(NAPSI)—A long-term care event may occur at any age, and the potential financial and emotional strain that accompanies it can affect you and your loved ones.

Millions of Americans require long term care during their lifetimes, which includes the need for cognitive or physical assistance with simple tasks like bathing, eating and dressing—the everyday activities most people do without a second thought. Unfortunately, traditional health insurance—including TRICARE or TRICARE for Life—does not pay for the chronic, ongoing assistance with daily living most often associated with long term care.

Members of the armed services may apply for benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), though several factors determine eligibility. For this reason—and to ensure you’re prepared for any situation—it is important to understand how traditional VA health care benefits work—and what a long-term care event might mean for your retirement planning.

Health Insurance And VA Eligibility

While the VA health program provides coverage for long term care, program entry is determined by the VA based on the number of veterans covered by congressional funding allocated each year. Due to this limited enrollment, the VA has established eight separate priority groups to categorize enrollees and determine the level of benefits to which they are entitled—and possibly whether they are eligible at all.

Many additional factors come into play, including service-connected disability status (70 percent or greater), current income levels, and even one’s ability to contribute to the cost of care. Members of the uniformed services seeking long term care benefits may find they are unable to meet the agency’s criteria.

Beyond eligibility, the level of coverage available to you for long term care, which can be very expensive, may not be enough.

The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP)

For all those reasons, you may wish to consider applying for stand-alone long term care insurance as offered through the FLTCIP.

With benefits tailored to the federal family, the FLTCIP is a good way to help protect your savings and assets, should you or your loved ones need long term care services someday.

Since 2002, the FLTCIP has offered active and retired members of the uniformed services the opportunity to help control their future long-term care needs. Designed with solutions for a range of financial situations, this employer-sponsored program has grown to be the most successful and utilized program of its kind, providing comprehensive coverage for more than 270,000 enrollees.

Active and retired members of the uniformed services are eligible to apply for coverage under the FLTCIP, as are certain family members or qualified relatives. (Family members may apply, even if you are not eligible. Qualified relatives include your spouse, domestic partner, parents and parents-in-law, and adult children.)

For more about the FLTCIP’s comprehensive benefits and features, or to find average long term care costs in your area, visit www.LTCFEDS.com.

For personalized assistance, call 800-LTC-FEDS (800-582-3337) or TTY 800-843-3557 to speak with a program consultant, who can answer questions and walk you through the plan design and application process.

Note: Certain medical conditions, or combinations of conditions, will prevent some people from being approved for coverage. You need to apply to find out if you qualify for FLTCIP coverage.

The FLTCIP is sponsored by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, insured by John Hancock Life & Health Insurance Company, and administered by Long Term Care Partners, LLC.

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On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)