By John D. Miller
The Veterans Administration offers a broad range of benefits to its veteran constituents. Many of these benefits are not well known, such as the Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services (“Independence Plus“) program, which is a unique benefit designed to allow veterans who are potential candidates for nursing home placement to manage their own care. The program provides veterans with a budget and allows them to choose their own care providers in place of receiving care services from the VA health care system.
With “Independence Plus,” veterans prioritize their own care needs, select their own care providers, and act as an employer instead of receiving nursing home care from the VA directly. Enrollment is open to eligible veterans of any age.
Benefit Amounts & Limits:
The monthly budget allocated for a veteran’s care depends on their individual requirements and is determined during the development of their Care Plan. The maximum amount may actually vary from state to state. Further, not all states even offer this program. However, it is offered in most New England states, including Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut.
Typically the cost of this care cannot exceed the cost for the same care were it provided by the VA in a skilled nursing facility. In real dollar terms, budget maximums rarely exceed $4,000./month. Veterans do not incur any costs to participate in the program.
Unfortunately, the time period to prepare and receive approval for a Care Plan can be lengthy. Participants should expect several months before actually beginning to receive care services at home. The process can be accelerated if a participant begins the hiring process for care providers (after submitting their Care Plan) while waiting for its approval. However, no payments can be made until the Care Plan has been approved.
“Independence Plus” can cover a range of goods and services, but there are limitations. The following are not covered through “Independence Plus”…
Any service duplication. That is, a service benefit which the veteran already receives from the Veteran Administration
Monthly rent, mortgage payments, or room and board
Personal items, living expenses, and services not related to one’s disability or independence
Experimental treatments which have not been medically approved by the Veteran Administration
Participants in the “Independence Plus” program receive a monthly budget to use for their personal care and relevant supplies in place of receiving the same from the VA Health Care system. To be clear, the veteran authorizes the agency to pay service providers on his or her behalf, but does not personally receive the cash payments.
“Independence Plus” is a program still in various stages of development in different states across the country. As is often the case, participation requirements may change as the program matures. Any veteran applicant should contact their local VA Medical Center to learn more specific details concerning their care requirements, and to determine final eligibility.
About the Author
John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: email@example.com ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com
Reprinted from the January 2018 issue of the South Shore Senior News.