VA Spouse Medical Benefits: What You Need to Know
There are approximately 19 million veterans across the US. In 2018, 7% of the population was made up of veterans. Most of these veterans are eligible for VA benefits through the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs or the VA.
But did you know that as the spouse of a veteran, you may qualify for benefits too? The VA offers VA spouse medical benefits to qualifying spouses of both living veterans and those who have passed on.
This can be a huge help in getting the medical care you might need and save you some money too.
Read on to learn about the benefits available to you as the spouse of a veteran and how to get those benefits.
What Is the VA?
The US Department of Veterans Affairs, commonly referred to as the VA, is part of the executive branch of the US government. Their responsibility is to provide medical benefits to veterans from the US military and active service members.
Additionally, the VA benefits include:
- Disability compensation
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Education assistance
- Home loans
- Life insurance
- Burial and memorial benefits
The VA has medical facilities and offices across the country to provide services to veterans and their qualified family members.
How Do VA Medical Benefits Work for Spouses?
VA health benefits, specifically medical benefits, are available to veterans, of course. They are also available under certain circumstances to dependents of living veterans. This would include their spouse.
Benefits can also be available to the spouse and children of deceased veterans.
The benefits become available through what is referred to as a qualifying family relationship to the veteran. This is a term the VA uses to describe how a family member might be eligible. This is because they can only get the benefits through the veteran and their service, not on their own.
Understanding VA Ratings and Why It Matters
As the VA treats veterans, they have ratings they use to identify the illness and disability. The rating is significant because it assigns a percentage to the veteran’s disability.
To qualify for benefits, the VA uses the disability process for ranking. First, the ranking helps to identify what services are available to the veteran through the VA. Subsequently, it also helps to identify what services might be available to the spouse of a veteran too.
What Does Surviving Spouse Mean?
If a veteran is deceased, a spouse can still qualify for some VA medical benefits. The VA uses the term surviving spouse. The VA has some requirements for the surviving spouse to qualify for benefits. These include:
- One year or more years of marriage to the veteran
- Continuous cohabitation during marriage to the veteran
- The spouse did not remarry after the veteran’s death
The spouse must also have been married to the deceased veteran for at least a year before they died to become eligible for some VA benefits.
VA Health Care Services
The VA offers comprehensive medical services to veterans and their qualifying spouses and dependents. Some of these benefits include:
- Health exams
- Medical Treatments
- Genetic disease counseling
- Mental health services
- Prescriptions written by VA doctors
- Acute and specialized care
- Emergency care
The VA also offers support services that a primary care doctor prescribes to diagnose health conditions, therapy, and rehabilitation services.
VA Healthcare Benefits
The VA has several different health care programs available. Let’s take a closer look at these programs.
One of the most widely known programs available is called the Civilian Health and Medical Program for the Department of Veterans Affairs or CHAMPVA. This program provides services specifically for the spouse of a disabled veteran or a surviving spouse of a deceased U.S. military service member.
This program helps to get health insurance coverage for spouses of veterans, both surviving and deceased. It’s intended as a cost-sharing program, covering some health care costs, supplies, and services.
The TRICARE program is available to family members of active-duty, retired, or deceased service members, National Guard soldiers, Reservists, or Medal of Honor recipients.
It provides services including:
- Health coverage
- Prescription medicines
- Dental plans
- Programs for people with special needs
This program is managed by the Department of Defense’s Defense Health Agency, not the VA, though.
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
If you are a family member and caregiver of a seriously wounded veteran while on active duty, the Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program may be available to you as well.
This program provides access to health insurance, mental health counseling, caregiver training, and respite care. They also can provide financial stipends to some who qualify for benefits.
Camp Lejeune Family Member Program
If you lived at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in North Carolina between August 1953 and December 1987, you might qualify for some special benefits as the spouse of a service member. This is because people who lived on the base during this time period may have had exposure to contaminated water.
The contaminated water can be an indicator of certain health problems later in life. For this reason, service members, their spouses, and family members may qualify for VA health care benefits.
Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program
There is a special program available to children of Korean War and Vietnam War veterans children. If your parent was a veteran from either of these wars and you’ve been diagnosed with spina bifida, you may be eligible for services under this special program.
You can contact your local VA office or hospital for more specifics on the services available.
Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Benefits Program
If your mother was a veteran of the Vietnam War, you might also qualify for some health care benefits. Children born with certain congenital disabilities and whose mother served in the Vietnam War qualify for this special program.
It provides medical services specific to congenital disabilities. Again, you can contact your local VA office or hospital for specifics on the services available.
Some of the above programs also will get you qualified for pharmacy benefits. If you qualify for benefits through:
- Spina Bifida
- Children of Women Vietnam Veterans programs
You could get these benefits from your local pharmacy or through the Meds by Mail program.
Long Term Care Benefits
A pension benefit program is available to veterans and their qualifying spouses for long-term care benefits. This program is called the Aid and Attendance program.
This program uses your Maximum Annual Pension Rate or MAPR and considers your income for eligibility. There are several factors for eligibility based on the pension rate, dependents, and other possible income sources.
As the spouse of a qualifying veteran, you may also qualify for assistance in paying for assisted living services if you need them. This is also through the Aid and Attendance program.
The VA also provides additional benefits for veterans and the spouse of a veteran who needs assistance with those activities of daily living.
Where Could You Get Help Applying for VA Benefits?
The truth is there is an abundance of resources available for both qualifying veterans and their qualifying spouses. Yet, it can feel a little overwhelming getting to those services. Wondering where you can go to get help qualifying for medical services? Check out the list below of places you could visit to get assistance qualifying for VA medical benefits.
Veteran Service Officers
You might be able to get access to a veteran service officer at your local VA hospital or office. They often will volunteer with the sole purpose of offering this kind of assistance. They can answer basic questions about the application process for a program and help guide you through what you might need to do to qualify.
You might also be able to meet up with a VSO at American Legion halls and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) lodges, where they might also be volunteering.
A variety of veterans organizations work with veterans and their families to get help as needed. Some of these include:
- American Legion
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
Often volunteers with these organizations can answer your questions, help with the application process, or get you to someone who can help you further.
Elder Law Attorneys
Many law firms specialize in a type of law called elder law. They often have extensive knowledge about VA benefits since many senior citizens are also veterans. You could search on the internet for elder law firms near me to find help through this avenue.
Get the VA Spouse Medical Benefits You Deserve
There are VA spouse medical benefits available to many spouses of veterans. You need to understand what qualifies you and research the many available programs.
If you need help, you can also start by visiting your local VA office or hospital to get information and assistance. Don’t be afraid to keep asking until you get the help you need.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for SNAP benefits, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that makes it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.