Retirement Planning, Elder Law, and Senior Finance

8/16/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Senior living is often costly, particularly if the individual needs extra assistance. But if a senior is also a veteran, there may be some additional veterans assistance for senior living. We look into what options are out there, and how veterans can get some financial help.

Many injured veterans return home to face various challenges. As they get older and experience the declines in function that all seniors do, those challenges might include living independently. These aging veterans may require help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing or bathing.

The cost of caring for a loved one can feel overwhelming. But there is help with assisted living expenses for senior veterans and their surviving spouses. Although not every veteran will qualify, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers an Aid and Attendance program with benefits to help if they are eligible.

Here’s how it works.

What are the senior living options for veterans?

Veterans already enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) can apply to live in a VA community living center, Armed Forces Retirement Home, or state veterans home. All three of these offer the same care services found in assisted living communities. The VHA also offers a program called Veteran-Directed Care, which helps veterans remain independent.

Can veterans get help with assisted living?

Any veteran and surviving spouse eligible for a VA pension and requiring the aid and attendance of another person could qualify for additional monthly payments above the usual pension amount. These other monthly payments are the Aid and Attendance benefits and can offset assisted living costs.

The VA doesn’t directly pay a veteran’s assisted living expenses. Instead, it offers an increased pension for them to pay assisted living costs. While assisted living expenses averaged about $4,300 per month in the U.S. in 2020, a resident’s bills can vary depending on factors such as the types of services needed, apartment size, and the location of the facility.

Who is eligible for veterans assistance for senior living?

Keep in mind that to qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefits, a veteran or surviving spouse must first be eligible for a VA pension. The eligibility requirements for the basic VA pension include:

  • An honorable discharge
  • Age 65 or older (or being permanently disabled)
  • Minimum service requirements of at least 90 days on active duty, with one of those days being during active wartime
  • A monthly income and assets below the limits set by the VA (net worth must not exceed $130,773)

To qualify for Aid and Assistance, you must also meet one of these medical requirements:

  • Require help with everyday tasks, such as dressing and bathing, from another person
  • Already live in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Have certain eyesight limitations
  • Being bedridden

Also, if a veteran spends most of the time at home because of a permanent disability, they may be eligible for Household benefits. Note that the veteran must get a VA pension to qualify and may not receive the Aid and Attendance and Household benefits at the same time.

Be aware that you must be a widowed (not-remarried) spouse of a veteran to apply for and receive VA benefits on your own. Spouses and dependents of living veterans could be eligible for benefits such as education, financial counseling, and primary health care.

How much can veterans receive for assisted living?

For both the Aid and Attendance and the Housebound benefits, the VA decides the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) that a veteran may receive. The veteran’s actual payments are then calculated by subtracting their income from the MAPR.

For example, in 2021, the maximum pension for Aid and Attendance for a veteran with no dependents is $23,283. If the veteran’s annual income is $10,000, they can receive $13,238 in pension benefits. However, if the veteran’s income is higher than the MAPR, they may still qualify for benefits since unreimbursed medical expenses over 5% of the MAPR may be deducted from the income.

Talk to the VA

With all the benefits available to veterans, it can be challenging to understand how to qualify and make the most of them. An experienced veteran benefits advisor can help veterans and their families maximize their eligibility requirements, and receive the most veterans assistance for senior living.

Related: Is There Financial Aid for Assisted Living?

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff