Book: How to Apply

Book: How to Apply for Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits

Book: How to Apply for Dept. of Veterans Affairs Benefits for Senior Veterans and Their Survivors

(2014 Edition) The Senior Veterans Service Alliance is excited to introduce this new how to apply book as a welcome and needed resource for veterans and their families. We can find no other book currently available that incorporates the newest claims procedures from the Department of Veterans Affairs along with detailed instructions on how to submit applications for over 25 different types of disability claims including Pension, Death Pension, DIC, Compensation, Burial Benefits, and more...

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Mission of the SVSA

SALUTE TO THE PAST

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 22.7 million veterans in the United States.  Fully 55% of these people are age 60 and older.  Many of the veterans benefits now available are not relevant to these older veterans or are no longer available to them; but, there are still benefits to assist older veterans that are not being utilized to the fullest extent.  In addition, we have found that many of our nation's seniors, whether veterans or not, are struggling with a myriad of financial and emotional challenges in their final years of life. 

Our mission is twofold.  First, we are dedicated to helping elderly seniors who served their country receive cash support or other services available from VA.  Second, we provide a national website listing of dedicated professionals to help senior veterans better prepare for their final years of life.  This national network of providers and advisers includes financial advice, legal help, preparation for eldercare, education on government support programs, care provider services and much more.  Although we concentrate on helping senior veterans, we will not turn away any veteran who comes to us for help.

This twofold approach to supporting our valiant elderly veterans, who served our country in a time of need, will improve the dignity, financial staying power and well-being of these valued American seniors.

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Detailed Information about the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit

Veterans Benefits for Seniors

Under the right circumstances, the VA Program called Pension can provide up to $2,085 per month for a veteran couple or up to $1,759 a month for a single veteran in additional income. To get these benefit levels, these people must be paying for expensive long term care at home, in assisted living or in a nursing home. Death pension for surviving spouses can provide up to $1,130 a month in additional income under the same circumstances.


WWII TRUMPETER

A remarkable World War II experience recounted by Colonel Jack Leroy Tueller.


Historical War Photos

Soldiers Carrying US Flag (Guam beach)

The following gallery endeavors to offer a small assortment of historical photos in order to offer a brief glimpse into the lives of our valiant senior veterans during war. As far as we are aware, the images can be found in the public domain. Continue to the Historical War Photos Gallery...


SVSA Services & Veterans Pension Benefit (Aid & Attendance)

The SVSA lists field service officers, appeals agents, advocates and eldercare services in many areas of the country. These individuals and providers help senior veterans and their survivors understand veterans benefits available to them.

One underutilized benefit available to many senior (wartime) veterans/widows is pension -- commonly called aid and attendance. Because aid and attendance is such an important benefit, we provide an entire section below describing it.

SVSA Services in Your Geographic Area

SVSA Field Service Officers click here for the list
These individuals are field representatives of the SVSA assigned to various geographical locations in the US. They receive vigorous oversight from the SVSA . FSO's have have been trained to understand all veterans benefits and have passed a rigorous examination. FSO's are accredited through VA and can legally help veterans through the claims process for benefits. An FSO does not charge a fee directly related to the filing of a claim.
Appeals Agents click here for the list
The Senior Veterans Service Alliance maintains on this website a list of individuals -- primarily attorneys -- who are willing to represent veterans in appealing adverse decisions on claims. Although no fee may be charged in connection with filing an initial claim, a fee is allowed in regard to representing a veteran with a claims appeal. The fee that is charged must be reasonable and VA must see the arrangement.
Advocates click here for the list
These individuals may or may not be accredited through VA. Non-accredited advocates understand veterans benefits but are not allowed to help in the filing of a claim. All advocates can answer questions relating to specific benefits and can direct a potential claimant to an individual or organization capable of filing a claim. Advocates do not charge a fee related to filing a claim.
Eldercare Services click here for the list
SVSA takes pride in being an organization that can help you locate a full spectrum of care by connecting you to services for older adults, veterans, and their families.

Information about Veterans Benefits Available to Senior Veterans and Their Surviving Spouses

Pension (Aid and Attendance)

Roughly 1 out of 4 seniors in the U.S. could qualify for the aid and attendance benefit under the right conditions. That's how many war veterans or their surviving spouses there are. Only about 5% of U.S. seniors are actually receiving this benefit. It can pay up to $2,085/month for a couple, $1,759/month for a single veteran and $1,130 for a single surviving spouse.

State Veterans Nursing Homes

State veterans homes are a joint venture between state veterans departments and VA. Subsidies come from the state, VA and other sources. The majority of state homes are nursing homes for veterans but some homes may also provide assisted living and other care. Most states have anywhere from 2 to 5 or more homes. Typically there is a waiting list to get in.

Health Care Benefits

The VA healthcare system is the largest single provider of healthcare in the United States. It has also been noted by numerous surveys as being one of the best providers of health care as well. Not all veterans can receive care in the system. Eligibility requires either service-connected disability, special service recognition or low income and less than $80,000 in assets.

DIC

Dependents Indemnity Compensation is payable to eligible survivors of a military service member who died on active duty or whose death after service resulted from a service-connected injury or disease. DIC currently pays $1,154 a month to a surviving spouse and additional amounts if there are dependent children or if the spouse needs aid and attendance.

Burial Benefits

Money is available for burial costs for veterans who were service disabled, receiving pension or died under VA care. If the death was a result of service-connected disability, $2,000 is available. If the death was non-service related, up to $600 is available for plot allowance and burial and funeral expenses. Veterans also receive free burial in state VA cemeteries.

Compensation & Special Benefits

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a veteran for service-connected disability that happened as a result of active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty training or injury from VA healthcare. Special benefits like car allowances, housing allowances, clothing and so on are payable for severe service connected disabilities.

Long Term Care Benefits

Besides the additional income available from VA aid and attendance pension to cover long term care benefits, the VA healthcare system also offers a variety of long term care services. This could include nursing homes, assisted living, home care and so on. Eligibility requires enrollment in VA health care and preference is given to a priority list of conditions.

Appealing an Adverse Decision

A veteran or eligible dependent has up to 1 year from an adverse VA decision on any benefit to appeal that decision. VA decisions regarding health care are not appealable. After filing a Notice of Disagreement with the Regional Office, a person making an appeal can pay a fee to an accredited agent or attorney for representation before the Board of Veterans Appeals.

Accreditation and Fees

No person may help a veteran with an initial claim for benefits unless that person is accredited through VA. Additionally, no fee may be charged that is directly related to the filing of an initial claim. Doing so is illegal. Many members of the SVSA are accredited and no member of the SVSA charges a fee that is directly related to the filing of an initial claim. Continue reading...


Informal Claims & Effective Dates

Before applying for benefits a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran (in either case, the claimant) may wish to establish an Effective Date by means of an Informal Claim even though they are not yet prepared to apply. This is done to 'lock-in a date' while the claimants are gathering supporting evidence to include in their application. Continue reading...