Veterans Aid and Attendance: Why Not Qualified Doesn’t Mean Never Qualified

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. 

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Many seniors and their families automatically rule out senior living because they assume there’s no way they can afford it. Not so fast; especially if you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran. There’s a benefit known as Aid and Attendance which can significantly expand your buying power for senior living. Here’s how. There are a range of misperceptions when it comes to the Aid and Attendance benefit which can help wartime veterans or their surviving spouse pay for senior living costs. One of the biggest is that a ‘no’ means you’re ineligible forever. That’s not true! Learn how and why eligibility can change. Many seniors and their families automatically rule out senior living because they assume there’s no way they can afford it. Not so fast; especially if you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran. There’s a benefit known as Aid and Attendance which can significantly expand your buying power for senior living. Here’s how.

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

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How Veterans Aid and Attendance Works

This benefit starts with the Basic Pension and, depending on your medical need, gives you a rating which may add additional money to your pension. But you must meet certain criteria which is generally described here:

  1. Military service – Served on Active Duty at least one day during a Period of War, at least 90 days in total and were other than dishonorably discharged. Or, your spouse at the time of their death met this criterion.
  2. Medical requirement – The medical rating is determined by the veteran’s medical situation if alive, of that of their surviving spouse. The applicant must meet at least one of these medical requirements.
  3. Financial requirement – This two-pronged requirement takes into account income and assets. Household income of the veteran or surviving spouse must be less than the pension in which you are applying. However, you can deduct your medical insurance premiums, including Medicare, as well as the cost of home care and independent or assisted living fees. The amount of assets you can have is equal to the Maximum Federal Community Spouse Resource Allowance defined by Medicaid – which is $129,094 for 2020. Assets exclude your primary home, family transportation and your normal personal possessions.

If You Don’t Qualify

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

How Can Aid and Attendance Offset Senior Living Costs?

The Aid and Attendance benefit is tax free and paid directly to you by the Treasury Department to help with senior living costs that include both assisted living and independent living.

To give you an idea of the impact this could have on your budget, the maximum benefit in 2020 for eligible 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

This increase to your buying power not only opens up more options when it comes to selecting a senior living community, but it also enables a longer stay than your budget might have otherwise allowed.

Aid and Attendance Isn’t All or Nothing

It’s also important to note that it is possible to receive a partial benefit. For example, if your income minus deductions still leaves you with a positive amount, otherwise known as Income for VA purposes, this doesn’t mean you won’t receive any benefit. As long as that income is at least one less than the maximum pension benefit, then you can receive, approximately, the difference.

How to Apply

To apply for 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!

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