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Does your veteran parent need nursing home care?

If you have an elderly parent who is a veteran, then you may know they are eligible for benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA). You may not know, however, exactly what those benefits are and whether they can help your parent who now needs nursing home care. Here are a few highlights from the complicated world of VA benefits to get you started:

  • Healthcare benefits. If your parent is eligible for VA health benefits, they are probably already using them. Health benefits are available to most former service members who completed their active duty and separated for any reason other than a dishonorable discharge.
  • Long term care support. Many veterans qualify for "aid and attendance" assistance to help with the cost of nursing home care, which can get quite expensive. They may also receive some in-home support.
  • State VA Homes. Each state oversees the licenses for the VA nursing homes located there, and some even offer assisted living care and help for independent living in the veteran's own home. New York has five veterans' homes, including one here on Long Island, though that one is technically part of Stony Brook University. Eligibility rules differ slightly from home to home, depending on demand and beds available. New York has a one-year residency requirement, along with honorable discharge and at least 30 days of active duty service.
  • Unpaid costs. VA benefits from state and federal governments do not always cover the full amount of care at a VA home, but do drastically cut the cost of nursing home care. The resident may have to cover the unpaid costs themselves. If they are unable to do that, Medicaid assistance could be available.
  • Medicaid. Combining VA benefits with Medicaid benefits is complicated, but can be done. Medicaid eligibility has strict rules regarding how much a recipient can own in assets and earn as income. If you parent is earning a VA pension, Medicaid could reduce the pension. The benefit, however, is that Medicaid can be used for any open nursing home bed in facilities that accept Medicaid, which can be helpful if your parent does not live near a VA home, or the closest VA home does not have any openings.

This information only touches on a few of the benefits available to both seniors and veterans in New York. Determining the best plan for your parent's nursing home care will take individual planning and consideration. Hopefully, now you have a place to start.

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