Eligibility Criteria for Veterans Home Care Program and VA Nursing Home Care

February 14, 2024
Giselle Bardwell
Military veterans have made significant sacrifices to serve and protect our nation, and as they grow older and require assistance, it's crucial for them to have access to reliable, high-quality care. This includes home care services and nursing home care that are tailored to meet the unique needs of former service members. Thankfully, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established specific programs to provide this assistance, ensuring that veterans and their families receive the necessary support to live their lives with dignity and independence. 

In this article, we will explore the two primary services available for veterans: the Veterans Home Care Program and VA Skilled Nursing Home Care, discussing their eligibility criteria and offering guidance on how you or an eligible family member can access these crucial services. Furthermore, we'll explore the application process and provide resources for gathering more information, empowering veterans and their families to make informed decisions about the care they receive. Whether it's home care or nursing home care that's required, our nation's veterans should rest assured that their service is honored, and their welfare is a priority.

About the Veterans Home Care Programs

The Veterans Home Care Program is designed to provide an array of supportive services, such as personal care, medications, housekeeping, and assistance with daily living activities. These services are ideal for those who might not need the around-the-clock care of a nursing facility but still require assistance to live independently in their own homes. 

VA Nursing Home Care, on the other hand, is specifically designed for veterans who require ongoing skilled nursing care in a residential or home setting. This may include intensive rehabilitation, specialized wound care, or management of chronic conditions. 

Both programs are offered by the VA to ensure a high standard of care for veterans, but eligibility requirements differ for each program. Understanding these eligibility requirements is key to accessing the support provided by the Veterans Home Care Program and VA Skilled Nursing Home Care.

Now, let’s delve into the specific criteria used by the VA to determine eligibility for these programs. 

Eligibility Criteria for the Veterans Home Care Program

The Veterans Home Care Program, also known as the Veteran Directed Care Program, is intended to offer eligible veterans the necessary assistance to continue living in their own homes. To qualify for this program, veterans must meet specific criteria. First and foremost, they must be eligible for VA health care, which typically requires minimum active military service and an honorable discharge status. Additionally, veterans must have a clinical need for home care and assistance with daily living activities.

We suggest reaching out to a VA social worker, case manager or patient advocate at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who will assess the veteran's needs, considering factors like medical conditions, physical limitations, and cognitive status. If the assessment determines that the veteran's needs could be better met with other VA programs or services, they may be offered alternative care options instead. However, if home care is determined to be the best fit for the veteran's needs, they will be enrolled in the program.

Understanding VA Skilled Nursing Home Care Eligibility

The VA Nursing Home Care program provides care services for eligible veterans who require ongoing skilled nursing care in their own homes. To be eligible for VA Nursing Home Care, veterans must meet certain criteria that differ from those of the Veterans Home Care Program.

First, they must be enrolled in the VA health care system and have a need for nursing home care that is primarily tied to a service-connected disability. If a veteran does not meet this requirement, they still may be eligible if they have a VA disability rating of 70% or higher, or if they require nursing home placement for any reason and are considered "unemployable" due to their service-connected disabilities.

If space and resources allow, then the VA may also provide nursing home care to other veterans based on specific eligibility guidelines. These guidelines prioritize care based on factors such as service connection and disability rating, as well as financial need and availability of alternative care options.

Navigating the Application Process for the Veterans Home Care Program

Once a veteran has been deemed eligible for the Veterans Home Care Program, they must complete the application process. This involves submitting the necessary documentation, such as proof of military service and discharge status, as well as financial and medical information to help determine the level of care needed. For more information on how to complete the application process, see our Guide on How to Apply for VA Benefits.

The VA will then develop a personal care plan for the veteran, which outlines the specific services and supports they require. This plan may include home health aides, personal care attendants, or respite services. The veteran will have a significant say in creating this care plan, ensuring that their needs and preferences are met.

Upon approval, the veteran will have access to a flexible budget that can be used to pay for the approved services. This allows the veteran greater control over their care, and the opportunity to choose their service providers. It's important for veterans and their families to work closely with their VA case manager throughout this process, as their guidance and expertise can be invaluable in navigating the sometimes complex world of home care services.

Next Steps for VA Home Care Benefits

To receive home care services, both nursing and aide services, veterans will need to work closely with their VA health care providers. Typically, the process begins with a referral from a VA primary care provider, who will then coordinate with the appropriate VA case managers in Northeast Ohio to complete a comprehensive assessment of the veteran's needs.

Accessing appropriate care services can be a crucial factor in maintaining the quality of life and well-being of our nation's veterans. Both the Veterans Home Care Program and VA Skilled Nursing Home Care are designed keeping this in mind and offer valuable resources for those who have served our country. By understanding the eligibility criteria for these programs and navigating the application process, veterans and their families can ensure they receive the support they need to live with dignity and independence. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to honoring the sacrifices of our veterans by providing them with the care they deserve, including in the comfort of their own homes. At BrightStar Care® Cleveland, we also support this mission and are available to help make sure your loved one is taken care of at home. For more information, contact by calling us at (440) 613-1500 or through our website. We look forward to speaking with you!