Veteran Benefits: What You Need to Know When Looking at Senior Living

As a retired veteran, you may be familiar with numerous benefits available to you and your spouse, such as  the Veterans Pension and access to health care through Veterans Affairs hospitals in your area. However, many aging veterans miss out on additional veterans’ retirement benefits because they don’t even know they exist. 

Some of these benefits are especially helpful in the later stages of life, such as caregiver support, which can provide a caregiver resources to ease the stress of in-home care. A host of long-term and extended care resources are available to elderly veterans who rely upon assistance at home, at VA medical centers or from community sources.

One lesser-known veteran retirement benefit is the Aid and Attendance program, which can provide assistance with long-term senior living expenses for a veteran, spouse or widow.

What is the Aid and Attendance program?

The Aid and Attendance program provides tax-free money to low-income veterans living in an assisted living or skilled nursing community who need help with activities of daily living like dressing and bathing. The program is also available to housebound veterans who meet certain criteria. The benefit can be used to pay for care in a senior living community or for in-home care.

Who is eligible?

Recipients of funding through the Aid and Attendance program must have served at least 90 days of active duty, at least one day of which was during wartime, and have an honorable discharge. While the program is separate from the VA pension, retired veterans must qualify for a VA pension or survivor benefits to qualify for Aid and Attendance.

This additional veterans’ retirement benefit is offered to those who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Need help performing activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing and eating
  • Spend the majority of every day in bed due to illness
  • Live in a skilled nursing facility as a result of declining mental or physical abilities
  • Have extremely limited eyesight, even with correction

Housebound benefits are available to veterans who can’t leave home due to a permanent disability, but a veteran can’t  receive Housebound and Aid and Attendance benefits simultaneously. 

It’s also worth noting that the Aid and Attendance program is based on financial need. In 2020, the VA raised the income and asset limits for pension eligibility, which made these veterans’ retirement benefits accessible for a larger group of veterans. The limit ($130,733 in 2021) is subject to ongoing cost-of-living adjustments and includes both assets and income, although certain provisions may exclude a veteran’s home from being counted among assets. Medical expenses—including the cost of an assisted living community—can be deducted.

How much does the program pay?

The amount a veteran can receive under Aid and Attendance depends on their Maximum Annual Pension Rate and their marital status. The maximum benefit for a veteran without dependents in 2021 is $23,238, while a surviving spouse is eligible for up to $14,934.

What is the application process?

Your local VA regional office or Pension Management Center can help you collect the necessary forms and supporting documentation (such as medical reports showing your need).

Ready to Retire

Understanding the financial resources available to you is an important step in planning your retirement future. Springpoint communities are among the best places for veterans to retire because we value your service and contributions, and our caring staff is knowledgeable about helping you access the veterans’ retirement benefits that contribute to a better quality of life. Learn more about our senior living options across New Jersey and Delaware, and download our guide for more advice on financing your retirement.

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