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Spousal Benefits

The spouse or widow of a veteran could be eligible for various spousal benefits. 

If you are married to a veteran receiving or they recently filed for VA monthly compensation, you will want to verify that you are listed on their award letter as their spouse.  This might sound a little elementary, but it is sometimes overlooked by the veteran when filing.  This will ensure that they are getting paid the correct amount and make it easier to connect to your spousal benefits after he/she passes.

There are a couple of situations where the surviving spouse can receive a monthly benefit.

  • If the veteran is rated at 100% or is paid at the 100% rate through Individual Unemployability (IU) for at least 10 years.
  • If the veteran passed from something that he/she is compensated for through the VA.

If the veteran is 100% he/she is eligible for CHAMPVA.  A health insurance program through the VA.  This benefit is continued for the spouse even after the passing of the veteran.

Another benefit is the Non-Service Connected Pension.  The basic point of eligibility is that the veteran had to serve during a period of war.  There are some income /asset factors to concern as well, but I would advise talking to a Veteran Service Officer about those details.

The “basic” pension program offers help to those with extremely low income by paying a maximum benefit of $768 monthly. The Aid & Attendance pension program covers paying for in-home, nursing home, or assisted living facilities. For surviving spouses, the maximum benefit is $1,228 monthly.

In the state of Michigan, if the veteran was Permanent & Totally Disabled 100% or IU at the time of death, and he/she owned a permanent residence, then those property taxes could be exempted for the surviving spouse as well.

As always, please call or visit the Grand Traverse County Dept. of Veterans Affairs for more information with these benefits or for assistance in filing a claim.

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New VA Clinic

It was a day that our community came together to celebrate a long-awaited service, our new VA Clinic, to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service.  Groups of all ages gathered to share the opening of the Colonel Demas T. Craw VA Clinic located at 701 US Highway 31 South in Traverse City. 

One of the most touching parts of the ceremony was that the community could learn about the history of the honorable man for which the clinic was named. About his journey as a leader, a soldier, and most of all, a family man. The sacrifices made and the lives that he touched. A native of our community, he will not be forgotten but rather a beacon of light to those requiring the much-needed services.

While noting it has been many years in the making, the clinic then officially announced that its doors are finally open to serve. With services ranging from health and medical, various forms of therapy, substance abuse counseling, mental health, and more, the Colonel Demas T. Craw VA Clinic is sure to be a staple in our community for many years to come.

To read all about how this beautiful new clinic got its name, click here.

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Veteran’s Benefits

VA HealthCare

When you enlisted, you might have been told that your veteran’s benefits include free healthcare for life.  Unfortunately, that is just not true.  VA HealthCare eligibility is dependent upon your length of service, your VA disability rating, and/or your income. It is not insurance and we veterans are not free to just go to any Doctor’s office or hospital.

Am I eligible for VA HealthCare benefits?

  • You might be able to get VA healthcare benefits as part of your veteran’s benefits if you served in the active military, naval, or air service and did not get a dishonorable discharge. 
  • If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 15, 1982, you must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty.
  • If you were discharged for a disability that caused or made worse by your active duty service, or discharged for a hardship or, served prior to Sept 7, 1980.

When you apply for VA healthcare, you will be assigned 1 of 8 priority groups.  The priority groups affect how much (if anything) you will have to pay toward the cost of your care.  For more detailed information on priority, groups go to www.va.gov/health-care/elgibility/priority-groups.

If you do not have a VA disability rating or discharged within the last five years, then your eligibility is dependent upon your annual income.  For a basic point of reference, a single veteran income threshold is approximately $33,632 for cost-free healthcare.

VA Dental Care

Veterans are not generally eligible for dental care through the VA unless they met specific qualifications.

  • Former prisoner of war
  • A service-connected disability rating of 100%
  • Unemployable paid at 100% disability rate.
  • Service-connected dental condition

If you don’t qualify under the above situations, you may be able to buy dental insurance at a reduced cost through the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP).  For more information go to www.va.gov/healthcarebenefits/vadip.

You can apply for any of these benefits by visiting your local county Department of Veterans Affairs.

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