Veteran Surviving Spouse Benefits for Assisted Living


If you are the widow of a deceased veteran, you may be eligible for veteran surviving spouse benefits for assisted living. The benefit is called Aid and Attendance. It is a reimbursement for care that pays up to $1,318 per month, tax-free.

Moving to an Assisted Living Facility

Many seniors want to live at home as long as possible, but when care needs increase, it may be necessary to transition to assisted living. The purpose of an assisted living facility is to provide as much independence as possible, along with access to help when needed.

An assisted living facility is a long-term care community that provides residents with accommodations, meals, and assistance with daily living activities, including bathing, dressing, mobility, toileting and eating. Other services include 24-hour supervision, security, recreational and social programs, nutritional help, medication management, physical and occupational therapy, and transportation to medical or dental appointments.

Accommodations at an assisted living facility include single and shared rooms. There are also facilities that have apartments with their own kitchens.

The more common health conditions of residents in an assisted living facility include heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and dementia/Alzheimer’s. Approximately 71% of residents have some type of cognitive (memory) impairment.

Some assisted living facilities only have a few residents, while others are large campuses with hundreds of people.

An important requirement for many assisted living facilities is that the person must be able to move from one place to another with the help of a single staff person.

The staff at an assisted living facility are assigned to help residents with personal care, prepare meals keep the space neat and clean, or manage daily operations. Depending on the size of the facility, you may also find registered nurses and certified nursing assistants.

Assisted living facilities range in price from around $3,500 a month to several thousands of dollars a month. Fees are based on the location of the facility and the type of help that is needed. On average, an assisted living facility costs around $4,300 per month. Currently more than 800,000 people reside in an assisted living facility (approximately 2% of the total number of seniors in the United States). It is estimated that at least 7 out of 10 people will require assisted living care during their lifetime.

A board and care (residential care) facility is another type of assisted living facility. There are approximately 6 to 12 residents at board and care homes. The services that are provided are similar to an assisted living facility, but the cost is usually less.

Medicare will usually cover up to 20 days of assisted living facility care. State Medicaid programs will also cover some of the costs, but the amount varies depending on the state. Whenever possible, most people generally want to use their own money for assisted living, which keeps them in control over the quality of their care.

Aid and Attendance Marital Requirements

To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, the surviving spouse must have been:

  • Married to the veteran when he/she passed and never remarried
  • Married to the veteran for at least a year before he/she passed away

A surviving spouse may also be eligible for benefits if the marriage lasted less than a year but resulted in a child.

In some situations, a surviving spouse who remarried can qualify for the Aid and Attendance if the second marriage ended in divorced or the second spouse passed away between January 1, 1971 and November 1, 1990.

The Veterans Administration recognizes common law marriages if the state where the veteran lives also recognize common law marriages, as well as same-sex marriages.

Wartime Service Qualifications

Another important requirement for the Aid and Attendance benefit is wartime service of at least 90 days of active duty with at least one day during an eligible wartime period.

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 War – June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955.

Vietnam Conflict – November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.

Gulf War – from August 2, 1990, to present. This period Includes Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

If the veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, he or she must have served at least 24 months or their full-service period with at least 1 day during an eligible wartime period; or was an officer and started active duty after October 15, 1981, and had not previously served on active duty for at least two years.

In addition, the veteran must have received an honorable, or anything other than dishonorable discharge.

Help with Daily Living Activities

Aid and Attendance is a long-term care benefit for veterans and spouses who need assistance with some of the activities of daily living, such as:

Mobility – Help with sitting, standing, or walking, including getting in or out of a vehicle, up or down stars, in or out of a bed or chair.

Bathing – Help with bathing and showering, adjusting the water temperature and shower head. Reminders to bathe.

Dressing – Assistance with dressing (button, zippering, tying shoes) or undressing. Reminders to change clothes.

Toileting – Help getting in and out of the bathroom, on or off the toilet, and assistance with incontinence.

Eating – Helping a person eat, cutting up their food.

Financial Requirements

There are strict income and asset regulations for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. Knowing whether you meet the criteria can be difficult due to the complexity of the requirements. To find out if you meet the qualifications, contact on our Benefit consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.

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