Nursing Home Care?


Thanks for your service to veterans, I always tell any veteran I meet to check out Jim's mailbag. I'm TDIU, 100% P & T for 13 years. I heard that if a veteran has a rating over 70% the VA will pay for nursing home care. Is that true? If it is, is it a big deal to get that benefit? Thank you for your help.


Jim's Reply:

Thanks so much for your kind words. That means a lot to everyone here who puts this all together to help our audience of veterans, active duty and of course, their dependents.

GREAT question! Yes and no is the only answer I can come up with. Nursing home care is in such turmoil today it's hard to know which way to turn. Many nursing homes are private, a bit more upscale ($$$) and will usually work with veterans, others are run by the state with contributions by a county or city government. In other words, whatever we think of our future in an extended care facility, we need to start planning today. If you have a local facility in mind it won't hurt to visit them right now. 

Extended care facilities have been in the news lately because of the pandemic. These are the places that were first hit and where so many deaths happened. Because of all this and more, the extended care facility is changing how it will operate in the future and it's a guess how all that will be paid for.

Is it a big deal to get the benefit that will provide you with extended care at a facility? It's a very big huge deal. This can be one of the more challenging benefits to receive depending on where you are. Using your federal benefits to help pay for care at a state run facility gets mind boggling complex just thinking about it. But some regions seem to have plentiful high quality care so a lot will depend on where you are.

Personally, I'm making plans for in-home care when it comes to that. With appropriate planning and a little help we boomers are staying home a lot longer these days. In-home care is recognized as not only cost efficient but seniors are happier and healthier than when they're closeted into semi-sterile cubes at a facility.

These are the sort of decisions where we must weigh your locale, your family status (so we can identify potential caregivers), how near you are to a VA medical center and a dozen other factors. The sooner we begin that decision process, the better our more fragile senior years will be.

When the end nears (at about 6 months) Medicare will pick up 100% of the costs of care end of life care while you're at home. That's right, all your medicines, nursing visits, etc. come free. The Medicare hospice benefit is awesome and allows many of us to have dignity in our death while in our home. Your VA also runs both home and hospital based hospice programs so you'll have options.

The best advice I can give anyone is that planning is the key to success in any endeavor and dying is one of those things we don't ever plan well enough for. I get it, it isn't a pleasant topic, as Woody Allen once said, "Death doesn't frighten me, I just don't plan to be there when it happens."  I urge anyone listening to have a will, a free will off the Internet is fine but one drawn up by a lawyer is better, although sometimes costly. Check with hospice programs in your community because they know exactly what's going on in the senior citizen community where you live.

Talk with your spouse now. The DIC paperwork should be ready for him/her to date and sign at that moment. If you talk with your chosen funeral home service director, you'll learn a lot about veterans, extended care facilities and veterans deaths. Often enough the funeral home director is the most knowledgeable person around for information about extended care facilities, veterans burials, benefits and so on. You should meet that person early on as you're preparing your extended care and funeral. If you never thought a funeral home director could be your best buddy, think again.

Believe it or not, I've done all that. My will is up to date. My wife and other family are aware of my wishes, as I am hers. She has the insurance policies and other papers ready to go as do I for her. My best friend has agreed to quickly clear my Reddit browsing history upon word of my death. (!!!)

Everyone knows who will care for my dog. I think I'm packed and ready! Good luck to you sir.