Caring for an aging loved one who struggles with daily activities of living, like bathing, dressing, or preparing meals, can be difficult. There are many programs designed to help the elderly and disabled live healthy, happy, dignified lives. Unfortunately, the cost of assisted living care can be prohibitive for some families. Veteran Assistance could help.
Luckily, there are many programs designed to help. If your loved one was a veteran, you may qualify to receive help with assisted living and other personal care services from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).
Many seniors and senior spouses qualify for aid, but according to the Department of Veteran Affairs, only a quarter of these seniors apply for benefits. The VA offers the “Aid and Attendance” program, which is designed to give veterans and surviving spouses extra financial aid on top of their existing pensions.
Find out whether you are eligible to receive the veteran aid and attendance benefit for assisted living, and how to apply in the article below.
Does Veteran Assistance Pay for Assisted Living?
If your loved one is a veteran–or their spouse was a veteran–they may qualify for aid to live in a private assisted living facility through the VA assisted living program.
If you are a veteran and are enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), you can apply to live in an Armed Forces Retirement Home, a VA community living center, or a state veteran home. All of these facilities offer the same care services that you’d find in an assisted living facility.
The VHA also has a program called the Veteran-Directed Care program. This program is designed to help veterans remain independent in their own homes.
VA Aid and Benefits
If you or your loved one are eligible for a VA pension and require aid or attendance, you may qualify for additional financial aid on top of your pension to pay for these services. These are the Aid and Attendance benefits and can be used to pay for:
- Assisted living costs
- Personal care services
However, you should remember that the extra benefit you receive is not directly paid to the care service. You will have to contract and pay for those services yourself, with the benefit allotted through veteran assistance.
How Much Can I Receive for Aid and Attendance Assisted Living?
The amount you receive depends on many factors, including your marital status, how many dependents you have, and the cost of your care.
The VA uses a formula called “income for VA purposes” or IAVP. The IAVP looks like this:
(Income of applicant + Income of spouse) – Unreimbursed cost of health care The health care expenses must exceed 5% of your income to qualify.
At the time of writing, the maximum monthly VA Pension amounts, including Aid and Attendance, are:
- $1,937 for a single veteran
- $2,296 for a veteran plus spouse or one dependent
- $3,072 for two married veterans who both qualify
- $1,245 for surviving spouse with no dependents
Who Qualifies for Veteran Assistance?
To qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits, your loved one must first qualify for the basic VA pension. This program is an add-on of funds to the monthly pension, not a separate program.
If your loved one does not qualify for the basic pension, they do not qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit.
To qualify for the basic VA pension, your loved one must meet the following requirements:
- Discharged honorably
- Aged 65+ or disabled permanently
- A minimum of 90 days of active duty (with at least one of them being during active wartime)
- Net worth that does not exceed $130,773
To qualify for Aid and Assistance on top of the basic pension, your loved one must meet one of the following requirements:
- Needs assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Live in a nursing home due to physical or mental incapacity
- They are bedridden
- Have certain eyesight limitations
If you are a veteran’s spouse and apply for Aid and Attendance, you must be widowed and not remarried.
How Can I Help a Veteran Get Assisted Living Care Through Veteran Assistance?
To receive veteran assisted living aid, your loved one will need to apply for VA benefits. They must also qualify for and receive the basic VA pension to receive Aid and Attendance benefits.
To apply for the Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits, you will need to help your loved one complete the appropriate forms and mail them to your pension management center (PMC). You can also apply in person at your local VA office.
Please note that no matter how you apply, this is not a fast process. It can take weeks to gather the appropriate documentation. The average approval process timeline is about nine months.
However, the process can go much faster if you completely and accurately fill out the application. So make sure you carefully and thoroughly examine the application with your loved one before submitting it.
If you are age 90 or older, you can request an expedited review. You just have to submit a request in a cover letter with your application.
While the wait can be frustrating, if your application is approved, the benefits are paid retroactively in a lump sum to cover the months of care you received while waiting. To receive your retroactive payments, you must help your loved one submit an Intent to File form with the VA.
The “We Honor Veterans” Program
Area Agency on Aging of Western Arkansas participates in the “We Honor Veterans Program”. This program is a collaborative effort between hospices and community organizations to meet the unique needs of America’s Veterans and their families by offering guidance and resources focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgment so that Veterans can be guided toward a more peaceful end of life.
Area Agency on Aging of Western Arkansas partners with the VA, Veterans and their families, community providers, and volunteers to accompany and guide the Veteran toward a more peaceful end-of-life journey. The various resources or areas of support we offer are specific to the Veteran's wants and needs.
Need Help with Veteran Assistance?
For help with the application process or to get answers to your questions about veteran assistance, contact the Area Agency on Aging of Western Arkansas. We’re happy to help you with the application process and coordination of your care. All of our informational and coordination services are completely free for eligible seniors.