The federal government offers several forms of financial assistance to military veterans and their families through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Programs include disability compensation, pension plans and burial benefits.
Disability compensation is a benefit paid to a veteran due to an injury sustained or disease acquired while on active duty, or aggravated by military service. The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the condition, and whether the veteran is married or has dependents.
Pension benefits are available to veterans age 65 and older who served during a period of war and who have little or no income. Veterans under age 65 who are disabled, in a nursing home or receive disability payments are also eligible. Survivors’ Pension is a benefit paid to a surviving spouse or child of a deceased wartime veteran, who meets certain income requirements.
Aid and Attendance, and Housebound compensation plans are also available. Aid and Attendance benefits are offered to veterans who require the aid of another person to perform daily tasks, are bedridden, in a nursing home, or suffering severe vision loss. Housebound benefits are offered to veterans who have two or more severe disabilities or are confined to their home because of their disability.
Burial benefits available to veterans from the VA include a gravesite in any national cemetery, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a headstone or marker and a burial flag. Spouses and dependents may also be buried with the veteran, and may share the veteran’s headstone. Gravesite and spouse and dependent gravesite benefits are not available at private cemeteries.
A veteran is defined by the government as anyone who has served active duty in the military for any purpose other than training. Combat involvement is not necessary. However, veterans who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible for these benefits.
Several Cleveland organizations offer free assistance to veterans who wish to apply for VA benefits. The Cuyahoga County Veteran’s Service Commission (VSC) acts as a liaison between the VA and the veteran. The VSC also provides additional funds for veterans experiencing hardship. “We have temporary emergency financial assistance available for those who are experiencing an unexpected emergency,” said Rober Schloendorn, VSC executive director.
Respect the Vet specializes in helping veterans apply for the Aid and Attendance benefit. “Up to $2,017 in tax-free benefits are available to veterans, and there is no look-back period for eligibility like there is with Medicaid,” said volunteer Harve Senter.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) also provides application assistance for VA benefits and assists veterans in appealing applications that have been denied.
For more information contact the VA at 800-827-1000, VSC at 216-698-2600, Respect the Vet at 440-285-9588 and MOPH at 216-522-7237.