How to Apply for VA Long Term Care Benefits: A Guide for Veterans

January 31, 2024
Giselle Bardwell
The VA long-term care benefits program is designed to provide support for veterans who require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). This can include help with personal care tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating, as well as assistance with managing medications, maintaining a safe living environment, and coordinating healthcare services. These benefits can offer essential support to veterans and their families in their time of need, ensuring that they receive the care they deserve.

VA long-term care benefits encompass a wide range of care options, including homemaker and home health aide services, adult day health care, skilled nursing care at home, and hospice care. By understanding the different types of care and services that are available under VA long-term care benefits, veterans and their families can make informed decisions and choose the best possible care options for their individual needs.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information to navigate the application process successfully. We’ll cover:
  • Who qualifies for VA long-term care, 
  • How to apply for these benefits, and
  • The resources available to you for support

Who Qualifies for VA Long-Term Care Benefits?

To begin, it's important to understand who qualifies for VA long-term care benefits. Generally, the following groups of veterans are eligible:
  1. Veterans with service-related disabilities.
  2. Veterans in need of care due to aging.
  3. Veterans with disabilities not related to their military service who cannot afford the costs of necessary care.
Qualifying for long-term care benefits is determined on a case-by-case basis. Factors such as the severity of the veteran's disability, the level of income and assets, and the degree of support required for daily living tasks will all be considered during the application process.

Evaluating Your Eligibility for VA Long-Term Care Benefits

Before you can apply for VA long-term care benefits, you must determine if you're eligible to receive these services. As previously mentioned, eligibility for VA long-term care benefits is assessed on a case-by-case basis, but some general guidelines can help you gauge whether you might qualify. When evaluating your eligibility for these benefits, consider factors such as your:
  1. Military service history: You must have served a minimum period of active duty service, including 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty. However, certain exceptions may apply for veterans with a service-related disability or those who were discharged due to hardship.
  2. VA disability rating: Having a service-connected disability that's been rated by the VA can improve your access to long-term care benefits.
  3. Financial need: The VA typically provides long-term care benefits to veterans in financial need. If your income and assets are below specific thresholds, you could be eligible for additional benefits, like the Aid and Attendance Allowance or Housebound Allowance.
  4. Level of care required: Your need for assistance with ADLs will be assessed to determine if you qualify for long-term care benefits. The more assistance you require, the higher the likelihood that you'll be eligible for services.

Keep in mind that eligibility guidelines may be subject to change, so it's important to consult with the Cleveland VA Regional Benefit Office or VSO to confirm the specific eligibility requirements that apply to your situation.

How to Apply for VA Long-Term Care Benefits

Now that you know who is eligible for VA long-term care benefits, let's discuss how to apply for them.

Gathering Necessary Documents and Forms

As you prepare to apply for VA long-term care benefits, be sure to gather all required documentation and forms. Filling out the appropriate paperwork accurately and completely is crucial to ensuring that your application is processed smoothly. 

Key documents and forms needed for the VA long-term care benefits application process include:
  • DD-214 discharge papers: Your DD-214 is a vital document that confirms your military service and is required for most VA benefits applications.
  • VA disability rating paperwork: Documents that show your VA disability rating and establishing the connection to your military service are essential in supporting your claim to long-term care benefits.
  • Financial information: Gather documentation of your income, assets, and financial resources, as these will help the VA determine if you qualify for long-term care benefits or additional financial support.
  • Medical records: Compile relevant medical records, including documentation of your healthcare providers, diagnoses, prescribed medications, and other pertinent information.

Completing VA Benefit Applications

Next, you'll need to complete the appropriate application forms for the specific type of long-term care benefits you're seeking. These may include the VA standard Form 10-10EZ for healthcare enrollment, and the VA Form 21-0779 to request additional benefits due to a need for long-term care.

Leveraging Support Resources

Applying for VA long-term care benefits can be a complex and overwhelming process. During this time, it's crucial to leverage available resources and support services to help navigate the process successfully. 

If you need assistance to complete your application, consider reaching out to the Cleveland VA Regional Benefit Office or a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) in your county. These professionals have both the experience and knowledge to guide you through the application process, ensuring your forms are filled out correctly and submitted on time. Here are some quick contact links for VA offices in Northeast Ohio: There are also other organizations or individuals who can offer assistance with your application:
  • Veterans organizations: Local veterans' organizations, like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), can provide valuable resources, information, and support to veterans seeking long-term care benefits.
  • Family and friends: Don't hesitate to lean on your personal support network of family and friends to help with guidance and encouragement during this process.
  • BrightStar Care Cleveland: Feel free to give our office a call at (440) 613-1500 or contact us via our website and we’d be happy to provide guidance regarding resources available.

Awaiting Your Benefits Determination

Applying for VA long-term care benefits can seem like a daunting task, but with the right information, resources, and support, you can successfully navigate the process to secure the benefits you need. 

Keep in mind that timely submission of accurate and complete forms is crucial, so be proactive in gathering your documentation, seeking guidance from trusted sources, and reaching out to available support resources. Processing time can vary depending on the VA’s workload, so it's advisable to apply as soon as you recognize the need for long-term care support.

Remember to keep detailed records of all submitted materials, as this can come in handy should any issues arise during the evaluation. With careful planning and organization, you'll be on your way to securing the long-term care benefits you need and deserve.

By following these steps and leveraging the insights provided by BrightStar Care®, you'll be well-positioned to access the essential long-term care and in-home care services and support you deserve.