When families begin the search for senior care, how to pay for it is a concern that can come up quickly for many. Private funds typically cover a large percentage of the costs, but there are many other financing options that can assist. The list includes a unique program known as the Aid and Attendance Benefit.
This tax-free benefit is offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is designed for both the veteran and their spouse. It can help bridge the gap between a veteran’s income and assets, and the cost of senior care.
What is the Aid & Attendance Benefit?
The Aid & Attendance Benefit provides financial support (on top of a basic VA pension) to veterans and their spouses, or the surviving spouses of deceased veterans. A veteran age 65 or older who served at least 90 days of active military service, of which at least one day was during an acknowledged period of war, may be eligible. This benefit also applies to their surviving spouse.
There are several important things to know with regard to the benefit. First, the veteran who applies must have been honorably discharged from service. It’s also essential to know that the veteran does not have to have been injured during their period of military service to qualify for financial assistance. Finally, applicants must be eligible for and already receiving a VA pension or must be eligible and apply for a VA pension at the same time they apply for the Aid & Attendance Benefit.
Who is Eligible for Assistance through the Aid & Attendance Benefit?
There are a variety of qualifying conditions the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) takes into consideration when determining if a veteran or their spouse is eligible for assisted living benefits.
Military Service Requirement
The first requirement a veteran must meet is at least 90 days of active military service. At least one day of that service must have been during an acknowledged period of war. Here are the wars and conflicts that meet the period of war requirement set by Department of Veterans Affairs:
- World War I (April 6, 1917–November 11, 1918)
- 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 law or presidential proclamation)
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a veteran or surviving spouse must also meet at least one of the following criteria to receive senior care benefits:
- Need for another person to help perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or
- Must stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or
- Be a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
- Have limited eyesight (even with glasses or contact lenses having only 5/200 or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)
If the veteran meets both the military service and the needs-based requirements outlined above, the next step is to evaluate the yearly family income and net worth standard. These income and asset guidelines are adjusted each year by Congress.
Senior Care Financial Support for Veterans and Spouses
While families often find the process complicated and even cumbersome, this benefit can make a significant difference for veterans who qualify for financial assistance. While the amounts change every year, they currently range from $14,928 a year for a surviving spouse to $27,540 for a veteran with a spouse or child.
You can learn more by visiting the Pension benefits area of the US Department of Veterans Affairs online.
Sunrise Senior Living Welcomes Veterans
Sunrise communities are proud to be home for many of our nation’s veterans. Our team members have experience helping families understand the Aid and Attendance Benefit. Call the Sunrise community nearest you today to learn more about this special benefit for veterans and their spouses!