Using VA’s Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits to Pay for Assisted Living
Brian SheridanOct 13th, 2022
I offer profound and sincere gratitude to the brave men and women who have served or continue to serve.
Some of the most pressing concerns for families looking to place an elderly loved one into Assisted Living are the costs associated with senior living and the funding options available to help cover the fees. With Veterans Day approaching on November 11, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how the Veterans Affairs (VA) Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits can help pay for Assisted Living.
What is the Aid and Attendance benefit?
The VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit is a monetary benefit created to help eligible veterans and their surviving spouses pay for the assistance they need to carry out everyday tasks. This includes what we refer to as the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, eating, grooming, homemaking, meal preparation, and medication management.
Assisted Living communities are purpose-built to provide daily support for older folks, including help with ADLs. Qualified veterans and their surviving spouses over 65 can use the Aid and Attendance Benefit to offset some of the living costs in those communities. You may also qualify for the benefit if you are already collecting a Basic Veterans/Survivor Pension.
Another benefit, called the Housebound Benefit, is available for veterans with a disability rating of 100% who cannot leave their homes. The nature of their disability does not have to be related to their military service.
Who can qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit?
Whether applying for current and future needs or retroactively, the rules surrounding eligibility for the benefit are pretty complex. I’ve condensed the salient points into two categories: General Requirements and Financial Requirements.
In order to be eligible for the benefit, the Veteran or their surviving spouse must meet the below general requirements:
The Veteran or their surviving spouse must be at least 65 or considered officially disabled if younger than 65.
The surviving spouse must have been living with the Veteran at the time of their death, and they must be single when making a claim for benefits.
Period of military service
The Veteran must be considered a wartime veteran, meaning their period of service must be at least 90 days, and that they served at least one day during wartime but not necessarily in combat.
Wartime is defined 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 service.
The Veteran applying for the Aid and Attendance Benefit must require assistance with the ADLs at home, in a nursing home, or in an Assisted Living Community. The reasons for needing help with ADLs do not have to be related to their military service.
The financial requirements that determine benefit eligibility can be very confusing. They boil down to the net worth (assets + income) of the Veteran and their spouse and other considerations.
The VA considers net worth as assets in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and property other than the Veteran’s primary residence and vehicle. It does not include items such as household foods, furnishings, clothing, and other personal effects.
In 2022, the net worth limit increased to $138,489. It’s important to note that one’s primary home does not count towards the limit
Net worth also includes the joint countable income of the Veteran and their spouse. However, the VA allows the deduction of 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. Veterans can also deduct insurance premiums, including Medicare, and prescriptions not covered by insurance.
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.
I strongly recommend seeking assistance from a Senior Living Advisor to help with the application process and ensure you get the highest benefit possible.
Are there any benefit conflicts?
In some cases, there may be eligibility conflicts between the Aid and Attendance benefit and other VA or government assistance programs. Here are some examples:
- In Florida, Medicaid can help pay for an older person’s Assisted Living expenses. However, receiving a VA pension may disqualify them from receiving Medicaid benefits.
- 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.
Although these conflicts may limit the amount of money a Veteran or their spouse may collect, they can qualify to receive both Aid and Attendance and Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services.
Applying for VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefits
As mentioned above, the application process is long and arduous. I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking help from a Senior Living Advisor when applying for this pension. Senior Living Advisors understand the entire process. Their knowledge will help cut down the time spent waiting for benefits to begin, maximize the benefit amount, and add other value to the experience.
Senior Living Advisors are your best partners in helping you find the best-fit Senior Living Community and discover ways to fund care.
No-cost help finding quality Senior Living Communities in Northeast Florida
Deciding which Senior Living Community is best for your elderly loved one can be overwhelming, especially if you’re doing it alone or for the first time.
That’s why families looking for Senior Living Communities in Northeast Florida call Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators. Brian and his team will take the time to get to know your elderly loved one’s needs, wants, and requirements and present a list of best-fit options that suit their lifestyle. With Brian on your side, you’ll have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.
Contact Brian at 904-559-3203 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find the Best Senior Living Community in Northeast Florida for you or a family member today!