Do you or a loved one need help with personal care?
Most World War II veterans are now 90 years of age or older. Many have physical limitations that make it difficult for them to live independently. They will often need assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, walking or getting in and out of bed.
The Veterans Administration’s Aid and Attendance benefit can help senior veterans pay for long-term care at home. It can also be used to cover the cost of adult day care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing. Aid and Attendance is a tax-free benefit that does not need to be paid back.
Because daily living activities are not considered medical tasks, home care can be provided by a family member (not a spouse), friend or professional caregiver. The person does not need to be licensed to provide care to a senior veteran at home. An in-home caregiver is also called a home health aide, companion or sitter. The average cost of an in-home caregiver is between $25 and $35 per hour.
Adult day care centers offer various activities for seniors who need supervised care during the day.
A board and care home is a residential care facility for seniors. Board and care homes are smaller in size than an Assisted Living Facility, with an average of 6 to 12 residents.
Assisted Living Facilities are larger care facilities that provide housing, social activities and personal care.
Skilled nursing facilities are residences for individuals who need medical care in addition to help with activities of daily living. Skilled nursing facilities will have registered and licensed nurses on staff, as well as certified nurse’s aides.
Aid and Attendance Military Requirements
A key requirement for the Aid and Attendance benefit is wartime service. Here are the eligible periods of war as defined 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 of the coast of Vietnam, and 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: August 2, 1990 to a date that will eventually be set by law or presidential proclamation.
In addition, the veteran must have:
- Started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during wartime, or
- Started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period, and called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions) with at least 1 day during wartime, or
- Were an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and had not previously served on active duty for at least 24 months
Aid and Attendance Care Requirements
The VA recognizes 5 types of daily living activities – bathing, dressing, mobility, toileting and feeding. To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, the veteran must need help with at least two of these tasks, even if it is only stand-by (occasional) assistance.
Here is a more in-depth description of each ADL:
- Bathing refers to any help at all with bathing, showering and grooming, including adjusting the water temperature, as well as reminders to bathe.
- Mobility includes sitting, standing or walking; getting in and out of bed, to or from a chair, needing help up and down stairs, or assistance in and out of a vehicle.
- Dressing, such as getting dressed or undressed; help with buttoning, zippering, tying shoes or getting clothes out of a closet, reminders to change clothes, and help picking out clothes.
- Eating – cutting up food, feeding; reminders to eat or eat healthy.
- Toileting – Help getting on or off the toilet or help with incontinence.
Income and Assets
Aid and Attendance for Spouses
The surviving spouse of a veteran can also receive the Aid and Attendance benefit if he or she was married to the WWII veteran for at least a year before his or her passing.
The VA will recognize a marriage if the marriage was recognized according to the laws of the place where at least one of the parties resided when they were married, or when the person applying for benefits became eligible for the benefit.
The VA also recognizes same-sex marriages without regard to a Veteran’s state of residence.
If a spouse remarried to a non-veteran after the veteran passed, he or she would only be eligible for benefits if the second marriage resulted in a divorce or second spouse passed away between January 1, 1971 and November 1, 1990.
The 2021 Aid and Attendance benefit amounts are:
Veterans who are currently receiving VA disability compensation may also be eligible for Aid and Attendance. The amount will depend on the veteran’s service-connected disability rating and how much they are currently receiving. Generally, the VA will pay the higher of the two benefit amounts.
More About Aid and Attendance
The Aid and Attendance benefit has been around for a long time, but many people do not understand the qualifications and requirements. Here are some common misunderstandings about the benefit.
- The veteran must have served in a combat zone – this is not a requirement for WWII veterans who served during the eligible wartime period.
- The veteran must have a service-connected disability – this is not a requirement for Aid and Attendance.
- Spouses are not eligible for the benefit – a spouse can qualify for Aid and Attendance if he or she meets the spousal requirements (see above).
- You can only hire a caregiver through a home care agency – an in-home caregiver can also be a friend or family member.
- You must be receiving a basic pension before you can apply for the benefit –the Aid and Attendance benefit include the VA’s Basic Pension.
- You can only use the benefit for assisted living or skilled nursing facility care – Aid and Attendance can be used for home care.
- You must be in the VA system before you can submit a claim – this is not a requirement.