Veteran’s Health and Benefits Administration

Veteran’s Health Administration The Veteran’s Health Administration provides benefits for a variety of health and long-term care needs.  These services are available to anyone with prior service (excluding anyone with a dishonorable discharge). 

In order to receive these benefits, a veteran is required to get a physical and it generally takes one year to enter the VA health care system.  Priority is given to Veterans with a service-related disability, former POWs, and retired military personnel.  Income verification is required each year to maintain these benefits and qualification is based upon need without set income standards.

Health and long-term care benefits include access to:

  • VA Hospitals
  • VA Nursing Homes - to qualify for VA nursing home benefits, a veteran must have either 1) a service-connected disability rated at 70% or more; or 2) a service-connected disability that is clinically determined to require nursing home care. The VA may provide benefits to other veterans not falling into one of the above categories, depending on the space available (for more detailed information on VA Long Term Care Benefits and Adult Day Care Benefits, please see our previous Elder Law Today entitled “Veteran’s Administration Long Term Care Benefits”).
  • Prescription Benefits
  • Outpatient Dental Services
  • Services for Blind and Vision Impaired Veterans
  • Prosthetic Services
  • Alcohol and Drug-Dependence Treatment

Veterans Benefits Administration — The Veteran’s Benefits Administration provides the following benefits to Veterans:

  • Compensation for Service-Related Disabilities - if 100% disabled and in need of assistance with activities of daily living (ADL), special monthly compensation is available
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
  • Education and Training
  • Home Loan Guarantees
  • Specially Adapted Housing
  • Life Insurance Benefits
  • Burial Benefits
  • Disability and Indemnity Compensation for Surviving Spouses and Dependents
  • Special Monthly Pension: House Bound and Aid and Attendance (A&A)

Special Monthly Pensions Threshold Requirements - The threshold requirements for all Special Monthly Pension programs are: 

  • Veterans who served prior to June of 1984 must have served 90 days of service and at least one day during one of the following war time periods:
    • World War I
    • World War II:  December 7, 1941 –  December 31, 1946
    • Korean War: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
    • Were “in country” between February 28, 1961 and August 5, 1964
    • Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975
  • Veterans who served after June of 1984 must have been on active duty for at least two years
  • Gulf War: Aug. 2, 1990 thru date to be set by law by Presidential Proclamation
  • Discharge other than dishonorable
  • Limited income (arbitrary needs test)
  • Over age 65 OR permanent and total disability
    • Disability must have been caused without willful misconduct of the claimant
    •  Applicant (Veteran or Veteran’s widow) must sign application 

Low Income Pension - The Special Monthly Pension Low Income Pension reduces actual income by deducting medical and long term care expenses. The limits for 2009 are:

  • Veteran with no dependents:  $11,830/year
  • Veteran with one dependent:  $15,493/year
  • Widow(er) with no dependents:  $7,933/year 

Household Benefits - Special Monthly Pension Housebound Benefits are available to those who meet the threshold requirements and have (1) a 100% disability and are housebound; or (2) a 100% disability plus another 60% disability.  If over age 65, you are considered disabled, but you still must be “housebound” meaning that you don’t drive and don’t leave the home without assistance.  The limits for 2009 are:

  • Veteran with no dependents:  $14,457/year
  • Veteran with one dependent:  $18,120/year
  • Widow(er) with no dependents:  $9,696/year 

Aid and Attendance - Special Monthly Pension Aid and Attendance benefits are available if the Claimant is (1) blind; (2) in a nursing home; OR (3) unable to dress or undress or keep self clean and presentable; unable to attend the wants of nature; OR has a physical or mental incapacity that requires assistance on a regular basis to protect Claimant from daily environmental hazards.  The limits for 2009 are:

  • Veteran with no dependents: $18,654/year
  • Veteran with one dependent:  $22,113/year
  • Widow(er) with no dependents: $11,985/year 

If you or your loved one is eligible, the Special Monthly Pension Benefit could provide thousands of dollars each year to help you meet medical expenses and provide necessary care.  However, the application process is complicated and time-consuming. For some people, reallocating assets and shifting income may be necessary – and those reallocations could have a significant impact on Medi-Cal eligibility, whether now or in the future and we recommend you consult with a knowledgeable elder law attorney.

Elder Law Today is published as a service of:

Law Offices of Roy W. Litherland
An Elder Law and Estate Planning Law Firm
3425 S. Bascom Avenue, Suite 240
Campbell, CA 95008
Campbell/Main Office: (408) 356-9200
Capitola Office: (831) 476-2400

This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


Roy W. Litherland is an attorney whose practice emphasizes elder law and estate planning.  Roy has practiced law in the greater Bay Area for the last 34 years and is certified as a legal specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

In addition to his extensive legal background, Roy was also previously licensed as a Certified Public Accountant.  Although Roy has an extensive background in accounting, he retired his license to practice as a CPA to devote his time and energy entirely to the practice of law, specializing in estate planning, trusts, Medi-Cal planning, and probate.

Roy W. Litherland is a member and designated Fellow of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, an organization that fosters excellence in estate planning.  He is also a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a national professional association of attorneys who are dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to the elderly, and the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. 

[Back to Newsletter Archive]

Font Size

Increase +Decrease -