War era veterans and their spouses may be able to receive monthly financial support to help pay for long term care including home care or assisted living, if certain criteria are met. The funding from the federal government is intended to help veterans and their spouses get assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, transferring, ambulation, toileting and meal assistance.
Called the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit or the Housebound Benefit, the monthly payments are tax free. To qualify, a veteran must have served 90 days of active duty, with at least 1 day during a war era. There are also medical conditions. The veteran or spouse must be age 65 or older, or permanently and totally disabled.
The tax free benefit is paid directly to the veteran or spouse each month. The maximum benefit awards are as follows as of March 2020:
Single Veteran – $1936 monthly
Married Veteran – $2295 monthly
Surviving Spouse – $1244 monthly
The veteran must have been honorably or generally discharged. Signing up for the benefit does take time, however, the payments are retroactive to the date homecare or assisted living services began. There must be financial need, but veterans are not disqualified for owning a home.
What is War Era Service?
World War II December 7, 1941 to December 31, 2946
Korean Conflict June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
Vietnam War February 28, 1961 to August 4, 1964 (in Vietnam) and August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975
Qualifications: The VA lists these qualifications for the veteran long term care benefit on the VA website.
VA Aid and Attendance eligibility
You may be eligible for the Veteran long term care benefit if you get a VA pension and you meet at least one of the requirements listed below.
At least one of these must be true:
- You need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or
- You have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
- Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)
Housebound benefits eligibility
You may be eligible for this benefit if you get a VA pension and you spend most of your time in your home because of a permanent disability (a disability that doesn’t go away).
Note: You can’t get Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.
How to Apply for the Veteran Long Term Care Benefit
The veteran or her/his designee should fill out VA Form 21-2680 and send the completed form the veteran’s pension management center. The veteran’s doctor can fill out the examination information section. Details about the disability or need for services should also be detailed.
If the veteran is in a nursing home, a separate form VA Form 21-0779 must also be included.
There are also several VA Accredited Claims agents who can help. These agents earn fees when the application is denied and they file an appeal.