Many veterans are unaware that they or their surviving spouse may be eligible for financial assistance to pay for the cost of assisted living. Before requesting long-term care through an assisted living facility or nursing home or signing up for home care, we recommend that you check your eligibility for veterans benefits for assisted living payments from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You must first receive healthcare from the VA before applying for veterans’ financial help with assisted living.
Eligibility Criteria to Receive Healthcare from the VA
If you don’t currently receive healthcare services through the Veterans Administration and would like to apply, you must meet the following qualification:
- You enlisted in the military on or after September 7, 1980 or began your active duty military service on or after October 16, 1981. If one of those statements applies to you, the Veterans Administration requires that you served either 24 consecutive months or for the entire duration of your call to service.
The Veterans Administration recognizes the following exemptions to the minimum duty requirement above:
- You received an honorable discharge due to an illness or disability caused or made worse by your active duty military service.
- You received an honorable discharge because of a personal hardship.
- Your active duty service occurred before September 7, 1980.
If you currently or previously served in the Army Reserves or National Guard, you must have received a federal order to report for active duty and served the entire period stated in the order. You do not qualify for VA benefits, including healthcare, if your active duty status was only for training purposes.
Applying and qualifying for healthcare through the Veterans Administration is the first step towards receiving financial assistance for nursing care in a variety of settings. The VA must also agree that you require help in one or more specific areas and the service or your spot in the preferred senior care setting is available. Other factors the Veterans Administration may consider include whether you have private health insurance or have a permanent disability related to your military service.
Types of Long-Term Care Services You May Be Eligible to Receive
The VA provides numerous nursing care and personal care services at its own facilities. If unable to offer the healthcare or personal services you need, the Veterans Administration will refer you to community or state organizations that it currently partners with and staff has personally inspected. Here are some common examples of long-term care services that you may be able to receive through the VA:
- Skilled nursing care and other healthcare services 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Comfort care for chronic or terminal health conditions
- Physical therapy
- Pain management
- Assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, meal preparation, and personal grooming
- Support for caregivers to give them an opportunity to get a break or complete personal errands while knowing their loved one is still receiving skilled nursing care
These are the most common settings where you would receive senior care services:
- Adult day home programs
- Assisted living centers
- Nursing home
- Private home with caregivers providing skilled nursing care and personal care services to a small group of residents
- Your own home
Application Process to Apply for Veteran Benefits for Assisted Living
Once you start receiving healthcare from the Veterans Administration, you still need to complete several steps before receiving aid and attendance approval. The application process is sometimes complex and frustrating for people, whether they are a single veteran or a married veteran. Remember that Hill & Ponton is here to help at any point in the process. As a leading nationwide disability rights law firm, our attorneys have helped hundreds of military veterans in your situation get the financial help they need to join an assisted living community.
Your first step in this process is to visit your regular doctor and ask him or her to complete an official examination form. The examination form is a report on your disability along with your doctor’s observations on how it affects your activities of daily living.
Next, you need to go online to this website, print the eight-page Form 21-527EZ, and complete it. The name of the form is Application for Pension. Your other options to obtain the form are to call and request it by mail or stop in person at your regional Veterans Administration office. Plan to provide the following information when you complete the Application for Pension:
- Full legal name
- Contact information
- Description of your disability
- Your work history
- Whether you have dependent children
- Current monthly income, including VA pension, social security, interest income, retirement income, and all other sources
- Current medical expenses as related to your disability
- Proof of your honorable discharge from active duty military service like the DD-214 form
Your last step is to place your doctor report, completed application, and financial documents in a secure envelope and deliver them in person to the VA Regional Office closest to you. You will then need to be patient as it can take several months to receive a response from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Your benefits are retroactive to the date of your application if approved. If denied, you have the right to obtain an attorney and submit an appeal or new application.
What Expenses Will the VA Attendance Pension Program Cover?
The VA does not pay for rent at a senior care facility. You will need to pay for that senior living expense from your own resources or apply for a separate benefit program. The assisted living program, or aid and attendance pension, pays for skilled nursing services at a facility that has a trained caregiver on staff 24 hours a day. This care may or may not take place in veterans’ homes.
If you or your spouse have extensive care needs, the Veterans Administration may pay for healthcare professionals to visit your home or offer another type of housebound benefits. Should you need extra care options within the assisted living facility, the VA may be able to pay for those as well.