When senior veterans advance in age, they will often need help with personal care. This can include assistance with mobility, bathing, dressing and even eating. The Veterans Administration has three different caregiving programs that can help veterans get the personal care that they need so they can continue to live at home.
The first program, Home Health Aide, is available to veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system. A Home Health Aide provides help with daily living activities and other types of assistance the veteran may need. The aides are provided by local companies who have a contract with the VA.
Home Health Aides usually work between 6 and 10 hours a week. This benefit is not available in all areas. The veteran may also need to pay for some of the cost of care depending on the circumstances.
Another VA caregiving program is called the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. To qualify for this program, the family caregiver must be at least 18 years of age or older and be the spouse, daughter, son, parent or other family member of the veteran, OR live full time with the veteran or can live full time with the veteran if approved for this program.
Veteran requirements include having a VA disability rating of 70% or higher with a discharge from the U.S. military (or medical discharge). The veteran must also need at least 6 months of continuous, in-person, personal care service.
Under this program, there can be a primary and secondary family caregiver.
Program benefits include:
- A monthly payment to the caregiver
- Access to health care benefits through the CHAMPVA program
- 30 days of respite care for the veteran
- Caregiver education and training
- Mental health counseling
- Financial assistance when traveling with the veteran.
If someone is providing care to a veteran but does not meet the program’s requirements, they may still qualify for benefits through the Program of General Caregiver Support Services. This program provides help with mentoring, skills training, coaching, telephone support, online programs, and referrals.
The VA definition of a general caregiver is “a person who provides personal care services to a Veteran enrolled in VA health care who: needs assistance with one or more activities of daily living or needs supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological care or other impairment or injury.”
The third type of caregiving program provided by the VA is Aid and Attendance, a long-term care benefit for both veterans and spouses who need help with personal care. This is a
monthly reimbursement for care expenses paid out of pocket by the veteran and their spouses who live at home or in a care facility. It is a tax-free, lifetime benefit that does not need to be paid back as long as they are paying for care.
Unlike a Home Health Aide or participant in the VA family caregiver program, home care under the Aid and Attendance program can be provided by a family member, friend, or professional caregiver. And, unlike a Home Health Aide, the veteran or spouse can choose their own caregiving company to work with. There are also no limitations on how many hours the caregiver can work.
The non-service connected Aid and Attendance monthly monetary benefit amounts for 2023 are:
Surviving Spouse $1,432 Monthly / $17,184 per year
Single Veteran $2,229 Monthly / $26,748 per year
Married Veteran $2,642 Monthly / $31,704 per year
Two Vets Married $3,536 Monthly / $42,432 per year
To qualify for non-service connected Aid and Attendance, the veteran must be:
- At least 65 years of age, OR
- Have a permanent and total disability, or
- Be a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability, or
- Get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
There is no age requirement for a spouse. However, the spouse must have been married to the veteran for at least 1 year, and at the time of his passing and never remarried. In some situations, a spouse who did remarry may qualify for the benefit depending on when the marriage took place.
Eligible Periods of War
The veteran must have also served during an eligible war period such as:
- World War II: (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean War: (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam War: February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975, for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, including service on U.S. military vessels off the coast of Vietnam. August 5, 1964 – 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 including veterans who served during Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring and Operation Iraqi Freedom. At some time in the future, Congress or a Presidential Proclamation will establish the ending time for this war period.
A veteran can combine periods of active duty to meet the 90-day active-duty requirement, but the combined service periods must be during an eligible war period.
When a veteran served in peacetime and wartime during the same period, as long as their service was at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one day during an eligible period of war, they can apply for this benefit.
Military Discharge Status
The veteran must have received an honorable or anything other than dishonorable discharge. A discharge status can be corrected or upgraded to qualify for this benefit.
The VA has some financial requirements for this program. If you are interested in the Aid and Attendance benefit, the best way to determine if this program can help you or a loved one, is to speak with a Benefit Consultant at 877-427-8065 or click here.