We serve the greatest generation in senior housing communities, and many people are still unaware of a Veterans benefit that provides a financial pension to those who have served their country. Veterans who are at least 65 years old who served during war time (though not necessarily in actual combat), and their spouses may be eligible for financial assistance through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) that can be used to help pay for care.
There are three pensions available for those over age 65. (2016 rates for the veteran)
- Basic Pension Benefits – $12,868 annually ($1,072 monthly)
- Housebound Benefits – $15,725 annually ($1,310 monthly
- Aid and Attendance Benefits – $21,466 ($1,788 monthly)
- Basic Pension: Basic Pension is designed to function as cash assistance for low income veterans and their dependents, so applicants may be healthy, but must have a very low income.
- Housebound Pension: Housebound, assistance with day to day activities must be needed on a “regular basis.”
- Aid and Attendance Pension: Assistance must be required on a “daily basis.”
VA Pensions are paid to the beneficiary monthly by check or direct deposit. Payments are made to the veteran or their surviving spouse, but are NOT paid directly to their care or service providers. The amounts above reflect the VA’s Maximum Annual Pension Rates for the Veteran. Rates for spouses can be found here.
For detailed important information, watch this interesting 6 minute video from the Veteran’s administration:
The Veteran or loved one over the age of 65 must have served our country during war time during these years:
- World War II:12/7/1941 through 12/31/1946
- Korean Conflict:6/27/1950 through 1/31/1955
- Vietnam War: 8/5/1964 through 5/7/1975, although veterans who served in Vietnam itself (“in country”) as early as 2/28/1961 may also qualify.
- Gulf War: 8/2/1990 to date to be determined by U.S. government
One of the most common questions I am asked, is “How much in assets may my parents have?
The Asset Test As a general rule household assets cannot exceed $80,000.
- Veterans Service Representatives in the regional office are required to file paperwork justifying their decision if they allow assets greater than $80,000.
- Applicants whose countable incomes are over maximum thresholds, including their homes, may still qualify, depending on their age and the amount of their monthly allowable medical benefit.
- In situations that are borderline, it can’t hurt to apply, as decisions are largely made on a case-by-case basis.
- Assistance from the VA is “means tested,” which means that benefits are determined based on the applicant’s income, assets, and needs.
A Veteran and/or the veteran’s family may get assistance directly from the Veteran’s administration or from a trusted advisor. It is against the law for anyone to charge you to get this benefit. (as mentioned in the above video created by the Department of Veteran’s affairs).
You can get started now by using this FREE Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit Calculator. This is a trusted non-profit website that has a mission to provide information to help Veteran’s and their families.
Debbie Burak is the founder of VeteranAid.org. She is often asked why she took on the mission to educate our veterans and their families about a little known VA pension benefit referred to as “Aid and Attendance” . Debbie discovered the VA Pension at the passing of her father, at the same time needing to move her mother to another assisted living facility. She also realized that her folks had missed out on over $160,000 in benefits by not knowing about the VA pension. So she founded VeteranAid.org, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, to bring to light the VA’s Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit.
It is our hope that all who are eligible for this benefit will be able to get it. Our sincere thanks and gratitude to all who have served our country!
Please share this posting with any of your friends or associates that may benefit. The links in this blog post have a lot of great information and guidance.
About the Author: Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living , located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years experience in not-for-profit and for profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living.