Veterans’ widows may be eligible for VA benefits that can help pay for assisted living. The benefit is called Aid and Attendance. It is a reimbursement for long-term care. The maximum benefit amount for a qualified veteran’s widow is $1,228 per month, tax-free.
What is a Veteran’s Widow?
Per VA pension regulations, a veteran’s widow is a spouse who was married to the veteran at the time of his or her passing and never remarried.
There is one exception to the marital requirement: the spouse of a deceased veteran remarried and divorced the second spouse (or the second spouse passed away) between January 1st, 1971 and November 1st,1990 and never married again.
In either case, the widow must have been married to the veteran for at least one year. A veteran’s widow who was married to the veteran for less than a year but had a child with the veteran may also be eligible for a VA pension.
A widow who marries another veteran who meets the military service requirements may qualify for the benefit as well.
Other VA Marriage Rules
A marriage is considered a marriage if it was ”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.” (Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations)
This means that the VA recognizes a veteran’s marriage if the marriage was recognized under the law of the place where at least one of the parties resided when they were married, or when the claimant (the veterans widow) became eligible for benefits.
The VA also recognizes same-sex marriages without regard to a Veteran’s state of residence, either current or previous.
The VA applies state law when determining whether or not to accept a marriage. If the state in which the veteran resides recognizes common law marriages, and the common law marriage requirements have been met, the VA will recognize the marriage.
War Era Requirements
The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one day during an eligible period of war. These war periods have been established by Congress.
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946; extended to July 25, 1947 if the veteran was in service on December 31,1946).
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955).
- Vietnam Era (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 From 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’ benefits. This period Includes Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sometimes a veteran can combine periods of active duty to meet the 90-day active duty requirement. The period of service must always include at least 1 day during wartime, no matter how many years a veteran served.
Veteran’s Widow Age Requirement
Although a veteran must be 65 years of age or older to qualify for a VA pension, the veteran’s widow can be any age.
Income and Asset Rules
When applying for the Aid and Attendance benefit, the widow must meet various VA income and asset rules. To understand more about the VA’s financial regulations, contact a Benefit Consultant today at (877) 427-8065.
Need of Care
To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, the veteran’s widow must need help with some of the activities of daily living. There are five basic types of ADLs:
- Transferring (mobility) – getting up and down stairs, in or out of bed, moving from a seating to standing position and help getting from place to place.
- Bathing – helping someone bath, adjusting the shower head or water temperature, handing someone a towel, reminders to bathe
- Dressing – assistance putting clothes on or taking them off, help picking out clothes
- Toileting – help with incontinence, getting on or off the toilet
- Feeding – helping someone eat or drink
Transitioning to an Assisted Living Facility
An assisted living facility is a long-term care residential community for individuals who need help with personal care. The purpose of an assisted living facility is to provide a safe and comfortable living environment for seniors who cannot live on their own, but do not need 24-hour medical or nursing care.
Before a person moves to an assisted living facility, a medical assessment is conducted to determine the type of care that will be needed.
Living accommodations include single and shared rooms, as well as one, two or even three-bedroom apartments. Larger units will have a living area and small kitchen.
Most assisted living facilities provide three meals a day in a common dining room. Other services include help with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, transferring, medication management, social activities, and transportation.
Some larger facilities will employ registered nurses (RN) and certified nursing assistants (CNA). Assisted living facilities are not legally required to have licensed medical professionals on-site unless the facility provides specialized care.
Paying for an Assisted Living Facility
Many factors will impact the cost of an assisted living facility, including location, the type of care that is needed, and the services that are being provided. On average, a veteran’s widow can expect to pay around $3,500 per month or more to reside in an assisted living facility.
The VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit can help a widow offset the cost of a care facility. To find out more about how the benefit and claim process works, contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at (877) 427-8065.