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VETS VIEWS: VSO explains State Soldiers Assistance Program

Greg Remus

Are you a veteran or a dependent of a veteran and need eye glasses or dental work, yet can't afford it? Are you temporarily disabled and having a hard time meeting your financial obligations? There may be help.

Under the State Soldiers Assistance Program (SSAP), the Minnesota Department of Veteran's Affairs (MDVA) provides subsistence, dental and optical assistance to veterans and their dependents (spouse/children) based upon income and need.

What Is Covered?

Subsistence: Temporary financial assistance when veterans are disabled and cannot work at their normal occupations. Can assist with rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries, etc. Veterans may not receive subsistence from the Department of Veterans Affairs and other state/local assistance (such as GA) at the same time. It is mainly meant to help cover costs while applying for other long-term disability, Social Security, and so on.

Dental: A maximum of $1,000 per calendar year may be approved for dental assistance for veterans and their dependents for first time applicants. All repeat applicants for routine dental care will then alternate in the amount receiving $500 in assistance the following year and then $1,000 the next and so on and so forth. To qualify, veterans and their dependents must meet strict income and asset guidelines. You may also apply for payment for extractions and dentures: This benefit is a once in a lifetime benefit for each applicant (if there is a married couple, EACH person is eligible for full benefit). The State will pay up to $1,000 for extractions and up to $1500 for the purchase of dentures/plates.

Optical: A maximum of $400 for an eye exam and prescription eyewear may be approved once every calendar year for veterans and their dependents. To qualify, veterans and their dependents must again meet strict income and asset guidelines.

How Often Can I Do This?

Subsistence: Maximum length of assistance is six months

Dental: Yearly

Optical: Yearly

How Does It Work?

Subsistence: A current medical report is required. Applicant must be unable to work for at least 30 days.

Dental and Optical: Once your application is approved, you will receive an authorization letter. Make an appointment with a local dentist or eye doctor. Be sure to check and make sure that they will accept payment from the MDVA. Take the authorization letter with you to your appointment so the doctor will know how to do their billing. The money is paid directly to the vendor. If the applicant has insurance coverage, the insurance is billed before the state benefit is used.

Who is Eligible?

Veterans and their dependents (spouse/ children) provided the income/assets do not exceed the maximum allowed. Veterans must have had 180 consecutive days of active duty to qualify as a veteran for this program, and must be a Minnesota resident.

Single veteran or widow: Income less than $1,645 per month (from all sources) and bank assets less than $3,000.

Married couple: Total combined income less than $1,950 per month (all income for both the veteran and the spouse) and bank assets less than $5000. If both the veteran and spouse apply, they would each have the applicable (Dental or Optical) allotment to use.

How to apply for assistance

You can apply for dental and optical assistance by completing an MDVA-1 Application Form (available at the Hubbard County Veterans Service Office). Applications for the SSAP must be made through the County Veterans Service Office.