May 1, 2021

Your Advocacy Connection

By Kathy Nitz
GolderCare Solutions

Help for Veterans and Surviving Spouses

Whether you are a Veteran or family of a Veteran, you might have heard that obtaining benefits can be quite a task. The VA offers numerous services and programs but many vets are not aware that there are benefits available to qualifying Veterans and their surviving spouses, solely because they need more care as they age. We are living longer and our Veterans deserve the best care they can receive. Unfortunately, care costs are rising to astronomical levels, making families worried about whether they can afford the care they need.

Many families are finding relief to rising costs with the assistance of the VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefit. Veterans and surviving spouses of veterans who are eligible for a VA pension and require the assistance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for an additional monetary direct payment ranging from approximately $1,200 to $2,900 per month.

VA Aid and Attendance is ideal for In-home care or Assisted Living. This level of care is generally an unreimbursed medical expense that will assist in qualifying you for benefits. Independent Living costs may be considered an unreimbursed medical expense under certain situations and certain medical conditions. VA Aid and Attendance is a great resource to utilize for these lower levels of care. Since the cost of care in a Nursing Home is significantly more than that of Assisted Living or In-home care, Long Term Care/Institutional Medicaid would be a better resource to help pay for this level of care as VA Aid and Attendance benefits would not likely cover your care costs in a nursing home.

VA Aid and Attendance is NOT an entitlement program. You or your spouse must meet service criteria as well as asset and income criteria and you must have unreimbursed medical expenses. Unreimbursed medical expenses are “out of pocket” medical expenses not covered by insurance or another payer source being paid out for the Veteran, the veteran’s spouse, or the veteran’s dependent child. These could include assisted living level housing, in-home care services, durable medical equipment, medical insurance and medical supplies.

It’s easy to misinterpret the VA rules and there are many steps to qualify. Guidelines go beyond a simple asset review. The VA also takes into account your age and an approximation of how long your assets will sustain you. The published asset level is only a starting guideline. All benefits require certain criteria be met. The rules changed in the last couple of years and if you were denied under the old rules, there may be opportunities for you now.

If VA Aid & Attendance could benefit to you, GolderCare would be a great resource as you seek your benefits. We guide our clients to know what you may qualify for and ensure you are ready before you make application. It is prudent to have a plan and be prepared before applying for benefits. Let us be your guide to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve and are considering all the aspects of your long-term care journey.

If you are interested in learning more about the VA Aid & Attendance program, we invite you to join us for our upcoming Free Aging Empowerment series education webinar. We will discuss benefits available, the steps to apply and pitfalls to avoid disqualifications.

Our Aging Empowerment Series Webinars are free and open to the public.

Join us at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 27. Call 309-764-2273 or email: info@goldercare.com for more information on how to join us!

Kathy Nitz is the Lead Benefits Advocate for GolderCare Solutions. She uses her wealth of knowledge and experience in benefits planning to advocate for seniors and those who are disabled. You can reach GolderCare at (309) 764-2273 and learn more at www.goldercare.com.