It is widely known that basic health care and education are available to peace and wartime veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Less known is an additional needs-based benefit called the VA Improved Pension with Aid and Attendance that is available to wartime veterans and the spouses of deceased wartime veterans.
This added benefit provides additional monthly income for health-care costs that a veteran or spouse might need, such as assisted living or home health-care not covered under Medicaid. Here is an example of how that can work.
To be considered eligible, veterans must satisfy four tests. They are:
- Discharged from service other than dishonorable.
- Served 90 days or more of active duty and at least one day during a period of wartime (World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Era, Gulf War (currently serving).
- Aid of another person is needed with Activities of Daily Living (bathing, grooming, toileting, mobility or transfer issues, etc.)
- The veteran or spouse of deceased veteran is bedridden.
- The veteran or spouse of deceased veteran is in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
- A couple or individual can have no more than $80,000 in assets.
- Currently, there is no look-back period, however a three-year look back period may soon be implemented.
- The individual’s medical expenses must be more than their income:
– Monthly medical expenses
= Maximum allowable pension rate
- Maximum pension rates are:
|Veteran w/ spouse||$2,127|
|Two married Veterans||$2,846|
While the VA Improved Pension with Aid and Attendance can help with long-term health care costs, it does carry some caveats. For instance, the benefit is restricted to a wartime veteran or the spouse of a deceased wartime veteran. If the veteran is alive but a non-veteran spouse needs help, the benefit is not available.
Additionally, the application process can take between six months to a year. Upon approval, a lump sum is paid dating back to the time the application was submitted. The ideal time to apply is when a living Veteran begins to decline in health and the need for long-term health care in the home or in a facility is anticipated.