Marteny: Accessing benefits for veterans
If you served overseas during the Second World War or during the Korean War then you should call Veterans Affairs (1-866-522-2122).
This applies to both male and female veterans.
It’s estimated that only 40 per cent of the veterans who qualify for benefits are receiving them.
Even if you did not qualify before, you might qualify now. If during the Second World War you were in the military but you did not go overseas, you too may be eligible for benefits.
When you call the toll free number listed above, your call is documented and assigned to a Veterans Affairs staff person.
If you do qualify for benefits, they may be retroactive to the date of your call.
If you do not qualify, then the date of your call is still recorded and may be used if eligibility requirements change in the future.
The Veterans Affairs staff will review your past service records to help establish program eligibility.
The staff at Veterans Affairs Canada, whether on the phone at its call centres or in the local offices, will be happy to assist you through the application process, and provide information on all of its possible programs.
This will certainly decrease your stress levels and confusion.
The programs are entitlement based with some also being income based, such as the War Veterans Allowance.
Just having served during war years does not automatically qualify you for the programs and services.
Some other programs are the War Veterans Allowance, Veterans Independence Program and the Veterans Disability Pension.
Through the Veterans Independence Program your housekeeping and grounds may be maintained to allow you to stay in your home longer.
When a veteran dies, the Veterans Disability Pension will transfer to the spouse along with the Veterans Independence program for the remainder of her or his life.
Through this program there are other benefits such as assistance to cover transportation to medical appointments, as well as some dental work, eye glasses, massage and physiotherapy and more.
None of the benefits are taxable.
Physical injuries sustained while in the service could include hearing loss, breathing disorders and even cancer. The injuries must have been reported while you were in active service.
However, it is possible that your medical condition may not have appeared for years after serving in the war.
Such conditions may include anxiety attacks and nightmares, lung disorders for Navy members, some cancers for Korean War members.
In a number of cases, these conditions may entitle you to benefits.
If a senior is not able to call Veterans Affairs, then the caregiver should call, with the veteran present.
A caregiver is anyone who is providing necessary care the seniors require to remain in their homes.
This could be a spouse, a relative or a friend. It is the goal of Veterans Affairs to always stay focused on the needs of the veterans.
There are more ways now for a Canadian veteran to receive support and assistance through Veterans Affairs than was the case a decade ago.
If you are not sure if you qualify, call Veterans Affairs Canada, and they will happily assist you through the process.
Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for
seniors in Kelowna.