The VA Aid and Attendance benefit provides monthly payments added to the amount of a monthly VA pension for qualified Veterans and survivors. This pension benefit requires a specific application process and is best handled by a VA-accredited attorney. It is essential that the application be handled properly and in a timely manner.
Who is Eligible for VA Aid and Attendance Benefits?
Veterans or a surviving spouse that meet certain criteria can apply for the benefit. There are documents you will gather as supporting evidence for your application and timelines to meet during the process. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the terms and paperwork. This is a good reason to have a qualified individual handling your application.
- The veteran or spouse must have valid medical expenses, which may include long-term care needs.
- The veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge.
- The veteran must have served at least one day during a wartime period and at least 90 days on active duty.
- The veteran or spouse must meet certain asset and income restrictions.
VA Aid and Attendance Eligibility
At least one of these must be true:
- You need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing – or
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability – or
- Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)
Who Qualifies for VA Benefits for Assisted Living?
A veteran or surviving spouse that meets the VA criteria for Aid and Attendance can apply the benefit to the cost of an assisted living facility. The VA does not cover the rent but does provide a monthly allowance that helps cover the cost. For some veterans and surviving spouses, this makes all the difference when it comes to options in senior living.
Can the VA Pay for a Caregiver if I'm Not in Assisted Living?
This is where a qualified VA-accredited attorney is worth their weight in gold! For the purposes of Aid and Attendance, a spouse does not qualify to be a primary caregiver since their income was included on the application. In this case, another family member such as an adult child, grandchild, niece, or nephew would be the primary caregiver.
In the case where there is a child, family, or close friend caregiver, the veteran can utilize a personal care contract with that person to pay them for their services. The idea is that but for that person, the veteran or spouse likely would not be able to stay home alone. A properly executed personal care contract can help a veteran or spouse obtain benefits.
How Long Does It Take to Get VA Benefits for Assisted Living?
Even the VA website will tell you – it depends. They process the claims in the order they are received. However, have your application completed by a VA-accredited individual to help make sure the application is error-free and able to be processed promptly. Also, your elder law attorney who is VA-accredited knows if the application requires priority processing.
Can My VA Benefits Be Terminated?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. You can even unknowingly negatively impact your own pension benefits and that can result in termination. There are three reasons the VA may terminate benefits. Before you apply, it is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable (and accredited!) individual review your personal situation.
3 Reasons Benefits are Terminated
Clear and unmistakable error
Discovery of a fraudulent claim
Discharge disqualifications (dishonorable discharge)
Do I Ever Have to Pay the VA Back?
If you maintain eligibility the entire time you are receiving the benefit you should not have to pay the VA back. However, if at any time you are receiving benefits you do not meet the eligibility requirements, then the VA can ask for repayment. This is increasingly common, and veterans and their spouses often aren’t aware that a change of circumstance actually causes them to lose eligibility.
For example, if a veteran chooses to move into an assisted living facility, they can apply for and receive the Aid and Attendance benefit based on their circumstances and need for care at that time. If the veteran chooses to return home, they will need to notify the VA because this is a change in circumstance that may no longer qualify the veteran for the benefit. If the veteran does not notify the VA, they may be subject to repayment of any money received after leaving the assisted living facility.
Is it Important to Use a VA Accredited Aid and Attendance Attorney?
A wartime veteran puts their life and livelihood on the line for this country and has earned specific benefits in return. This benefit extends to the surviving spouse of a veteran because they, too, provided selfless service to this country. The application and receipt of these benefits should be just as decisive as the veteran’s commitment to serve.
Don’t let your benefits be derailed by someone who doesn’t complete the application properly or fails to supply the required evidence to support your claim. A VA-accredited attorney knows what documents you will need to support your claim. In addition, a public benefits lawyer accredited by the VA knows how this application can affect your overall financial plan and how to best help you achieve your goals in paying for care.
An attorney accredited by the VA is more than just someone who helps you fill out an application. They are a dedicated professional who takes your financial situation seriously and strives to help you protect the people you love and the assets you own. A public benefits lawyer helps veterans and their families figure out how to pay for assisted living in Florida every day.