One of the most misunderstood of all Veterans Affairs programs is the veteran’s benefit for a non-service connected disability. There is a “pension program” available for individuals who are disabled due to the complexities of old age, and need assistance with activities of daily living. Basic activities of daily living (ADL’s) include: bathing, dressing, grooming, incontinence care, transfer, ambulation, etc. Instrumental ADL’s are items such as transportation, laundry, housekeeping and meal preparation. This VA benefit is also defined as an Aid and Attendance benefit, because an individual requires the regular aid (help) and attendance (presence) of another person in order to avoid the dangers and hazards incident to their daily living environment.
This Aid and Attendance benefit is available to a veteran or a widow or widower of a veteran. A married veteran can receive up to a maximum of $1,950 per month in benefits, a single veteran $1,644, and a widow or widower can receive up to $1,057 per month for the year 2010.
The program has limitations related to income and assets, however, unreimbursed medical expenses may be used to reduce the applicant’s income. The cost of an assisted living facility is an allowable medical deduction which will reduce income to a much lower net income, allowing an applicant to qualify for this benefit. Examples of other medical expenses include: dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids, hospital expenses, insulin treatment, wheelchair, prescription drugs, etc.
Here are the basic eligibility requirements:
- Must be at least age 65.
- Physician must declare claimant as housebound and in need of assistance from another individual (this includes services offered by an Assisted Living Facility).
- Must have served 90 days and at least one day during wartime.
- Income & Asset limitations, which allows for the deduction of “unreimbursed medical expenses” (mentioned above).
It is never too early to begin to educate yourself about the benefits that are available to you. It is also never too early to educate yourself about the assisted living communities in your area, so that you can determine the community that will best meet your needs.