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LTC Bullet:

Veterans' Benefits Might Not Pay for LTC

Tuesday June 29, 1999

Seattle--

As the baby boom generation ages, and public resources for long-term care financing dwindle, many veterans are counting on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to finance their long-term care. What they don't realize is that while VA rules allow the VA to finance long-term care, they do not require the VA to finance long-term care (Szczygiel,1996). Specifically, the 1999 edition of "Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependants" (aka VA Benefits Handbook) reads:

"NURSING-HOME CARE: Nursing care in VA or private nursing homes may be provided for veterans who are not acutely ill and not in need of hospital care. If space and resources are available, VA may provide VA nursing-home care."

"If space and resources are available"… i.e. many veterans may find themselves out of luck in the future. Like other publicly financed programs, the VA's limited resources--combined with the potential for skyrocketing demand when boomers begin needing long-term care--cannot cover all veterans needing long-term care. Consequently, the VA has designed a system to determine which veterans are first in line for LTC benefits. Currently: "Veterans who have a service-connected disability are given first priority for nursing-home care." Moreover, "VA-authorized care normally may not be provided in excess of six months, except for veterans who need nursing-home care for a service-connected disability or veterans who were hospitalized primarily for treatment of a service-connected disability."

Many veterans will also have to submit to an income eligibility test for both nursing home care and "domicilliary care" ("long-term health-maintenance care for veterans who require minimal medical care but who do not need the skilled nursing services provided in nursing homes"): "Nonservice-connected veterans and zero percent, non-compensable, service-connected veterans requiring nursing-home care for any nonservice-connected disability must submit an income eligibility assessment form, VA Form 10-10EZ, to determine whether they will be billed for nursing-home care...VA may provide domicilliary care to veterans whose annual income does not exceed the maximum annual rate of VA pension or to veterans the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines have no adequate means of support."

For more specific information, consult the VA Benefits Handbook or contact the VA directly.

Veterans need to be aware that the VA may not fund their long-term care. All the more reason to plan ahead.

*Sources:

"Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependants" (VA Benefits Handbook) at
http://www.va.gov/pubaff/fedben/99fedben.pdf (Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar software is necessary to view this publication on-line.)

Anthony Szczygiel, "Long Term Care Coverage: The role of Advocacy," University of Kansas Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 4, July 1996, pps. 721-781.
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