There are many ways to fund senior living expenses, and for U.S. wartime veterans (and their surviving spouses) one of them is the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, a VA benefit for senior living expenses provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (aka the VA). Many veterans may believe this benefit is only for those who received a service-related disability, but such a disability is not required.
Before a veteran can receive the VA benefit for senior living through the Aid and Attendance program, there are several requirements that must be met starting with receiving a VA pension which provides wartime veterans who were not dishonorably discharged with monthly payments. The VA pension is available to veterans who meet the qualifications for service during wartime starting with the Mexican border period from 1916 -1917 through World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War to the present.
In addition, veterans must also meet the following requirements:
The application will require documents including military records which can be requested through the milConnect website. Veterans can apply for the VA Pension at any time either online, in person or by mail and can get help from an accredited representative if needed.
Once the VA pension is received, veterans can apply for the Aid and Attendance benefit to receive a benefit for senior living that is in addition to the amount received from the VA pension.
The VA sets specific eligibility criteria for receiving the Aid and Attendance benefit which require the applicant meet at least one of the following:
It is important to note, however, that the veteran’s disability or need required for the benefit does not have to be a result of their military service, however, when this is the case, the veteran can receive an additional monthly tax-free payment through the VA’s disability compensation program.
As it is with all things governmental, there is some red tape involved in applying for this VA benefit. In the case of Aid and Attendance that means documentation that provides evidence to support the necessary claims. On the upside, however, many of the evidentiary documents are the same ones required to apply for the VA pension so they should already be available. These include:
Also essential to the application process for this VA benefit is an examination by a physician to document health status and a completed VA Form 21-2680 “Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance.” Veterans who live in assisted living or long-term care should also submit VA form 21-0779 “Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance.”
All forms and evidentiary documents for the Aid and Attendance benefit must be submitted via mail or in person to the VA pension management center for the veteran’s state. To track application status, follow instructions provided in the va.gov article, “Check your VA claim or appeal status.”
The VA Aid and Attendance benefit can be a huge help for veterans seeking long-term care in senior living and other funding sources are available in our complimentary Family Guide to Paying for Senior Living.
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