How the VA’s Aid and Attendance Helps Pay for Senior Living
As a U.S. veteran, you have given your all to our country, so it’s only fair you receive the care you need as you get older. Like many older adults, you or your survivors may need daily help with personal care such as in an assisted living facility or have non-service-related injuries or illnesses that require skilled nursing in a long-term care facility. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the Aid and Attendance program, which can help with those types of senior living expenses.
What is the Aid and Attendance program?
The Aid and Attendance program is offered under the VA Pension. If you qualify and are receiving monthly VA pension payments, funds from the program will be added to your monthly pension payments. If you’re not receiving a pension, you first need to learn if you qualify.
To qualify you must have:
Not been dishonorably discharged
Have yearly family income and net worth meet the limits set by Congress
And you must have at least one of the following be true about your service:
You started on active duty before Sept. 8, 1980 and served at least 90 days on active duty with at least one day during wartime
You started on active duty as an enlisted person after Sept. 7, 1980 and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions) with at least one day during wartime
You were an officer and started on active duty after Oct. 16, 1981 and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months
Additionally, one of the following must be true:
You’re at least 65 years old
You have a permanent and total disability
You’re a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability
You’re getting Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income
If you’re eligible learn how to apply. You can apply for the VA pension at any time.
What are the Aid and Attendance requirements?
You must receive a VA pension and meet at least one of the following:
You need help from another person to perform daily activities (e.g. bathing, feeding and dressing)
You must stay in bed each day for most or all of the day due to an illness or disability
You live in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability
Your eyesight is limited (i.e. have only 5/200 or less in both eyes or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)
If approved, you may receive retroactive Aid and Attendance payments.
How to Apply for the Aid and Attendance Benefit?
Luckily many of the forms required to apply for the Aid and Attendance program are the same ones that are necessary for the VA pension application. These documents require medical and service evidence including:
A DD214 or other separation document
Service treatment records
Any medical evidence related to an injury or illness (e.g. doctor’s reports, X-rays and medical test results)
Other evidence may also be required. For example, if you’re living at home or somewhere other than a nursing home, a medical exam and VA Form 21-2680 are required. If you’re already living in a nursing home, VA form 21-0779 must also be submitted.
Rather than feeling overwhelmed by senior living care expenses, apply for the VA’s Aid and Attendance program. The added funds to your monthly pension can help with assisted living facility, home care aids, adult daycare or skilled nursing long-term care facility costs.