Complex rules and the selflessness of veterans mean that some VA benefits don’t get used.
“Too often we hear that those who are eligible feel their service wasn’t enough to qualify or that they are taking benefits from those that may need them more or there are others worse off than me,” Michael Figlioli, deputy director of National Veterans Services for the VFW, told AARP Veteran Report.
Here’s what many veterans are missing:
1. In-home help for those who can’t leave
Aid and Attendance, and Housebound benefits, can help pay for someone to visit to help you, said Hillary Wootton, of Homewatch CareGivers. “If a veteran has received a ‘Housebound’ rating, the VA will allow the veteran to deduct all fees paid to a non-licensed, in-home attendant, as long as the attendant provides ‘custodial services’ or assistance with at least two Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).”
Examples of ADLs include grooming, mobility and transportation, cooking and feeding, showering and getting dressed.
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2. Extra time to deal with debt
The COVID-19 pandemic caused financial stress for many. What some veterans don’t know is that Veterans Affairs extended financial hardship benefits for debt through 2022. The benefits were originally due to expire in September. It’s worth checking for a further extension.
Benefits include debts related to disability compensation, non-service-connected pensions and education. The VA offers debt management services online or by phone.
3. Help with a career shift due to disability
Medically retired Army veteran Markia Brown served for nine years, but her disability prevented her from going back to her old job as a truck driver. So she applied for the VA’s Veteran Readiness and Employment (previously the Vocational Rehabilitation benefit).
“It is helping me get a degree in education so that I can teach personal finance,” Brown told AARP Veteran Report. The VA is paying for the degree. Brown had a case manager who helped her ease into her new working life. In some cases, family members qualify for this benefit.
4. Access to free emergency services
The Mission Act means that veterans enrolled in the VA in the past two years can go to the emergency room or urgent care and submit their VA card rather than face hefty bills.