Opportunities in the Most Underutilized Veteran Benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs is well-known for its hospitals and healthcare services, but there are little-known VA benefits that reach far beyond doctors’ appointments and medical procedures. Examples include banking and financial counseling, home loans, transferable GI Bill benefits, funerary services, and—our main focus at Veterans Home Care—the Aid and Attendance benefit, which helps cover long term home-based care.
In 2020, only an estimated 39% of US veterans were interacting with VA services, which the department sought to address with a website overhaul, making navigation easier. That said, many veterans and their families are still unaware of benefits that could make their lives better and easier.
Here is a list of underutilized veteran benefits for which you or your loved one may qualify.
- The Aid & Attendance Benefit
We must start with one of the little-known veterans’ benefits with the highest potential to change lives: the Aid and Attendance benefit. Millions of Americans are caring for aging and ailing loved ones, unpaid and under-resourced. Their spouses, parents, grandparents, and other relatives or friends need assistance with basic activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing and eating, forcing these overstretched caregivers to make hard choices on how to allocate limited time and money. These veterans’ safety and quality of life are severely impacted by these difficulties.The Aid and Attendance benefit is available to veterans (and their spouses) who served during certain wartime eras who also qualify under income and medical need parameters. The most challenging aspect of this underused benefit is how to get Aid and Attendance approval, as the application process is grueling and the requirements are stringent—not only for getting the benefits, but also for keeping them. To successfully collect this benefit, it is strongly advised that veterans apply through a Veterans Services Officer (VSO) or through an agency like Veterans Home Care.
- Caregiver Support
While this benefit is not necessarily monetary, it ensures that the caregivers of veterans (like those mentioned above) have access to emotional and mental health support. The Caregiver Support Program (CSP) has two main offshoots, the more comprehensive of which does include a monthly stipend. Caregivers can access peer mentoring, coaching, a live support phone line, and other resources.
- Education & Career Benefits
The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB-AD), Post-9/11 GI Bill, and Veteran Readiness & Employment (VR&E) program are resources available to qualifying veterans to cover trade education, certification, and placement assistance in many fields. Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) offers many different veteran benefits you may not know about.
- Home Loans & Mortgage Assistance
The VA offers home loans with attractive terms to qualifying veterans and their surviving spouses. It also provides counseling and assistance to avoid foreclosure, whether or not you have a VA-backed loan.
- Free Tax Preparation
- Funerary Benefits
Military funeral benefits can include burial at a national cemetery, a headstone (or marker or medallion), committal service, and a burial flag with presentation ceremony. While any funeral home can coordinate a military funeral on your behalf, you can also reach out directly to the corresponding armed forces branch in your state.
- Vietnam Veteran Benefits
Vietnam-era veterans’ benefits have recently been expanded through the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 and the VA PACT Act of 2022. The former extended “the presumption of herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange, to Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975,” via the VA. The latter added to the list of health conditions eligible for care coverage. It also added several new locations where veterans could have served and been exposed to Agent Orange.
The Vietnam presumptive list of health conditions now includes hypertension and MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) in addition to previous presumptive diseases such as many cancers. Some little-known disability benefits are more widely available to Vietnam-era veterans with noise-related hearing loss, Hepatitis C, Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and more. Vietnam veterans’ children who were born with conditions such as spina bifida may also be eligible for benefits.
If we listed some veterans’ benefits you didn’t know about, consider sharing this list with someone who might need home care assistance, employment or financial services, or newly accessible Vietnam veteran benefits.
Many of the veteran benefits listed here can be combined. Reach out to your local VA or VSO for more information, or if you’re in need of home care for yourself or a loved one, our VetAssist mission is to make home care easily and quickly accessible for those who qualify through the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit. Veterans Home Care can help you determine whether you or your loved one will be eligible to receive the benefit, which can cover some or all of the cost of home care, and we make it easy to apply. Chat with us via our website, or call us at (888) 314-6075.