VA Pension Benefits: Free Guide Explains the Basics, Outlines Process
More than a third of seniors over the age of 65 – or almost 9.3 million people – are military veterans or spouses of military veterans. Their service has earned them many benefits that can help make life easier and more affordable, especially later in life. Unfortunately, statistics also show that 69% of veterans and their families are not aware of many of the benefits due them, especially for help paying for assisted living.
One of the most commonly underutilized veterans benefits is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Aid & Attendance benefit, part of the VA’s “Improved Pension” benefits that pays monthly stipends to veterans and surviving spouses who require help with activities of daily life (ADLs) like eating, bathing, dressing, caring for hygiene, and taking medication. This benefit also may cover a veteran’s care in an assisted living facility, as well as individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. It’s also important to know that a healthy, independent veteran with an ill spouse may also be eligible for this benefit to help pay for care for their spouse.
While Aid & Attendance can pay an eligible veteran up to $1,794 a month (and up to $2,127 for a veteran with a spouse), the idea navigating the application process can be daunting to a veteran, spouse, or family member. Since Aid & Attendance is a “needs-based” benefit, many documents are required to establish eligibility regarding the applicant’s income, health needs, and past military service (the applicant does not have to have been injured during service, but must have served at least one day during war time, though not necessarily in combat). Missing important documents can result in delays or even rejections; meanwhile family and spouses must find a way to make ends meet or find a care facility willing to work with them while their application is being processed.
To help clarify the requirements and make the application process as streamlined as possible, the nation's largest senior living referral service, A Place for Mom, compiled a free Guide to VA Benefits and Long-Term Care. This 19-page eBook walks veterans and families through the process of accessing VA benefits, starting with understanding the basic types and amounts of pension benefits, moving on to eligibility requirements for each level, and finally covering how to make the application process easier, including which documents you need.
The guide includes example scenarios that make it easier to understand and make decisions on which benefits could best benefit the veteran. A section of the guide is also dedicated to additional links and resources – both from the VA and from other resources – and additionally offers advice and warnings for those applying (for example, how to check references if you’re using a service to help you submit your application to the VA).
A Place for Mom reports that it has helped guide more than 410,000 veterans in their searches for senior housing and senior care, and that part of this assistance involves making veterans and their families aware of VA benefits that they have earned but may not know about. This free guide is a direct effort to support this mission. While many veterans and their families have unfortunately encountered challenges in their efforts to access the benefits a veteran has earned through his or her honorable service, those who have successfully completed the process find the additional income to make a real difference in compensating for the gap between a senior’s income and the cost of qualified care they need.
Written by Megan Hammons