Senior man that needs assisted livingUpdated: Sept 18, 2019


The cost of assisted living for Veterans seeking long term care can be very expensive without insurance. As a solution, the Veterans Administration (VA) offers a special pension which can help pay for the cost of assisted living called Aid and Attendance.


Aid and Attendance is not only for assisted living for Veterans, but it also includes nursing home facilities as well. This VA benefit is often overlooked by families of the Veteran including surviving spouses who need financial assistance to help pay for their care.



What is Assisted Living for Veterans?


This is a type of senior housing facility where Veterans can live in a rented room or community while receiving assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as eating, bathing, toileting, dressing and minor household chores. Assisted living facilities have shared living spaces like a living room, dining room, and backyard. However, some communities do provide Veterans an option for having a private room and/or bathroom.


Assisted living for Veterans also provides caregiver support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Experienced caregivers are available to assist the Veterans with their non-medical needs. In addition, Nurses and healthcare professionals will generally be on call for any medical needs as well.



Eligible Assisted Living Services for Veterans


Assisted Living facilities offer several activities and programs for the well being of the Veterans to help them stay physically and mentally active. The range of social and recreational activities will depend on the size of the facility. Typically, large communities with 25 or more senior residents offer a wider range of activities, which may already be included with the monthly rent fees.


Common Assisted Living Services for Veterans:

  • Three complete meals a day including snack and drinks
  • Assistance with Activities of Daily Living for Veterans like eating, toileting, bathing, dressing up and walking, if needed
  • Housekeeping and Laundry Services
  • 24-hour Emergency Call Systems for each room
  • Transportation to Medical Appointments
  • Exercise and Wellness programs to help keep Veterans physically and mentally active
  • Medication management



When Is the Veteran Ready for Assisted Living?


Assessing the current senior care needs of the will help you determine whether or not assisted living is the right care option.


The decision to move into an Assisted Living Facility is very important. It is advisable to discuss and involve the Veteran in the decision-making. The Veteran’s primary care provider can also help answer medical-related questions to help determine if this type of care is needed. 


Another option is to contact a VA social worker to discuss long term care options for the Veteran. Here are some questions that will help determine if the Veteran should consider assisted living:


  • Does the Veteran need help with Activities of Daily Living like eating, bathing, toileting, dressing and minor house chores?
  • Can the Veteran want to stay independent?
  • Are social and recreational activities important to the Veteran?
  • Is mobility an issue for the Veteran?
  • Does the Veteran have any memory problems?
  • How much can the Veteran and Veteran’s family afford to pay for assisted living?


You can also read “10 Signs that It’s Time for Assisted Living” to help you decide if the Veteran is ready to move to a facility.



Assisted Living for Veterans Payment Options


After assessing the Veteran’s care needs and you feel that Assisted Living is the right care option, you can contact a VA social worker to discuss how the Veterans Administration can help pay for Assisted Living services.


Keep in mind though that the Veterans Administration does not pay for the Veteran’s monthly assisted living rent. The Veteran or the Veteran’s family will have to pay for the rent through personal funds or long term care insurance. However, the Veterans Administration (VA) may provide a special pension plan that will help pay for assisted living if the veteran qualifies. In order to be eligible for this VA Aid and Attendance pension plan, the veteran will need help with at least 2 Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).


For Veterans and their spouses who are retired and who would like to explore assisted living as an option, The Veterans Administration may be able to provide assistance through the VA Aid and Assistance Program. The VA Aid and Attendance benefit is available to qualifying Veterans or surviving spouses of Veterans that helps pay for long-term health care expenses.



Qualifying for VA Aid and Attendance Special Pension


To qualify for the VA Aid and Assistance program, a Veteran must:


  • Have served in the Armed Forces on active duty for at least 90 days
  • Have served at least one day of active duty during time of war
  • Have received an honorable discharge
  • Require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, eating, dressing and walking (or the qualifying Veteran’s spouse must require such assistance)



Application Process for VA Aid and Attendance Benefit


Those who want to apply for this program must file a “Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation”, which is available online or at any local VA office. Applicants will be asked to provide the following information or documents to the VA:


  • A medical evaluation from a physician testifying to their (or their spouse’s) need for special assistance
  • A description of current medical conditions
  • Net income
  • Records establishing the Veteran’s net worth
  • Information about recent out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • A copy of the Veteran’s discharge papers


Each year, an annual pension limit is set by Congress. The amount of pension that Veterans are eligible for is determined by subtracting their current income minus any deductions, such as recent unreimbursed medical expenses, from that pension limit. That number is then divided by 12 to determine the monthly amount of VA aid that the applicant will receive. 


Needless to say, if the applicant has more income than the pension limit set by Congress, he or she will not be awarded any pension payments at all.


Generally speaking, any Veteran or surviving spouse of a Veteran applying for the VA Aid and Attendance program can expect to receive an answer in about five months. However, if the pension is granted, a lump sum will be awarded to the Veteran and/or their Spouse. The pension is retroactive up to the first day of the following month and back up until when the Application for Pension or Compensation was received by the VA.


Per the Veterans Affairs Department, as of December 1, 2018, the maximum amount of pension amount that can be awarded per month is:


  • $2,230 to a veteran and spouse
  • $1,881 to a veteran without dependents
  • $1,486 to a surviving spouse


While this would not likely cover monthly room and board costs in an assisted living facility, it could cover a good portion of assisted living expenses. In addition, it is important to note that this VA aid program does not affect Medicaid eligibility. Even though Medicaid does not cover everything, it can be used to pay for some medical and personal care costs accrued by those in assisted living situations.


Another benefit of the VA Aid and Attendance Program is that Veterans who qualify and their spouses will be able to receive complete free medical care plus coverage for prescription drugs.


To apply for the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit, contact the Veterans Administration’s Regional Office.



VA Aid and Attendance Empowering Veterans


Given the choice, most seniors would prefer to move to an assisted living facility over moving to a nursing home. Assisted living for Veterans allows them to maintain a greater degree of independence, while receiving assistance with activities of daily living and some medical assistance.


Unfortunately, it has been very difficult for most seniors to find financial assistance necessary to make this kind of housing a viable option. However, thanks to the VA Aid and Assistance pension program, assisted living for Veterans is now a realistic possibility for men and women who have bravely served our country.


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