An overview of veteran benefits

As we age, we find ourselves requiring different types of help. Medical needs are typically covered by Medicare. But many of us come to need assistance that is nonmedical in nature (e.g., help bathing or dressing). We have to be prepared to pay for this kind of assistance out of pocket, on our own. If you served in the armed forces, Uncle Sam may have resources to help.

Veterans pension. For veterans who do not exceed certain limits of income and net worth (the assets you own minus the debts that you owe), a monthly pension may be available. You must also meet these other criteria:

  • You did not receive a dishonorable discharge
  • You are 65 or older or have a permanent and total disability
  • You served for 3–24 months with at least one day served during a period of war (WWII, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Era, or Gulf War). You do not need to have seen combat.

Housebound allowance. Vets who qualify for a veteran’s pension may also be eligible for additional funds. These funds are for veterans who must spend most of their time at home because of a permanent disability.

Aid and Attendance benefit. Other special funds are available for veterans who qualify for a pension and have at least one of these specific needs:

  • You require another person’s help for activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating
  • You spend much of the day in bed because of illness
  • You live in a nursing home because of a mental or physical disability
  • You have significant visual impairments

Aid and Attendance benefits and the Housebound allowance are mutually exclusive. You can receive only one or the other.

VA programs have very strict eligibility criteria. And the amount you receive is significantly determined by the disability you have, how much of it was caused by your service-related activities, etc. There are many more details than we can fit on this page. Check out your local Veterans Affairs office.

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