One of the biggest problems I see families worry about with assisted living is the obvious question:
“How am I going to pay for this?”
There’s a great answer to that question – for wartime veterans. It’s called the Aid and Attendance Benefit and it’s offered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in the Federal Government. Both wartime veterans and spouses are eligible. If you meet all the criteria, both you and your spouse can receive a monthly subsidy to cover long-term care. It’s quite a process to fill out these forms. However, each VA Aid and Attendance form is one step closer to the VA helping to pay for assisted living. As of May 2020, the maximum amounts you may receive are:
- Veteran who does not have a spouse or dependent child is $22,938 / year ($1,912 / month).
- Married veteran is $27,194 / year ($2,266 / month).
- Surviving spouse is $14,761 / year ($1,230 / month)
Definition of Wartime Veteran
By wartime veterans I mean they served in the military a total of 90 days and at least one day during a time of war. They don’t have to have been in combat, just in the in military during that time. Unfortunately, peacetime veterans are out of luck. According to the law, here are the war-time dates that would make you eligible for Aid and Attendance:
- World War II: December 7, 1941 — December 31, 1946
- Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 — January 31, 1955
- Vietnam Era: February 28, 1961 — May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 — May 7, 1975
- Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by Presidential proclamation or law (for VA benefits purposes, this time of war is still in effect)
The subsidies are meant to pay for assisted living or long-term care. They will also pay for having a caregiver in your home. However, they will not pay for a spouse to take care of you. Even though (in my humble opinion) a spouse is the one who will take the BEST care of you!
Requirements for Aid and Attendance
As with lots of other government subsidies, there are a bunch of eligibility requirements besides the service in wartime:
- Be 65 or older with no or limited income
- Have a permanent and total disability (this can be that you are over age 65)
- Receive Supplemental Security Income
- Receive Social Security Disability Insurance
- Have a net worth no more than $123,600 (as of May 2020) not including automobiles, personal affects and your primary residence
- There’s also an upper limit on monthly net income
You must also meet at least one of these medical criteria:
- Be bedridden except for medical and therapy appointments and treatments
- Have severe visual impairment (eyesight limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity OR less in both eyes OR concentric contraction of the visual field to five degrees or less)
- Reside in a nursing home because of physical or mental incapacity, including Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Require help with some activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as, but not limited to: bathing, dressing, eating, using the bathroom, etc.
Sound confusing? It is. Many times it can take up to 6 months to apply and receive benefits. They will back pay those six months. Just make sure you have enough funds to cover the care until they do back pay.
Another VA Aid and Attendance Form? Seriously?
To apply for the benefit, you will find out there is form after VA Aid and Attendance form. My best advice is to find someone who can navigate the system very well. We’ve had a lot more success with our residents working with someone outside the VA who understands the system well. I would be more than happy to recommend someone if you need it. For those that persevere though, it really helps them and their families out.
If you want to fill out each VA Aid and Attendance form by yourself, here is a summary of what you might need – both for the veteran and their spouse:
Thanks to VeteransAid.org for listing these forms