Elderly war era veterans, and their surviving spouses, could be eligible for a VA tax-free financial benefit to help offset the cost of care. Some people have the idea that this benefit is only for those residing in a care facility. Yet the benefit equally applies to home care – assuming that care is set up and documented correctly (more on that below). This can be hired caregivers or family caregivers (other than the spouse) or a combination of both.
This monetary benefit is commonly called “Aid and Attendance”. It’s also known as the “special monthly pension”. The full monthly amount is $2,431 for a married veteran, $2,050 for a single veteran, $1,318 for a surviving spouse – and in the case of 2 married veterans it can be up to $3,261.
Many Seniors Prefer to Stay at Home
In many cases, elderly persons prefer to stay at home rather than move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Per AARP’s 2021 survey, 77% of adults (50 and older) want to stay in their own homes as they age, even after they begin to need day-to-day assistance. Staying at home is also referred to as “aging in place”.
A primary reason why seniors wish to stay at home is to retain their independence. Holding onto their independence, as long as possible, can foster a stronger state-of-mind and resiliency. Keeping them involved in making decisions in the home and being responsible for certain tasks can help prevent or delay cognitive decline. Independence keeps the aging individual from feeling like their life has been taken out of their control and that they must be dependent on others. In short, this can help reinforce their will to live.
Familiarity is another factor. For those who are unstable on their feet, knowing where the walls are, where the sofa is located and so on, facilitates them in maneuvering about. In the case of memory issues, the option of home care can be far less disorienting than moving to assisted living, memory care or a nursing home.
Some seniors feel assisted living is beyond their financial means. Hiring caregivers or utilizing family members as caregivers – or both – can often be a more affordable option.
There is also the factor of one-on-one care. Many daughters and sons feel they can provide more personalized attention and care they feel their parent needs, as opposed to being in a large facility.
However, others determine it’s safer for their parent to be in a facility which is better equipped and trained in providing the supervision and care that people with physical disabilities or dementia require. Furthermore, I often speak to family members who work a full-time job or live too far away, and being a regular caregiver is not feasible.
Each person’s case needs to be evaluated individually. Caregiver costs have been on the rise and finding caregivers can be very challenging in some areas. Depending on the extent of care and supervision needed in the home – along with costs to make the home safe such as with safety bars, a no-step shower, or a stair lift – assisted living is the more affordable route for some. Sometimes safety and finance concerns override the in-home preference, and a care facility proves to be the best solution.
There are plenty of care facilities which provide an array of social activities and amenities that can make assisted living an attractive lifestyle without making the senior feel they’ve been deprived of their independence.
The Aid & Attendance benefit is for elderly wartime veterans and spouses who require personal care. This is more than just preparing meals, driving, or cleaning (although those functions can be included in the caregiver’s duties). It’s for those who need some assistance, supervision, or standby help with two of the following activities of living: bathing, dressing, mobility, eating or toileting. This could be for people who have walking/balance issues and are a fall risk, or they have a chronic health condition which affects their strength and coordination, or they have cognitive problems due to dementia or Alzheimer’s.
For the Aid and Attendance benefit, family members other than the spouse, can serve as caregivers. There are no licensing or medical training requirements to qualify as a caregiver. While the benefit is designed to help offset the cost of care, some misunderstand that to mean the VA directly pays the family caregiver. That’s not how it works. The veteran and their spouse, or a single veteran, or a surviving spouse, pays the caregiver (even it’s a family member, such as a daughter or son) and the benefit serves as a reimbursement to the veteran or their widow.
However, it’s important to know that the VA forms themselves do NOT explain the technicalities of how to set up and document this correctly so your family member will be approved. I’ve seen far too many who tried this on their own and ended up with a denial or a tiny portion of the full benefit. It’s best to get expert assistance to ensure it’s done right and avoid risking long delays and a denial.
Seek Professional Help
My advice to you is to get professional help. Here is a statement from a son who used American Veterans Aid’s expertise in obtaining the Aid and Attendance benefit for his mother:
“I contacted AVA regarding in-home care benefits for mother, a survivor of a Korean War veteran and Marine with 30 yrs of service. An AVA counselor quickly contacted us and we began the process of providing the veteran’s and my mother’s information to AVA. Within about three weeks all documents were provided and AVA filed the claim with the VA in February. My mother received the home care assistance payment from the VA for the March.
“I highly recommend AVA to veterans and survivors. AVA delivered exactly what they briefed us on during the first phone call. I’m also a veteran; Retired Colonel, U.S. Army.”
To learn more and exact qualification factors, click here or call one of our Benefit Consultants now at 877-427-8065.