Those who served our country in the armed forces made tremendous sacrifices to allow us the freedom we enjoy today.
So when it comes time for veterans to need financial assistance with senior living, there are benefits available that can help significantly offset their costs.
The Aid and Attendance benefit is open to veterans, their spouse or a surviving spouse, with significant tax-free monthly benefits for those who qualify.
For instance, a married veteran who requires assisted living could receive up to $2,642 per month, for a total of $31,704 per year. It can help veterans and their families with significant financial relief and allow them to receive care they need from senior living communities such as Prestige.
To qualify, there are a few criteria that veterans need to meet:
To apply for the benefits, veterans are required to have a minimum 90 days of active duty with at least one day during a period of war. They must also have had an honorable, medical or general discharge.
The dates of that service have to fall within certain parameters, as noted on the Aid and Attendance website.
“You need one day of active duty during war time, a total of 90 active duty days, which do not have to be consecutive,” said Emily Schwarz, Vice President of Sales with ElderLife Financial, which helps veterans navigate their VA benefits. “All of this information is on the veteran’s discharge papers. If they don’t have the discharge papers, we can help them order them from the national archives.”
The next step in the qualification process are the health needs of the veteran or their spouse. They can qualify should they need assistance with at least two of the following activities of daily living:
It can also apply if they have been diagnosed with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or macular degeneration.
“The easiest way for someone to qualify is by receiving a shower assist from your community, because that is bathing and dressing. It’s a helping hand making sure you don’t slip and fall when you get in and out of the shower,” said Schwarz. “Or you could have a cognitive impairment and be completely physically healthy and that will qualify. It’s a three-page medical form that any doctor can complete. People think that it has to be a VA physician but it can be your community’s doctor, a nurse practitioner, or primary care physician.”
Along with the service and health requirements, there are of course financial elements that come into play, with your ability to qualify for benefits based on your income each month.
So if you or your loved one have income like social security, pensions, ongoing wages, etc., that is weighed against the cost of your monthly care.
“If you spend all of your income on your care, the VA will consider giving you one of those four full benefit amounts,” said Schwarz. “If there is any income remaining after paying for care the VA will likely award a partial benefit.”
Net Worth Requirements
VA benefits are need-based, and as such there’s a maximum net worth you can possess to be eligible.
That includes bank accounts, IRAs, a 401(k), stocks, etc. Of course, the biggest asset many people have is their home, and when sold that could more than likely push them over that limit. However, that’s not always the case.
“What the VA does not include in assets are your primary residence and two acres around it,” said Schwarz. “So if you do have one part of the couple still living at home or the kids, the grandkids living in the house, they rent it or it’s just vacant, the primary residence is exempt.”
With all of this in mind, working with a VA financial planner can help a veteran or their loved one navigate the asset criteria of the application.
As with any benefit program, there’s a lengthy application process. If you or a loved one requires assistance getting started, you can talk to the team at the Prestige location nearest you, or work with the VA benefits team at ElderLife Financial.
Of course, it can be months before an application is reviewed and accepted and a veteran or spouse may require immediate care. Elderlife has bridge loan options to help during that process. Contact them to learn more about their bridge loans.