Are you the surviving spouse of a U.S. military veteran? Do you need help at home with personal care like bathing and dressing?
The Veteran Administration has a special benefit to help pay for home care for a veteran’s surviving spouse. It’s called Aid and Attendance. The benefit is for surviving spouses who need assistance with some of the activities of daily living. It is a tax-free reimbursement for care that pays up to $1,318 per month.
To qualify for this benefit, the surviving spouse must:
- Have been married to the veteran for at least a year,
- Been married to the veteran at the time of his or her passing, and
- Never remarried
Aging in Place
When a senior chooses to continue living at home instead of transitioning to a care facility, it is called “aging in place.”
The benefits of aging in place include:
- A healthier environment
- A safer environment
- More independence
- More comfort, less stress
- Staying connected to family and friend
- Slower progression of memory loss
- Can be less expensive than an assisted living facility.
The Aid and Attendance benefit can help the surviving spouse of a veteran stay at home longer by providing additional financial resources to help pay for home care.
For a surviving spouse to qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, the veteran must have:
- Entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980, and served at least 90 days on active military duty, with at least 1 day during an eligible period of war, or
- Entered active duty after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period the person was called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least 1 day during an eligible wartime period, or
- Been an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981 and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.
- Received an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge.
Here are the eligible wartime periods:
- World War II – December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
- Korean conflict – June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War era – November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period (boots on the ground). August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served outside of the Republic of Vietnam.
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation
Help With Daily Living Activities
A key requirement for the Aid and Attendance benefit is that the surviving spouse must need help with at least two activities of daily living:
- Bathing – includes help with any aspect of bathing or showing; also grooming, oral care and nail care.
- Dressing – assistance with putting clothes on, taking them off; help picking out clothes
- Eating – cutting up food or feeding
- Toileting – help on or off the toilet; assistance with incontinence
- Mobility/transferring -help standing from a sitting position, getting in and out of bed walking from one spot to another.
Type of Home Caregivers
The Aid and Attendance benefit allows you to hire your own home caregiver. The caregiver can be a family member, a friend or professional caregiver. The person providing the care does not need to be licenses or certified.
There are three main types of home caregivers:
- Personal Aides, also called home care aides, who provide assistance with daily living tasks (required for your VA Aid and Attendance application). They also prepare meals, provide transportation, run errands, and can help with light household chores. The average rate of pay for a personal care aid is $20 to $25 an hour.
- Home Health Aides, who provide help with activities of daily living and, depending on the state, basic medical care. They are usually supervised by a licensed medical professional. The average cost of a home health aid is $20 to $30 an hour. Federal law requires home health aides to have training.
- Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNA) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA). These are professionals who provide medical care including taking vital signs, wound care, cleaning catheters and monitoring infections. They can also help with certain types of treatment. A CNA will provide assistance with daily living activities as well.
Hiring A Caregiver
Finding the right caregiver to meet your specific needs is important. Here are some ways to find qualified in-home care:
- Referrals from family members and friends
- Referrals from doctors and other health care professionals
- Licensed caregiving agencies
Here are some things to consider when hiring a caregiver:
Services – Assess your needs. Create a list of all the services you would like your caregiver to provide.
Background check – Screen candidates. Find out as much as you can about the caregiver’s background, including employment history. If possible, contact former employers. Confirm training and any credentials.
Service Agreement – Having a written agreement with your caregiver is important. It should include the services being provided, the work schedule and cost of care. Other things that can be added include how payments are handled and a cancellation policy.
If you are working with an agency, find out how long they have been in business. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints. Make sure the agency will be responsible for bonds, taxes, and insurance. Also find out about the replacement policy if your caregiver gets stick or quits.
Learn more about the Aid and Attendance Benefit To get more detailed information about the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here. Find out how the benefit and claim process works, including military, marital and financial requirements, and qualifications.