The VA and Senior Living

Chris Hawkins Written by Chris Hawkins
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Senior Care & Assisted Living

The support arm of the government for our 22 million military veterans is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA is charged with administering benefits such as:

The VA and Senior Living
  • Disability compensation
  • Pensions
  • Survivors’ benefits
  • Burial benefits
  • Education
  • Health care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Education and training
  • Insurance
  • Home loans
  • Burial benefits
  • Other senior care benefits

Since you may be researching on behalf of a family member, we’ll start out with some basics. Then we’ll show you some of the different types of VA facilities. Specifics of senior living for veterans will be covered in other articles.

Who Qualifies as a Veteran?

A veteran is anyone who “served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable,” according to the VA.

National Guard members and Reservists may also qualify if “they were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a Federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty.”

Others Eligible for Veterans Benefits

In addition to the above, these individuals may qualify for VA benefits:

  • Veteran's dependent
  • Surviving spouse, child or parent of a deceased Veteran

VA Pension

This is a benefit paid to wartime vets with limited or no income who are 65 and older, or if under 65, who are permanently or totally disabled.

Generally, the eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable
  • Served at least 90 days of active service 1 day of which was during time of war
  • Countable family income is below the yearly limit
  • The age requirements are stipulated above

Senior Living and Care Options for Veterans

Here is broad overview of some of the options veterans have for living and care. You can learn more about these options from the VA’s Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care. Note that some of these options are covered in limited ways by the VA.

  • Community Nursing Homes are places for Veterans to live and receive skilled nursing care 24/7. The VA contracts with nursing homes across the country to care for Veterans.
  • Community Living Centers (VA Nursing Home) are facilities that provide nursing home level care to Veterans of all ages. They are designed to resemble a home as much as possible, allowing residents to decorate their rooms and to bring in pets to live or visit.
  • State Veterans Homes are facilities that provide nursing home and adult day care. State governments own and operate these facilities, not the VA. The VA does, however, survey the facilities yearly to ensure they meet their standards.
  • Medical Foster Homes are private homes where Veterans (and non-veterans) receive 24/7 nursing care in a small, private home. The VA approves and inspects these homes.
  • Adult Family Homes are homes that rent rooms and provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) 24/7. The VA does not pay the rent but may cover nurse visits to the home. Adult Family Homes are usually less expensive than assisted living facilities.
  • Assisted Living Facilities (ASLs) are places where you have the option of shared or private apartments, meals in a shared dining room, and a trained caregiver to provide assistance with ADLs 24/7. The VA does not cover rent at ASLs but they “may pay for some of the extra services the Veteran may need.”
  • Homemaker or Home Health Aides provide in-home help with ADLs, medication management, household management (pay bills, run errands, housekeeping, etc.). The VA contracts with agencies to provide these services as an alternative to nursing homes. You must be enrolled in the VA’s health care system to receive benefits.
  • Home Based Primary Care provides VA physician supervision of a health care team within a Veteran’s home. This is for individuals who need skilled services, case management and assistance with ADLs.
  • Palliative Care is care is treatment for the physical, emotional and psychological symptoms that can occur during a serious illness. It does not require a Veteran to have a terminal illness. You must be enrolled in the VA’s health care system to receive benefits.
  • Respite Care provides skilled care to Veteran, relieving their family caregiver of their normal care duties for a period of time ranging from four hours to several weeks. Care can include case management and assistance with ADLs. You must be enrolled in the VA’s health care system to receive benefits.
  • Hospice care is comfort-based care for Veterans with a terminal condition (6 months or less to live). You must be enrolled in the VA’s health care system to receive benefits.

Updated: May 23, 2012

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