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Hidden Care Benefits for Veterans and Surviving Spouses

August 17, 2020

As you age, long term care costs can add up quite quickly costing you and your family a huge dent in your income. However, many veterans and their surviving spouses don’t know about the benefits they’re entitled to for long term care needs.

What Is Aid and Attendance?

Whether you are a veteran or a surviving spouse who is in need of in home care or are in a nursing home, the Veterans Administration has an underused pension benefit called Aid and Attendance.

If you are familiar with the Veterans Administration or have tried to receive benefits before and were denied due to your income being above the VA’s legal limit, you may still qualify for assistance. If you have reoccurring medical bills that you do not receive assistance on then you might be in luck. According to the Aid and Attendance qualifications, income does not include welfare or supplemental security income. While the VA’s legal limit states you must have an income under the Max Annual Pension Rate listed below, medical bills paid out of pocket that you do not receive reimbursement from your insurance on need to be deducted first.

How Aid and Attendance Works

According to the Veterans Administration, the amount you receive in benefits depends on your income. This means that the VA will pay the difference between what your annual income is and the Max Annual Pension Rate.

Max Annual Pension Rate

  • Single Veteran: $21,531
  • Veteran with one Dependent: $25,525
  • Surviving Spouse: $13,836
  • Surviving Spouse with one Dependent: $16,506

See How It Works

If Beverly, a surviving spouse, receives Social Security of $17,500 a year and a pension of $4,500 a year, her total income would be $22,000 a year. At first glance, this exceeds the VA’s Max Annual Pension Rate for a surviving spouse. However, let’s say she pays $18,000 a year for home health care, $1,500 a year for Medicare, and $1,200 for supplemental insurance. In this case, her total medical expenses would be $20,700. This means that if she subtracts her medical expenses from her income ($22,000 – $20,700), Beverly’s countable income would only be $1,300. According to the rules and regulations for the Aid and Attendance benefit, Beverly could qualify if you take the VA’s Max Annual Pension Rate for a surviving spouse and subtract her countable income ($13,836 – $1,300). According to these calculations, that means Beverly could be eligible for $12,536 in Aid and Attendance benefits.

Other Qualifications to Remember

  • You must have less than $80,000 in assets (excluding your home and vehicle)
  • The veteran must have at least 90 days of wartime
  • Need assistance for everyday tasks (including but not limited to bathing, feeding, dressing, using the bathroom etc.)
    *Note: you do not need to have a disability to qualify

The VA’s rules also state that the medical expenses that are being calculated for must be unreimbursed. These unremimbursed medical expenses can include:

  • Medicare
  • Medigap and long-term insurance premiums
  • Long-term care costs
  • Nursing home fees
  • Regular doctor visit fees
  • In-home care for medical or nursing services
  • The cost of an assisted living facility
  • Over-the-counter medications recommended by your physician and other reoccurring medical expenses

Just remember that any calculated expense must not include what your insurance pays or reimburses you for.

Ready to Sign Up?

So, if you do meet the Veterans Administration’s qualifications and have an income under the Max Annual Pension Rate after recalculated your countable income, you could be receiving benefits.

To apply today visit a VA office near you or visit their Aid and Attendance benefits page at www.veteranaid.org.