December 30, 2016, by Anum Yoon – According to the United States Census Bureau, there were more than 20 million veterans across the nation between 2011 and 2015. More veterans are operating businesses with over 2.5 million veteran-owned firms in the country. In this nation, veterans are frequently offered military discounts at some retailers and restaurants.
Veterans are eligible for medical care during service and after duty. The country is home to 168 VA Medical Centers and 1,053 outpatient clinics that serve more than 8.9 million veterans annually.
Serving the United States through the Armed Forces is an honorable service, yet many veterans are unaware of the entitlements reserved for the military and their families.
This includes help with long-term care costs for aging veterans and their surviving spouses. The available options for long-term care are immense and the VA Aid and Attendance pension ensures eligible veterans receive the help they need.
The Long-Term Care Options Available
Long-term care comes in many forms and often refers to the assistance needed with activities for daily living (ADLs). This includes requiring help with any bathing, dressing, grooming, eating and toileting. An in-home health aide can come to your home on a flexible schedule.
If you have a live-in caregiver, you can attend specialized adult day care centers when your regular caregiver needs to be elsewhere, known as respite care.
The care you receive from a skilled nursing facility or through your assisted living community can also qualify as long-term care. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can stay in a memory care center for specialized long-term care.
Hospice is also a form of long-term care for patients with a prognosis of less than 12 months.
Long-Term Care Costs and Veterans Benefits
According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey Findings for 2016, long-term care costs are increasing and expecting to continue to grow in the next five years. At-home care with a home health aide will run you about $20 per hour on average. One eight-hour day will cost an estimated $160.
A stay in an assisted living community averages $3,628 per month with a growth rate of 2.16 percent over the next five years. A nursing home for long-term care is even more expensive at a median rate of $225 per day for a semi-private room or $253 per day for a private room.
Aging veterans are often unaware of the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. This monthly pension pays for long-term care for veterans and their spouses. To qualify, you must have served in the Armed Forces for at least 90 days and one day during wartime. Veterans discharged dishonorably are not eligible for the benefit.
Since the benefit is for veterans needing assistance with ADLs, surviving spouses may also qualify even if they never served in the military or have a service-related disability. To qualify, you must have less than $80,000 in assets. This figure does not include your home, vehicle, Supplemental Security Income, or welfare benefits.
A monthly amount is paid to the veteran to cover the cost of long-term care including in-home care, an assisted living facility, skilled nursing home, adult day care for respite care and hospice. Veterans receive a larger amount per month, typically close to $2,000, than spouses.
Whether you are planning ahead for your long-term care, or assisting a loved one with veterans’ benefits, consult a representative at your local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or Vet Resource Center. These facilities provide general information and applications for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. They can also help you complete the forms and explain the documentation you will need for approval.