstone or marker at any cemetery, or a medallion for affixing to a privately purchased headstone.
  • Burial allowances may be available to surviving family members to partially reimburse them for a veteran’s burial and funeral costs.
  • An American flag may be supplied upon request to drape a veteran’s casket.
  • Surviving family members may request Presidential Memorial Certificates to honor a veteran and their service.
  • Eligible veterans and their dependents can be buried in a VA national cemetery.

For more information on these and other VA benefits and services, contact the Department of Veteran Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 or visit www.va.gov.

To find your VA regional office and its contact information, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/offices.asp.

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66 Comments

I am very upset with the VA right now. My mother was diagnosed with dementia in Oct 2005 after I started noticing a decline in her activities in everyday living. She was in 6 car accidents and paid cash to victims, she was fighting at the senior centers, eating spoiled food, not keeping house clean, wandering on the expressway, leaving pots on the stove, etc. The social worker at the county hospital where I worked for 8 years advised me of resources. VA being one. My father gave 29.8 years of his life to the US Army and retired in 1976. The social worker gave me the necessary paperwork to send to VA. I sent the letter she wrote and the documents the physician wrote. After numerous phone calls and written correspondence from myself to VA. with no response and my mother's condition worsening I was leaving work everyday and I had what I think was a nervous breakdown and I had to resign from the county hospital where I had no intention of ever quitting after my 8 years vested in July 2006. My mother was banned from most of the senior centers in our area so I took on 24hr care for my mother. That was 8 years ago. My father died of a service connected illness in which he couldn't get no help from VA for his medical problems. Before my father died he filed a claim for service connected illness and the VA threw it away. At least that's what I was told. That is a slap in the face. I re-filed the claim after my father passed away and my mother received his pension or DIC. Now the problem I'm having is why did I JUST receive a letter from VA dated June 11, 2014 stating that the evidence shows that my mother is not competent and needs someone to look after her affairs. I feel so upset, hurt, and disgusted. I have been literally begging for help. I am so tired. 24 hr care is so hard to do alone. I have no other family and now I have no friends. I have no life or help, I lost all of my benefits and pension. I work 24 hours a day with hardly no sleep. I love my mother and I am going to be here for her until she passes (if I don't go first). It's been a long road and my mom is in her last stage of this awful disease that robs you and your and families life, and now they want to help or at least they acknowledge that my mother needs help. I have POA as a civilian. The social worker stated that I wanted to be her fiduciary in 2005......why didn't I receive help then?
Yes. It's well advertised and it sounds good on paper. Yes, we applied. I don't know of anyone more deserving than my Dad -- a diabled WW2 Vet who served (and survived) duty in Korea, Japan, and the Phillipines. We got nothing. He's gone now. My Mom is his surviving widow and IAW the "rules", we can't apply for her benefit until ONE YEAR after he passed -- if she makes it that long! What a joke! They dangle a carrot stick and make it IMPOSSIBLE to get the benefit with all the hoops that one has to jump through. And we desperately needed the benefit... and could still use the benefit now for my Mom who is 90 years old and disabled. She was married to him 61 years.
Thanks for this great post. VA benefits are often underused and can be a great resource.

Best,
Bill