Last Updated on December 6, 2021 by Ian Evans
Many senior veterans are unaware of the options they have to pay for senior living. And they are even more in the dark when it comes to veteran benefits. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has the Aid & Attendance (A&A) program for veterans who seek assisted living support.
The US veterans find it challenging to live independently after they come back from their duties. They might be partially or entirely disabled. And thus, they need assisted living for their daily activities.
A&A for veterans is a great option to cover assisted living expenses. But many senior veterans lack the basic knowledge about it. And so, only a handful of them apply for the benefits.
This guide is for those who wish to utilize this opportunity. You will know how to use A&A for senior care. But before that, we need a detailed discussion on A&A and its eligibility.
What Is A&A for Veterans?
The VA has 2 basic types of assisted living benefits for veterans. The first one is the VA aid and attendance benefits. And the other one is to apply for a veteran’s home residency as a senior veteran.
Our discussion is focused on the first kind. The aid and attendance benefit are the most overlooked ones by senior veterans. As a veteran, you get veteran pensions. The A&A is an added VA benefit for assisted living over the pension.
Aid and Attendance is a need-based payment option for veterans. You get this amount over the veteran pensions you receive. The idea of the payment is to cover the long-term costs of senior living expenses.
A simple example can be paying caregivers for daily living assistance. You may need someone to move around, dress and undress, eat, groom and do other ADLs. The caregiver you hire must be paid accordingly for these tasks. How do you pay for them? You can apply for the A&A benefits as a veteran.
Along with this, you are automatically eligible for A&A when you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. And there are many more eligibility criteria as well. We will discuss this in the latter part of the article.
VA Aid and Attendance finances
The VA has set an upper limit for veterans with a net worth of $123,600. This does not include residence, automobile and personal effects of the applicant. The department also checks back to 3 years to verify the asset sales.
An upper limit is also present on the deduction of monthly countable income and various expenses. Some of the expenses can be out-of-pocket medical bills, unreimbursed medical bills and health insurance premiums.
The A&A benefit is the amount after deducing countable income from the upper limit. Are you looking for the whole financial table? Find it on Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit Eligibility.
Veteran Aid and Attendance: What It Covers and What It Doesn’t Cover
Seniors can use aid and attendance when they cannot cover assisted living expenses. This benefit applies to veterans of assisted living and their spouses. So, it covers the costs of senior living facilities. But also, there are a few things that the benefit will not cover.
Costs that A&A cover
Using A&A, veterans and their spouses can cover expenses of various facilities besides independent living. The benefit manages costs related to memory care, nursing home, assisted living and home care services.
You can utilize the benefits of VA aid and attendance for any of these facilities. But there are two conditions to keep in mind. First, the community service veterans pick has to provide a 24-hour care service. And the second condition is that the veteran must require help with at least 2 activities of daily living (ADLs).
Things that A&A doesn’t cover
When it comes to covering assisted living costs, A&A won’t cover everything. The benefit partially manages finances for specific assistance of daily living. So, this is something veterans or their surviving spouses can apply for.
But the essential factor is that you must be eligible for the A&A benefit. And this is something seniors get over the veteran pension amount. So, let’s check out the eligibility criteria.
You Might be Easily Eligible for the A&A Benefits
A&A eligibility may be easier than you assume. And if you already have an illness, you are halfway there. But many are not aware of this correctly.
Another problem with the eligibility criteria is that many don’t consider it as a viable option. A&A is an excellent resource for veterans who struggle to pay for senior living services. And you can also apply for your spouse’s medical care under this benefit.
A great thing about veteran A&A is that you don’t have to sustain service-related injuries. You will only need to be in service for at least one day of the 90-day military service during wartime. And there are some more criteria you need to fulfill before applying.
Here are the list of criteria
There are a few criteria you need to fulfill for A&A benefits. The complete list is as follows:
- The first criterion is about senior living. You must already be living in a senior living facility. Or you can have a caregiver at your home taking care of your ADLs.
- The second criterion is that you must be receiving VA pensions. If you are not receiving, you must apply for the VA pensions beforehand. The requirements for VA pension are like veteran A&A.
- To be eligible for VA pension and VA aid and attendance, you must have never been dishonorably discharged.
- As a veteran, you must have served at least 90 days before September 8, 1980. This active duty must also fulfill at least one day of war duty during wartime.
- If you have served after the mentioned date, you must have been active for 24 months. This also means that you must have served at least one day during wartime.
- There is also an age limit on the list. Your age must be at least 65. You must also have a permanent disability. And for the disability, you must be living in a nursing home. If you aren’t living in a nursing home, you must be receiving Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.
So, now the question comes- what are the wartime periods considered by VA?
VA wartime service required for A&A
The Veteran Affairs department has 6 wartime periods listed. These are as follows:
- The Mexican Border War Period: This war lasted around 11 months. It started on 9th May 1916 and ended on 5th April 1917.
- The First World War: World War I lasted about 19 months, from 6th April 1917 to 11th November 1918.
- The Second World War: World War II lasted for a whole 5 years. The war period is counted from December 7, 1941, to December 13, 1946.
- The Korean Conflict: This is another 5-year wartime period. The date is counted from June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955.
- The Vietnam War: This wartime period has two categories. The first one is for the ones who served from inside the country. This period is from February 28, 1965, to May 1975. And the second category is for any other veterans. This period is from 5th August 1964 to 7th May 1975.
- The Gulf War: This is one war that has no ending period. It started on 2nd August 1990 and is still undecided by the presidential order.
Financial requirements to A&A eligibility
As of 30th November 2021, a veteran must have a net worth of below $130,773. Congress has set this limit. This net worth includes the following 2 things:
The annual income of the veteran. This includes salary, bonus, Social Security Benefits, retirement payments and any other income.
The total amount of assets. This consists of any personal property. But it excludes the loved one’s home and vehicle.
Clinical requirements to A&A eligibility
You will also need to fulfill some more requirements for A&A benefits. And the last type of criteria is the clinical requirements. You must satisfy any one of the following:
- You have a caregiver to assist you with your ADLs.
- You are bedridden from a severe sickness.
- You are living in a nursing home.
- You have a visual impairment. This can be 5/200 or less in both your eyes. Or you may have a visual field of a maximum of 5 degrees.
How to Use A&A for Senior Care: Apply for A&A
Assisted living for veterans can be a crucial decision. But paying for it can be challenging. But, now you know that you can use veteran A&A benefits for this. So, how do you apply?
You can apply for this benefit by completing the VA Form 21-2680. The form is very easy to complete. But a doctor must fill-up the section III of the form. You can easily fill out the other 2 sections of the form. You will need the following information for that:
- VA file number
- Social security number
- Your service number as a veteran
You can also add some extra documents to prove the need for the benefit. For example, you can include your medical report. But this is not mandatory.
Yet, there is an additional form that you need to submit with the original form. This document is necessary if you are living in a nursing home. You must fill up and submit this form: Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance.
Other documents may involve your disability information. For example, you can send a report on how it affects your ADLs. But, again, these are not mandatory documents.
You can find more information on the official VA website. Overall, the process can take a significant amount of time to conclude. It can take around 9 months. Thus, it is best to make sure that you submit an error-free application.
Get help for your A&A application
You can get help from many resources to apply for veteran A&A. We understand it’s not easy for an elderly person. So, here is where you can find support for the whole process.
You can find help from the Veteran Service Officers (VSO) at the VA regional office.
You can also seek VA consultants and Elder Law Attorneys for help.
Living in senior care facilities is not so cheap! We know that. And seniors and their loved ones know that. Yet, these facilities are the best options to lead the last few years of a veteran’s life.
As a veteran, you might think you are helpless. But you are definitely not! The VA benefits offer you as much help as possible. The VA aid and attendance benefit are the best to manage these expenses.
So, knowing how to use A&A for senior care is a must. This article focuses exactly on that. If you are reading this, you should know everything you need to know by now.
The final task is to browse through our website to find the best senior living assistance.