U.S. military veterans who need assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing and mobility, may qualify for a special long-term care benefit called Aid and Attendance. This tax-free VA benefit can help veterans and spouses pay for home care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing. Aid and Attendance for veterans is a reimbursement for care that does not need to be paid back.
The first requirement for the Aid and Attendance benefit is war-time service. The veteran must have served 90 days of active duty with one day during an eligible period of war. Here are the war dates set by Congress:
World War II – December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
Korean Conflict – June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
Vietnam Era – February 28, 1961 to August 4, 1964 for veterans who served in Vietnam (boots on the ground) or on a ship off the coast of Vietnam; August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for veterans who served in Vietnam, on a ship off the coast of Vietnam, or anyplace else in the world.
Gulf War – from August 2, 1990 to a date that will eventually be set by law or presidential proclamation.
The veteran must also have received an honorable or anything other than dishonorable discharge. An honorable discharge means the veteran was released from military service after having satisfactorily completed their obligations.
Veterans and their spouses may still be able to qualify for Aid and Attendance if the veteran received a general discharge, other than honorable discharge or, in some situations, a bad conduct discharge.
Veterans who were dishonorably discharged from the military are not eligible for this benefit.
To qualify for the benefit, the veteran must be 65 years of age or older. The spouse can be any age.
There are no marital requirements for the veteran. A spouse applying for Aid and Attendance must have been married to the veteran at the time of his or her passing and never remarried. Spouses who remarried another veteran may also be eligible for the benefit.
Need of Care Requirements
Another eligibility requirement is needing help with two out of the five types of daily living activities.
- Bathing – any assistance with bathing, including adjusting the water temperature or shower head, handing someone a towel, stand-by assistance as needed or even reminders to bath.
- Dressing – help with buttoning, zippering, tying shoes, putting clothes on or taking them off, reminders to change clothes or help picking out cloths.
- Eating – feeding someone or reminding someone to eat or eat healthy
- Toileting – bathroom assistance, help with incontinence or getting in/out of the bathroom.
- Transferring (mobility) – helping someone move from place to place, such as up and down stairs, in/out of a bed or chair, or in and out of a vehicle.
For the purposes of this claim, medication management, transportation and meal preparation are not recognized by the VA as Activities of Daily Living.
Income and Assets
The VA also has very specific Aid and Attendance requirements regarding income and assets. To find out more about VA financial rules and regulations regarding Aid and Attendance claims, contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at (877) 427-8065.
Aid and Attendance Benefit Amounts
There are different benefit amounts for veterans and spouses depending on their marital status.
- Single Veteran – eligible for up to $1,911 per month ($22,939 per year)
- Married Veteran – up to $2,266 per month ($27,195 per year)
- Two Married Veterans – a maximum of $3,032 per month ($36,387 per year)
- Surviving Spouse – up to $1,228 per month ($14,743 per year)
- A spouse who is still married to the veteran – around $1,500 per month
Long-term Care Options
Long-term care refers to both medical and non-medical services for people with chronic diseases, illnesses and disabilities who can no longer care for themselves. The care can be provided at home or in a care facility.
Home care can be provided by a family member, friend or professional caregiver. The person providing the care does not have to be licensed.
Facility care includes board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing facility care.
Board and care, also called residential care, refers to licensed, 24-hour care homes with a small number of residents – usually 6 to 12. Services include meals, help with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, mobility and toileting, and medication management. Board and Care costs range from $2,500 to $5,000 a month on average.
Assisted living facilities are much larger, with hundreds of residents living in individual rooms, small apartments or shared spaces. Assisted living facilities provide various levels of care depending on a person’s needs, including meals, medication management, personal care, housekeeping, laundry, social activities and some medical services. Assisted living facilities average $3,000 to $5,000 a month.
A skilled nursing facility provides medical assistance in addition to help with personal care. A skilled nursing facility is staffed with trained medical professionals, including at least one full-time registered nurse. Rooms are private or semi-private. A skilled nursing facility can cost up to $7,000 or more per month.
The VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit can help veterans and spouses afford the personal care that they need. For home care, it is a way for veterans and spouses to reduce out-of-pocket care costs and remain at home longer. The benefit can also help veterans and spouses transitioning into a care facility remain private pay, with greater control over the quality of their care.
According to a 2018 study, there are over 9 million U.S. veterans living in the United States who are 65 years of age or older. Like most seniors, many will end up needing some type of long-term care.
If you or a loved one are a veteran or spouse and need financial assistance to pay for long-term care, contact one of our Benefit Consultants at (877) 427-8065 for more information about how the benefit and claim process works, and what it takes to get an application approved.