“You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it”, by Tennessee Williams. This quote holds a lot of truth for many older Americans who struggle to make ends meet with social security and their life savings. As advances in medical technology continue to grow, so does the average lifespan and this sometimes comes with the fear of outliving ones’ money
Seventy percent of older adults will need long term care services at some point. These services include in-home care, assisted living facilities, adult day care, and nursing homes. Many older adults start out with assistance from family and friends. As their needs grow, they may start to rely on those family and friends more often requiring a weekly schedule of assistance with daily activities from cooking to shopping and personal care.
Family caregivers, aged 55-64, spend an average of 25 hours a week providing care to a loved one, according to a recent study done by AARP on Family Caregiving. Caregivers provide assistance with a variety of tasks such as, paying bills, grocery shopping, rides to doctor appointments, setting up medications, and much more. Family caregivers also sometimes take on the costs and expense of their loved one’s long term care needs which can have a significant financial impact on their own savings and retirement.
According to an article in US News, there are four main ways that people pay for care; out-of-pocket, long term care insurance, Medicaid, and reverse mortgages. While these options are all practical, there is one little known benefit from the Veterans Administration that many people are not aware of called the Veterans Aide and Attendance benefit. This benefit is available for both veterans or surviving spouses and helps to pay for long term care services including home care, adult day care, assisted living, and nursing homes.
The Veterans Aide and Attendance benefit requires an application (the VA Form 21-2680) to be completed along with a few other documents.
- The veteran’s discharge papers
- The marriage certificate (only for surviving spouses who apply)
- The death certificate (only for surviving spouses who apply)
- Statement from a doctor verifying a medical need for long term care services
- Bank statements
- Other financial statements for liquid assets
To quality, the veteran or surviving spouse must be homebound and utilizing long term care services (i.e. a home care service). The Aide and Attendance benefit will provide the veteran or surviving spouse a monthly direct deposit of funds to be used for the long-term care services.
The benefit amounts for veterans and surviving spouses are outlined below. Please note that these amounts are subject to change based on each individual’s financial situation and long-term care needs.
Single Veteran $1400/Month
Veteran with Dependent $1755/Month
Single Surviving Spouse $939/Month
Surviving Spouse with Dependent $1176/Month
To apply for the Veterans Aide and Attendance program, visit https://www.va.gov/pension/aid-attendance-housebound/ or call your local Veterans Service Agency. The contact information for the local VSA in Long Island is below.