Proposed Amendments Could Make it Harder to Apply
Do you know a senior who is a veteran or whose spouse is a veteran? If so, they might be eligible for the Veterans Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension, an allowance that helps pay for senior living and home care.
According to the United States Census Bureau, there were 18.8 million civilian veterans in the United States last year, comprising approximately 7.6% of the population. Unfortunately, the A&A Pension is not widely known – it’s estimated that more than 70 percent of potentially qualifying seniors are unaware of the benefit.
For Tim McMahon and his family, the benefit could significantly help in funding senior care. His mother-in-law, AnneMarie, is a widow of an army veteran who served in the Korean War, making her a strong candidate for the A&A Pension. However, no one in the McMahon family was aware of the benefit or that it extended to surviving spouses.
Ever since AnneMarie started having health issues a couple of years ago, the McMahon family has spent a significant amount of time and energy as her unpaid caregivers, a situation many American families find themselves in. In fact, according to the AARP 2015 Report, Caregiving in the U.S., approximately 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older.
“When we were beginning the search for assisted living for my mother-in-law, I really had no idea what was out there,” said McMahon. “I turned to A Place for Mom for advice on what might best suit her, and shortly thereafter I became aware of the A&A Pension.”
Working with senior care specialists from A Place for Mom (APFM) and VeteranAid.org, McMahon was thrilled to learn that this benefit could possibly provide his mother-in-law with monetary assistance for senior care. McMahon and his family worked with advisors to submit their application and are currently waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to send confirmation of the application’s acceptance. With their limited budget, the A&A Pension will be essential in financing senior care options for AnneMarie.
About the A&A Pension
The A&A Pension provides financial support to veterans and their spouses who require another person’s aid with daily living activities like medication management and meal or care support.
To qualify for the A&A Pension, a veteran (and his or her spouse, if applicable) must have $80,000 or less in total assets, excluding one home and one vehicle. Additionally, the veteran must have been discharged honorably and served 90 consecutive days, at least one of which was during an approved period of war.
What’s Covered by the A&A Pension?
Both in-home care and senior housing are covered by the A&A Pension, which can provide up to:
- $1,788 per month to a veteran
- $1,149 per month to a surviving spouse
- $2,120 per month to a couple
- $1,406 per month to a veteran with a sick spouse
Seniors Should Apply Now, Before Eligibility Requirements Change
As it stands, the VA only looks at a veteran’s current income, assets and expenses at the time of application. However, these eligibility requirements are changing and will probably take effect in 2017. Under the new proposed eligibility requirements, the VA will likely examine the past three years of an applicant’s financial history to determine eligibility for the pension. This means that many applicants who qualify for the current version of the A&A Pension may be disqualified under the new guidelines. The discharge and service rules are expected to stay the same.
“It’s imperative that veteran families start planning for senior living as soon as possible so they can take advantage of the A&A Pension while it’s still more widely accessible,” said Kaylin Gilkey, senior manager at VeteranAid.org. “With the proposed changes anticipated to go into effect as early as next year, proactive planning can make the difference between a veteran and their spouse living in a high-quality assisted living facility or struggling to pay for basic care costs in the future.”
How to Apply
It’s critical that anyone who may be eligible for the A&A Pension apply immediately, before the new eligibility requirements take effect. Not sure if you or a loved one is eligible or need help navigating the application process? Contact APFM or VeteranAid.org for help and resources.
“The forums and information on VeteranAid.org helped me clearly understand the process for applying for the benefit, including guidance on getting the right forms and how to submit them,” McMahon said. “I can’t underscore enough how important it is to plan for senior care and take advantage of available benefits, particularly for veterans and their spouses who may not know that they even qualify for the A&A Pension.”
Learn More About the Veteran’s A&A Pension
For more information about the Veteran’s A&A Pension, please visit the APFM resource page and download the “VA Benefits & Long-Term Care” eBook.