First, why might a Veteran choose home health care?
A new trend in senior care: Aging in place
“Aging in place” is a term that simply means staying in your own home as you get older, rather than moving to an assisted care facility or in with family. Research from the AARP shows that 3 out of 4 adults prefer to be able to stay in their homes and communities as they age. In fact, seniors born after 1931 are much more likely to keep their homes throughout their golden years than the cohorts that came before them.
Why Veterans might choose elder care at home
When elders decide to age in place, they are able to maintain a continuity of friendships and activities throughout their lives. Now, the Covid-19 pandemic has given older adults another reason to want to stay in their own homes.
Veterans have the same great reasons as other seniors to want to age in place. But aging in place usually requires some level of involvement from family or hired caregivers, who will have to come to the home to provide care.
Aid and Attendance: Providing long-term health care for Veterans
Aid and Attendance provides extra financial help to Veterans and their families to offset the costs of long-term health care. That is, it compensates for medical expenses associated with conditions that cause disablement, including aging. The cost of hiring health aid workers, for instance, if not otherwise covered by insurance or benefits, counts as a “qualifying unreimbursed medical expense” that VA is willing to cover.
What is the Aid and Attendance benefits allowance?
Determining Benefit Eligibility for Texas Veterans
Assuming all other eligibility criteria are met, the VA will determine your benefit rates by comparing your maximum annual pension rate (or MAPR) to your gross monthly income, less qualified unreimbursed medical expenses.
The Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) and Aid and Attendance
The MAPR is the rate set by the US Congress that determines the maximum income you can maintain while still receiving compensation from the VA. If you qualify for Aid and Attendance, your rate will be higher than a regular VA pension.
With Aid and Attendance added, an individual Veteran’s MAPR is:
- $22,939 for those without dependents
- $27,195 for those with one dependent
- add $2,351 for each additional dependent
With Aid and Attendance added, an individual’s maximum benefits per month are
- $1,912 per month for those with no dependents
- $2,266 per month for those with one
- add $196 for each additional dependent
How does a Veteran qualify for Aid and Attendance?
Veterans and their spouses are eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits through the VA. However, eligibility depends on a few different factors.
- You must qualify for a VA pension
To be eligible to receive Aid and Attendance, you must qualify for a VA pension. This determination is based on the following:
You must have served in active duty in the U.S. military during wartime for at least 90 days.
Age or Disability
You must be age 65 or older, or living with a long-term or permanent disability.
If you meet the service and age/disability requirements, you qualify for a pension through the VA, and may be eligible to receive Aid and Attendance. You can also visit our Veteran’s Benefits webpage about qualifying for a VA pension to learn more about this.
- You must need help with the activities of daily life
The Aid and Attendance benefit pays for aid in daily activities and attendance by health professionals. Therefore, you can receive this benefit if you …
… need help with everyday activities, such as bathing, eating, or dressing.
… are immobilized or confined to bed due to illness or disability.
… have severely limited vision.
… are living in a nursing home.
All of these conditions indicate that long-term care is necessary, so Aid and Attendance will be able to help.
- You must demonstrate financial need
The US Congress sets a maximum amount of money that can be awarded based on family income and assets. Those showing more than $129,094 in assets or a monthly income above the MAPR (see above) are excluded from receiving Aid and Attendance benefits.
Still not sure if you are eligible for Aid and Attendance?
Holman Law can help you find out.
We specialize in elder care and estate planning, and want to ensure that you receive every possible benefit for which you can qualify. Contact us right now to set up a consultation.
Types of Assisted Living and Home Health Care Covered by Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Benefits
Using VA benefits to pay for at-home senior care
Aid and Attendance cannot be used to pay for home improvements such as adding extra handrails to your house. However, it can still help offset the costs of aging in place by compensating at-home care. Below, you will find two options for using Aid and Attendance for at-home care.
Paying a family member as a caregiver
Perhaps an individual aging in place is more comfortable with a family member providing care. Or perhaps a family member has already been helping out with the activities of daily living. Fortunately, the Aid and Attendance program can compensate family members for their caregiving work.
Keep in mind that for the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit calculation, family members offering care must be properly documented and support their with evidence for the VA application. A successful VA application means that family labor can be compensated by monthly VA checks.
Paying a third-party home health care provider
As long as third-party health care providers offer assistance with the activities of daily living – and as long as that assistance is needed by a Veteran applicant – their fees may be used to maximize the VA pension benefit. A third-party home health aide can come to an individual’s home so that individuals need not move to an outside location. As a result, they can be allowed to age in place even in the absence of close family members nearby.
Using Aid and Attendance to pay for nursing home alternatives
Residential group homes as an option for Veterans
Aid and Attendance can pay for nursing homes, but it can also pay for residential group homes, a more affordable, small-scale alternative to assisted living facilities. Group homes usually have far fewer residents: there are often just 5-8 residents in a typical home. And even though they usually offer fewer amenities than more expensive facilities, they still provide a 24-hour care assistant.
Licensed senior care residences can provide a more home-like experience to seniors who cannot stay alone at home. To the benefit of Veterans, if the facility properly documents its expenses, they can be covered by the Aid and Attendance program.
Aid and Attendance is one of the best VA benefits to have
As long as you qualify and gather the proper documentation, there are a number of ways to use VA Aid and Attendance benefits to fit your or your loved one’s preferences and needs. Creative thinking and careful planning will lay the groundwork for a best-case scenario regarding long-term care. If you are an eligible Veteran or surviving spouse, Holman Law can walk you through your options and ensure you gain the maximum benefit from Veteran’s Affairs.
Steven C. Holman
Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney
I love to spend time with my wife and three children and serving the Dallas Fort Worth community. I provide clients with a wealth of knowledge and experience navigating each individual’s Estate Planning needs including Trusts, Probate, Elder Care Law, and Long Term Care Planning. My law firm specializes in assisting clients with complicated legal forms and qualifying for the maximum Medicaid and Veteran (VA) benefits in Texas.