(2009)Many older adults and people living with a disability wish to remain independent in their own homes as long as possible.

Recently the nation celebrated Veterans Day. Rightly so – veterans and their families sacrifice mightily for our country.

One benefit Uncle Sam has conferred in return is the “Aid and Attendance” and the “Housebound” pension to help with the cost of some long-term care. Under this program, qualifying veterans can receive monthly payments to defray the costs of care. Widows of veterans can also receive benefits.

Payment amounts vary, depending on whether the applicant is in a residential facility or at home, and whether there is a dependent. To give a couple of examples, in 2016 a veteran with one dependent needing regular aid and attendance could receive up to $2,120 per month; a surviving spouse of a veteran could receive up to $1,149 per month.

The rates are adjusted each year for inflation.

Who qualifies?

In general, the eligibility requirements are:

  • 90 or more consecutive days of active military service, including at least one day during official wartime
  • a discharge other than dishonorable
  • permanent and total disability, meaning the inability to hold substantially gainful employment; disability must not be the result of the claimant’s willful misconduct
  • a need for care, such as that provided by non-medical home care or in an assisted living facility
  • net worth below $80,000 (excluding exempt items such as the primary house and the first car)
  • annual family net income below a limit set by law

Those who served in special groups such as the Merchant Marines or WASPs may also qualify, if they meet the other eligibility requirements.

To learn more

Some professionals who work regularly on long-term care issues, such as elder law attorneys and admissions officers at assisted living facilities, have extensive knowledge of benefits available for veterans.

Service organizations, such as the American Legion, also assist veterans and have substantial experience in this area.

Checks for Vets, a guidebook by Joseph Scott McCarthy, is a thorough but highly readable resource. The book contains samples of forms and tips for successfully filing a claim for benefits. It is available online at Amazon and at some bookstores.

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