Tapping Veterans Benefits to Defray the Costs of Senior Care
The cost of providing quality care for seniors can deplete even the most carefully constructed financial plans. Many families are unaware of benefits offered by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs that provide financial assistance for aging veterans and their spouses.
Two particular VA programs, the Homebound benefit and the Aid and Attendance benefit, are useful to consider when contemplating the costs of home care or assisted living residency.
To qualify for either of these programs, a veteran must:
- Have served 90 days or more of active duty, with at least one day during a period of wartime;
- Have been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions; and
- Be able to meet a “countable income” limit.
The VA defines countable income as the amount of income received each year, less all unreimbursed, recurring health care expenses (home care, assisted living, insurance premiums, prescriptions, medical co-payments, etc.). In 2008, the thresholds for countable income range from $10,929 to $21,615. In addition, the VA must determine that the applicant’s net worth is insufficient to support the remainder of his or her life. The VA’s calculation of net worth does not include the value of primary residences and vehicles.
To qualify for the Homebound benefit, the veteran or spouse must have physical limitations that require regular assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs: bathing, dressing, etc.). Maximum annual Homebound benefits are $13,356 for a veteran, $8,957 for a spouse, and $16,740 for a veteran and spouse combined.
Applicants seeking Aid and Attendance benefits must also provide a physician’s confirmation that daily assistance is necessary. The Aid and Attendance benefit can only be used to reimburse the costs of assisted living communities or long term care facilities. Maximum annual Aid and Attendance benefits are $18,234 for a veteran, $ 11,715 for a spouse and $21,615 for a veteran and spouse combined.
For veterans and their spouses, these benefits can create the possibility of obtaining quality care. For more information, go to www.veteranaid.org.
Jessica Wagner is the Marketing Director of Right at Home of North Baltimore. In her previous role as an admissions director for assisted living communities, she helped many veterans and their families successfully apply for VA benefits.
Photo: Defense Visual Information Center/U.S. Census Bureau
Right at Home is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned, franchised providers of in-home care and assistance services.