Do you or a loved one need nursing home care? The services at skilled nursing facilities can be very expensive. Depending on the location, shared rooms can range anywhere from $50,000 to over $200,000 a year.
If you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services, you may be eligible for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which can help cover the cost of a nursing home.
Aid and Attendance is a reimbursement benefit for veterans and spouses who need long-term care. The benefit pays up to $2,295 per month for a married veteran, and up to $1,936 per month for a single veteran.
To qualify for the benefit, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty and with a minimum of one day during a wartime period.
The eligible periods of war are:
- World War II – December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946; extended to July 25, 1947 if the veteran was in service on December 31,1946).
- Korean conflict – June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955.
- Vietnam Era – February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, including service on U.S. military vessels off the coast of Vietnam. From August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for active duty military personnel stationed anywhere in the world.
- Gulf War – August 2, 1990 to present. Anyone who served in the Gulf War beginning on August 2, 1990 is considered a veteran and eligible for veterans’ benefits. This period Includes Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Additionally, the veteran must have left U.S. military service with an honorable, general, or other than dishonorable discharge. A dishonorable discharge is the worst type of dismissal from the U.S. Armed Services. It generally results from a serious criminal offense or a significant breach of duty such as deserting one’s post.
Another key requirement is that the veteran or spouse need help with some of the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, mobility, eating and toileting. All skilled nursing facilities provide help with daily living activities, in addition to certain types of medical assistance.
About Nursing Homes
A nursing home is a type of care facility for someone that:
- Does not need to be hospitalized, but
- Cannot live on their own, and
- Needs more assistance than the help provided at an assisted living facility.
The facilities are licensed, as well as inspected and regulated by the state’s Department of Health Services.
Nursing homes will have a skilled nurse on the premises 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Skilled nurses are trained nursing professionals that include registered nurses and licensed practical nurses that work under the supervision of a registered nurse.
Skilled nursing care includes medical monitoring, medical treatments, therapy, dispensing and monitoring intravenous medications, and attending to post-operative wounds.
Other services provided by a skilled nursing facility include:
- Help with daily living activities
- Medication management
- Social activities
- Educations activities
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
Types of VA Nursing Homes
There are approximately 100 VA nursing homes around the country. These are primarily short-term care facilities for veterans who need medical help in addition to assistance with daily living activities. Some VA nursing homes may accept Veterans for long-term care depending on the situation.
VA nursing homes are also called Community Living Centers. Most are located near a VA hospital. To qualify for admittance to a VA nursing home the veteran must be enrolled in the VA health care system.
The Veteran must also:
- Have a service-connected disability rating of 70% or more.
- Need nursing home care for a service-connected disability.
- Have a total disability rating based on unemployability.
- Received an honorable, general, or other than dishonorable discharge.
- Be physically and mentally stable.
Veterans who qualify for a VA nursing home may be asked to pay part of the cost of the facility.
An example of a VA Community Living Center is the West Palm Beach VAMC.
The VA also contracts with community skilled nursing homes that provide long-term care. These homes can be found in various locations nationwide.
Some or all of the cost of a Veteran’s community nursing home may be covered by the VA. The amount of co-pay will often depend on the veteran’s financial situation, service-connected disability rating and level of disability.
Another type of VA nursing home is a State Veterans Nursing Home. State homes can be found in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico. They were started after the Civil War to help homeless and disabled veterans. The Veterans Administration does not own or manage these facilities. They are run by State governments.
Each state has their own criteria for admission. Generally, eligibility is based on availability and need of care. Sometimes the VA will help pay for a State Veterans Nursing Home.
As an example, the Maine Veterans Home in Augusta, Maine accepts veterans who were honorably discharged and residents of Maine when they entered service, or are residents of Maine when applying for admission. The facility accepts private pay, long-term care insurance, Medicare and MaineCare. There are 120 beds at the facility for nursing and skilled care, and 30 beds for residential care.