According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total number of Americans over the age of 65 was about 54 million as of July 2019. Of that population, more than 12 million consisted of war veterans, their surviving spouses or both. They make up a segment of Americans who may be eligible to receive a VA Pension, such as the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit. Receiving the pension ultimately depends on income, assets and long-term healthcare needs, but due to the rising occurrence of long-term care, statistics show that 60 to 80 percent of this population will qualify for pension benefits at some point.
The Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension is a part of the VA Improved Pension, which has three tiers. There is the Basic Pension, which begins at age 65. The second tier is the Housebound Pension, which is for those who need more simple care, like assistance with activities of daily living. The third tier is the Aid and Attendance Benefit.
To apply for the Aid and Attendance Benefit, one can write to the VA regional office where he or she filed a Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation. Along with a DD-214 form (or military “separation papers”), a person should include evidence provided by medical personnel that they qualify, with specific details about the injury or illness or if they need assistance with activities of daily living. Is the veteran confined to his or her home? How well can he or she get around? These are details that will be needed in order to be considered for the benefit.
There are four basic points that qualify someone to receive the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit:
The first point to consider is the veteran’s military service. A person is required to have at least 90 days of active duty on his or her service record, with at least one day of service within a war-time period. The reason for leaving the service can be anything but a dishonorable discharge. A surviving spouse is also eligible, as long as the marriage was ended by the veteran’s death.
The following is a list that VA recognizes as wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits (from va.gov):
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)
The second point to consider for qualification is the veteran’s state of health. A doctor needs to certify that the veteran’s health has declined to where he or she needs assistance from another person.
To qualify, one specifically must need assistance with activities of daily living like eating, bathing and getting dressed. Other qualifications include blindness, or living in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Even a healthy veteran can file for a sick spouse if the spouse’s medical needs qualify and medical bills deplete their monthly income.
The third point to consider is if the veteran is spending the majority of his or her monthly income on healthcare expenses. One’s net worth limitations and net income come into play, but there is no set amount to qualify. Each individual is considered on a case-by-case basis. Even if one’s income exceeds the maximum annual pension rate, one could still qualify for the benefit based on annual medical expenses. The Aid and Attendance Benefit provides up to $1,936 per month for a single veteran; $1,244 for a surviving spouse; and $3,072 for two married veterans.
The last point to consider is the veteran’s age. The older the veteran, the less he or she will receive from the benefit in most cases. Due to lower life expectancy as age increases, the VA will most likely decline older veterans if they have a higher amount of income and assets.
Rick Hagins, the owner of Amada Senior Care San Fernando Valley, says Amada works to help individuals understand financial resource management, in which VA benefits are just one category of many.
“Managing the Aid and Attendance benefit can be a difficult process because there are many things to consider such as military service, age, health, income and assets” said Hagins. “There’s also a lot of information out there concerning the Aid and Attendance Benefit that is simply untrue.”
With so much competitive information circulating and so many hurdles to jump through, Rick stressed the importance of good research and reliable information. “It’s generally good to speak to someone who’s familiar with the intricacies and details of these types of programs,” Rick said. “At Amada, we can help people find the right resources and connect them with others who are equipped to handle these situations.”
If you think you or someone you know may be eligible for veterans benefits to pay for home care, visit this locations list to contact an Amada Senior Care advisor near you.
Written by Amada blog contributor Taylor French.
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