As a veteran, there are tools and benefits in place to help cover the cost of assisted living. We’ve laid out some of the basics below to help navigate those tools and benefits. However, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your local VA office for more information.
Aid & Attendance
Specifically, it’s the Aid & Attendance (A&A) benefit that you’ll want to look into. Before we get into some of the different aspects of the A&A, let’s go over the initial factors required for eligibility.
This benefit is available to a veteran or their spouse. The benefit is available solely to wartime veterans, who are distinguished by having served for at least 90 days, with at least one day served during the following wartime dates:
- World War II: Dec 7, 1941 – Dec 31, 1946
- Korean War: Jun 27, 1950 – Jan 31, 1955
- Vietnam War: Aug 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 (or Feb 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in Vietnam)
- Gulf War: Aug 2, 1990 – Undetermined
The veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged. For a veteran or their spouse looking to claim the A&A benefit, they must be at least 65-years-old, or if they’re younger, they must be disabled. For the spouse of a deceased veteran looking to utilize the A&A benefit, they must have been living with the veteran at the time of their death, and they must be single at the time they are making the claim.
Application of Benefit
The A&A benefit takes the form of a monthly payment that gets added on to your existing monthly pension. The benefit can only be collected if it is put toward one of the following:
- Assisted Living
- In-Home Care
- Payment of an Adult Child Acting as a Caregiver
Previously, there were no set income limits for those seeking the A&A benefit. The VA had made an assessment on a case-by-case basis to determine need, weighing the assets of a veteran and their spouse against cost of living over time. However, in October of 2018, new guidelines took effect.
First, whether the applicant is single or married, their net worth cannot exceed $123,600. If net worth is above this total, the applicant will not be able to receive the A&A benefit. The second major change relates to the “look back period.” Medicaid, another form of benefit assistance, is also tied to income limits. For Medicaid applicants, there is a five-year look back period where any gifts or asset transfers (say to family members for example) garner a penalty. Previously, there was no look back period associated with applying for VA benefits. As of 10/18/2018, a three-year look back period was implemented. However, any assets transferred before that date are not subject to penalty.
We hope this gets you started on finding and paying for senior living as a veteran or the spouse of a veteran. If you’re looking for a great senior living community in the suburbs of Chicago, contact Lexington Square. There are a number of veterans that make up our communities in Elmhurst, IL and Lombard, IL. Additionally, be sure to check out the VA guide to assisted living.