Veterans Benefits for Assisted Living
Choosing a Senior Living is a decision filled with many questions. Where should it be located? Is Assisted Living appropriate or do I need skilled nursing? When considering Senior Living for a friend or loved one, one of the first questions that you should ask is: “Are you or your spouse a veteran?” Wartime Veterans and their surviving spouses, 65 years and older, may be entitled to a tax-free benefit called Veterans Aid & Attendance. This benefit is provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs. For those who need assistance with activities of daily living, this benefit is designed to provide financial aid to offset this cost.
VA Pension, Veterans Aid & Attendance
To determine whether a senior is eligible, we must first define veteran in regard to Aid & Attendance. A veteran had to have served at least 90 consecutive days, including at least one day during wartime. A veteran must have served during wartime though service in combat is not a necessary requirement.
Wartime is defined by the VA as these time periods:
- World War II: December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
- Korean War: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War: Feb 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 (some stipulations apply)
- Gulf War: August 2, 1990 – TBD*
If the senior is a veteran, there are additional questions that must be asked as initial requirements for the Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefit:
- Is the veteran 65 or older?
- Did the veteran serve during a period of war?
- Does the veteran need assistance with activities of daily living?
Those are general questions, and there is a level of detail behind them, but those three questions are the start!
Does the VA Pay for Assisted Living?
The prime reason that a senior would desire Senior Living is with assistance with Activities of Daily Living. The Activities of Daily Living are a series of basic activities necessary for independent living at home or in the community. They are performed on a daily basis. There are many variations on the definition of the ADLs, but most organizations agree there are 5 basic categories.
- Personal hygiene – bathing/showering, grooming, nail care, and oral care.
- Dressing - being able to make appropriate clothing decisions and physically dress and undress oneself.
- Eating - the ability to feed oneself, though not necessarily the capability to prepare food.
- Maintaining continence - being able to mentally and physically use a restroom. This includes the ability to get on and off the toilet and cleaning oneself.
- Transferring/Mobility- being able to stand from a sitting position, as well as get in and out of bed. The ability to walk independently from one location to another. *
If a veteran has those needs and is considering Senior Living, the senior may be eligible for the Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefit. That benefit, paid monthly, would be used to offset the cost of Senior Living
Do Spouses of Veterans Get Assisted Living Benefits?
An important yet lesser-known benefit of Veterans Aid & Attendance is the provision providing support for surviving spouses. Surviving spouses of veterans can receive the Aid & Attendance benefit regardless of the age of the Veteran. This is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. A surviving spouse would apply for this benefit in the same way that a veteran would.
How to Apply for VA Assisted Living Benefits
There are three main steps in the application process:
- Gather the necessary documents. This can take some time, as sometimes the senior does not have the documents and might have to request Veteran’s Service Records from the National Archives.
- Fill out the application form to submit to the VA with the necessary documents. These documents are thorough and may require some assistance.
- Mail your application and all the documents to the correct pension processing center.
One additional point to consider is that for many applicants it takes roughly nine months to get approved. This is not an easy process to complete by yourself, and some people choose to have assistance in completing this process. There are many resources available to assist you currently.
Additional Veterans Resources
There are several resources that can help you fill out and submit your paperwork. The first thing that you should know is that is free to apply for the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit.
- Almost all VFW have Service Officers that are trained experts in assisting veterans in filing for pensions, disability compensation, and more. Assistance - VFW
- Certified Financial Planners will be able to assist in filing the necessary paperwork.
- The Veterans Administration Website can provide the necessary information and application forms for you to submit by yourself. VA.gov Home | Veterans Affairs
Beware of Scams
- A lawyer or “veteran’s advisor” who offers to get the Aid and Attendance benefit – for a fee. Federal law prohibits VA-recognized advisors from charging to assist with VA claims. If an advisor or lawyer is charging a “consultation fee” up front, they are probably not recognized by the VA.
- A paid advisor who claims to be able to get the benefit for you more quickly than anyone else. All VA claims go through a standard evaluation process that no one can bypass to get it done faster.
- An advisor who offers to help you qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit even if you have too much money to qualify. They may offer to take control of your finances so they can move assets into an inaccessible trust. This could disqualify you from other benefits and possibly result in even worse consequences, so you should never agree to these services.
- Retirement homes that claim that you will qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit in order to get you to agree to enter their housing. If later you do not qualify for this benefit, you may not be able to afford to remain in the facility.
For more information contact:
- Patriots Angels - Leading U.S. War Heroes to a better life
- Welcome - Center for Elder Veterans Rights (cfevr.org)
- VA.gov Home | Veterans Affairs
- “Nevada Veteran’s Benefits”, MilitaryBenefits.Info, Accessed February 2021,
- "Activities & Instrumental Activities of Daily Living - Definitions, Importance, and Assessments,” Paying For Senior Care, September 2020, Accessed February 2021,
- "Assistance,” VFW, Accessed February 2021,
- Veterans Administration, Accessed February 2021,
- "A "veteran's advisor," said he could help me get my Aid and Attendance benefit…,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, December 2017, Accessed February 2021