How can Veteran’s benefits help pay for my or spouse’s long-term care costs?

Long-term care costs can add up quickly. For veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans who need in-home care, assisted living, or are in a nursing home, help may be available. The Veterans Administration (VA) has an underused pension benefit commonly called “Aid and Attendance” pension if they have large medical expenses for which they do not receive reimbursement.

The Aid and Attendance (A&A) pension provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature.

Aid and Attendance is a pension benefit, which means it is available to veterans who served at least 90 days, with at least one day during the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits:

  • Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917 for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters)
  • World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)
  • World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)

*The veteran does not have to have service-related disabilities to qualify for the Aid and Attendance.

To qualify the veteran or spouse must have limited assets, excluding the home and vehicle.  There is an income comparison versus medical costs; medical costs can include medical insurance premiums, assisted living care costs, etc.  If eligible, a veteran can receive up to $1,830 per month as of 2018, while a surviving spouse is eligible for up to $1,176 per month tax-free.

Another overlooked VA benefit (different from the above discussion of Aid and Attendance) is that the VA is required to provide nursing home care to any veteran who:

  • needs nursing home care because of a service-connected disability
  • has a combined disability rating of 70% or more, or
  • has a disability rating of at least 60% and is:
    • deemed unemployable, or
    • has been rated permanently and totally disabled.

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