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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day: Remember our Aging Veterans

Aging Veterans Unaware of VA Pension Benefits - Millions of veterans and widows lose out on billions of benefits

For aging veterans, one of their most important benefit programs is the Veterans Non-Service Connected Improved Pension Benefit Program. Established to assist qualified veterans, and/or their surviving spouses and family, the Veterans NSC Improved Pension Benefit Program provides financial support that enables veterans to live independently while receiving the quality of care they deserve. In particular, funds are available for aging veterans who need assistance with medical and non-medical care both in the home and in qualified facilities.

In many cases, veterans, along with their spouses and family, are unaware that this program exists. According to VA analysis, only 27 percent of veterans and 14 percent of widow(er)s who are likely eligible, actually receive any money from the program.

Types of Care Eligible
The availability of this program is something all veterans and their widow(er)s should know. Seniors in our country are now living longer. With higher living costs and the continued rise in healthcare expenditures, many seniors are at risk of quickly depleting their savings. Programs like the Veterans NSC Improved Pension Benefit Program can fund services like in-home care, assisted living facility expenses and other medical costs that many seniors face.

To qualify for the Veterans NSC Improved Pension Benefit Programs a veteran must have 90 days or more of active duty with at least one of those days served during a US-declared war. The benefits are designed for those who meet specific financial criteria and demonstrate a physical need for healthcare.

The Department of Veterans Affairs determines active duty as full-time service, other than active duty for training, as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, Environmental Science Services Administration or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor, the Coast and Geodetic Survey.
Other qualifications and considerations:
• Discharge for any reason other than dishonorable conditions
• Over the age of 65 or disabled
• Total financial assets
• Physical condition
• Current marital status (if you are the surviving spouse of a veteran)
• Total gross income versus medical deduction

Costly Misunderstanding
There are several reasons why veterans are unaware or misunderstand these benefits. First is the very name of the benefit itself – improved pension benefit. Pension benefits usually come after years of service, not after only 90 days of service.

In addition, many veterans often assume the available benefits are for those who have a service-related disability not just because they turned 65. As the name implies, this program is a non-service connected benefit.

Finally, it is uncommon for a benefit to be available in part just by virtue of age. However, the Veteran NSC Improved Pension Benefit does not require a qualified veteran to have any disability provided that they are over the age of 65.

To find out more about the program or how to apply, click HERE.

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