Veteran’s widows, also referred to as surviving spouses, may be eligible for a VA benefit called Aid and Attendance. It provides up to $1,244 in monthly compensation to help cover the cost of facility care. The benefit is tax-free and does not need to be paid back.
Aid and Attendance Eligibility
1. Wartime Service: The veteran must have served 90 days of active duty with at least one day during an eligible wartime. These wartime periods have been established by Congress as follows:
- 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 – 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.
2. Military Discharge Status: The veteran must have received anything other than a dishonorable discharge.
3. Marital Requirements: The surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran when he or she passed away, and never remarried. The spouse must have also been married to the veteran for at least a year. A surviving spouse who was married to the veteran for under a year but had a child with the veteran may also be eligible for this benefit. A veteran’s widow who remarried may also qualify for Aid and Attendance if the second marriage ended in divorce or the second spouse passed away between January 1st, 1971 and November 1st,1990 and there were no other marriages.
A marriage is “valid…according to the law of the place where the parties resided at the time of the marriage or the law of the place where the parties resided when the right to benefits accrued.” Common law marriages are recognized If the state where the veteran lives recognizes the common law marriage, and the common law marriage requirements have been met. Same-sex marriages are also recognized.
4. Need of Care: To qualify for Aid and Attendance, the surviving spouse of a veteran must need help with some of the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, eating and mobility.
|Assistance with bathing and showering, including adjusting the water temperature or shower head. Reminders to bath.
|Helping the person dress (button, zippering, tying shoes) or undress. Reminders to change clothes.
|Assistance sitting, standing, or walking, including getting in or out of a vehicle, up or down stars, in or out of a bed or chair.
|Help in and out of the bathroom, or on or off the toilet, and assistance with incontinence.
|Cutting up a person’s food or helping them eat.
5. Financial Requirements: To qualify for the benefit, the spouse must meet various income and asset requirements. The VA’s financial rules and regulations can be extremely complex. To find out if you or a loved one meet these qualifications, contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.
Assisted Living Facilities for a Veteran’s Widow
A veteran’s widow who can no longer live independently will often move to an assisted living facility. An assisted living facility (ALF) is a long-term care environment that provides accommodations, meals, help with daily living activities, recreational and social activities. There is also 24-hour supervision, security, housekeeping, and transportation to medical appointments.
There are nearly 30,000 assisted living communities around the country. ALF’s range in size from a home-like environment with a handful of residents and staff to hundreds of residents with many facility employees.
The facility will conduct a medical assessment to determine the person’s care needs before they arrive. A common requirement is that the person must be able to move from one place to another with help from a single staff person.
Assisted living facilities generally have both single and shared rooms. Some places also have apartment-like spaces with a kitchen. Most residents will have their own bathroom, but sometimes a resident will need to share a bath with others.
Some facilities specialize in a particular type of care like dementia/Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Cost of Assisted Living Facility Care
Some assisted living facilities are independently owned, while others are part of a chain.
They can cost many thousands of dollars a month, depending on the facilities location, services and the level of care that is needed. Currently the average cost of an assisted living facility is a little over $4,000 per month.
People who have substantial income and savings will often use their personal financial resources to pay for an ALF. Some individuals also have long-term care insurance to help offset the cost.
If you are a veteran’s widow and meet the requirements, the VA Aid and Attendance benefit is another way to pay for an ALF. Once the benefit is approved, it is automatically paid every month, just like Social Security.