The cost of assisted living can seem daunting, even if you already understand all of the benefits that come with it. Price is one of the first things that people look at when choosing an assisted living home. Whereas price is important, it’s also important to be sure to look at the quality, amenities, location, and assisted living staff as well.
There are a few ways to help you manage the cost of assisted living. There are long-term care insurance, Elderlife Financial solutions, and other benefits, especially if you or your spouse is a veteran. That’s right, there is veteran’s assistance for assisted living, made possible by the Department of Veteran Affairs Aid and Attendance Pension policy. If you’re able to qualify for this, it’s a great way to help you and your family manage the cost of assisted living.
But, first, here are some things you need to know about veteran’s assistance for assisted living.
What Is It?
The Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension benefit provides federal funds to a veteran, their surviving spouse, or the couple as a whole. The amount varies based upon which of those you classify as. You can find more detailed information regarding these pension rates on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website. This money is tax-free and can be used to help offset the expenses incurred from assisted living. Paper checks are no longer sent out, and the money will be directly deposited into the veteran’s bank account or the account of the spouse. Please note that these rates do tend to change based on a limit set by Congress.
However, before you can receive this money, you must be eligible to qualify for the benefits by meeting certain criteria.
Before you apply for veteran’s administration benefits, you should make sure you qualify. You must be 65 years old or older. The veteran or their spouse must also meet certain requirements. The three things looked at are wartime service, financial need, and medical needs.
- Wartime Service
To qualify, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one of these days falling during one of the specified wars. These specified wars include the Mexican Border period, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War era, and the Gulf War. Additionally, the veteran must have been honorably discharged from service.
- Financial Needs
As of December 1, 2019, the veteran’s assets must amount to under $129,094. When it comes to adding up assets, the VA only considers “countable income” as part of it. This means that a home and a car are excluded from the count. However, any monthly income from the veteran and their spouse minus the cost of assisted living is counted. Monthly income does include Social Security, pensions, and IRAs.
- Medical Needs
Finally, medical needs are looked at as well, in terms of eligibility. The veteran or their spouse must be bedridden or need help with bathing, eating, or dressing to qualify for Veterans Administration benefits.
Application & Approval Process
The application and approval process can take a little time so be sure to plan accordingly. There are many documents you need to have on hand to help you fill out the application and complete the paperwork. On average, the approval process can take anywhere from six to nine months. However, some applicants can wait for over a year. On the plus side, once approval does happen, the date is made retroactive to the date of the original application. This means that the first benefit you receive will include the money to compensate for the number of months your application was pending.
If you’re 90 years old or older, you may be able to request an expedited review as long as you include a cover letter with your application.
Look Back Period
Once an application is received, the VA will review the terms and conditions of all the assets the veteran has transferred anytime during the prior three years. If they find that you’ve transferred assets for less than the fair market value during this time period, those assets will count in your net worth. This means that if it puts you above the financial needs requirement, you won’t qualify for the benefits and will be subject to a penalty period, which can be up to five years long. This means that you cannot receive benefits during this time.
Worth the Work
As you can see, there are a lot of tasks that go into successfully applying for veteran’s assistance for assisted living. However, you won’t regret going through the process. It will make life easier for you and for your family knowing that you are receiving financial help to allow you to live in a safe, quality, assisted living home such as the Mission at Agua Fria.
If you’re a veteran or your spouse is a veteran, we urge you to look into veteran’s assistance benefits and determine whether you’re eligible. If you are, apply right away. As we mentioned, the application process can take a while so you want to begin it as soon as possible. Be sure you have the financial capital to pay for the assisted living community out of pocket for the six to nine months the application process will take. Once approved, you’ll be paid back the amount you were approved for.
We appreciate all of our veterans so much and thank you all for your service. Now we want to give back to you by allowing you to live your golden years in an assisted living community that puts you and your family first and doesn’t drain your bank account.