If you are a veteran or the spouse/family member of a veteran, you qualify for VA Aid and Attendance Special Pension. This is an incredible advantage when it comes to senior housing, as it can mean the difference between a private assisted living center and a state-funded facility. However, the world of pensions can be confusing, and that is why we want to use today’s blog to answer some frequently-asked questions about veterans’ benefits. Read on to learn more!

How do I know if I qualify for VA benefits?

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) produces a handbook for veterans and their dependents every year. You can request it by phone or pick one up from your local VA office. It is a great starting point and will help you understand how to move forward. There are also several websites that can help you figure out where you stand.

How do I access military records?

In order to prove your eligibility for VA pension, you’ll need to provide availability of discharge papers. Simply request these records from the national archives.

Do National Guard and Army Reserves have eligibility?

In order to be eligible for benefits, a person must be “called up” to service. In the Army Reserve, individuals get qualified if they serve during an official period of war and got called to service. As for the National Guard, they can receive benefits if they were activated for federal service during a domestic emergency or period of war.

Do I have to be physically disabled to be eligible for VA assistance?

If you’re applying for the Basic Pension, you don’t need to be physically disabled. However, if you’re applying for the Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefit, you do need to be physically disabled. No matter which level you apply for, you’ll need to pass a financial means test. The test will assess your countable income, which must be below each level’s threshold. At the end of the day, of your medical expenses damage your income, you will qualify.

How long do I need to serve to be eligible for VA benefits?

It actually depends on when you served. Older veterans only need to have served 90 days of active duty with one day during a period of war. More recent veterans must serve 180 consecutive days in order to be eligible.

Can I move my application along faster? Is there a difference between applications for benefits and pensions?

Veterans who are 70 years or older (as well as the spouse) are entitled to requesting expedited processing. The older you are, the heavier this request is. If you are below 70 years old, the process is the same as for everyone else.

Do divorced spouses get covered?

In general, divorced spouses are not covered by VA benefits. The only situation in which this might change is if the divorce was due to mental cruelty or physical abuse. The VA has used these circumstances to justify considering applications. However, even if the VA considers the application, they aren’t under any requirement to approve it. If you are a divorced spouse and you feel like your circumstances might qualify, get in touch with a Veteran’s Service Officer in your area to learn more.

What if I’m in the middle of the application process and I can’t contact the VA?

If you need to get things moving and you aren’t having any luck trying to contact the VA, you have several options.

  • If the six-month processing period hasn’t started yet, try calling the VA in the middle of the week. Call later in the day to avoid their busiest times. Redial and redial and redial. Don’t involve an attorney yet; try to be patient so you don’t act prematurely.
  • If six months have gone by and nothing has happened, it’s time to contact a lawyer or congressperson and ask them to fax a request to act on your behalf. If you’re struggling with financial hardship, you may be able to request expediting.

At The Heritage, we understand that affording great care can be a stressful situation. The more you know, the easier the process is. Learn more about our New Jersey assisted living facility and take a tour today!