Advocate helping veterans get financial and medical benefits

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Many veterans need assistance navigating through the Veterans Affairs process to get the medical care they have earned because of their military service.

A Glendale man is teaching veterans about money that is available to them that can help with their healthcare costs and keep them out of the VA Medical Center.

Kevin Hamilton is helping veterans apply for a secondary VA pension called the "Veterans Aid and Attendance Program."

The program has been fully funded by the government since 1951. Certain veterans and their spouses can earn up to $2,000 additional each month through the program.

"I'm constantly handing out flyers asking, 'Have you ever heard of this pension?'" said Hamilton.

A dizzying array of paperwork can sometimes be an insurmountable roadblock to veterans looking for help.

"They usually just give up. Because of the amount of times you go there, this form isn't right and you go back again," said Hamilton.

The pension covers qualified healthcare expenses that include assisted living, nursing care and in-home care.

"We know that 70 percent of us are going to require that healthcare," said Hamilton.

The pension is an obvious benefit to the recipient, but also to the local VA medical centers that now will have more space to serve others who are not being treated outside the facility.

"To be able to have someone come to the house it frees up a bed, frees up the waiting room, makes more room for services. It's a huge benefit," said Hamilton.

Hamilton says only 36 percent of eligible veterans know about the program. For those who do, he says, applying for the benefit without the benefit of free assistance can make it a difficult process.

"The VA employees act like it's gonna come out of their own pocket if they give this pension to somebody," Hamilton said. "It's just a shame so few people know about it."

If the paperwork is done wrong, Hamilton says veterans have to wait up to a year to reapply. It is a tax-free benefit that is also available to military spouses.

Hamilton says once the process starts, it usually takes about five months to get approved for the program. It doesn't cost anything to apply whether you do it through the VA or with Hamilton's organization.

According to Hamilton, to qualify for the pension a veteran must be disabled, or age 65, served 90 days in active service with at least one day during a declared time of war (World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War) and have been honorable discharged.

Read more about the pension from the Veteran's Affairs web site.

Read more from Kevin Hamilton's organization, Hamilton Partners.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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