Aging Well Partners
- Jan 24
- 2 min
ATTENTION Veterans and Spouses! Uncle Sam Has Money to Give You!
Often when doing a care consultation with families, I get to the dreaded question I ask with trepidation. Has your family discussed how you’ll pay for your dad’s care? It’s not a Medicare benefit, although I often get the question, “How much does Medicare contribute?” Zero. One hundred percent of the time it’s zero. After horrified gasps of disbelief, we start exploring ways to pay for care, and my first question is always, was your loved one a Vet or married to a Vet? Did they serve during wartime? If I get a yes to both, there’s often an unknown benefit called VA Aid & Attendance. It’s a benefit that pays for care in an assisted living, memory care, residential care, and even in-home care under the right conditions. However, there are rules, qualifications, and lots of paperwork hoopla to jump through. Here’s advice that will keep you from getting tangled up in red-tape that leads to nowhere.
- Work with a licensed VA accredited claims agent. Yes, your friends are correct in that technically you can do it on your own, but navigating the two government programs can be overwhelming. There are also complicated forms, and if you fill them out incorrectly, not only will you not receive your benefit in a timely manner, or at all, but more than likely refiling will require expert help, so now you’ve just lost months of the benefit, because you filed wrong. Save yourself a headache and use an expert. It’s worth the one-time fee. Most offer a free consultation.
- The award is based on a formula that takes into account your qualified care needs, plus income and assets. If it’s a Vet and his spouse, and only the spouse needs care right now, the spouse would qualify first. Later on if the Vet needs care, the benefit would be increased to cover the Vet’s care as well, but again it’s all based on my many factors. Seek help.
- If the Vet has passed, and the spouse is alive and needs care, they can still qualify for the benefit. One caveat, the spouse had to be married to the vet when they passed. If they were divorced the benefit won’t be awarded. Strangely, if the Vet remarried, the new spouse can qualify. The spouse doesn’t have to be married to the Vet when they served. What counts is who was married to the Vet at their death and for how long.
- Documents are required so start digging through those old boxes in the basement. DD214 or separation papers are required. You’ll need a medical evaluation from a physician to show current medical issues. Income from all sources and medical expenses, which include (if applicable) assisted living costs. A surviving spouse must provide a death certificate of the veteran and proof of their marriage. These are the big documents required, so it’s a good idea to round up these documents before you begin your application.
- A final tip, the benefit takes about 4 months on average to start receiving payment from the VA. However, the VA pays retroactively to the first day of the month, following the date the application is received. This is another reason to use an expert so your valuable benefit is not held up, or not awarded due to errors in paperwork. This benefit is often the determining factor in whether a family can afford lifesaving care for their loved one. Age Well America.