Funding Care for Older Veterans: VA’s Aid & Attendance Pension
My sincere thank you to the brave men and women who have served or continue to serve our country.
I firmly believe that our Veterans deserve the best, especially once they reach their vintage years. With Veterans Day just around the corner (November 11), I thought I would talk about how the Veterans Affairs (VA) Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits can help Veterans and their surviving spouses pay for Assisted Living.
What is the Aid and Attendance pension benefit?
As a Senior Living Advisor (Mike McClernon, 516-254-9481), I understand that the cost of Assisted Living is a prime concern of older people and their families. The VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit is a cash benefit designed to help eligible Veterans and their surviving spouses pay for the help they need to carry out the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) at home or in an Assisted Living community. ADLs include everything we do on a day-to-day basis, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, homemaking, meal preparation, eating, and taking medication.
Who qualifies for the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit?
The rules surrounding eligibility can be quite complex and confusing, so I strongly recommend seeking help from Patriot Angels to help you through the application process. Their experience will help reduce the time spent waiting for benefits to begin and maximize the benefit amount.
In the meantime, I’ve summarized the eligibility criteria below, divided into two categories: General Requirements and Financial Requirements.
To qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit, the Veteran or their surviving spouse must meet the below requirements:
The Veteran or their surviving spouse must be at least 65 or considered officially disabled if younger than 65 (the disability does not have to be related to their military service)
The surviving spouse must have been living with the Veteran at the time of their death, and they must have a marital status of “single” when claiming benefit payments.
Period of military service
The Veteran’s period of service must have been at least 90 days. They must also be considered a wartime Veteran, meaning they served at least one day during wartime, although not necessarily in active combat.
The VA defines wartime as falling within the following dates:
- World War II: December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
- Korean War: Jun 27, 1950 – Jan 31, 1955
- Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 (or February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in Vietnam)
- Gulf War: August 2, 1990 – Undetermined
The Veteran cannot have been dishonorably discharged from military service.
The Veteran applying for benefits must require support with ADLs, whether at home, in a nursing home, or in an Assisted Living Community. The reasons they need assistance with ADLs do not have to be related to their military service.
Navigating the financial requirements of the Aid and Attendance Benefit can be very confusing. In a nutshell, eligibility boils down to the net worth (assets + income) of the Veteran and their spouse, along with other financial considerations.
VA guidelines list assets in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and property other than the Veteran’s primary residence and vehicle as part of their net worth. It also includes the joint countable income of the Veteran and their spouse. Items such as household foods, furnishings, clothing, and other personal effects are not calculated into the Veteran’s net worth.
In 2022, the net worth limit was increased to $138,489. Remember, the value of one’s primary residence is not accounted for in this figure.
The VA allows certain deductions when calculating net worth, such as insurance premiums and prescriptions not covered by insurance. They may also deduct a limited amount of medical-related expenses, including the cost of care at home or in adult day centers, Skilled Nursing, or Assisted Living communities.
What is the maximum allowable payout from the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit?
The maximum benefit amounts a Veteran or surviving spouse may be entitled to for Basic Veterans/Survivor Pension plus Aid & Attendance Pension in 2022 are:
- A Veteran who does not have a spouse or dependent child: $24,609 per year ($2,050 per month)
- A married Veteran: $29,174 per year ($2,431 per month)
- A surviving spouse without any dependent children: 15,815 per year ($1,317 per month)
These amounts are expected to increase in 2023.
Can I still qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit while collecting other benefits?
In some cases, conflicts with other VA or government assistance programs may affect your Aid and Attendance Benefit eligibility. Here are a few examples:
- Veterans cannot receive both Aid and Attendance Benefits and VA Disability compensation. However, they can choose to accept the higher benefit of the two assistance programs.
- A surviving spouse can be eligible for additional assistance to pay for help with ADLs under the Aid and Attendance Pension if they are already receiving Dependents Indemnity Compensation. However, they are ineligible to receive both Dependency and Indemnity Compensation and a death pension for the same Veteran.
- The New York Medicaid Assisted Living Program helps seniors in New York State pay for certain services in Assisted Living at participating Assisted Living Communities. However, receiving a VA pension may disqualify them from receiving Medicaid benefits.
Although these conflicts may limit the amount of money a Veteran or their spouse may collect, they may qualify to receive both Aid and Attendance and Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services.
How to apply for the VA’s Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit
You can apply for the benefits right on the VA’s website. However, I again strongly recommend enlisting the help of Patriot Angels when applying for benefits. Their assistance will make the entire process easy and stress-free, and help you collect the maximum benefits in a shorter period of time.
You can also ask your local Senior Living Advisor for guidance. We’ll be able to answer all your questions and help connect you with other ways you can fund senior care.
No-cost help finding Assisted Living on Long Island
When an older person cannot live independently anymore due to aging, illness, or injury, placement into an Assisted Living community is often their family’s most prudent choice to get them the care they need. When you’re ready to explore your options on Long Island, contact Mike McClernon of Assisted Living Locators.
Mike has collaborated with hundreds of families just like yours to help find the most appropriate Assisted Living community for their older relatives. He will ensure you have all the information you need to decide where your loved ones will thrive and be well-cared for during their vintage years.
Contact Mike today at 516-254-9481 or firstname.lastname@example.org to explore Senior Living Community options for the older person in your life. His phone is always on!