Thank you to brian@eldersplace.org for writing in and sharing this important article.

The Veteran’s Guide to Financial Planning in Retirement

Veterans make up over 7 percent of the total population of adults in the United States, and half of these individuals are 65 years and older! Veterans face several unique obstacles — such as mental health issues, injuries, and disability — that may affect their ability to save for retirement. Fortunately, seniors who have served in the military have many financial and healthcare benefits that the rest of us don’t. With that in mind, these tips will help you navigate the complex maze of financial planning as a senior veteran.

Protect Your Family with Insurance

Consider purchasing burial insurance. Burial insurance will help your loved ones pay for your funeral, headstone, urn, and other expenses that have to do with your final arrangements. This kind of insurance can also be used to cover your existing debts, such as medical bills or personal loans. Before purchasing a policy, think about what you want for your final arrangements and whether you need your policy to cover your debts as well.

If someone depends on you financially, life insurance will protect them from financial hardship when you pass away. Your spouse, for example, may rely on the benefits of your pension or Social Security. You can even get a life insurance policy with a long-term care rider. With this kind of policy, you can use your life insurance money to pay for long-term care if you ever end up needing it. If you don’t, the money will go to your beneficiary when you die.

Take Advantage of VA Healthcare

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also provides long-term care assistance to veterans. On top of this, the VA system offers a variety of medical benefits to eligible seniors. Contrary to common belief, you don’t have to have an injury or disability to receive VA benefits! VA healthcare includes access to preventive medical care, physical exams, prescription drugs, dental care, mental health services, and medical devices like glasses and hearing aids. Just remember, you have to apply for VA healthcare to gain access to these services.

Assisted Living and Home Care Benefits

The VA system also provides assisted living benefits and caregiver assistance. Caregiver support includes homemaker services and home health aides. While the VA will not cover your rent if you stay in an assisted living facility, they will pay for many care services. If you prefer to age in place, these caregiver benefits can take a lot of pressure off your family.

Enroll in Medicare

According to AARP, it’s strongly recommended that veterans enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, regardless of whether they have VA coverage. This will broaden your coverage so you can receive care from non-VA facilities. Plus, if you lose your VA coverage in the future, you won’t be hit with late-enrollment penalties for enrolling in Medicare later down the line. Fortunately, the VA system covers prescription drugs so you won’t have to deal with Medicare Part D.

Apply for Pension Benefits

Finally, make sure you take advantage of any pension benefits that are available to you and your spouse. Many people think you require a disability to receive a veteran’s pension, but this is not true. Any low-income veterans over the age of 65 who served during a wartime period may qualify for the Veteran’s Pension Benefit. According to the Motley Fool, this pension is reserved for families with financial difficulties. While it’s only a modest amount of money, it can have a significant impact on seniors who are struggling with their financial stability. If you need long-term care, you may be able to receive additional money for assisted living care with the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pensions Benefit.

Whether you feel prepared for retirement or not, take some time to ensure you’re making the most of your available benefits and programs. Financial planning can be time-consuming and complex. However, getting your finances in shape now will prepare you for the future and set you up for a worry-free retirement.