How to Help Veterans Afford Your Care Facility
As the population ages, the likelihood of senior care facilities becoming home to veterans will increase, especially in the decades to come when the post-9/11 age group begins considering their own future care. Many veterans will have injuries, disabilities, or other special needs that will require assistance in completing activities of daily living (ADLs), making assisted living communities especially attractive.
With a wide range of options for housing and the sticker shock that can accompany costs of care, how can a quality care facility make itself more attractive to veterans and help them get the care they need and deserve?
There is a special benefit for seniors (age 65 or older) or permanently disabled veterans who are eligible for the VA pension benefit called the Aid and Attendance benefit. This added or “improved pension” benefit can increase the amount of monthly pension a veteran receives to help pay for skilled nursing care. Helping veterans understand how they can access the Aid and Attendance benefit – and working with those who are waiting for their benefit to be processed – can allow you as a health care provider to offer your services to more clients.
For example, due to the backlog of requests to the VA, receiving the added Aid and Attendance benefits can take between 8-10 months, or even longer. However, once a veteran is approved, the payment is retroactive to the date of filing. Not having these additional funds and living on a limited budget (eligibility for the pension benefit requires assets less than $80,000) can add significant hardship to a veteran’s life. However, care facilities can choose to allow the veteran a discounted rate temporarily or some other special arrangement, knowing that he or she will have backdated payments coming to them once they are processed and approved.
It’s also important to note, the Aid and Attendance benefit can help veteran spouses as well. Many families overlook the improved pension benefit as it pertains to veterans who are still independent, but have an ill spouse. For example, if the spouse's medical expenses completely deplete their combined monthly income, the veteran can file as a veteran with a sick spouse. A qualifying veteran is eligible for up to $1,794 per month, while a surviving spouse is eligible for up to $1,153 per month. A veteran with a spouse is eligible for up to $2,127 per month and a veteran with a sick spouse is eligible for up to $1,410 per month.
Educating your staff on the Aid and Attendance benefit can not only help increase your chances of helping potential clients afford care, but can position you as a trusted advisor to the veteran community. Keep in mind that many of the veterans requiring skilled nursing in the future may not be your typical clients; the number of younger, permanently disabled veterans is projected to double in the next 25 years, representing almost $60 billion in government funding. These veterans will be looking for ways to pay for their care, and understanding VA pension and Aid and Attendance eligibility and benefits will be especially important to care providers.
Veteranaid.org has collected a range of resources to help you understand and leverage the Aid and Attendance benefit for veterans. Visit the following pages to learn more and see how you can help America’s heroes afford the support and assistance they need.
Written by Megan Hammons