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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Unraveling the Mysteries of VA Benefits

By Rita Files, Accredited VSR

As a provider of senior services’ it is important to understand the difference between 2 major Veteran Benefit programs.

If your company has a contract with the VA to provide community based services’ you are caring for compensated Veterans who have “service connected status.” However, there are many more Veterans to reach through the “Non Service Connected Pension.”

VA definition of Compensation

People with “service connected disabilities’ who receive compensation benefits from the VA on a monthly basis for service related injuries and medical conditions as a result of their military service or conditions that may have been exacerbated as a result of their service to our country. The amount of monthly funding is directly related to their percentage of disability.

Most home care providers, adult day centers and nursing homes are familiar with this VA benefit. If you are approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide home care to a veteran, you fall into this category.

The Non-Service Connected Pension

The NSC Pension, is commonly referred to as the “Veteran’s Benefit for Aid & Attendance” is the other benefit provided by the VA. This little known, underutilized program is intended to supplement low income Veterans and surviving spouses or those with high monthly medical expense. Approval for this benefit is not dependent on service related injuries and the additional income goes directly to the recipient and not the provider of care. Veterans who served a minimum of 90 days in the military with one day during war time and who have a discharge other than dishonorable and are age 65 or older or deemed permanently and totally disabled and surviving spouses of Veterans, who have not remarried, may be eligible for this benefit.

The NSC Pension is actually a 3 tiered benefit.

• Basic – does not require that you be physically disabled, but the person must have an annual income lower than $11.830

• Housebound – a veteran or surviving spouse whose physical limitations require a certain level of regular assistance with their daily routine may be eligible to receive “Housebound” benefits.

• Aid & Attendance – It the VA determines you meet their criteria, Aid & Attendance is the highest level of Improved Pension available to any US Military veteran (or surviving spouse) who satisfies the service, financial and physical criteria. A person does not have to reside in assisted living to be eligible for this level of the benefit and services do not have to be provided by a VA approved agency.

In addition, the NSC Pension benefit can be used to cover all approved monthly out of pocket expenses such as Medicare premiums, co-pays, emergency medical response systems, incontinence products to name a few.

One important question to ask all prospects that call your office, “are you or your spouse a veteran of the Armed Forces?” If they answer yes, that might be all that is needed to turn that prospect into a client.

Aging with Grace is committed to educating both caregivers and providers about this VA Benefit. Through our VA accreditation in VA Benefits and our experience working with the elderly, we provide the counseling and tools needed to help Veterans determine if they are eligible for NSC benefits and how to apply.

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Official VA Website