Getting by can be hard as you age. You thought you’d set plenty away for retirement, but there are more expenses than you’d expected, and health care seems to eat up more of your budget every year. It can get pretty disheartening.
If you’re struggling to cover all the costs of life as you age, it’s worth pursuing any resources or benefits you can. If your spouse was a veteran, their service to the country entitles you both to some benefits that can help, even if your husband or wife is no longer with us.
Aid and Attendance Benefit
The Aid and Attendance Benefit is both one of the most valuable benefits available to veterans and their spouses and one of the most underutilized. Many veterans’ spouses that could be taking advantage of the benefit don’t even know it exists.
A surviving spouse can qualify for up to $1,149 a month to help cover the cost of services like assisted living or in-home care, or up to $2,120 a month if both you and your spouse qualify. Think of how much easier that would make affording those monthly assisted living bills. This benefit is only available for those who need daily assistance with tasks like getting dressed, bathing, and eating meals, but the veterans’ spouses in that category are often those that need the most financial help.
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) covers the cost of most health care services and supplies that the program deems necessary. To be eligible for CHAMPVA, you must be the spouse of a veteran who was disabled by a service-related injury or killed in the line of duty.
You can be enrolled in either TRICARE or CHAMPVA, but not both, so if you’re currently using TRICARE and most of your needs are covered, then CHAMPVA’s not for you. If you think you may qualify though and you’re in need of help with health care costs, look into CHAMPVA to see if it’s the best choice for you.
Military families qualify for a number of tax breaks that can be a big help to you come tax time, if you know to take advantage of them. Military spouses can benefit when moving and selling their home, get retirement perks, and enjoy other benefits come tax time. You can also receive free tax help at your nearest base through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. If you’re a military spouse, it’s worth working with someone familiar with all the benefits military families qualify for when you file your tax returns, so you don’t miss out.
The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a benefit available to spouses of veterans who died in active duty or due to injuries obtained while on active duty. If that’s your situation, you could be eligible for an extra $1,233 per month to help you cover your costs, and the monthly rate will go up if you have additional dependents.
Military Aid Societies
Military Aid Societies were developed to help veterans and their families in times of financial distress. The Air Force Aid Society, The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and Army Emergency Relief all exist to help service members and their families with financial counseling, loans, and grants.
Being a veteran’s spouse isn’t easy. The service provided by your spouse was noble, but it came at a cost for you and the rest of your family too. These resources are all available in recognition of how much work and sacrifice military families must make, in the hopes that your later years will be a little easier to manage.