May 26, 2017

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides health care benefits to veterans. The plan covers a number of health care services, including preventative services, diagnostic and treatment services, and hospitalization. The VA also offers a number of long-term care options through its health plan.

All enrolled veterans are eligible for the following services:

  • Geriatric evaluation — provides either an inpatient or outpatient evaluation of a veteran’s ability to care for him or herself.
  • Adult day health care — a therapeutic day care program that provides medical and rehabilitation services to veterans
  • Respite care — provides either inpatient or outpatient supportive care for veterans to allow caregivers to get a break
  • Home care — nursing, physical therapy, and other services provided in the veteran’s home
  • Hospice/palliative care — provides services for terminally ill veterans and their families

Some services are limited to certain veterans: nursing home care and domiciliary care are not automatically available to all veterans enrolled in the VA health plan.

The following veterans automatically qualify for unlimited nursing home care:

  • Veterans who are seeking nursing home care for a service-related condition
  • Veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent or more
  • Veterans who have a service-connected disability of 60 percent and are unemployable

A service-connected disability is a disability that the VA has officially ruled was incurred or aggravated while on active duty in the military and in the line of duty. The VA must rule that your illness/condition is directly related to your active military service, and it assigns each disability a rating. The ratings are established by VA regional offices around the country.

The VA may provide nursing home care to other veterans if space permits. Veterans with service-connected disabilities receive priority.

There are also state-run veteran’s nursing homes. The VA provides funds to states to help them build the homes and pays a portion of the costs for veterans eligible for VA health care. The states, however, set eligibility criteria for admission.

A domiciliary is a VA facility that provides care on an ambulatory self-care basis for veterans disabled by age or disease who are not in need of acute hospitalization and who do not need the skilled nursing services provided in a nursing home. Domiciliary care is available to low-income veterans with a disability.