Senior U.S. military veterans, their spouses, and surviving spouses, will often need help with personal care as they grow older. The Veterans Aid and Attendance Program can help cover the cost of the additional care, including home care, board and care, adult day care, assisted living and skilled nursing facility care.

The program, often misreferred to as the Aid and Assistance benefit, is a reimbursement for out-of-pocket caregiver and care facility expenses.

Here is a breakdown of how much a veteran or spouse can receive:

  • Surviving Spouse – The spouse of a deceased veteran can be reimbursed as much as $1,228 per month, tax-free ($14,742 per year).
  • Single Veteran – A veteran who isn’t married is eligible for up to $1,911 per month, tax-free, which is almost $23,000 per year.
  • Married Veteran – The maximum Aid and Attendance benefit for a married veteran is $2,266 per month (tax-free) which over $27,000 per year.
  • Two married veterans can receive more than $3,000 per month (over $36,000 per year, tax-free).

Marriage Requirements

The surviving spouse of a veteran must have been married to the veteran for at least a year before his or her passing.  The VA will acknowledge the 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. The VA now 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 spouse divorced the second spouse or the second spouse died between January 1, 1971 and November 1, 1990.

Eligible War Periods

An important Aid and Attendance (assistance) program qualification is that the veteran served during a recognized wartime period.  The requirement is that the veteran served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one day during wartime.

Here are the eligible periods of war:

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 off 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.

A common myth is that the veteran must have served in a combat zone to be eligible for this benefit. Except for the early Vietnam Era period (February 28, 1961 to August 4, 1964), a veteran can apply for Aid and Attendance regardless of combat zone experience, as long as the general wartime qualification has been met (90 days of active duty, with at least one day during an eligible period of war).

More Requirements

In addition to wartime service, the veteran:

  • Must be at least 65 years of age or older (spouses can be any age)
  • Need help with daily living activities
  • Meet the VA’s income and asset criteria

The veteran and spouse of a veteran can apply for benefit even if the veteran has no service-connected disability – another common misconception.

Types of Daily Living Activities

The Aid and Attendance (assistance) Program is for veterans and spouses who need help with at least two out of the five types of daily living activities:

Bathing – any help at all with bathing, including adjusting the shower head and water temperature, to actual assistance with bathing, or reminders to bath.

Dressing – assistance with buttoning, zippering, tying shoes, putting clothing on, taking clothing off; getting clothes from the closet or dresser, and reminders to change clothes.

Mobility – help getting from place to place, including up and down stairs, and in and out of a bed or a chair

Toileting – assistance with incontinence and getting on or off a toilet.

Eating – feeding someone or reminders to eat or eat healthy.

Housekeeping, running errands, medication management and transportation are not recognized by the VA as daily living activities.

Home Care vs. Facility Care

The Aid and Attendance benefit is a reimbursement for either home or facility care. Home care can be provided by a family member, friend, or professional caregiver.  The caregiver does not have to be licensed. 

At some point in time, a veteran or spouse may need to transition to a care facility such as board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing.

Board and care refers to a residential-type home with a small number of residents – 6 to 12 on average.  An assisted living facility is much larger, sometimes with hundreds of residents.

Both board and care homes and assisted living facilities provide help with daily living activities, as well as meals and social activities.

A skilled nursing facility provides medical care as well as help with daily living activities. A skilled nursing facility will have registered and licensed nurses on staff, along with certified nurse’s aides.

Filing a Veterans Aid and Attendance Program Claim

There is no guarantee that a veteran who served during a wartime period will be awarded the benefit (or a spouse who was married to a wartime veteran).  The veteran or spouse must meet all the additional requirements to fully qualify for Aid and Attendance, including stringent income and asset criteria.

Many people who apply on their own find the application process extremely difficult due to the complexity of the paperwork and other factors that can result in lengthy processing delays and denials.

If you or a loved one need help paying for long-term care, call one of our benefit consultants today at (877) 427-8065 to find out more about Aid and Attendance benefit, and how to avoid claim problems and difficulties.

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