VA Provides Financial Assistance To Help Veterans Pay For Long-term Care.

There’s a little-known veterans’ benefit that helps wartime veterans and their surviving spouses pay for a variety of medical and long-term care costs. Here’s what you should know:

VA Aid

The VA benefit that may help is called “Aid and Attendance,” a special pension benefit established in 1952 that provides a tax-free monthly income up to $1,644 for a veteran; $1,056 for a surviving spouse; or $1,949 for a veteran and one dependent. The money can be used to pay for in-home care, assisted living and nursing home care as well medical expenses, prescription drugs and more.

Today, around 150,000 veterans and surviving spouses receive this benefit, but hundreds of thousands more are eligible and either don’t know about it, or don’t think they can qualify for it.

To qualify, you must have served at least 90 days of active military service with at least one day of service during a period of war (stateside or overseas), and was not dishonorably discharged. (Single surviving spouses of war time vets are also eligible if their marriage ended due to death.) You will also have to meet certain physical and financial requirements to be eligible.

To qualify physically, one must be at least age 65 and need help with basic everyday living tasks such as eating, dressing and undressing, bathing or going to the bathroom. Being blind or in a nursing home or assisted living facility for mental incapacity also qualifies. Or if one is under age 65, one must be completely disabled. (Single surviving spouses have no age restrictions, but they must require help with basic everyday living tasks to be eligible.)

To qualify financially, one must have limited assets (usually under $80,000) excluding the home and vehicle. And the annual income (minus medical and long-term care expenses) cannot exceed the Maximum Allowable Pension Rate (MAPR), which in 2009 is $19,736 for a single veteran; $12,681 for a surviving spouse; or $23,396 for a veteran and their spouse.

To calculate the income qualifications, add up income over the past year (including Social Security, pensions, interest income from investments, annuities, etc.), minus any out-of-pocket medical expenses and long-term care costs over that same period of time. If the final tally is under the MAPR, and one meets the other requirements, one is eligible for aid.

How to Apply

To learn more, check eligiblity, or to apply for Aid and Attendance, contact your state or local veteran’s service organization. They can walk you through the process and help you with the paper work. To find your nearby office call the Department of Veterans Affairs at 800–827–1000 or visit www.va.gov.

You can also apply online.