Both wartime veterans and the spouses that survive them often struggle with many different costs associated with long-term care. Unfortunately, many of them are unaware of a seriously underused benefit from the Veterans Administration.
“Aid and Attendance” is the name of this benefit. It’s an extra pension paid out on top of any basic pension already in place.
Married veterans can get up to $2,230 per month, while single veterans can get as much as $1,881 each month. Surviving spouses are entitled to as much as $1,209 each month.
At the time of writing, approximately 230,000 veterans and/or survivors were receiving Aid and Attendance. However, there are millions out there who are also eligible, and they either aren’t aware of it or just don’t know if they’re able to qualify for it.
Medicare Doesn’t Pay For Long-Term Care
Many Medicare recipients get confused about how it handles long-term care, thinking that it will cover things like nursing homes or in-home care. The truth is that the program will pay out for limited stays, but it only does so for a maximum of 100 days each time. It also has to be in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility used for rehabilitation purposes. So, there is some truth that Medicare covers the costs for a qualified nursing home, but it’s only for a short while so that beneficiaries can improve their health following a hospital-related health condition that left them disabled or impaired. Medicare will also pay out benefits for particular home health services like occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech/language therapy.
On the other hand, Medicare will not pay for other particular home care services. Those include homemaker services, meals that get delivered to the home, 24-hour care in a home, and personal care in the home.
Many look ahead to Medicaid covering their long-term care costs. However, in order to qualify for them, someone has to be impoverished. The financial qualifications for the Medicaid program differ from one state to the next. Having said that, an individual’s assets can’t exceed a sum of
$2,000, but their home isn’t included in this if they own one.
This is when Aid and Attendance benefits can be a useful resource.
When a lot of people are planning for something like long-term care, they don’t even think about their VA benefits. Aid and Attendance are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a benefit and pension program to any wartime veterans and the spouses that survive them who qualify so they can get help with their daily living needs. This benefit can be applied to certain kinds of long-term care, and home care is one of them.
When the VA Pension has the Aid and Attendance Benefit attached to it, there can be home care coverage for the following situations and circumstances:
- Personal Care
- Respite Care
- Meal Preparation
- Help With Bathing Help With Dressing
- Medication Reminders Help With Laundry
- Transferring In And Out Of Bed
The Aid and Attendance pension benefit is something that veterans can use to get medical alert devices, home care services, and incontinence supplies, as well as a lot more. Once the VA entitles someone with this particular pension, it’s a lifelong benefit they get to continue enjoying so long as they stay in compliance.
Requirements For Eligibility
In order to qualify, someone must have a minimum of 90 consecutive days of active service in the military. At least one of those service days had to occur during a time of war. They must also have not gone through a dishonorable discharge. The benefits are also available to single surviving spouses of those wartime vets, but only if the marriage ended between them because of the vet dying.
On top of all this, a person must also meet particular thresholds in terms of both financial and medical needs in order to become eligible.
For a medical qualification, someone has to be either past the age of 65 or disabled, while needing help with routine daily activities like bathing, dressing, eating, and using the restroom.
Other potential qualifications include being blind or living in an assisted living facility or nursing home because of mental disability. There are no age restrictions on single surviving spouses, although they must need assistance with fundamental daily living tasks in order to be eligible.
For financial qualifications, the assets of a person must be limited to no more than $127,061, which doesn’t include personal belongings, vehicles, and home ownership. Their yearly income can’t go over the maximum allowance for a pension rate. In 2019, this was $26,766 for a veteran with a spouse, $22,577 for any single veterans, and $14,509 for surviving spouses. Long-term care and medical expenses are deducted from the annual income before determining the pension rate allowance.
In order to determine income qualifications, you need to add up spousal income for the last year, which would include pensions, Social Security, annuities, and interest from other investments.
Then, you subtract any long-term care costs, insurance premiums, prescription drugs, and medical expenses that come out of your pocket over the same time period. If that total tally falls under the maximum allowable pension rate (also known as MAPR), as well as any other applicable requirements, then you should fall within the eligibility pool for the Aid and Attendance Benefit.
How Can You Apply?
If you’d like to learn more or even go ahead and apply for the Aid and Attendance Benefit, then consult your region’s VA benefits office so you can apply physically in person. Visit Benefits.va.gov/benefits/offices.asp or call 800-827-1000 to find the location nearest you.
It’s also possible to apply if you write to your state’s Pension Management Center, which you can find through Benefits.va.gov/pension/resources-contact.asp. You’re going to need documentation for this. Start with visiting VA.gov/vaforms to download and print VA Form 21- 2680 and have your physician fill it out.
Any veteran that needs help can have someone appointed to represent them. This can be either a veteran service officer, an attorney that has VA-accreditation, or even a claims agent. Locate these individuals through www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/vso-search.
You need to be patient if you’re eligible, as it can take anywhere from half a year to a full year for this application to get processed. If approved, you’ll get a retroactive lump-sum payment from the VA going back to the application date to the approval date. Following that, you’ll get monthly payments.
If you need help in applying for this or just more information, contact us so we can help you get the Aid and Attendance benefit from the VA and then the home care you require and deserve.
Applying for the Aid and Attendance pension program can seem like a complicated matter. Our Veteran Care Program can help you apply for the VA’s Aid.