In talking with many individuals and couples across the country, I find there’s much misunderstanding and confusion about VA benefits for extended care needs. There are some basic facts about the Aid and Attendance Benefits that can help.
- Eligibility starts with serving at least one day during wartime, which includes WWII, Korean Conflict, Vietnam and Gulf War. There are cutoff dates for each.
- Applications take approximately six to nine months to process.
- Benefits can be paid for housebound veterans as well as ones in facility care. Each has a different required level of care need. Care for housebound must be required on a ‘regular basis’. Aid and Attendance assistance must be required on a ‘daily basis’.
- Benefits are available to veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an assisted living facility also qualifies.
- Benefits can be paid even if family members are caregivers.
- Benefits are “means tested”, and are therefore determined based on income, assets and needs. Spouse’s income and assets are included.
- To qualify, generally, assets can’t exceed $80,000, not including your home and your vehicle.
- MAPR or Maximum Annual Pension Rate for a veteran with spouse or one dependent is $25,022.
Two veterans married to each other and both qualifying have an MAPR of $32,100, while a single veteran without dependents has an MAPR of $21,107. A widow with no dependents and with Aid and Attendance has an annual MAPR of $13,563.
Because of the income and asset limits and particularly the length of claim times involved, I encourage clients to consider that these benefits can help relieve some of the cost of care they decide to retain AFTER they obtain long term care insurance. I don’t suggest considering the Aid and Attendance benefits as primary benefits for their Total Care Planning.
Websites that can help: