About 55% of veterans in the United States are aged 60 or older. That’s roughly 12.4 million people. If you or someone you know is among them, you may wonder whether there are any veterans’ benefits that help to defray senior care expenses.
The answer is yes. Wartime veterans or a surviving spouse with limited income may be eligible to receive a non-service connected pension to assist in paying for long-term
care such as assisted living, home health care, adult day care or skilled nursing.
The veterans’ benefit relevant to senior care is the Aid and Attendance benefit.
Aid and Attendance Veterans’ Benefit
This increased monthly pension amount may be added to your monthly pension if you meet one of the following conditions:
- You need another person to help you perform daily activities like bathing, feeding, and dressing OR
- You have to stay in bed – or spend a large portion of the day in bed – because of illness OR
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability OR
- Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses you have 5/200 or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)
Here were some changes that were made to the Aid & Attendance veterans’ benefit that came into effect in 2018:
- If a veteran purchases an annuity or transfers an asset and then applies for the benefit, the VA will add any transfer made after October 17, 2018 back to their assets when determining if total assets are less than the limit for eligibility.
- As of October 18, 2018, if veterans and their surviving spouses are living in independent or assisted living or a nursing home and they have a primary home they wish to rent, the VA will not count the house as an investment, but will keep it excluded as their primary home. While the rental income will count as income, the exclusion of the home as an asset will allow families to maximize the earning potential of the home to pay for care while retaining the home for later sale or inheritance by the veteran’s heirs.
If you qualify for this benefit, the VA will base your payment amount on the difference between your “countable income” and a limit that Congress sets (called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate or MAPR). You can visit the VA website to find an explanation of countable income and MAPR amount along with details about how your assets may affect what you’re eligible to receive.
From December 1, 2021, to November 30, 2022, the net worth limit to be eligible for Veterans Pension benefits is $138,489.
Current pension rates are also posted on the VA website. They show the additional monthly amounts you could receive from either the Aid & Attendance or Household benefit.
How to Apply
To apply for veterans’ benefits, you’ll need to fill out VA Form 21-2680 (Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance) and mail it to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state or take it to your regional office.
You can have your doctor fill out the examination information section. You can also include with your VA form:
- Other evidence, like a doctor’s report, that shows you need Aid and Attendance care
- Details about what you normally do during the day and how you get to places
- Details that help show what kind of illness, injury, or mental or physical disability affects your ability to do things, like take a bath, on your own
More About Funding Senior Care
For more information about funding that helps pay for senior care, check out “A Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing”.