Although the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit has been around since the 1950s, many people either still aren’t familiar with it or don’t fully understand how helpful it can be when it comes to paying for senior living. Even among those who are aware, there’s still the perception that Aid and Attendance isn’t worth the trouble. But with recent sweeping changes to the benefit, those naysayers couldn’t be more wrong. Learn about the changes and how they can benefit you.
For more information on preparing financially for retirement, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing!
The Facts on Veterans Aid and Attendance
If you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, the Aid and Attendance benefit can help pay for care in senior living such as independent living or assisted living as well as in home health care, adult day care or skilled nursing. If you qualify for a VA pension you may be eligible for this additional benefit if you meet at least one of these medical requirements.
Recent Changes to Veterans Aid and Attendance
In 2018, the VA made two big changes to the approval process for 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 ($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 time 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 too much.
The Benefit of Aid and Attendance Changes
By increasing the maximum amount of assets, more applicants either qualify immediately or qualify earlier than they would have before (even without transferring assets).
But if you do have assets over the maximum amount, don’t rush to transfer them. First, consider how long it will take for your assets to decline naturally and then determine if that time frame will be longer than the look-back period.
Also keep in mind that if you have a primary home you wish to rent, the VA will no longer count the home as an asset. Rather, they will keep it excluded as a primary home. This allows you maximize the earning potential of the home to pay for care while still retaining ownership.
Aid and Attendance Impact on Financial Planning
If you’re considering senior living, qualifying for the Aid and Attendance benefit gives you much more buying power. For example, 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 such, this additional (and tax-free) benefit could significantly impact your financial planning by:
- Opening up more options when it comes to choosing senior living communities.
- Enabling a longer stay in the community than your budget otherwise may have allowed.
To Apply for Veterans Aid and Attendance
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!