U.S. veterans get death benefits for their service: burial in a national cemetery with one spouse, a memorial marker, and military honors at the funeral/memorial service. There are some little-known benefits that families may want to check out.
If a veteran is buried in a private cemetery but did not get a military marker, you can still get their military service recognized on the existing headstone, crypt or niche cover with a medallion. Here’s the information, straight from the Department of Veterans Affairs:
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a medallion, by request, to be affixed to an existing privately purchased headstone or marker to signify the deceased’s status as a Veteran.
If requested, the medallion is furnished in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or marker for Veterans that died on or after November 1, 1990, and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.
The medallion is currently available in three sizes, 5 inches, 3 inches, and 1-1/2 inches. Each medallion will be inscribed with the word “VETERAN” across the top and the Branch of Service at the bottom. Appropriate affixing adhesive, instructions and hardware are provided with the medallion.
Important: This benefit is only applicable if the grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. In these instances, eligible Veterans are entitled to either a traditional Government-furnished headstone or marker, or the medallion, but not both.
For family members of eligible Veterans interested in submitting a claim for the medallion, instructions on how to apply for a medallion are on NCA’s web site at www.cem.va.gov/hm_hm.asp. Please use VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for Government Medallion for Placement in a Private Cemetery
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 38.632 “Headstone and Marker Application Process” became effective on July 1, 2009. This regulation describes the processes required to apply for a Government headstone and marker, as well as request a new emblem of belief be added to the list of emblems available for inscription on headstones and markers.
Who Can Apply for a Headstone, Marker or Medallion?
Under this rule, only the following individuals may apply for a headstone, marker or medallion:
- Decedent’s next-of-kin (NOK)
- Authorized representative on behalf of decedent
- Authorized representative on behalf of next-of-kin
If someone other than the NOK is applying for the headstone, marker or medallion, the application package must include a written statement signed by the NOK or decedent authorizing that person (the applicant) to apply for this benefit. A notarized statement is not required for these purposes. Do not send original documents, as they will not be returned.
In The New York Times “The New Old Age” section, Susan Seliger recently did a story titled “A Little Known Benefit for Aging Veterans.”
Here’s how the story starts:
Here’s a riddle: When is a government benefit that pays for caregivers, assisted living and a nursing home not a benefit? When hardly any people know they’re entitled to it.
That seems to be the story with a Department of Veterans Affairs benefit called the Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension benefit, known as A&A, which can cover the costs of caregivers in the home (including sons and daughters who are paid to be caregivers, though not spouses) or be used for assisted living or a nursing home.
The benefit is not insignificant: up to $2,019 monthly for a veteran and spouse, and up to $1,094 for the widow of a veteran.
Surprised that you’ve never heard of it? You’re not alone.
And here’s the info, straight from the VA’s web site:
What are Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits?
- Aid and Attendance (A&A) is an enhanced or special monthly pension benefit paid in additionto basic pension. You may not receive enhanced or special monthly pension without first establishing eligibility for basic VA pension. However, because enhanced pension is based upon a higher income limit, a claimant ineligible for basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for enhanced pension benefits. A Veteran may be eligible for A&A when:
- The Veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform his or her activities of daily living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, OR,
- The Veteran is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR,
- The Veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR,
- The Veteran has corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
- Housebound is an enhanced or special monthly pension benefit paid in additionto basic pension. You may not receive enhanced or special monthly pension without first establishing eligibility for basic VA pension. However, because enhanced pension is based upon a higher income limit, a claimant ineligible for basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for enhanced pension benefits. A Veteran may be eligible for Housebound benefits when:
- The Veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, due to such disability, he/she is permanently and substantially confined to his/her immediate premises, OR,
- The Veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, another disability, or disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.
A Veteran cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.
How to Apply for Aid and Attendance and Housebound:
- You may apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits by writing to the VA regional office having jurisdiction of the claim. That would be the office where you filed a claim for pension benefits. If the regional office of jurisdiction is not known, you may file the request with any VA regional office.
- You should include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician validating the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound type care.
- The report should be in sufficient detail to determine whether there is disease or injury producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to dress and undress, to feed oneself, to attend to sanitary needs, and to keep oneself ordinarily clean and presentable.
- In addition, it is necessary to determine whether the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises.
- Whether the claim is for Aid and Attendance or Housebound, the report should indicate how well the individual gets around, where the individual goes, and what he or she is able to do during a typical day.
If you can claim these benefits, I hope you’ll do so!