Veteran's Aid and Attendance - What You Should Know

Important Benefit Can Assist in Paying for Long-term Care

veterans aid and attendance
The VA Benefit can help pay for long-term care costs. Consult a qualified attorney to help you. Getty Images

When people call my company asking about home care services, inevitably, most ask if private insurance or Medicare covers services, which they do not. Most of them never ask about Veteran’s Aid and Attendance (VAA), which can assist with up to $2,000 per month in care costs for a Veteran. This is an important benefit that can help you pay for long-term care needs.

Many people are unaware that their parent might miss out on thousands of dollars per​​ year in paid services; one reason is there isn’t much advertisement or community awareness about the program, and since it can be so complicated, it is intimidating to tackle alone.

How Does It Work

The VAA is a federal program that helps people pay for private home care services or pay for their assisted living costs.  It is for Veteran’s and their spouse our widow who qualify for the services. 

·       A Veteran alone is eligible for up to $1,732 per month

·       A widow is eligible for up to $1,113 per month

·       A Veteran and their spouse receiving benefits together are eligible for up to $2,054 per month

·       A sick spouse is eligible up to $1,360 per month

The payments are retroactive, so though it takes roughly 90 days to be accepted into the program, you are paid out for the time that you received care.

Qualifications

There are four primary requirements for becoming eligible for the program. 

1)     Service in the military – Many male seniors have served in the military.  “Service” does not mean “boots on the ground,” but active duty for a minimum of 90 days with one of those days during wartime efforts

2)     Asset Limitation – The maximum an individual can have in liquid assets (not counting their house) is $40,000, for a couple it is $80,000.  

Some people put their money in a trust, as there is no look-back period for this program like there is with Medicaid.  Trusts bring up a moral dilemma for some, where this program is for the less fortunate, so there is abuse by hiding money.

3)     Medical Needs – The veteran must have a medical need (or their spouse have a medical need).  Medical needs include activities of daily living, protecting themselves from hazards of their everyday environment, disabilities, blindness and other medical needs.

4)     Net Negative Income – One of the biggest hurdles is that the applicant must be paying more money for their care than they are making.   What does “care” mean?                 

a.     Home Care

b.     Cost of Community (assisted living and nursing home)

c.     Medicare “B” (for individual and spouse)

d.     Prescription drugs

e.     Supplemental health insurance

If these costs are more than what they have for income per month, they will qualify for the full amount.  If they have more money coming in than going out, the difference would be deducted from what the VAA would pay.

For example:

A single Veteran is looking to take advantage of Veterans Aid and Attendance and is looking for their $1,732 per month of reimbursable care.  If their net income is $2,000 a month, and their cost of care is only $1,900 per month, that Veteran is $100 from reviving the full reimbursement.

 The Veterans is still eligible, just not the full amount.  It would be the full reimbursement less the remaining net assets. 

Drawbacks of The Veteran’s Aid and Attendance

There are two major drawbacks of the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance.

The first is the application.  There is a lot of paperwork involved, and it can be overwhelming. 

The second significant drawback is the waiting period.  For many, even if they are qualified for the program, they do not have the savings to pay for 3-5 months of care out of pocket before being reimbursed for their care.  It leaves many people in a difficult situation who need this help and could benefit from the program, but do not have the up-front costs to get it started.

Wrapping It Up

As with any government program aimed at helping people, there are pro’s and cons to them.  You must take a close look at determining if you are eligible for the program and if it will work for you and your family. 

It is important to let people know about this services, so families are informed about what their options are when making a decision for a loved one.

Editor's Note: Do what I did for my mom. Consult a qualified long-term care attorney for help. It was invaluable to me.

This guest author, Ryan McEniff, owner of Minute Women Home Care, he wrote Veteran’s Aid and Attendance: The Ultimate Guide.

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