VA Hospice Benefits – Everything Veterans Need to Know
There are numerous benefits available to veterans. From health care to education/training, to housing assistance and so on. But sometimes it can be tricky to know which veterans benefits are out there, and which you may be eligible for. As a military veteran, you can receive both your VA benefits and hospice care when the Veterans Affairs determines that you need hospice care.
We will cover VA hospice benefits and give you the resources you need to find more information about eligibility and how to apply.
What is VA Hospice Care?
Hospice care concentrates on improving and maintaining the quality of life for patients who are experiencing terminate illness. It’s multifaceted, providing aspects of emotional, medical, and spiritual support and managing care among numerous physicians, nurses, therapists, and case managers. The intention is to make a comprehensive treatment plan to improve comfort for both the patient and their loved ones during the final phase of life.
Traditional veterans administration hospice benefits include cover for the mental, emotional, and physical trauma that numerous military members perceive during and after their service.
Veteran hospice care benefits are comprehensive and can be tailored to individual needs. Some of the most common problems and limitations veterans find themselves facing at the end of their lives include the following:
- Depression – The number of veterans that suffer from depression is twice the national average, although many don’t have an official diagnosis;
- Survivor guilt – Many veterans have survivor syndrome, and it’s closely associated with PTSD and depressive symptoms;
- Presumptive diseases – The veterans administration defines presumptive diseases as those linked with exposure to certain herbicides and chemical;
- Chronic pain – Military service is physically demanding, and many veterans experience severe musculoskeletal pain and other chronic pain conditions;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in people who have survived a frightening or dangerous event, and it can follow them throughout their lives;
- Traumatic brain injury – besides the typical risk for injury throughout serious accidents, veterans face more significant hazards on the battlefield like mines, explosives, and mortars.
To treat the physical and emotional problems reviewed above, veterans hospice includes a broad spectrum of services. Medical treatments may involve pain management by the use of medications, physical or occupational therapy, and even animal or music therapy. Emotional and mental issues can be treated with many forms of counseling and guidance provided by highly trained physicians.
Hospice care for veterans is aimed to provide counseling and guidance in these areas, on top of providing medical care and occupational or physical therapy.
VA Benefits Explained
All U.S. veterans are entitled to medical care coverage, including hospice care. Hospice care services are tailored to relieve suffering and control symptoms. They involve a qualified staff of physicians, medical directors, therapists, hospice aides, case managers, social workers, and therapists to determine each individual patient’s requirements and to design and incorporate a customized treatment plan.
To be qualified for VA benefits, you must be a veteran yourself, a veteran’s dependent, or a surviving spouse, the parent, or a child of a deceased veteran. You may also qualify if you’re an active-duty military service member or a member of the Reserve or National Guard. Besides these general requirements, there are additional criteria to qualify you for VA hospice care.
To meet veterans administration hospice care, you must:
- Be diagnosed with the end-stage disease;
- Have treatments focused on comfort, not a cure;
- Have a life expectancy of six months or less, diagnosed by a VA physician.
As long as you qualify for VA benefits for hospice care, you won’t be expected to pay any copayments, regardless of whether care is given by the VA or by an organization operating under a VA contract.
Bear in mind that your veterans administration benefits for hospice care are comprehensive, but palliative care is somewhat more limited. If you require VA palliative care, you may be asked to pay a copayment for services.
VA Hospice Benefits List
The following is a quick summary of the key veteran’s hospice benefits.
- Care available at your home, nursing home, assisted living or wherever you call home;
- No co-payment for hospice care;
- Care coordinated with your physicians;
- Medical equipment, medication, and personal care supplies;
- Physical, occupational, and other therapy services;
- Pain and symptom management centered on your goals;
- Spiritual support and care;
- Ongoing grief counseling for patients and family.
How Veterans Qualify & Pay for Hospice Care
Veterans must meet a series of requirements to clinically qualify for hospice care and receive financial coverage from veterans administration.
Veterans must apply for admission to the VA health benefits program
A veteran can apply for the VA health benefits program by phone or email, or in-person at one of the many VA healthcare facilities across the state.
Veterans must have a certification of terminal illness from a doctor
To fulfill the clinical qualifications for hospice service, a licensed physician must evaluate the patient and verify terminal illness. The certification states a patient’s prognosis for life expectancy is six months or less should the end-stage disease run a normal course.
Veterans must state their acceptance of hospice care
The veteran must state its acceptance of hospice care instead of seeking curative treatments for the terminal illness. In situations where the terminally-ill veteran is unable to speak for some reason, the veteran’s family or the person legally designated to speak on behalf of the veteran may confirm the acceptance of hospice care.
Note – Veterans who entitle in hospice may or may not have benefits through the VA system. If you have both Medicare and VA benefits, you have the right to choose which one will pay for hospice. Should veterans seek apart from veterans administration, there is a multitude of options available via Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.
How to Choose Good Veterans Hospice?
How to find a hospice program that is the right choice for your patient or loved one? Here are a few critical attributes to look for in a veterans hospice:
Cultural competence –Efficient veterans hospice care requires an understanding of the unique demands and values of military life. With this comprehension, hospices can individualize care for each person’s needs. Veterans don’t need to explain their distress to build trust and safety or alter their language. They can be who they’re and be adopted by people who comprehend.
Specialized training – Some hospice agencies have staff with specialized education and training on veterans’ needs. Training might address such topics as:
- Service-related physical illnesses;
- Emotional problems such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety;
- Medications and special considerations for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Need for forgiveness and spiritual uncertainty;
- Making a safe, supportive environment for sharing stories, if required;
- Ideas on how to honor veterans.
Veteran volunteers – volunteers play a vital role in the VA hospice program. Using a common language and sharing a cultural bond, veteran patients can drop their guard and trust someone else with their experience. Some of the services veteran volunteers may deliver include:
- Companionship from someone with similar service experiences;
- Respite care so caregivers and family members can take a break;
- Help to understand and access veterans benefits;
- Phone check-in calls;
- Veteran to veteran letters.
A VA physician can refer a veteran to a hospice or hospice that can refer to the veterans administration. Then the hospice agency and the VA staff work together on the veteran’s end-of-life care.
Hospice care is covered by the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and most private insurers. If a patient doesn’t have coverage, the dedicated hospice agency will work with the patient and their family to make sure they get the support they need.
Wherever the veteran lives, including their home, state veterans’ homes, community nursing home, senior housing, or the VA hospital.
A veteran must be entitled to the VA to receive VA hospice benefits. The veterans administration will start the enrollment process to determine eligibility for benefits.
The veteran can choose admission to hospice once the two basic criteria are fulfilled. With an earlier enrolling, there are fewer crises requiring hospital care or emergency. Symptoms and pain are better managed, and families and patients experience less emotional stress. A longer stay in hospice can make an atmosphere of greater quality, comfort, and dignity at the end of life.