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Houston has a lot to offer eligible aging veterans

The VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas, has much to offer older veterans and surviving spouses who are unable to take care of their own needs anymore. To take advantage of these benefits, there are two important things a veteran needs. First, to meet the eligibility requirements, and second, to be aware of the benefits available.

Most people think all you must do to be eligible for all VA benefits is to be a vet. While it is true that all vets are entitled to some VA benefits, there are additional benefits that aging vets may be eligible for, which require additional conditions to be met.

For instance, there is Aid and Attendance, which is a supplemental benefit for veterans or surviving spouses. This benefit is only available for veterans or surviving spouses who receive VA pensions. It is also need-based; those with high incomes or significant assets may not be eligible.

To be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, there is also other specific required documentation that must be submitted for eligibility, such as verified needs and medical records. Help with this information can be obtained through a veteran's benefits attorney.

Once qualified, the veteran's needs can be assessed. They may be able to receive an in-home assessment if they live within 50 miles of the VA Medical Center or one of its clinics. If the vet or surviving spouse doesn't have a caregiver, they may be provided medical doctors and even a home health aide if necessary.

The VA's goal is to keep vets in their homes and out of institutions as long as possible. However, they do partner with several nursing homes in the area, as well as adult daycare facilities, to which they will do their best to supply transportation to and from.

There is also a 127-bed community living center for those who require rehabilitation or recovery from severe impairments. Of course, the goal is to bring the vet back to being a functional, whole person again so they can maintain living on their own. Another VA benefit is the Neurology clinic for cognitive disorders.

Veterans with 100 percent service-connected eligibility, who are caregivers, can even use "respite services." This is a service that provides someone to fill in for them so they can take a break -- up to two weeks.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Older veterans may be eligible for various benefits" Alice Adams, Apr. 14, 2014

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