VA Aide & Attendance Benefits: Helping Our Veterans Pay for Senior Living and Care
Peggy Chacon, Business Manager at The Kensington, an enhanced Assisted Living or Memory Care residence located in the heart of White Plains, N.Y., says, “Today, personal insurance coverage does not typically pay for the care of a loved one in an Assisted Living or Memory Care residence. Most of these residences are ‘private pay.’ Therefore, unless you have some type of long-term care insurance, private financial resources would typically be used to pay for services.
“Current statistics show that close to 90 percent of Assisted Living care is paid for through personal financial resources. Many families use a loved one’s home equity, and an increasing number of people are converting life insurance policy death benefits to help pay for needed care.
“However, veteran’s pension benefits are also available for use in many cases. Unfortunately, this resource is often overlooked or misunderstood by families. Therefore, it is imperative for veterans and their families to be aware of any coverage that is provided through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“Veterans’ benefits can be applied to assisted living, residential memory care and long-term care services to help our veterans receive the quality care they need and so richly deserve. The benefits can be substantial and may cover a significant portion of the care required by the veteran.”
What Are Aide & Attendance Benefits?
“Aide & Attendance (A&A)” benefits are special benefits available to eligible veterans upon retirement as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA)disability pension and also to the surviving spouse of a veteran as part of the VA’s death pension. A&A refers to the fact that to qualify for this particular pension benefit, the veteran must demonstrate a regular need for the assistance of a caregiver or the need to live in a protected environment because of a physical or mental impairment.
Veterans and survivors who qualify for A&A benefits can receive additional monthly payments above the normal VA pension amount.
Who Is Eligible?
To qualify for A&A, veterans must already qualify for the basic VA pension, and must be considered “totally disabled,” according to VA guidelines. However, as soon as a veteran turns 65, the VA classifies that person as “totally disabled.” Therefore, if the veteran is simply 65 or over and already collecting the basic VA pension, they are also eligible for the additional A&A payments.
Veterans or spouses seeking A&A benefits must prove that they require assistance. For example, a veteran with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia that’s seeking care in a Memory Care residence must be able to prove that he or she requires assistance with the completion of some daily tasks. Such proof must also include notes from both a doctor and the Memory Care residence.
According to the VA, they will consider offering pension benefits to veterans (or surviving spouses of veterans) if the veteran:
- Received discharge from service under any condition other than dishonorable and
- Served at least 90 days of active military service, one day of which was during a war-time period and
- (They or their surviving spouse) is age 65 or older, or, is permanently and totally disabled and…
- Total countable family income is below an annual limit set by law (most medical or care expenses including a nursing home and Assisted Living will reduce net countable income if you qualify medically)
- Net worth is also a factor in determining eligibility; however, there is no specific dollar amount designated as “excessive” (some assets such as home and automobile are exempt from the net worth determination)
What Amount Does A&A Pay?
A&A benefits can provide major financial assistance to veterans and their families. Maximum* annual benefits for those qualifying for the A&A level of pension are approximated by the following amounts:
- Surviving Spouse of a Veteran: $12,681
- Veteran with no Spouse or Dependent Children: $19,736
- A married Veteran who requires care: $23,396
- If the Veteran is healthy, but their Spouse requires care, then the Veteran qualifies for a regular pension only: $15,493
*Important Note: These benefits change periodically, so please be sure to check with your local VA office for the most current amounts.
Applying for A&A Benefits
In order to apply for VA health benefits or to determine eligibility, you can call the VA’s Health Benefits Service Center at 877-222-VETS, or contact a Veterans Benefits Office near you. Additionally, you can find more details at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Senior Veterans Service Alliance.
Providing Veterans with the Top Quality Care They Deserve
Peggy Chacon, Business Manager adds, “New York has a large population of veterans. For caregivers of veterans who recognize that the needs of their loved ones are beyond what they can safely and appropriately provide for at home, a leading enhanced Assisted Living and Memory Care residence such as The Kensington offers the ideal living environment.
“Here, we love our veterans and treat them with the respect, dignity and compassion they so deserve. They are part of our family. We focus on each individual’s personal life story, interests and preferences and tailor our care and programming to those activities that have the most meaning to them. And we are committed to nurturing the distinct social, educational, recreational, and spiritual pursuits of everyone in our care.”