More than 90 percent of seniors want to remain living at home as they age, and for those who need assistance with daily activities, in-home care can be more cost-effective than moving to a nursing home or assisted living community. Even still, long-term care costs can add up quickly. For military veterans and their spouses, there are benefit programs available that can be used to help pay for care. One of the most underused pension benefits, called Aid and Attendance, provides money to those who need assistance performing everyday tasks. Here are some frequently asked questions about this program.
What is the Aid & Attendance Pension?
The Aid and Attendance Benefit is a tax-free monthly pension to assist wartime veterans and their surviving spouses who need assistance with aspects of daily living. The funds are paid directly to the beneficiary and can be used for in-home care services as well as assisted living communities and nursing homes. Below are the maximum monthly benefit amounts for 2018. Keep in mind that the program has financial eligibility criteria for income and assets.
|Two Married Veterans||$2903|
|Veteran with a Spouse||$2169|
Who is eligible for the Aid & Attendance Pension?
Any veteran who served a minimum of 90 days, with at least one day during a period of war is eligible to apply for the Aid & Attendance pension. A surviving spouse of a wartime veteran can also apply. To qualify, the veteran or spouse must require the aid of another person with at least one activity of daily living such as eating meals, bathing, dressing, or using the restroom.
The program was established to assist low-income veterans with the cost of senior care, and there are income and asset limitations to qualify. However, applicants with an income that exceeds the maximum amount allowed may still be eligible due to factors such as age and annual out-of-pocket medical expenses. You can use this FREE Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit Calculator on VeteranAid.org to help determine eligibility.
How do I apply for Aid & Attendance?
Applying for the program can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to contact your local Veterans Benefits Office or VA health care facility for guidance. You can find the nearest location at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Essentially, the application process can be broken down into three main steps. First, you must gather all the necessary documents such as discharge paperwork, marriage or death certificates, proof of income and net worth information, physician statements, and medical expense reports – to name a few. Once you have compiled all of your paperwork, you must fill out VA Form 21-527EZ and/or VA Form 21-534EZ to submit to the VA along with your documents. Finally, you need to mail everything to the correct pension processing center. You can find more information on how to apply and a complete list of required documentation at Veteransaid.org.
How long is the approval process?
According to the VA, most claims are processed within 6 months, but some people say it can take longer. Keep in mind that if approved, the benefit is applied retroactively from the date the application was submitted. Also, note that the processing time may be shorter for older applicants, as the VA is supposed to give priority to applicants over age 90. There are services available such as the VetAssist Program that will not only help veterans apply for benefits, but they will also cover the cost of their in-home care during the lengthy approval process.
Applying for the Aid and Assistance pension benefit takes time and diligent record keeping. But for those who are approved, it can be a huge relief making it possible to pay for the senior care they need to comfortably age in place.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.