Who Might Be Eligible for VA Benefits?
Anyone who has served in the military during
wartime is eligible for a benefit called VA Pension with Aid and
Attendance. This is available for veterans or their surviving
spouses who served during a period of war, even if they did not
leave the country or go to the country where the war took place,
as long as that veteran's discharge from the military was other
than dishonorable. So a general discharge or a medical discharge
would be fine, just not a dishonorable discharge.
There is also
the VA benefit for compensation for a service-connected injury
or illness, and that is available to any veteran who received an
illness or was injured during their military service, no matter
where or when that was, so even if someone were injured in their
training stateside and it was not during a period of war, there
is additional compensation available for that veteran.
How Does a Veteran or Surviving Spouse Qualify for VA?
Generally I work with the veterans on the
pension with the Aid and Attendance benefit because that is the
benefit that is most frequently utilized by the elderly
veterans, and there are three criteria that they need to look
at. First, that veteran needs to have the other than
dishonorable discharge, he or she needs to have served during
the proper period of war - and those are published - and then
that veteran needs to be receiving care to assist them with
their activities of daily living, and their own doctor can
certify that they require that care, and then there's also a way
to document that they are receiving that care. A form would be
completed by that care provider, who could even be a family
Once the veteran who meets the initial criteria needs
the care and receiving care and paying money for that care, then
they can attempt to meet the various financial criteria to show
that, because of the cost of that care, they need some
VA or Medicaid: Which Benefit Is Right for
One of the most important reasons for
someone to consult an elder law attorney is to determine which
benefit is the right one, because sometimes we find that the
financial criteria for the VA benefits, for example, are
opposite of what needs to be done to qualify for Medicaid. So
some of the differences, for example, are the VA benefit is a
cash benefit, so it can be very flexible and the person can
choose their own caregiver, even a family caregiver, and use the
VA benefit to pay for that.
On the other hand there is a
maximum benefit amount, so if that veteran looks at their income
plus the VA benefit, if that will not be enough to pay for the
care that they need, then that veteran would want to look to
Medicaid because that will cover the cost of care no matter how
much it is.
Can Someone Qualify for Both VA and Medicaid?
Someone can qualify for both VA and
Medicaid. In fact, if someone wants to apply for Medicaid, one
of the first questions that the agency will ask is if that
person is a veteran or their spouse was a veteran, because the
Medicaid agency wants to be the payer of last resort.
will require that person to apply for VA benefits anyway, and it
can also often be helpful for someone to apply for VA benefits
and get some of that cash benefit and then apply for Medicaid,
which will cover more of the cost of their care. But if that
person is also receiving VA benefits they'll be able to retain a
little bit more of their monthly income to pay for little extras
that someone might need.