Veterans Aid And Attendance
If you are veteran who needs care to help you stay at home, you may very well be qualified for up to $1949 can qualify for up to $998 a month. So why don’t most veterans ever receive these funds? Very simply, they don’t know about this benefit.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, often referred to as the Veterans Administration (VA), has a very good program called Aid and Attendance. It is technically a pension, but that is misleading, because Aid and Attendance has nothing to do with retiring from the service. It has everything to do with the veterans or veteran’s widow (er)’s need for care at home. The need for care is what causes the veteran to be considered disabled for the purpose of this program.
To be eligible, the veteran must have been on active duty and served at least 90 consecutive days, one day of which was during a period of wartime. That does not mean the veteran had to have been in combat or have served overseas or have a service-connected disability. It simply means that there were 90 consecutive days of active duty, and one of those days was during World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam, or the Gulf War. Then the veteran or veteran’s widow (er) can qualify if they have certain needs for care and satisfy income and asset limits.
The Veterans Administration, being as precise as a government agency can be, states that as of the year 2000, there were 5,185,518 World War II veterans, and 3,250,316 Korean war veterans.
The Aid and Attendance pension is available to someone who requires the assistance of another person to handle their daily needs, defined as activities of daily living. That includes needing help with taking medications, meal preparation, bathing, dressing and housekeeping.
None of these care needs have to be a result of wartime injuries. They are the needs that arise from illness, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease or blindness or the natural issues of aging such as severe memory impairment or walking.
Help with these needs may be provided by home health aides, companions, nurses and other professionals, but the help can also be provided by a family member, other than the spouse. This is very significant because an incredible percentage of children are giving part-time care to their parents in order to keep their parents at home.
The care services provided have to be prescribed by a licensed health care professional, and that professional must consult on the plan of care.
The VA also requires that there be a care contract between the caregiver and the person receiving care. The contract should specify the care to be given and the amount to be paid, which must be the going rate for those kinds of services in the community where the services are provided.
The VA then looks at the veteran’s assets and income to determine eligibility. The test for assets is whether the person has “sufficient means” to pay for the home care. This is not a specific number and a veterans service officer or an accredited veteran’s attorney can advise you on meeting this test.
The test for income is whether or not income exceeds a certain monthly amount after deducting all unreimbursed medical expenses. The unreimbursed medical expenses can include the cost of home care, or even the cost of an assisted living facility. In most cases, this means that the veteran can obtain the maximum amount. A veteran without a dependent can receive up to $1,644 per month, and with a dependent can receive up to $1,949 per month.
A veteran in an assisted living facility, can usually receive the maximum of $22,104 a year. That will make his nest egg last years longer than it would without the Aid and Attendance.
Here’s an example.
Dad is a World War II veteran, and has trouble monitoring his medications, preparing his meals, and keeping his house clean. His regular doctor agrees that he needs assistance. He has a very caring child who stops by every day to attend to dad’s needs.
The child enters into a contract with dad to receive payment for those services. The VA will subtract the amount being paid from dad’s income and determine how much VA will pay for the child’s services. It is possible that the entire cost of home care will be paid by the VA, up to the $1,949 per month. That is significant help.
Anyone in this situation should consult a knowledgeable elder law attorney, accredited by the Veterans Administration to advise veterans. An ounce of advice prior to filing for benefits can be worth many pounds of care per month.