If you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran who is considering senior living, you may have more buying power than you think. Aid and Attendance is a benefit that provides payments in addition to the monthly VA pension for qualified applicants. What’s more, with recent changes to the benefit, more applicants are qualifying and doing so earlier than ever. Learn about the difference Aid and Attendance can make to your budget.
What is Veterans Aid and Attendance?
VA Aid and Attendance can help pay for care in independent living, assisted living, home health care, adult day care or skilled nursing. You may be eligible if you receive a VA pension and meet at least one of these medical requirements.
For more information on preparing financially for retirement, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing!
In 2018, the VA made two big changes to the approval process for pensions with the Aid and Attendance benefit:
- The maximum amount of assets a claimant, whether single or married, is allowed to have is now equal to the Community Spouse Resource Allowance defined by Medicaid – which is $129,094 for 2020.
- A three-year look back period for the transfer of assets. This means that if you transfer or gift assets during this period, and the asset would have put you over the maximum amount, a penalty period not to exceed 5 years will be calculated based on the portion of the transferred assets that would have made net worth excessive.
The Benefit to Your Buying Power
By increasing the maximum amount of assets, more applicants either qualify immediately or qualify earlier than they would have before. The maximum benefit in 2020 for qualified applicants is:
- Single Veteran – $1,911 monthly
- Single Veteran with a Dependent Child – $2,266 monthly
- Married Veteran – $2,266 monthly
- Married Veteran with Spouse who needs care – $1,500 monthly
- Surviving Spouse with no Dependents – $1,228 monthly
- 2 Married Vets –
- Only 1 Vet – $2,266 monthly
- Both Vets – $3,032 monthly
As you can see, this additional, tax-free benefit could make a significant impact on your senior living buying power by:
- Opening up more options when it comes to choosing senior living communities. For example, you now may be able to afford a community located closer to family and friends. Or, a two-bedroom apartment in the senior living community of your choice instead of a studio.
- Enabling a longer stay in the community longer than your budget otherwise may have allowed. According to Elder Resource Benefits Consulting, a married veteran with $35,000 in assets, monthly income of $2,000 and monthly community fee of $4,000 with no other expenses would be out of assets in 1.45 years. However, with a monthly benefit of $2,266 they’d no longer have a shortfall.
Applying for Veterans Aid and Attendance
To apply, send a completed VA form to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state. Or, apply in person at a VA office near you.
For more information, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing!