LTC Bullet: Long-Term Care Benefits for Veterans

Tuesday January 15, 2002


Long-term care insurance agents and brokers often ask us what kind of long-term care benefits military veterans can expect to receive. This question is on the minds of insurance sales people because it is on the minds of their prospects and clients. The same question should also concern legislators, administrators and policy makers. Veterans who unrealistically expect the government to pay for their long-term care may fail to save, invest or insure against that risk. Consequently, they may end up dependent unnecessarily and by default on already-overburdened public welfare programs.

If and when people get beyond the stage of pure denial concerning long-term care risk, they begin to ask, "Who pays?" After they rule out Social Security and Medicare, they turn hopefully to Medicaid and the Department of Veterans' Affairs. We keep you well informed about the problems of access, quality, reimbursement, discrimination and institutional bias associated with Medicaid dependency. But what about "veterans' benefits?" How and under what circumstances and to what extent does past service in the U.S. military entitle someone to free long-term care in the future?

Elder law attorney and prolific author Dana Shilling published an article entitled "Health Benefits for Veterans" in the August 2001 issue of "Elder Law Advisory," a newsletter published by the West Group. The Center for Long-Term Care Financing subscribes to this newsletter ($245 per annum) and many other publications so we can keep you apprised of the latest information and developments in the field of long-term care. Shilling's piece gives an excellent overview of long-term care benefits for veterans. A few bullet points about the contents of the article follow. For more details and extended excerpts, visit the Center's donor-only website zone. Details on how to access the donor-only zone are available at If you already have your user name and password to the donor-only zone, you can go directly to the "Long-Term Care for Veterans" section at

* The citation for the federal law and regulations concerning "Veterans' Benefits."

* Web sites for information on eligibility, programs, lists of VA facilities, etc.

* Sections on "Enrollment," "Nursing Home Services," "Extended Care Services," "Home Care and Day Care," Alzheimer's Disease Program, and "Third Party Recovery."

* The 1999 veterans' health care legislation added extended care services for some veterans, but these benefits expire on 12/31/03 unless they're re-enacted and the big question is "Who can qualify?"

* Must the need for long-term care be based on a "service-related" injury or disability? (VA's first priority for eligibility)

* Does a veteran have to be impoverished to qualify for benefits? (VA's fifth priority for eligibility)

* Will a veteran have to make "co-payments?" (VA's seventh priority for eligibility)

Shilling concludes: "The VA system concentrates on acute care and rehabilitation, and places higher priority on care of veterans with service-related disabilities than those with age-related health problems. Nevertheless, the 1999 legislation shows that the VA is aware of the aging of the veteran population as part of the general demographic transition within the United States. Especially for veterans with limited income and resources, but who are not (or not yet) Medicaid-eligible but who need health services that fall outside the scope of Medicare, it is worth determining whether VA services are available." (p. 5)