There are a number of benefit programs designed to help our Veterans, but the system can often be complex to navigate. In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to give an overview of some of the programs that are most applicable to aging veterans, or senior veterans needing care, medical help and other assistance as they age or deal with the progression of disabilities. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all benefits and all the details, but we will also provide some resources to continue your research. Many times elder clients, veteran or not, can benefit from starting with a care management assessment or family members may wish to take advantage of one of our eldercare consultations to pinpoint the variety of resources that might be available to help.
To start, one of our favorite resources in the state of Florida to help with Veterans’ Benefits is the county Veterans Services office. Each county in Florida has such an office, run by the county government, to help local Veterans navigate and access benefits. Here is information for the local county Veterans Services offices in Tampa Bay, Florida:
Pinellas County Veterans Service Office website
2189 Cleveland St., Suite 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765
St Petersburg Office
501 1st Avenue N., Suite 517,
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Pasco County Veterans Service Office website
West Pasco: 8620 Galen Wison Boulevard
Port Richey, FL 34668
East Pasco: 13853 15th Street
Dade City, FL 33525
Compensation and Pension: Some of the most common benefits provided to our elderly Veteran clients are in the Compensation and Pension category. As a brief overview: You may receive a monthly compensation if you are at least 10 percent disabled as a result of your military service. Also, you may receive a monthly pension if you are a wartime veteran with limited income and assets and are permanently and totally disabled or at least 65 years old. Many of our clients who do not have a disability rating from their wartime service are able to benefit from the pension as they age. The eligibility is based on having limited assets and income, but these requirements are typically less stringent than, for example, Medicaid qualifications.
Specifically, there are additional pension levels called “Aid & Attendance” and “Homebound” which provide higher benefit amounts for individuals needing care and assistance, which take in to account the Veteran’s medical/care expenses. Spouses/widows may also be eligible for pensions. Here is the VA page about Compensation and Pension Benefits for Veterans.
Additionally, Veterans who require Nursing Home care (not Assisted Living) due to a service-connected disability or are 70% to 100% service-connected may receive such care from the VA. Each VA hospital in the Tampa Bay area (Tampa and St. Petersburg/Bay Pines) has a nursing home. The VA hospitals each have one or more “contract” nursing homes in each county of their catchment areas. For example, Pinellas County has 17 contract nursing homes in the Bay Pines VA Hospital catchment area.
Veterans’ Health Care: There are several different ways to qualify to receive healthcare through the VA and at the VA medical centers and clinics across the country. To learn more, visit the Veterans Service Office or read more at the VA website link regarding healthcare.
Burial Allowances/Funeral Benefits: VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs.
How Much Does VA Pay?
Service-Related Death. VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 10, 2001. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
Nonservice-Related Death. VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance for deaths on or after December 1, 2001. The plot-interment allowance is $150 for deaths prior to December 1, 2001. If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the veteran’s remains may be reimbursed.
For more on this, read the VA’s document on burial help or one of the county service offices.
We salute our Veterans for all that you have done for this country! It is our honor to serve Veterans and to help all of our elder clients to access the help and resources they need. Contact us at 727-448-0900 today for questions and assistance.