The cost of senior care can quickly add up and become a hefty expense, even with a great retirement plan. While traditional health insurance plans cover the cost of medications, treatments, doctors’ visits, and hospitalization, they don’t cover some of the most basic living needs many seniors to need assistance with.
Luckily, long-term care insurance programs are becoming increasingly popular among people slowly reaching their senior years. Furthermore, U.S. military veterans and their surviving spouses can reap additional benefits that can significantly reduce their long-term care costs.
While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, often simply called VA, offers some federal programs that help veterans and their spouses cover long-term care costs, private insurance plans also provide helpful financial support to those who need it.
In this article, you can learn more about this type of insurance, learn what conditions it covers, and determine whether you should consider it, and how you can apply to start receiving the benefits if need be.
About long-term care insurance
Long-term care insurance plans are quite different from other insurance policies as they offer financial coverage for help and assistance many seniors need every day. Compared to traditional health insurance that only covers costs related to doctors and health institutions, long-term care insurance aims to offer support to those who need personal care for an extended period. Make sure you know the reasons for long term care insurance rejection.
Namely, it’s a type of insurance plan that covers the costs related to home health care, assisted living care, or nursing home care. These types of care can provide help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as help with eating, dressing, toileting and a few others. While everyone can apply for a long-term care insurance policy, veterans and their spouses typically have more options and slightly better benefits available to them.
If some veterans can’t do everyday tasks by themselves for an extended period, they could be eligible to receive some coverage provided by a long-term care insurance program through the government.
When it comes to U.S. veterans, they can pay for long-term care services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Federal insurance programs (Medicare), State insurance programs (Medicaid), or choose a private insurance company instead.
Whichever option a veteran chooses, the primary goal of every insurance plan is to make the veteran’s retirement years as comfortable and pleasant as possible.
According to the long-term care insurance statistics, more and more seniors are deciding to plan for their future long term care needs by investing in long-term care insurance policies.
Long-term care coverage for veterans
We already mentioned long-term care insurance is different from traditional insurance, but how is it different, and what services does it cover?
Veterans who have reached their senior years and have trouble completing everyday tasks without assistance, veterans who suffer from a chronic illness or any other kind of disability, and veterans who suffered major injuries that prevent them from completing everyday tasks by themselves can receive additional help through long-term care insurance programs. Some veterans may qualify for the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit.
The services long-term care insurance for veterans covers are basic Activities of Daily Living like:
- Preparing food or eating
- Continence care
- Toileting (getting on or off the toilet)
- Transferring (getting in or out of a bed, chair, etc.)
Besides paying for help with daily tasks such as taking medicine, preparing meals, dressing, and bathing, long-term care services for disabled or sick veterans also include:
- 24/7 medical and nursing care
- Comfort care
- Pain management help
- Physical therapy
Different long-term care insurance providers have different requirements, but most of them will offer this kind of assistance and care to all veterans, whether they reside in:
- Veterans’ own homes
- Private homes
- Assisted living centers
- Adult day health centers
- Nursing homes
Qualification for long-term care services
To qualify for receiving long-term care benefits from the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit, a veteran or a surviving spouse must meet certain requirements.
Veterans who served on active duty before September 8, 1980, with at least 90 days of active duty and at least 1 day during wartime qualify.
Veterans who served on active duty after September 7, 1980, with at least 24 months of active duty or the full ordered period, and at least 1 day during wartime qualify.
Finally, officers who served on active duty after October 16, 1981, and don’t have active duty served at least 24 months before that also qualify.
All veterans must have an honorable or general discharge. Dishonorable discharges prevent veterans from receiving long-term care insurance for veterans.
If the total sum of a veteran’s assets is under $80,000, they are eligible for receiving long-term care insurance. Two key factors influence the financial status:
- Annual income: salary, bonuses, commissions, retirement payments, Social Security benefits, and any other sources of income of spouses and dependents.
- Assets: personal property, such as land, home furnishing, investments, etc. However, assets don’t include the veteran’s primary place of residence, a car, and basic home items and appliances.
Naturally, a medical need must exist if a veteran or a spouse wants to use the insurance funds for long-term care. Therefore, an individual must have difficulties dressing, bathing, or eating that require additional assistance.
Expect to wait between six and eight months to get approved and start receiving the benefits connected to long-term care. Some applicants even wait for a year. However, once your application gets approved, the coverage paid to the veteran should match the application date.
Factors that affect long-term care service coverage
Veterans can choose from several insurance providers, including federal, state, and private insurance, factors that affect these costs can vary across different providers and insurance plans. Remember these when applying for disability insurance.
For instance, veterans who want to enroll in VA health care need to provide:
- VA service-connected disability status
- Details about income
Based on this information, the VA will determine whether a veteran qualifies to receive particular healthcare and long-term care services. Additionally, the long-term care service coverage also depends on factors such as:
Long-term care benefits are primarily intended for veterans who are 65 or older. However, veterans under the age of 65 can also qualify for this benefit if they suffer from a total and permanent disability that prevents them from completing basic everyday tasks independently. There is a lot to learn about aging and long term care.
- Health status
Depending on the individual health status, long-term care coverage provided to veterans can differ.
- Coverage needed
Costs are also affected by the type and amount of coverage needed. Veterans who only need assistance with bathing will receive lower coverage than veterans who also require regular physical therapy, as well as 24/7 medical and nursing care.
- Insurance company
Ultimately, veterans can find identical long-term care insurance policies at different price points. Because prices fluctuate between different insurance carriers, you need to do extensive research and find a company or organization that’ll offer the best coverage for the lowest price.
How to apply for veteran long-term care services
The process of applying for long-term care insurance for veterans is similar to applying for any other kind of insurance policy. Just as applying to any insurance program, a veteran or a veteran’s spouse first needs to fill out an application form. Today, this can be done both in-person and online.
To enroll in VA health care services, veterans can either visit their local VA medical center and submit a VA health care application or enroll in the health care program online.
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Accessing long-term care services
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the go-to place for most veterans who need assistance with their everyday life and want to take advantage of the long-term care services. Let’s take a look at the VA requirements veterans must meet before gaining access to these helpful services:
- The veteran must be signed for VA health care;
- The veteran requires specific help or assistance with personal care;
- The form of service required is available to the veteran nearby;
- In the case of service-connected disability status, veterans can access long-term care benefits before reaching the age of 65;
- Even if some services aren’t covered by VA health care, they probably are covered through Medicaid or Medicare. If not, many private insurance companies offer all kinds of long-term care insurance policies for veterans.
Accepted wartime periods
If you’re a veteran thinking about using long-term care benefits and making your life easier, you’re surely curious about learning which wartime periods are generally accepted by insurance companies.
Since the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs accepts the following wartime periods; the same categorization is used by other organizations, such as Medicaid and Medicare, as well as by private insurance companies and agents.
Mexican Border period May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917
World War I May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917
World War II December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
Korean conflict June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
Vietnam War Era November 1, 1955 – May 7, 1975
(for active duty in the Republic of Vietnam)
Vietnam War Era August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975
(for active duty outside the Republic of Vietnam)
Gulf War August 2, 1990 – future date yet to be determined
The bottom line
Long term care insurance for veterans is a helpful insurance solution provided to all veterans who might require assistance with some or all activities of daily living.
Whether you’re an elderly veteran who is at least 65 years old or a younger veteran who suffers from a service-connected disability, there are high chances you’re eligible for using long-term care insurance services.
For veterans who might need help eating, bathing, toileting, or dressing, we highly recommend checking your eligibility status and applying for a long-term care insurance plan that’ll make your life easier, more pleasant, and enjoyable.
- American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). (2021). Long-Term Care Insurance Facts – Data – Statistics – 2022 Reports. Retrieved from aaltci.org website: https://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/learning-center/ltcfacts-2022.php
- S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). (n.d.). Geriatrics and Extended Care. Retrieved from va.gov website: https://www.va.gov/geriatrics/pages/Paying_for_Long_Term_Care.asp
- (n.d.). The Long-Term Care Benefit Many Veterans Are Missing Out On. Retrieved from forbes.com website: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/11/10/the-long-term-care-benefit-many-veterans-are-missing-out-on/?sh=1157d0b06c23
- Military Benefits. (n.d.). Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). Retrieved from militarybenefits.info website: https://militarybenefits.info/fltcip-insurance/
- Air Force Magazine. (2020). For Active or Retired Military, Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Offers Peace of Mind. Retrieved from airforcemag.com website: https://www.airforcemag.com/for-active-or-retired-military-federal-long-term-care-insurance-offers-peace-of-mind/