New legislation ensures veterans and their spouses admitted to nursing homes in New York State receive access to federal pension entitlements

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Governor George E. Pataki today signed into law legislation that will better ensure veterans and their spouses who are admitted to nursing homes in New York State receive all of the benefits they are entitled to, including access to federal pension entitlements.

The law requires nursing homes statewide to identify veterans and spouses of veterans upon admission and transmit appropriate information on their eligibility status for federal benefits to the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs.

"It is our responsibility to ensure that the men and women who protected this nation receive the benefits they earned through their service and sacrifice," Governor Pataki said. "The upcoming Fourth of July Holiday and the ongoing fight for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan should remind all of us that we each must do our part to help those who gave and are giving their all to protect America and our way of life."

Specifically, the law requires New York's 680 nursing homes to identify each newly admitted veteran or veterans' spouse, and then pass along that information in writing to the State's Veteran's Affairs office so that a counselor will be able to determine if this new resident is receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled under the law. The counselors will coordinate the application process for eligible nursing home residents who may qualify for the federal benefits and will provide assistance on all issues related to the resident's federal benefits throughout their stay in the nursing home.

Senator Thomas Morahan said, "I would like to thank Governor Pataki for supporting this important new law that will benefit our veterans and the spouses of veterans. It is important that we ensure that these brave men and women, who have demonstrated a great deal of courage and selflessness in their pursuit to serve and protect our great nation, receive the benefits they deserve."

Assemblyman Ronald Tocci said, "This is truly a positive step in guaranteeing all our veterans have the benefits that they have rightfully earned and so richly deserve."

George P. Basher, Director of the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs said, "The Division of Veterans' Affairs looks forward to partnering with New York's nursing homes in linking veterans and spouses to benefits to which they are entitled. Residency in a nursing home should not be an impediment to veterans and spouses receiving benefits that may improve their quality of life."

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H., said, "Thanks to the Governor's leadership and support, this new law brings added protections for veterans and spouses of veterans. We recognize that admission to a nursing home can be a dramatic change for anyone and we are doing everything we can to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible for veterans and their spouses. We are forever grateful for their bravery and courage, and we are committed to making sure that New York's veterans receive the benefits they clearly deserve."

http://www.state.ny.us

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