Veterans Aid and Attendance Myth Busters

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When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



When it comes to Veterans Aid and Attendance, it can be hard to separate myth from reality. The benefit is intended to help wartime veterans or their surviving spouse pay for care in independent living, assisted living, home health care, adult day care or skilled nursing.  The VA provides a pension benefit toward rent for those who meet qualifications.   The application process can be complex and confusing and often misinterpreted. Unfortunately, this causes far too many seniors to either miss out on the full benefit to which they are entitled.  The process is so daunting many do not  attempt the process. We can help by clearing up some of the most common myths.

For more information on preparing financially for retirement, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing!

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Myth: To qualify for Aid and Attendance you must have served in a combat zone.

Reality: To qualify, the veteran must have served during an eligible wartime period. Except for the Vietnam wartime period of February 28, 1961 to August 4, 1964 there is no requirement that the veteran must have served in a combat zone. The service criteria are 90 days of active duty, with at least 1 day during an eligible wartime period and the veteran was other than dishonorably discharged. Or, your spouse at the time of their death met these criteria.

Myth: Veterans Aid and Attendance is only for service-related disabilities.

Reality: While there are benefits for service-related disabilities, Aid and Attendance is not one of them. Rather, the applicant must be eligible for the basis pension and must meet at least one of these medical requirements.

Myth: The surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran when he or she was enlisted to qualify for Aid and Attendance.

Reality: A surviving spouse is considered eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit if he or she was married to the veteran at the time of their passing and has not remarried. The spouse must have been married to the veteran for one year prior to their death unless there was a baby, and  have been living with the veteran the year before their death, unless living separately for medical reasons.

Myth: A spouse can only receive Aid and Attendance if the veteran has passed away.

Reality: If a veteran is still married and his or her spouse needs care, they are considered a dependent spouse. A married veteran can be awarded a Basic Pension if he or she has a dependent spouse as long as eligibility requirements are met.

Myth: You should not apply for Aid and Attendance until your assets are below $80,000.

Reality: In 2018, the VA adjusted the maximum amount of assets an applicant, whether single or married, is allowed to have. It’s now equal to the Community Spouse Resource Allowance defined by Medicaid ($129,094 for 2020). If you do have assets over the maximum amount, don’t rush to transfer them however. 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 3-year look-back period.

Myth: Your home always counts as an asset.

Reality: If you wish to rent your primary home, the VA no longer counts it as an asset. This allows you maximize the earning potential of the home to pay for care while still retaining ownership.

Myth: You can’t receive a partial benefit for Aid and Attendance.

Reality:  It’s not all or nothing; you can get a partial benefit. For example, if your income minus home care and facility costs leave you with a positive number or “Income for VA Purposes,” but one less than the Maximum Pension Benefit, you can receive the approximate difference between the Maximum Pension and the calculated Income for VA Purposes.

Myth: Aid and Attendance will not help pay for independent living.

Reality: In 2018, the VA changed its rule on custodial care expenses (non-medical care that helps individuals with activities of daily living and basic care needs). Although a medical professional typically recommends it, the actual providers of custodial care are not necessarily medical professionals themselves. This paved the way for veterans or their surviving spouse to become eligible for Aid and Attendance from home care to independent living to assisted living to skilled care as long as they receive the basic VA pension and continue to meet medical criteria.

Myth: If you don’t qualify for Veterans Aid and Attendance now, you never will.

Reality: If the reason a veteran or surviving spouse is ineligible is because you didn’t meet the medical and/or the financial requirement, keep in mind that medical conditions, income and assets change over time. This means that although you may be ineligible now, that may not be the case later. Aid and Attendance is not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ benefit, rather it’s an ‘if’ and ‘when’ benefit.

Myth: Aid and Attendance is not a lifetime benefit.

Reality: It is a lifetime benefit as long as the veteran or surviving spouse remains qualified. As such, you are obligated to inform the VA of any changes to income, assets or monthly unreimbursed medical expenses.

For more information, check out our Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing!

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