Do VA benefits cover assisted living costs?
As you consider assisted living for you or a loved one, your first question might be: Can we afford it? You should also ask: Are there government benefits that can help pay for assisted living? The answer is “yes” if the potential resident is a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran.
Many veterans don’t realize they may be eligible for benefits from the Veterans Administration.
The Aid and Attendance benefit is a non-service-connected pension benefit for veterans or spouses. It's for those who need help with the activities of daily living, like bathing, feeding, grooming, and dressing.
VA pension eligibility
To qualify, veterans who served on or before September 7th, 1980 must be 65 or older and must have had 90 days in service, one day of which must have been during a period of war. Even if the veteran never left the United States, they may still qualify as long as they met these service requirements. Also, the veteran must have not have been dishonorably discharged.
The veteran must also qualify financially for pension benefits, including Aid and Attendance. Effective December 1st, 2018, the applicant must have a net worth of less than $127,061. They have also introduced a penalty for asset transfers, with a 36 month look-back period.
The pension program is need-based. The veteran doesn't need a disability or disability rating to qualify for pension benefits.
VA widows and widowers benefits
A surviving spouse may be entitled to a veteran’s pension if he or she was married to the veteran at the time of their death. The veteran must have met all of the service criteria outlined by the VA. There is no age restriction for the surviving spouse, and the benefit amount is based on the surviving spouse’s income.
If the surviving spouse remarries after the death of the veteran, they aren't eligible. The surviving spouse cannot have been divorced from the veteran. Also, they must have been married for at least one year before the veteran’s death.
Related: How to pay for assisted living
VA Aid and Attendance 2019 amounts
This amount is based on need and income. Applicants will need to document their income, including Social Security, and expenses. They also need to include their medical expenses and the cost of assisted living. Veterans and spouses in assisted living typically qualify for the maximum benefit.
Single veteran – up to $1,881 monthly
Married veteran – up to $2,230 monthly
Surviving spouse – up to $1,210 monthly
Comparing assisted living costs
Veterans and spouses might need to take care when planning their estate to qualify for VA benefits. Families must also be mindful of look-back and penalty periods during planning.
If you’re considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one, take some time to understand what you’ll pay. Our assisted living cost calculator is a great place to start.
Try it: Assisted living cost calculator >>