Long-Term Care for Senior Veterans

In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11th as Armistice Day to honor those veterans that served in World War I. In 1954, President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day to honor the veterans of all wars. Every Nov. 11th a color guard representing all branches of services stand as the presidential wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and Taps is played.

Since its establishment in 1930 the Department of Veterans Affairs (aka DVA) has evolved to support and aid veterans in numerous ways. One of these services is the Veterans Health Administration, the largest single provider of medical care in the US with 22 regions, 154 hospitals and 875 outpatient clinics. The DVA provides three types of long term care services for veterans.

1. Health care benefits to veterans with service connected disabilities, who are receiving a VA pension or who are low income.
2. State veterans’ homes offer nursing home care. A few have assisted living and domiciliary care. There are usually waiting lists.
3. A third benefit is disability income programs. These are known as “Compensation” for service connected disability and “Pension Benefits” (but more commonly referred to as Aid and Attendance Benefits).

• Veterans that served at least 90 days active duty during a period of war are potentially eligible for Pension/Aid and Attendant benefits.
• Qualifying veterans over the age of 65 are eligible for Aid and Attendance, but must meet income and asset tests. The personal residence, vehicles, and most personal property are exempt. Those under the age of 65 must be totally disabled to qualify. Disability does not have to be service connected.
• A spouse, dependent disabled adult child, and surviving spouse that has not remarried can also qualify for Aid and Attendance.

The Aid and Attendance benefit provides income to cover the costs associated with home care, assisted living, nursing home care, adult day care, and other unreimbursed medical expenses. It can also pay a family member, other than the spouse, to be the caregiver. The amount of payment varies with the type of care, recipient’s other income, and marital status of the recipient. Claims forms are available online at VA.gov and from most local VA offices. Medical evidence is required in order to receive a rating for Aid and Attendance or housebound services.

For a free booklet with forms you may contact the National Care Planning Council and ask for “How to Apply for the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit” online at www.longtermcarelink.net. For a free flyer on the potential income available, the current asset roof, and answers to frequently asked questions call or e-mail this law office.

Veterans and their surviving spouses who are over the asset limits may do some estate planning and realigning of assets to qualify. A certified expert in this area should be sought.


Disclaimer:  Information contained in this column is meant to be of general information on frequently asked questions concerning disability, elder law, estate planning and probate law, and does not contain specific legal advice to a client.  No attorney-client relationship is created by reading this column.

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