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VA Aid and Attendance Program Overview-Helping Veterans stay independent

If you are a veteran overwhelmed with the high cost of long-term elder care, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) Aid and Attendance program may help you offset these care costs. Costs may include assisted living or long-term care communities, in-home caregivers, adult daycare. A wartime veteran or their surviving spouse with limited income and assets may be eligible to receive a non-service connected pension.

The VA Aid and Attendance Program is a monetary benefit that helps eligible veterans and their surviving spouses to pay for assistance in activities of everyday functioning. For example, activities include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, walking or skilled care in an assisted living or long-term care community. If you have existing VA pensions and benefits, you may not be eligible for this additional benefit.

VA Aid and Attendance Program Limits*

A veteran with no dependents $22,938

Surviving spouse $14,761

After a basic age test (65 or older), eligibility is based on the 4 M’s. Military service and discharge, Medical need, Marriage (if a spouse), and Money. 

MILITARY SERVICE

Veterans must be considered “wartime veterans” meaning they served at least 90 days and served at least 1 day during the wartime dates below, but not necessarily in combat.

World War II: Dec 7, 1941 – Dec 31, 1946;

Korean War: Jun 27, 1950 – Jan 31, 1955

Vietnam War: Aug 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 (or Feb 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in Vietnam);

Gulf War: Aug 2, 1990 – Undetermined

Discharge Status – Veterans cannot have been dishonorably discharged.

MARRIAGE (applies to spouse only)

A surviving spouse must have been married to a wartime veteran at the time of their death and must be single at the time of claim.

MEDICAL

The veteran (or spouse) must require help with 3 or more activities of daily living (ADLs), is unsafe to live at home due to a mental disorder, or is living in a skilled care community (nursing home or assisted living). For example, ADLs are eating, bathing/showering, toileting, dressing, transferring, and walking.

MONEY (ASSETS & INCOME)

INCOME LIMITS:  The total applicant’s (veteran and/or spouse) “countable” income must be less than the eligible pension. For example, a married veteran in 2019 is eligible for $26,765 in pension ($2,230/month). If their countable income is $10,000, then they are eligible to receive an additional $16,765 / year in pension.

CRITICAL NOTE:

The VA allows applicants to deduct out of pocket, medical-related expenses from their “countable income.” As a result, the Veteran’s actual income may exceed the limits, they may qualify after deducting high-cost, out of pocket medical expenses.

Countable Income = Annual income – (Unreimbursed Medical Expenses – 5% of Maximum Allowable Pension Rate*).

Out of pocket, medical-related expenses include the cost of care in skilled nursing, assisted living, adult day centers, at-home caregivers, Medicare and other insurance premiums, and prescriptions, not covered by insurance

KEY POINT:  When applying, you will need the actual medical-related expenses and invoices, not estimates. Further, you should NOT apply until you have incurred at least one (1) month of documented, out out of pocket, medical-related expenses.

ASSET LIMITS:  Effective, 2020 the maximum new worth limit is $129,094

Net Worth = Assets + Annual Income (see above) < $129,094

A veteran’s net worth includes assets in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds. As a result, it EXCLUDES a veteran’s primary residence and vehicle. Moreover, other items that can be excluded when determining net worth are household goods and furnishings, as well as personal effects, such as clothing.

KEY POINT:  The VA instituted an asset transfer “look-back” period, effective 10/18/18.  Any asset transfer after 10/18/18 will be counted for three years.