Have you recently looked into assisted living costs for an elderly person? If yes, you may have had sticker shock. Depending on the state, the average cost of assisted living facilities in the U.S. ranges from about $3,000 a month (in Georgia, the lowest average) to $5,900 a month (in New Jersey, the highest average). Depending on the level of care, services and amenities provided, the costs can go much higher.
Fortunately for eligible wartime veterans and their surviving spouses there is a VA benefit that can considerably help offset that cost: the Aid & Attendance pension benefit. For the year 2022, the full benefit is $2,431 a month for a married veteran ($29,175 annually), $2,050 a month for a single veteran ($24,610 annually), and $1,318 a month for his surviving spouse ($15,816 annually). It is tax-free.
The benefit is specifically for those who need help, standby assistance, or guidance with activities of living such as bathing, dressing, or mobility.
The claims process is overly complicated and can be exasperating. Rather than crossing your fingers and risking a potential long wait and denial, I recommend getting professional help. To find out if you or a family member qualifies and to learn more, contact one of our Benefit Consultants at 877-427-8065 or click here.
Note: while this article discusses assisted living, this same VA benefit applies to home care as well.
Case In Point
Sara’s aging grandmother-in-law is the surviving spouse of a World War II Navy veteran. She had reached the point where she required some assistance with bathing and mobility. The family submitted a claim to the VA for her but 10 months later she received a denial. No one had told them how the benefit works and what all is entailed in getting approval. The cost of her assisted living facility exceeded her income, resulting in a monthly shortfall.
Then Sara learned about American Veterans Aid (AVA) and their many years of success. With the expertise of AVA’s VA Accredited Claims Agent and professional team, her grandmother-in-law is now receiving the full benefit of $1,318 a month. Sara described it this way: “We initially waited over a year! We finally got AVA to help us with our paperwork and filing and got approval and payment in a matter of weeks.”
This benefit is now direct deposited into her account each month, in addition to her social security and pension. Sara says this has greatly helped her husband’s grandmother who now has a cushion each month after paying the facility’s cost, instead of a deficit.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a type of housing that gives assistance to seniors who need personal care but not as much help as a nursing home provides. The residents may require support with activities such as bathing, dressing, mobility or using the toilet. Not all wartime veterans and surviving spouses in assisted living qualify for this benefit, but many who could be getting this are not aware of it.
In addition to personalized care, daily meals, and housekeeping, assisted living communities offer opportunity for social interaction, recreational activities, and intellectual stimulation.
Seniors in assisted living typically have their own apartment or room and share communal areas. Though some may share a room or apartment. These living spaces enable seniors to retain a certain level of independence while still getting the care they need in a protected environment. These facilities usually offer varying “levels of care”, each higher-level costing more.
Every facility is different in terms of amenities, social activities, and outings they offer. Some include an on-site beauty salon and barbershop, fitness center, pool, movie theater, library, and courtyard.
The size of facility can greatly differ, but on average assisted living facilities accommodate 27 to 33 residents.
Assisted Living Versus Independent Living, Memory Care and Nursing Homes
Independent living facilities are for seniors who are generally more independent and do not require regular personal care or medical assistance. Like assisted living, they typically provide restaurant-style meals, cleaning services and varying social activities in a senior-friendly environment. However, independent living communities usually do not give assistance with the activities of daily living like bathing, dressing or mobility. Thus, their costs are less than that of assisted living.
Assisted living facilities are the next tier up both in level of care and costs. They specialize in personal care in a home-like community environment. Nearly 30,000 assisted living facilities operate in the United States. Many of these facilities also have a separate wing designated for those with memory loss. Assisted living fees can widely vary state to state. The costs normally increase as the resident’s care needs increase.
Memory care facilities specialize in caring for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. As this level of care requires more specialized staff training and resources, memory care facilities (or wings) on average cost 20-30% more than assisted living. Like assisted living, eligible residents of memory care could also be candidates for the VA’s Aid & Attendance benefit.
Nursing homes, or “skilled nursing”, provide medical and personal care in a more clinical setting. They focus on medical care for those who need constant care and supervision, particularly those who are wheelchair bound or bedridden. They usually have rehabilitative services available, such as physical, occupational and speech therapy. Per a 2021 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth, a semiprivate room in a nursing home costs on average about $7,900 a month and a private room about $9,000 a month.
There are also “continuing care retirement communities” which offer different tiers of service. Many include sections for independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care all on one campus. As a senior’s care needs increase, they can transition to the next level of that same community.
Don’t Forget – This VA Benefit Also Applies for Home Care
Some people have a misunderstanding that the Aid & Attendance only works for those in assisted living. Not so. It applies to home care as well. Yet in either case, it is not simply a matter of sending in a form. Again, it is best to get expert advice to avoid lengthy delays, denials, or only a partial benefit.
For a free pre-qualification interview and to learn more, click here or call one of our Benefit Consultants at 877-427-8065.