The Veterans Administration (VA) offers a special pension called Aid and Attendance that helps pay for care in an assisted living or nursing home facility. This VA benefit is largely unknown and often overlooked by families of veterans or surviving spouses of veterans who need financial assistance to help care for aging loved ones.
Updated: January 5, 2020
In this VA Aid and Attendance Pension For Assisted Living Article:
VA Aid and Attendance For Assisted Living
Qualifying for VA Aid and Attendance Benefit
Application Process for VA Aid and Attendance
VA Aid and Attendance Empowering Seniors
One of the limitations of Medicare and Medicaid is that, while they provide assistance for nursing home costs, they do not provide coverage for most assisted living expenses. The cost of assisted living facility can be very expensive, which makes it unaffordable for many seniors.
For veterans and their spouses who are entering their later years and would like to explore assisted living 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.
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 such as bathing, eating, dressing and walking (or the qualifying veteran’s spouse must require such assistance)
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, retroactive to the first day of the next month following the month when the Application for Pension or Compensation was received by the VA.
Per The Veterans Affairs Department, as of December 1, 2019, the maximum amount of pension rate that can be awarded per month is:
- $2,266 to a veteran and spouse
- $1,911 to a veteran without dependents
- $1,228 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, this VA aid program does not affect Medicaid eligibility, and 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. Click here to get the phone number.
Given the choice, most seniors would prefer to move to an assisted living facility rather than move to a nursing home. Assisted living allows seniors 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. But thanks to the VA Aid and Assistance pension program, assisted living is now a realistic possibility for men and women who have served our country.
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