Veterans Affairs: a difficult subject for anyone to understand, especially for a Veteran attempting to discern what type of benefit they will receive or if they are even entitled to receive benefits. For many people, a crucial part of estate planning is long term care; including the decision about what type of long term care is best for them and how to pay for such care. If you are a Veteran, you may be entitled to have Veterans Affairs (VA) assist you in your long term care.

Long Term Care (LTC) services and supports are provided by the VA or with the VA’s support. There are three basic types of LTC with the VA: Home and Community Based Services, Residential Settings, and Nursing Homes.

Home and Community Based Services include services such as Adult Day Care, Hospice, Palliative Care, Respite Care, and Home Health Aide.

Residential Settings include settings such as Community Residential Care, Medical Foster Homes, Adult Family Homes, and Assisted Living.

Nursing Homes, which will be covered more in depth herein, include Community Living Centers, Community Nursing Homes, and State Veterans Homes.

Community Living Centers are similar to nursing homes, but they resemble “home” as much as possible, and are strictly run by the VA. Here, Veterans are able to decorate their rooms, keep pets on the premise or have pets visit when family and friends visit, and have no set visiting hours; people may come and go as they please. Community Living Centers, however, are typically meant for short term stays while recuperating to full potential with the aid of skilled nursing and medical care. Occasionally, Community Living Centers will provide end of life comfort and support.

Community Nursing Homes are typical nursing homes where a Veteran can live full time receiving medical care and skilled nursing 24-hours a day. Community Nursing Homes are not operated by the VA. They are already established nursing homes in your community or a nearby community who the VA contracts with to care for Veterans. Community Nursing Homes are meant for short and long term care, as well as end of life comfort and support.

State Veterans Homes are facilities created and maintained by state governments. State Veterans Homes typically provide nursing home care and adult day care. However, since they are managed strictly by state governments, it can vary as to the type of care provided by each facility. Also, some State Veterans Homes admit non-Veteran spouses. Again, this varies state to state since it is strictly the decision of the state government.

The cost or some of the cost of these facilities may be covered by VA benefits. For Community Living Centers and Community Nursing Centers, costs are first and foremost based on each Veteran’s individual clinical need and setting availability. For Community Living Centers, the VA will only provide you care if you meet eligibility criteria involving your service connected status, level of disability, and income. For Community Nursing Homes, the VA will only pay for services if you meet eligibility criteria involving your service connected status, level of disability, and income. As for State Veterans Homes, each state has their own eligibility and admission criteria; each state would need to be evaluated separately to make a determination about qualifications. The VA will not pay for a non-Veteran’s care but, as a Veteran, the amount varies state to state and you may be provided with help from the VA for costs.

If you do not qualify for VA assistance you will be required to use your own resources to pay for LTC. You should talk with a VA social worker/case manager about eligibility requirements or contact an attorney to figure out a plan for paying for future LTC for you and your loved ones.

If you would like to know more about VA benefits, feel free to contact us at 740.346.2899 for a telephone consultation.

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