Veterans Benefits for Caregivers and Spouses

What are these benefits, who is eligible, and how to apply

More than 1.5 million wartime-service veterans and their surviving spouses are eligible for billions of dollars each year in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pensions to help pay for long-term care.

Many are not getting the assistance they’re eligible for because they don’t know these benefits programs exist, what the benefits can be used for, or how to apply. If you are caring for a veteran of the armed forces, is your loved one receiving the benefits he or she deserves?

Certain VA benefits can be used for medical and non-medical care in these settings:

  • A veteran’s own home
  • Independent and assisted living communities
  • Skilled nursing homes
  • Other long-term care settings

Some of these benefits can be used to pay family caregivers for providing in-home care services for vets.

Surviving spouses of eligible veterans can also make use of long-term-care programs like Aid & Attendance and Housebound Pensions. And there are veteran burial benefits to ease the financial burden of funeral costs.

Eligibility may be the primary focus for many caregivers, but other areas of confusion and misinformation could affect families’ success in obtaining veterans benefits.

The VA doesn’t recognize Power of Attorney (POA)

Caregivers often hear about the necessity of getting a POA as part of planning ahead for elderly care, but to manage a legally incompetent veteran’s financial affairs, an individual must be officially appointed as the veteran’s fiduciary. To serve as a fiduciary, you must submit the beneficiary’s name and VA file number, and your name and contact information to the VA Regional Office nearest you.

Expediting a VA application

The VA has rules to expedite the applications of people age 90 and older. If your veteran is in this age group, make sure that the VA office handling the application knows this.

Veterans don’t have to be ill to qualify for Aid & Attendance

It’s not well known that when veterans turn 65 they are considered 100 percent disabled in the eyes of the VA. This means that they could be eligible for the lowest level of Aid & Attendance assistance, even if they have no major health conditions.

When a veteran dies, spouses must reapply for benefits

If a veteran dies before their spouse, Veteran Aid & Attendance Improved Pension benefits being received by the couple will cease. The surviving spouse to submit a completely new application to the VA to get their benefits reinstated.

Talk only to the local VA office that services the area your vet lives in

Caregivers won’t be able to obtain information from offices that do not handle their loved one’s account. VA offices are not allowed to pull files on beneficiaries or applicants who do not live in their area.